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I've never used thin clients so Im just wondering if I can bypass TS...

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Can you tell us more about the hardware the the thin-client runs on? Is there specific hardware you need an answer for, or is this a hypothetical? – JeffG Mar 14 '11 at 21:52
I suppose it would help, I could name a few but would send the question in different directions. I was mining for experienced users with thin clients that may have tried this and can confirm or deny for whatever hardware they used... – Seth Mar 14 '11 at 23:00
no, that would actually present a question that can be answered :-) That's what this site is for. If you want to have a general discussion, not a Q&A, try the chat. – mfinni Mar 15 '11 at 13:44
my fault, didn't know there was chat... – Seth Mar 15 '11 at 18:17
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Most thin clients are running Linux or an embedded vsion of Windows. So XP embedded may already be running. But the hardware is usually pretty low so you may not be able to do much. A common thing on some Linux based clients is to also get a local web browser. You probably wont get a full local desktop off a thhin client. I have been able to boot and use a Ubuntu livecd on our thin clients, but that was slow. Running a full XP of a USB would probably be worse.

But it all depends on what hardware you have.

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It's not that I need a full blown XP, Im just exploring alternatives to TS being installed on an active server, as Im not sure how that would affect a production server. I have an application that runs over the network via Postgres SQL, and Im tired of messing with desktop hardware going bad. (Label station on a plant floor) It's the only application it uses... – Seth Mar 14 '11 at 18:47
@seth - Whoa whoa whoa. If you're setting up a terminal server to run client applications, you do not do it on the machine that is running the server-side of that - in your case, PostGreSQL. You make a new server as the TS machine and install and configure your client application on that one. Similarly, you don't let your users RDP onto the Exchange servers to check their mail. They use a client or OWA. – mfinni Mar 14 '11 at 20:26
no no absolutely i wasn't talking about putting it on that machine, I have other file servers that dont serve apps. not sure where you got exchange bit, only admin has RDP, OWA/clients are standard. – Seth Mar 14 '11 at 22:58
My Exchange comment was me presenting an analogous scenario to what I thought you were describing. – mfinni Mar 15 '11 at 1:26

Almost definitely "no". A "thin client" is, by definition, something that doesn't run a full OS - it's just got a display manager and some way of getting input and output to a terminal server. If it could run XP, it would be a "desktop computer."

Now if you could actually detail the make and model, it might turn out that it's possible to run a stripped-down OS on it. But generally, nope.

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As an instance, WYSE units usually run XPe. I was just not familiar with XPe's relationship to the hardware components, since they do have serials, audio, etc. XPe is XP, just "componentized". As you say, the hardware's bios would be the determining factor, comparatively speaking. – Seth Mar 14 '11 at 18:15

"Thin Client" refers to the relationship of some software with other software. I assume you are refering to some hardware system which runs thin client software...

digression: Often, people refer to a computer as a server, however, what makes it a server is the relationship of the software running on that computer to software running on other systems

If the hardware running the thin-client software is capable of running XP from a flash drive, then yes, you can boot XP from a flash drive. However, if the hardware running the thin-client software is special (specifically designed only to run thin-client software) then you probably can't.

I'm years removed from windows, and I've never heard of XP ever being able to run from a USB memory stick, so AFAIK, you can't.

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I'm definitely aware of client/server relationships, and it is possible to run XP from a flash drive. I just wasn't aware of hardware restrictions of thin client hardware, acknowledging there are different vendors of course. – Seth Mar 14 '11 at 18:07
"thin client" also refers to a small form factor low power piece of hardware – Zypher Mar 14 '11 at 18:23
@Zypher yeah, that's what the salesmen tell me... I'd still argue that a "thin client" is just software. E.g. I have a small form-factor low power netbook that runs as a server, and yet I run thin client (Terminal Services RDP client) on a powerful desktop system. However I'll conceed that confusion about this is rampant, as people tend to confuse the purpose of the software with the hardware it runs on. I did know what was meant by the question, though, which is why I addressed it. – JeffG Mar 14 '11 at 21:54

Windows XP re-enumerates the USB system part of the way through the boot process, as such it is not possible to install a normal installation on any sort of USB device, be it a flash drive or USB hard drive. Boot-able USB versions of XP are based on a PE environment, such as WinPE, BartPE or Hiren's. Also, by definition, a thin-client doesn't run the OS used by the end-user (though they all do run an OS at this point, such as a stripped down Linux, XPe or other). If the system is not being used as a way to connect to a server, it wouldn't technically be a thin-client.

At this point, all thin-clients are just very very under-powered desktop systems for the most part, so it may be possible to install and use a local OS on them, depending on the hardware, however the caveat previously mentioned about Windows being unable to be run from a USB device would still apply. The only way I've managed to run a 'real' Windows install via USB was chain-loading it via KVM after booting a stripped down Linux installation and running it virtualized. I highly doubt any "thin-client" hardware would be able to support such a scheme, due to hardware limitations (lack of virtualization support, memory constraints, etc).

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