Shh…Microsoft is up to something. When isn’t Microsoft up to something? Usually never. Redmond has quietly been developing something in the background to silence the Linux rise in the business sector and perhaps even the educational field.
Linux has been attracting much attention as a cost saving alternative to Windows in the school system. Indeed, Linux is a very thrifty way of changing all of those Pentium II and III’s into a nice internet PC or email computer. An alternative way of configuring Linux in education is through using each computer as a thin client. In this arrangement, a central ‘server’ computer would be the main computer to which each satellite PC would ‘log in’ to and would run programs remotely using this server. This means that each satellite can have NO HARD DRIVE. Most of you probably already know about K12 Linux and The Linux Terminal Server Project. But did you know that Microsoft has been quietly readying their own “thin client” to battle Linux in this arena?
That’s right, Microsoft has begun development of a Lean or Thin Client OS Codename “Eiger” and you can bet that businesses are not the only ones Redmond is eyeing to push this ‘thin client’ on. While it is not technically a terminal server style computer, it would work on a 500MB hard disk with 1GB recommended and 64MB of RAM. If my memory serves me right, a Pentium II Dell or Gateway would be right up that alley. These machines could be configured remotely using standard IT deployment methods. While I think they’ll probably nail this in the business market, I don’t think they’ll be able to make it stick within the educational arena. Most schools have decentralized networks with a volunteer IT person to take care of things…I just don’t think it will hold water there though.
I just think back to a time when we configured about 10 computers using K12 Linux Terminal Server in a small community college. Nothing can match the power of a properly configured Linux thin client….and then there was the best part…you only had to install updates to ONE COMPUTER…not to mention zero virus threats (well, actually about 4 I think but you gotta be really dense to get a Linux virus). Very nice. Let’s see Macrocrud match that one.
In the meantime, remember that Linux can run quite nicely using 4MB of RAM and a Pentium 75Mhz CPU or equivalent and still remain quite productive. It’s a shame that businesses didn’t know that one…they might have kicked their Windows 95 boxes to the curb.