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Re: [school-discuss] Why is thin client hardware so expensive?

On Fri, Sep 22, 2006 at 04:37:39PM -0400, Chris Gregan wrote:
> Jonathan Polacheck wrote:
> >With the $100 lap top underway, I can't help but think that
> >$25-$50 (less monitor) fan-less thin client ought to be
> >possible.  Perhaps not profitable, but with enough buy-in,
> >might not a not-for-profit producer be a solution?

Would be interesting to know AMD Geode economics; so far I've
only seen industrial devices bearing it being sold here in
Ukraine (and for $300, it's guaranted to be "thank you").

A friend of mine offered to build MIPS boxies as big as a
cigarette pack (he smokes) with VGA and netboot for maximum 
$100, but I guess he has lots of ideas and a bit fewer
implementations, working mostly at ISPs.  And it was several
years ago anyways.

> >I realize that used low-end PCs can be had for as little as
> >$25-to-free.  But it sure seems like fan-less, small footprint
> >systems would be worth some effort to make available.

Weeell I can practically recommend grabbing Compaq EN Series SFF
(Small Form Factor).  We're doing a room in the office with these
thingies, and so far the results are quite positive (not put into
production yet)

We got with these five supposedly 6450+'s:
* PIII 500 (wish it was PII 266 or so, but...)
* Intel PRO/100 (PXE OK with 08/21/99 BIOS)
* ATI Rage 4M (specs say 1600x1200 ok, works at 1280x1024x16)
* single low-noise fan -- CPU has passive heatsink
* no HDD (no high-pitched noise, less things to crash)
* for $60

(again, here in Ukraine already it should be at least $20 more
than on ebay considering the bare iron weight and at least
minimal profit of the importer; a quick skim on "compaq sff"
confirms this)

> This may just be personal experience, but I found that low cost
> hardware often does not support PXE, making any low cost option
> more difficult to deal with (CD boots, etc.) and therefore not
> attractive to resellers.  I was looking into offering an LCD
> all-in-one thin client based on Transmeta chips, but am still
> looking for one that supports PXE.

It's mostly Intel (but check with PXELINUX docs/site, IIRC 4.0.18
PXE BIOS was severely broken and 0.99/2.0 have some things one
could stumble upon but with workarounds available) and newer VIA
NIC chips, at least onboard ones.

My "marketing research" in this particular case, which was
carried out for some two or three days, resulted in "we don't
want anything new, it doesn't cost these money" (that is, we're
a (next) startup, not really at the stage when buying smaller
fanless/diskless desktops at a price of a full blown one for
concerns of power consumption, ergonomics and maintenance;
besides that, good ol' _hard_ware which would have some real
iron inside and not bare pressed paper or plastic at best
somehow appeals to most people in the office :)

For those in Kiev, if any, the importer was gamak.kiev.ua.

 ---- WBR, Michael Shigorin <mike@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  ------ Linux.Kiev http://www.linux.kiev.ua/