There are numerous advantages associated with Linux based X terminals. Some are unique to Linux, some are generally provided by the X technology.



You can reuse your old PCs. While the technology evolves and new applications require more and more resources, the evolution of the display hardware is much slower. Applications can't draw faster than you can read :-)

We estimate that X terminal will outlive server upgrades. At some point you will invest in a stronger server, but you will keep your X terminals. You will probably upgrade your server twice before you think about upgrading your terminals. NEW


Managing one PC is easier than ten. Beside the hardware configuration (graphic, mouse, keyboard), no other software installation/maintenance is required on the terminals. You maintain the server, that's all. NEW


X terminals appear as a cost effective compromise. You save money, but you end up sharing one CPU (well multi CPU machine are great application servers...). In practice this does not work that way. In fact, X terminals solutions often run circles around conventional solutions performance wise.

huh ?

There are various reasons why. There are some technical and some economical ones.

  • Server caching

    If an application is being used by another user, it is already loaded in memory. Since all instance of a program are shared (using the same memory), the startup time is faster.

    The same applies to the data used by the application. Often users working on the same project will find a huge speed gain when using the X terminal solution, simply because they benefit from each other prior usage of a resource.

  • No network bottleneck

    If one share some resources on a file server, this one is allowed to cache locally, but each client requesting the resource will have to copy it over the network. X terminals users access the resource right in the server memory, which is order of magnitude faster than any networks.

  • Optimisation

    One may decide to duplicate various resource files and programs on conventional workstation to avoid the network bottleneck. This represents extra work and may cause more problems if the workstation are not maintained accuratly (out of date copies).

  • No need to be cheap :-)

    Keeping most of your current workstation means a huge saving. (turning them into X terminals). You had a limited budget, but this budget is more than you need now. What about buying a dual CPU with plenty of RAM and a very fast hard drive. Even after buying such a server, you will be way under budget.

    Your users will enjoy a performance level they would never experienced with conventional workstation (since you would be forced to cut corners ...).


Station inter-changeability

Each user has his personal directory on the server. This directory contains his data files as well as his personal settings. This includes

  • desktop icons
  • bookmarks
  • Email folders
  • ...

The user is allowed to move from one X terminal to the other without productivity loss. This is especially important if one unit fails. NEW


Everything being stored on the server, the backup strategy is simple. No policies to enforce (do not store sensitive data on your workstation), since the user has no option. NEW

Batery backup (UPS)

The only important machine is the application server. Putting a single batery backup on it will protect the work in progress of every user in the advent of a power failure. With conventional workstation, this requires one unit per computer. NEW


The key concept behind the X terminal technology is the flexibility. Linux based X terminal successfully pass the following survey:

  • May I bring that home ?

    Sure, a linux workstation is both an application server and an X terminal. So you can use the same applications at home.

  • May I bring that on the road ?

    Linux operates pretty well on notebook computers. For the same reason as above, you can run the same programs on your notebook.

  • This users really needs a lot of horse power, is there a fix ?

    Nothing prevent a user from having a normal workstation. He will be able to run CPU or I/O intensive tasks on it, while being able to access the application server to run common programs.

    It is a good idea to experiment with X terminals before drawing conclusion or deciding who can use that and who can't. See the performance topic above.

  • May I run Java application on it ?

    The Java programs will run on the server and will display on the X terminal. Nothing special about it.

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Last update: Tue Jun 14 11:24:05 2005