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What hardware do you recommend?


ThinLinX is a software only company, so we leave the choice of hardware up to you.  We can only offer you advice on what is or is not supported by our O/S, and pass on what we have learned about different hardware from our own experiences and feedback provided by customers:

Raspberry Pi

Almost all of our customers have a strong interest in keeping costs as low as possible, and as such the majority of them favour TLXOS RPi edition, which runs on very low cost Raspberry Pi hardware, in particularly the Raspberry Pi 4 (with a suitable case).

The Raspberry Pi 3 or 4 is more than adequate for typical thin client use in terms of performance.  The main limitation tends to be software - these devices use an ARM CPU, which is still poorly supported by commercial vendors.  ARM Linux ports of commercial software are relatively rare; most commercial vendors equate "Linux" with 64-bit x86 Linux, and support that platform only, and where they do exist, tend to have a more limited range of features than their x86_64 Linux version.   Fortunately, ARM Linux clients - albeit limited - are available for the most popular thin client protocols, such as Microsoft RDP, Citrix HDX, and VMware Horizon.

With any thin client solution, there are usually some difficulties with regard to interfacing server-side software with client-attached peripherals, such as printers/webcams/microphones/speakers.  At present, it shoud be noted that the Raspberry Pi is not a good platform for thin client video conferencing (mostly due to commercial software shortfalls).

New(ish) cheap/small special purpose X86 hardware

X86-based small form factor hardware is much more versatile than ARM-based hardware and has more CPU and graphics processing power, but is also more expensive, draws more power, and tends to have somewhat noisy and failure-prone moving parts - CPU fans - because of their higher cooling requirements.

Due to recent Raspberry Pi supply shortages many customers have lately been seeking out alternative low-cost x86 solutions, such as Intel NUCs or NUC clones like the Gigabyte Brix. Supporting such devices is the main focus of TLXOS SFF (Small Form Factor) edition.  There are a few bare-board x86-based solutions that use a similar form factor to Raspberry Pi, e.g. Radxa Rock Pi X, Aeon Up Board, and LattePanda, but these are still compatatively more expensive than Raspberry Pi, have much more limited availability than NUCs/NUC clones, and may not be fully supported by TLXOS SFF yet.

Some customers are also using TLXOS SFF to repurpose old Windows7-era commercial thin clients, in particular HP and Wyse (now Dell) devices.  Supporting very old HP models that use VIA GPUs or have extremely limited internal storage (2 GB) is problematic, but we're trying to find workarounds.

If you are interested in NUCs / NUC clones, we suggest that you avoid models using the very latest generation CPUs (11th Gen when I wrote this) because they may not be supported by TLXOS yet (since it takes time for support for the latest hardware to be stablized and added to Long Term kernel releases, and for necessary run-time firmware to be added to Debian).  We also suggest that you consider buying low-end models with Celeron or Pentium CPUs rather than mid-range or high-end hardware with Core i3/i5 or Core i7 CPUs (respectively), because they are much cheaper, and because excessively hardware power is wasted on thin clients, which have very modest RAM, CPU and I/O throughput requirements.  We suggest the NUC7CJYH, which is still available, cheap, and well supported by TLXOS.

Older X86 hardware

Some customers want to repurpose outdated hardware, such as old laptops, as thin clients: this is the main focus of TLXOS RePC (Repurposed PC) edition.  However, laptop hardware is extremely diverse, and despite our best efforts may have onboard devices that RePC doesn't support.  We do our best to address such shortfalls as we become aware of them, but we are (of course) not in a position to buy one of every model of laptop that a customer might conceivably use, and therefore rely heavily upon customer testing and feedback.

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Article details
Article ID: 83
Category: Frequently Asked Questions
Date added: 2022-09-28 22:51:54
Views: 88

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