Thin client in FHC

Issues related to the use and operation of Family History Centers
jgritan
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Thin client in FHC

Postby jgritan » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:34 am

In our family history center we have 2 sets working computer, old P4 CRT and a new one. Is it possible to have more than 3 or more units using Thin Cloud Client or diskless cpu in order to minimized the budget? So that many members will have the opportunity participate in Family History work.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:15 pm

I know at one time the church looked into that, but then I heard no more about it. I've also seen that idea floated about in the past 10-15 years. I haven't seen much traction in the corporate environment.

Before embarking on that route, you need to look at your support options (if it doesn't work with the FamilySearch, it will be up to you to fix it) and about the person who will follow you in your calling.
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jdlessley
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Postby jdlessley » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:26 pm

Is the family history center an official one or an ad hoc one? The difference is that the official FHC will have a unit number. There is also a difference between them in that an official FHC will have access to sites that are not available to an ad hoc center.

An official FHC must install the family history department's version of LANDesk Manager. LANDesk Manager is used to maintain and update software on an FHC computer. Thin Cloud Client would not be compatible with the required software and LANDesk Manager.

An ad hoc center would not have official software installed and is used mostly for Internet access. Using Thin Cloud Client for this may be an option.
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Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

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Postby sammythesm » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:43 am

Thin clients / cloud clients run some kind of terminal services (mostly Windows Terminal Services) back to a server somewhere. For best performance, the server is usually located on the same LAN as the thin clients - the mouse clicks, keyboard presses, and screen updates happen quickly enough over the local network that it feels like the OS is installed on the thin client, but it's really not. Some souped up server somewhere is running everyone's OS for them.

There is a new move to push these desktops/terminal services into the cloud, but it requires a very high speed internet connection to get similar performance as the LAN-based approach. I think the church hesitates on something like this because, for now at least, the internet speeds aren't consistent enough from building to building to reliably access a cloud-based terminal server.

For FHC's with 'donated' equipment I don't see a reason why you couldn't try out a server/thin client approach if someone was willing to donate all the equipment. However, I doubt it will be worth is as you now add "server administrator" to your long list of skills necessary for a Stake STS.

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Postby jdlessley » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:41 pm

sammythesm wrote:For FHC's with 'donated' equipment I don't see a reason why you couldn't try out a server/thin client approach if someone was willing to donate all the equipment.
There would be a problem with even donated equipment in an official FHC. There is data passed about the computer and software installed on the computer to Church HQ by way of LANDesk. Unless LANDesk is configured to work with a thin client to pass this information, the computer would not have the privileges and access to certain databases, websites, and software afforded FHC registered computers.
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Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

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johnshaw
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Postby johnshaw » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:00 pm

It would also likely break licensing agreements the familysearch department has in place

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Postby sammythesm » Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:29 am

I don't think either of those things are issues as accepting donated equipment is part of the official policy (as last released in 2008).

FHC Computer Policy

I think the only licensing issue is making sure the operating system is genuine. Everything else (PAF, LANDesk, Sophos, etc) are either free or the church has an enterprise license (I would assume, since we are allowed to so freely download and install it).

As the church moves more and more software onto the web (FamilySearch and new.Familysearch, for example) then having generously-CPU-powered desktops becomes less and less important.

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johnshaw
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Postby johnshaw » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:07 am

Accepting donated equipment is absolutely ok, you are right, and as long as you have all the proper licensing to run the Server version, and the Terminal Services licenses, you should be ok... it is still a valid point that LANDesk would need to be Terminal-Services ready, which I believe it is. The biggest issue is that you would likely have to limit the usage of that model to web browsing only, any of the FHC licensed software (typically distributed through LANDesk or downloaded from the FHC site) will not be licensed for multi-session use. You could certainly put a call into support on that one, but it seems extremely unlikely. Once all is on the web, this would be a preferable model.. though as you've said, becomes an administrative burden..

Enterprise licensing agreements are typically not liberal as you've described, and are rarely in the form of use all you want for a single fee, they typically entail being able to install as often as you like, but each year at contract time your payment is dependent on your consumption during the year, or if you have agreed to a certain number, there is a premium to go over a given target, usually brought forward to the next contract. In the case of single application installs vs thin-client installs (Terminal Services), licensing is very different in both cases, and rarely are combined into a single agreement, they are different models at most vendors, and in most cases a whole different licensing team covers them. At least that has been my experience.

When you look at sites, many tools are advertised free to end users, I've been requested to put FREE stuff on servers regularly, when you investigate the licensing requirements with the vendor, it usually reads, you can install this freely, but if you make it available in a corporate environment on a server or through terminal services, there is a fee involved.

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Postby russellhltn » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:53 am

JohnShaw wrote:any of the FHC licensed software (typically distributed through LANDesk or downloaded from the FHC site) will not be licensed for multi-session use.


Depending on how the units share the resources, you may find they are not designed for multi-user use. They were all written with the idea that that there was only one user at any given time. I know that was something that I didn't like about the church's setup they were pursuing. I suspect that's one reason it died.
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Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

jgritan
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Postby jgritan » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:46 pm

The family history department supplied us with unit number. I raised a question regarding donated genuine software during the training and they will not allow it. Would the church allow us to use Ubuntu Linux operating system?


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