So you want to set up a small network for a business or just for home. Think about thin clients. Using thin clients has always been an important thing with me.Though they are mini subsets of full computers they save money in electricity and require less support. Most thin clients work by depending on a computer server to dish them content. Usually this is done using software known as terminal server clients. Normally most people use LTSP (linux terminal server project) to set up thin clients with linux. That does take a bit of setup. I will show an easier way. This set up will be for Debian linux. If you have another version of linux besides Debian, the setup will need to be done differently. Debian linux is probably one of the most universal linux distros around. If you want to get Debian linux go to www.debian.org. My original experiment was with a Pentium 4 computer though lesser or even more powerful machines as servers might work.A virtual machine should work like a charm. Whats Next?
Note: You can also install xrdp so that mswindows machines (or other rdp clients) can connect to the server. Wrote this instructable before Ipads and Android tablets were common. You can get rdp clients for Android and the Ipad so you do not have to work with that old equipment. A more preferable solution.
Step 1: What's Needed? (part 1)
You will need a full desktop computer (a laptop could be used) to act as the server already running Debian Linux. If you have a spare computer that you do not mind losing what is on the hard drive, you could install linux on it and go from there. You need a computer network to connect the thin clients and the server (usually a network switch and cabling). You need some thin clients that support the rdp protocol. Not all thin clients do. I have some thin clients that expect to load the software to run them selves from the server when you turn them on. So if you plan to purchase thin clients you need to know these things. You will want some that have the needed software already built in. Purchasing used thin clients from the net can be a real minefield of problems. I know I bought some units of one kind and ended up with 4 good ones out of the six I bought. Sellers tend to sell them with parts missing. But I bought them so cheap I can not complain. The Compaq Evo series is what we use most. We also use some Neoware units. Both companies were bought by HP.. The Wyse unit pictured is based on the Compaq EVO series.
Note: if you have an Android or Ipad tablets with an rdp application, skip over to step3.