Tag Archives: VDI

Thin Clients with the Raspberry Pi

When deploying a large number of computers at a single location, it is a common practice to employ thin clients. In such cases, several client computers access a powerful central server computer that controls resources such as the hard disk data and Internet access. The logical operating system of the server is isolated from the clients accessing it via a concept known as desktop virtualization.

Implementation of desktop virtualization or VDI follows several conceptual models. One can broadly divide them into two categories depending on whether the operating system executes locally on the client machines or remotely on the server. Therefore, desktop virtualization may not always involve the use of virtual machines.

When the desktop virtualization uses a host-based form, users have to view and interact with their desktops over a network. For this, they must use a remote display protocol. As all processing takes place at the data center housing the server, client devices can be tablets, smartphones, zero clients and thin clients.

Citrix offers a suite of products known as Citrix Receiver with which client devices can easily connect to different desktop virtualization services from Citrix. They offer several types of client platforms and form factors. Included in these are embedded operating systems. zero clients, thin clients, Google Chromebook, Linux, Blackberry Playbook, Blackberry, Android, iPhone, iPad, Mac OS X, Windows Mobile and Windows.

For example, using Citrix Receiver technology, users can connect their client devices to XenDesktop and XenApp desktops and applications via the HDX protocol. They can also connect to the Citrix Access Gateway, XenVault secure storage and other Citrix services.

Citrix has since decided that putting a lot of effort into creating special versions of Receiver for one device is inefficient. Therefore, it has decided to work with the Pi Organization for ensuring their Linux Receiver would work with the new architecture of Raspberry Pi Model 2 or RBPi2 and its supported OS images.

With this effort, it is no longer necessary to have hardware-accelerated plugins for the RBPi2. The new HDX Thinwire and XenDesktop/XenApp 7.6 FP3 compatibility codecs work efficiently on the RBPi2. On the other hand, ThinLinx makes a Thin Client & Digital Signage Operating System for the RBPi. Citrix has tested this OS and has confirmed it is capable of handling video with impressive speed.

According to Citrix, their selection of RBPi2 as a thin client for VDI is based on the inherent security feature of the Single Board Computer. The SBC is secure as there is no on-board storage and the SD card of the computer can be removed and stored in a safe place when not in use. An additional factor is the price. RBPi is far cheaper than any other thin client available in the market. Another advantage is in addition to vanilla models, you can also have custom RBPis as thin clients.

That the RBPi is an interesting VDI option also comes from the fact that all dedicated thin clients require the same hidden costs to make them useful. This includes pointing devices, keyboards, Wi-Fi dongles, SD cards, USB hubs and monitoring devices.