Upgrading Old Thin Clients

Old Thin ClientThin clients don’t support Windows Server 2008 R2? Local browser on the thin client image out of date? Don’t want to spend hours deploying management software?

Keeping software current on thin clients has always been a challenge. As most organizations buy thin clients with the intention to use them for 5 or more years, many system administrators find that the local embedded image is out of date, hard to manage, and new software solutions are requiring an upgrade. Here’s 3 steps to an easy upgrade.


Whether you have 10 thin clients or thousands that you need to upgrade in a single physical location, an LTSP Thin Client Server can be the ideal solution. Here’s how:

1) Prepare Your Network Infrastructure

With LTSP, the thin client operating system image is delivered over the local area network connection via PXE and TFTP. Among the many other benefits from an IT administrators perspective, you only have to manage a single image on the thin client server.

LTSP Network Diagram

Network Infrastructure Steps:

Consider DHCP Options
Use Current DHCP Server?
Use LTSP Thin Client for DHCP?

Prepare Thin Clients
Set BIOS to Network / LAN Boot

2) Configure LTSP for Optimal Thin Client Performance

LTSP is integrated into many of the most popular Linux distributions including Ubuntu and OpenSUSE. If your thin clients have less than 512MB of RAM and a slower processor, you should consider running all server-based applications. Have newer models with better specifications? Look into Local Apps and Fat Client options within LTSP for optimal performance.

Configuration Steps:

  • Start By Trying The Default Linux Desktop With the OS You Choose
  • Less Than 1GHz CPU and 512MB RAM?
    • Use Server-based Apps
  • 1GHz CPU and 512MB+ RAM?
    • Try Local Apps / Fat Client

3) Customize To Your Hearts Content

With Linux in play, customization options (which can have a big impact on performance) are almost overwhelming. From a lightweight desktop environment, to transparently booting up a Windows login prompt, the thin client image can be anything you imagine possible.

Customization Steps:

  • Don’t Like The Default Desktop Environment?
    • Try a Lightweight Window Manager
  • Want to Use Rdesktop, FreeRDP, VMware View or Another Connection Broker?
    • Configure LTSP to Skip the Desktop Environment

Some of the thin client models we’ve helped upgrade for our customers at DisklessWorkstations.com include models like the HP t5540, t5530, t5520 and many other Desktop PCs and popular thin clients.

Wondering if you can upgrade your old thin clients? Ask us in the comments, or contact us.

Helpful Links:
Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP)
Ubuntu LTSP  Community Documentation
LTSP Do-It-Yourself Tutorial Videos (YouTube)

This entry was posted in Hardware, Software, Tutorials and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.