Friday, November 10, 2006

What is a thin client, really ?

Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote on his blog this definition about thin clients:

Industry convention says that apps written to browsers are defined to be "thin." But by that definition, thin really equates to "using someone else's runtime environment" -- in that the browser itself has to be present for the service to be rendered. And last I checked, browsers require operating systems and windowing environments. Not exactly thin. So in my book, it's inaccurate to say Google or YouTube are "thin clients" -- they're services that leverage someone else's thick client. A browser.

This is really true and seems to reflect a feeling that I've had already.

Why do people call thin client a small computer which has an operating system (Windows CE, XPe, or Linux, it doesn't matter) installed in a local media, perhaps a flash memory ?
And think that it's not only an operating system, but applications too.
Like the web browser.

Do they call it thin client because the disk usually doesn't spin ?
Because the upgrades are much more difficult and tedious than upgrading a fat client disk ?
Because the operating system and applications fits in only 64 or 128 MB of flash ?
So, the desktop PCs from sime time ago, when disks were much smaller, were thin client too.
And we didn't know it !

Real thin clients boot off the network. Stop.
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