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The Raspberry Pi is now a real threat to thin clients' existence

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December 14, 2015

It's now official: the Raspberry Pi tiny motherboard is now a real threat to thin clients' existence in the near future.

Citrix has been testing the Raspberry Pi as a desktop virtualisation (VDI) target for a while already, even releasing a prototype Citrix Receiver for the miniature computers.

That initiative was almost two years ago and it now looks like it's promising some dividends in the short term.

For its part, Citrix has since decided it was economically unwise to invest a lot of time in creating a special version of Receiver for just one device, so instead it will be working with the Pi Organization to ensure its existing Linux Receiver would work with its new Pi2 architecture and supported OS images.

The result of that effort is that in “XenDesktop/XenApp 7.6 FP3 and the new HDX Thinwire compatibility codec would most likely perform efficiently on the Pi2 without the need for hardware accelerated plugins,” Citrix has said.

The other part of the engineering puzzle is ThinLinx, a small firm that makes a $10 Thin Client & Digital Signage Operating System for the rPi.

That operating system is Citrix-ready and, as tested by Citrix users, capable of rapid video handling functions.

To be sure, Citrix also makes some real arguments for using an rPi as a thin client for VDI, among them that the rPi is secure because it has no on-board storage and even more secure if you store the computer's SD cards in a safe when not in use.

Then of course, price is another factor-- at just $35, the Pi costs a lot less than dedicated thin clients.

It's also worth remembering that it's now possible to cook up custom Pis, in quantities of 3,000 to 5,000. A custom Pi has the potential to go down well in several scenarios, as does a plain vanilla model if you can get your hands on sufficient boards.

Naturally, the Pi has a few hidden costs that are easy to identify-- keyboards, pointing devices, Micro SD Cards, WiFi dongles, USB hubs, hard drives, monitors, etc.

But dedicated thin clients also require those devices before being useful as well, making a Pi an interesting VDI option.

Source: Citrix.

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