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I have limited knowledge of servers. I had an idea that I wanted to get evaluated. With netbooks becoming cheaper, I was wondering if I will be able to do complex video editing and running heavy software on a server? For example, my netbook could be running Remote Desktop connection (on XP) to a dedicated server externally or internally running windows 2008. The server could inturn be running my apps and doing all the video editing, word processing, etc. I can also then share this login with the rest of my family/office if they want to do anything on the server that is too much for their netbooks. Also remote apps available on windows 2008 server sounds pretty interesting.

Is this something people tend to do or are there other methods that are way better to empower netbooks (dumb terminals) via a server?

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Video processing is an example of something you typically wouldn't do on a server. This is because typically you need to get the video to the machine (i.e. off your camcorder) which is very heavy on your network and servers don't have firewire.

Also, you would need to transfer full frame-rate uncompressed video down the line which again means you're network constrained (wireless won't cut it).

Get a workstation for the video!

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I'm the IT-manager for a TV-station, and trust me on this: Forget about video editing over RDP/ICA/VNC. It's not going to happen. Realtime editing requires a immense amount of display updates per second (think of it like a FPS game), and any 3D effect requires hardware accelerated graphics (either via Direct3D or OpenGL), wich is not aviable via remote desktop.

Software rendering and conversion will probably work fine, as it does not require any special hardware except modern CPU's to run efficiently.

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I don't see where this would be a problem so long as your server resources are adequate for what you want to do and you have the proper licensing.

What I would shy away from, however, is any kind of video / image editing over remote desktop. For graphic design applications I would still stick to local editing for display purposes, even when your remote desktop client is set to use high resolutions / color depths. The bitmap caching is way too slow for effective video editing and I've never had good luck with color depths even when the client is set to a high color depth.

Joel Mansford beat me to my edit to include network issues. This would be in regards to the Windows 2008 remote apps bit.

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There's plenty of applications in which CPU/RAM intensive processes can be done on a fast server while you watch it work from a thin client (Google is an example of a web-based server application). What you're proposing is actually a rather kludgy way of doing things like this however, but running a terminal server is one way of doing it. It's also a very old method of doing so, since Unix servers have had command line interfaces available over networks since the dark ages of computing.

But video editing isn't a client/server sort of thing to do. Sending video over the network in real time requires boatloads of bandwidth and even under perfect conditions, it's not ideal.

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Unless I'm missing something this sounds like a description of what Citrix is designed to do, but this is not something for a home user to try.

I don't know about the video editing either, but the concept of having all your apps available to all users from the server is Citrix MetaFrame circa 2005 :-)

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You can use something like FreeNX or X-Forwarding to use a "dumb" terminal and process on a server. You'll see the remoe window as being on your local computer, but the interactions should be transmitted over a network.

Also, I heard that Citrix is a good choice.

And about video processing - the program cinerella - AFAIK supports very well the "rendering farm" - instead of rendering a film on your local computer - send it to a server / group of servers.

Don't forget the VNC for simple things (and quick&dirty deployments).

Later edit: Now I saw that you are talking about a windows server, not a Unix/Linux/related one... but still some points still apply

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Apart from remote consoles (and "virtualized" apps delivered in the same way) this is similar to an idea that Intel appear to be thinking about in some detail, although their emphasis is on Smartphones - Intel's Clone Cloud. It's not an entirely new idea though - the general "Cloud" computing concept is closely related (as is fairly obvious from Intel's use of the name.

The biggest problem with this is developing and agreeing on a standard architecture. The second biggest problem will be figuring out how it all gets paid for because you will have to pay some form of "rent" on that backend cpu power and finally it all comes back to how good your network is, and it will need to be very good to do things like video. As others have pointed out already editing video is extremely bandwidth intensive and even if all of the data is in your "cloud" you still have to deliver real time video in very fast real time for this to be usable - even with clever hardware compression that will need a few tens of megabits per second in order to be usable - raw video would be insane, 60fps @ 1024x768 / 16 bits color needs 360Megabits/sec.

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