The £10 PC?

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Superewza
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The £10 PC?

Post by Superewza »

Well i'm on Work Experience at the minute, and one thing i've seen them (IT dept. of the council) use a lot of is TCDs, or Thin Client Devices. For those of you that don't know these are small, low power systems that are designed to be able to connect to a server, where most of the users applications. Researching them a bit more it seems as though they are essentially nettops. x86 CPUs, enough RAM to run an OS etc. No Optical Drive, but they support booting from the USB stick. Often they run Windows CE, but i came across this in my travels:

Fujitsu Siemens FUTRO A250

http://www.buyit247.com/fujitsu-siemens ... ent-4.html

Image

AMD LX800
256MB RAM
Gigabit Ethernet
eLux NG
£9.99 inc VAT

Now it might not look like much, but i've recently been experimenting with old PII/PIII era rigs and using the right distribution they are perfectly usable, there's no reason an average computer user who uses their PC for perhaps web browsing, music playing, word processing etc. couldn't use something like that every day. And since this model comes with Linux already it shouldn't be hard to port another, more fully featured distro to it. Something like Slitaz, Arch, Debian, Crunchbang or Lubuntu as long as it's got the right setup (thinking LXDE). Thoughts?
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DrHu
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Re: The £10 PC?

Post by DrHu »

Thin clients are excellent choices for control and management, and in one location shop/store/Internet cafe they are almost perfect (nobody ever gets perfect!)
--no corruption on the thin client, because it needs the server it connects to to use the installed software: that is the best model, assuming you can provide a fast network with a non-chatty remote connection, such as nomachine
http://www.nomachine.com/

They can also be used in larger networks with good planning
--unfortunately using such products eliminates most of the enterprise IT personnel needed to effectively manage all your systems. Or use Linux, it can be managed more cheaply than the other OS

The argument against this, and it is not a good one,is that since regular computers are so cheap (in bulk discounts) why would I want to use a thin client system
--this is the same argument made against browser based applications, instead preferring a full-blown office suite, for what one might ask, since almost all word processing can be done in an .rtf text file, and that can be with a small editor
  • Now that an older idea has been resurrected as ajax, that might change, and cloud computing might help
    --an even older idea of utility computing (is that like SAAS (software as a service) or the software bus ?
The best way I think to find out what the technology/computing future trends will be, is to look at the ancient past, lets say 1950's, 1960-80's computing systems and see what they imagined..
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Superewza
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Re: The £10 PC?

Post by Superewza »

My point was more that there's no reason you couldn't run a fully fledged OS on them... I've been using old PII/PIII era rigs lately and with the right distro they're perfectly usable. There's only 256MB ROM but I could use an external hard drive and it would make excellent SWAP.

I'm just saying, for £10 don't you think it's worth a try?
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Pilosopong Tasyo
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Re: The £10 PC?

Post by Pilosopong Tasyo »

From what I know, TCDs are essentially 'dumb terminals,' boot from the LAN, and let all (or most?) of the muscle power occur at the server. Hence they don't need to have that much processing speed and memory just to display images/video and process audio. Basically, they just 'throw' at you what is being sent on the wire, and send any feedback (keystrokes, mouse movements) to the server for further processing.

But, that's not to say it isn't possible to use it as a standalone PC. Albeit in practical usage (iow, productivity) ? I don't think the hassle and agony is worth it.

Looking at the specs of that TCD, a processing speed of 500 MHz (source) is excruciatingly slow (at least for me) if you plan on using it as a standalone system. Well, ok maybe I'm a tad too harsh with that comment :lol: , BUT, seriously -- how far will you be able to go with such limited processing power, not to mention the matching RAM capacity of such a device? I have no doubt that a very light OS should be able to run on it without any problems. But then again, you have to cut a lot of corners just to be able to maximize its capability.

I run a café that doesn't cater to gamers. That being the case, I really don't need expensive hardware. So, I opted for the low-power, low-cost Intel Atom (1.6 GHz, mix of 1 or 2 GB RAM) solution. Mint runs quite well on these babies. But then, there's the occasional glitches that I notice. Things like when Firefox, OpenOffice, Audacity, or OpenShot would 'spaz' and turn grey for hmm.. anywhere between a few seconds to more than a minute! :shock: And these applications are running on a GHz-level processor!!! I know, there are mitigating (or is it aggravating?) circumstances that would explain it, but the point I'm trying to drive at is...

TCDs should be used in environments at which they were designed for in the first place. Other than that, the user is just asking for a lot of hair-pulling in the long run :lol:

Just my humble opinion how I see it. DON'T FLAME. :lol: I would love to have used the thin client solution, though. With a TCD module THAT cheap, the LCD monitor's way more expensive! And the only other equipment that would cost a lot would just be the server. Quite unfortunate, since it's just not that popular or supported in my native homeland.
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Superewza
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Re: The £10 PC?

Post by Superewza »

That's just it though, i was running Slitaz on an old PII rig with about 180MB RAM and it was fine, ran like you would expect Ubuntu or Mint to on an average computer today. No reason that you couldn't use it for the most common tasks, web browsing, word processing, playing music etc. Since the Geode is comparatively modern i wouldn't be surprised if it was noticeably faster despite using a tiny percentage of the power.

Think of it in terms of smartphones, they have a range of processors and as low as 64MB RAM but they still manage to do everything the user wants without complain. While i'm not sure how it would stack up against something like Snapdragon it should certainly stand up to them, as it doesn't have the tight power constraints to adhere to that they do.

I might buy one... it's worth a try at that price really, they're usually more than 20 times that! Found an entry on eBay by the same seller:

[quote=http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Fujitsu-Siemens-F ... 0392330869]Please note: Item condition is as new, boxed with all manuals, leads, software, accessories (if applicable) you would get when bought new.

Just Reduced To Clear, Massive Saving on RRP !![/quote]
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