SunRay or other thin terminal

In a comment to42: Switching Corporate desktops Ian Bicking wrote:

Does the Sun Ray offer much over a similar PC-based thin client? Also, if it really became popular, could Sun compete with emerging PC-based thin clients? It’s no use to them to build up a market that they can’t keep (at least, that might be their thinking).

My thoughts are:

My understanding is that there are two main styles of thin client. In one the client is a terminal that does some local processing for example an XWindow terminal. In the other the terminal is almost completely dumb, almost all it does is pass input to the server and write directly to the screen. Sun Ray’s use this style (I think Citrix does as well).

I believe the dumber clients such as the Sun Ray have a number of advantages over the thicker clients. These include a long working life as they have no moving parts, they do not get outdated, they are all identical so interchangeable as there is no local processing. As there is no local processing there is no local state which is why you can remove your smart card from one terminal put it into another and be exactly where you left off.

So in some ways projects such as the Linux Terminal Server Project are not direct competition. However, it is interesting to see how much (lots) of progress has been made on that since I last looked. Definately a possible option for many.

For me the key disadvantage of the X-terminal is the local processing requirement which means you are not completely escaping the need for an upgrade cycle for the terminals. Whereas the oldest Sun Ray client should be exactly the same performance as the newest because it is not doing the work. Mind you the quality of monitor it supports is probably not that exciting now.

What have I missed?


5 thoughts on “SunRay or other thin terminal

  1. Yure

    Hy… I was wondering, do you know any products that work on linux, that are similar to SunRay, but lower price?
    I mean I can’t beleive no other company does it? Any solution I search for, Sun is all I get. At least the only one with USB, SmartCard…
    Could you please reply me via email. Thanks alot!

  2. teme

    Disclaimer: I work for Sun.
    Yure wants to know if there are similar products as Sun Ray for Linux. My understanding is that none exist, but nowadays Sun Ray Server runs on Linux too. Media and RTU is something like $100US, and 1g unit is $359US, list price, which is not that much IMHO. For less than five users, pretty much any decent PC will do, although with single CPU you can end up with a situation where a process hogs an entire CPU and slows down all clients. (Which is why we insist on two CPUs…) For a bigger setup, you can get the V20z/v210 bundle (SPARC or Opteron two-way server, 20 Sun Ray units, RTUs and smart cards) at $14k, or about $700 a seat, which once again should be pretty good value considering you get the server too.

  3. DaveW

    My understanding is that if you want smartcard and usb without much work SunRay is the only option. The main alternative really is the Linux Terminal Server Project That uses the terminals for the display processing so reuses old PC’s. There are pros and cons but that could work out cheaper but doubt if smartcards are possible. Don’t know about USB.


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