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What's a Pi Thin Client Cost Anyway?
26-02-2015, 11:44 PM, (This post was last modified: 27-02-2015, 12:12 AM by greavette.)
What's a Pi Thin Client Cost Anyway?
Hi all,

I thought I would start this post as a way to assist each other with what it costs to build a Raspberry Pi Thin Client.

I'll be straight up honest and say that I don't have any experience with buying or using a production (ie: wyse or HP) type thin client. All I can say is that from what I've heard they can be expensive....please correct me if I'm wrong.

But I'm a tinkerer and the Pi appeals to me on that level so here I am using rpitc in our small office as I believe it affords us a cost saving with regards to hardware (my time to get it all setup...forget about it. This is more a labor of love than a business decision for me to spend my time to build scripts and processes around rpitc in our office Smile ).

But I digress...

Here is my opinion on what hardware I need to build a thin client for our office. We've been using rpitc for the past 2 years and it's been pretty successful. We've made some adjustments in that time with regards to how we power the Pi. And I continue to make adjustments in that I'm looking to modify what we have even further in the coming weeks. I'm in Canada so here is what I'm buying and approximately paying (doesn't include shipping cost):

A bit of explanation here maybe. In our office I had previously used a Powered USB Hub. These had a power on/off switch and special port to Power the Pi Thin Client. But with the new Pi2's having 4 USB ports I'm thinking of ditching the powered hub and running my peripherals all from the Pi (I've determined that all my peripherals do not exceed the 1.2 Amp maximum the Pi2 4 USB ports can deliver). Also I want to give my employees the ability to gracefully shutdown and restart their Pi Thin Clients with a proper power button (especially now since I'm removing the powered USB Hub which had an on/off switch on it). This is why I'm looking to introduce the Pi Remote. I also have the need to deliver USB connected devices to my virtual machines (USB2IP) which is why I've included the license for Virtualhere.

So my setup is most likely different than others but it's a starting place for total cost of the Pi thin client.

Total price for my Thin Client setup is approximately: $140.95 (plus taxes and shipping).

I'd be interested in hearing from others on this board to see what their setup is costing them. Is this a reasonable price to pay to setup a Pi Thin Client? Are there better alternatives out there?

27-02-2015, 11:25 AM, (This post was last modified: 27-02-2015, 11:27 AM by ewook.)
RE: What's a Pi Thin Client Cost Anyway?
I think you kind of missed the most important part - memory card Smile.
However, one cost to reduce would be the Pi remote, is there really a need for that in an office environment - shutting down could easily be done from the graphical interface - or simply logging off and leaving it on - for you to manage and perform upgrades off hours?

But let's say it runs you $140, that's dirt cheap compared to any other terminal client.
27-02-2015, 01:52 PM,
RE: What's a Pi Thin Client Cost Anyway?
From the perspective of where I work, users of "IT" are not in the habit of turning devices on or off at the wall. In fact, in many places they would have a job finding the power point. Shutting down from software isn't an issue, but turning the Pi back on is. It would definitely generate incidents, even with a remote control ^_^

Shopping list might also include wireless cards, not that I have tried them yet.

In the UK for an IGEL UD3 your talking about £250 and that's probably discounted. For the Pi2, I don't know about £60. The difference being device management and support. That said, at this time I think the Pi2 and this project could fill a need for an even cheaper device to satisfy the ever increasing demand to consume data. As I said on another post, very positive testing so far for a beta, which if used in production should generate donates.
27-02-2015, 03:34 PM,
RE: What's a Pi Thin Client Cost Anyway?
Very good points!

I build my 'Golden' rpitc PI image on a 4 GB card and save the image file. I then use 8 GB cards to run in all my Pi Thin Clients. So add another $5 to buy a 4 GB Card and another $5-6 to the cost of each workstation for an 8 GB Card.

As for the power button..I would agree that the Pi-Remote board shouldn't be necessary but I've found that I need something to give to the employees when a hard reboot is warranted. In the event the Pi locks up (not that often, but it has happened), I don't want the employees searching for the power cord and either pulling it from the wall or worse, pulling the micro end out of the Pi and fiddling around with putting it back in. Shutdown and restart from within the O/S would be ideal except most of our workstations use rdesktop in fullscreen mode so our users only see a Windows Desktop (of the VM). They would need to logoff from the VM first (or press CTRL ALT Enter to exit from fullscreen mode), then on the Pi desktop right click and select reboot (I could put a reboot icon on the desktop as well). Problem is though these are people that don't want to fiddle with instructions on how to reboot. They don't even understand that they are using a Pi Thin Client running a Linux O/S that remotes into a Windows Virtual Machine. In my experience having a proper looking 'button' on a computer removes a lot of complexity to what they are using. I hate the cost of the Pi-Remote (and we don't use any remotes with it...just the button) but it affords us a proper shutdown sequence to safely shutting down the Pi. In the event of the Pi locking up the button will allow us a hard shutdown (long press). And in the event the Pi is off and not running for some reason, the button is there to start it up.

Nice to hear others feel the same as I do that the cost of the Pi and it's peripherals in the use of a Thin Client is still cheaper than other 'real' Thin Clients. I know we don't have the management tools on rpitc (although the creator of rpitc has some thoughts on this I hear) but with the scripts and process I've put in place at our shop rpitc is working quite well. The RPI2 will only make the experience that much better!
27-02-2015, 05:07 PM,
RE: What's a Pi Thin Client Cost Anyway?
Aaaah yes reading back over your post, that makes sense now that that option gives a physical switch. There are other solutions around for a switch, I read about a kickstarter for it but not sure if they might work out cheaper. Ill probably investigate in the future, but as you are aware I'm on the basics atm !
27-02-2015, 05:32 PM, (This post was last modified: 27-02-2015, 06:02 PM by greavette.)
RE: What's a Pi Thin Client Cost Anyway?
I've done quite a bit of research into how to easily add a switch that grants me a graceful shutdown process, looks good and is easy to implement. More often than not I can find one requirement satisfied (it works) but the others fail (it looks clunky or requires too much of my time to put into place). But if someone finds something that works better and is a good price I'm all ears!

I've bought switches from mausberry circuts - They work great and are easy to put into place...but I would have to modify my case or build something so they don't stick out like a sore thumb.
Pi-Supply has a switch - Again, sticks out and if I'm not mistaken I may have to build it myself.
There are lots of links available on how to solder your own button to the board like this one - something I'm comfortable with doing and would require me to put more time and effort into each new Pi that gets ordered to replace add new Pi thin clients.

The Pi-Remote Board seemed to satisfy my requirements (although I can do without the remote part as for business I only need the button and the shutdown script on the Pi itself). Too bad the Pi-Remote costs so much with respect to what the Pi costs. But it looks slick with the case they build so for now I'm kind of stuck with this solution.

Some more Pi cases I found:

The fairywren case - I see the power button if fully configurable....way overkill for a thin client!
Media Pi Case - I like the look of this when I first saw it...but that was before the Pi2 came out and the Pi2 has 4 ports already so I don't need a media case to expand my USB ports now. Also the Power button was just to cut the power and wasn't configurable or used with a script.

Both not a good option for a Thin Client.
06-03-2015, 06:54 PM,
RE: What's a Pi Thin Client Cost Anyway?

I have zero experience with Raspberry and thin clients, but I am looking into it for a potential project.

Looking at this costs and the time invested I'd like to ask you guys why do you choose this over something like an Utilite or even a Zotac ZBox.

I totally get the fun/chanllenge factor, but leaving that aside, what is the edge you find in the RPi/BPi

Looking forward for your comments.

06-03-2015, 07:24 PM, (This post was last modified: 06-03-2015, 07:26 PM by greavette.)
RE: What's a Pi Thin Client Cost Anyway?
For me it's the replacement cost.

As I mentioned above I'm a tinkerer and like to create things (processes, scrpits, whatever) so the Raspberry Pi Thin Client appeals to that side of me. But you don't have to put in place what I've done. You don't need a Power Button on the Raspberry Pi. I rarely have lockups or freezes on our Pi Thin Clients. Performance is decent for our office. We use USB connected devices...if you don't then you won't need USB2IP software.

But I did put scripts and my time into making the Raspberry Pi easy for me to manage but really the Pi's don't need much management in my opinion. I rarely if ever get a call regarding a thin client. Our thin clients don't have Internet access so I rarely update reason to in my opinion. I have a stack of SD cards available and have twice in 2 years needed to replace an SD card...and even in those situations I probably didn't 'Need' too replace them but it was a quick solution.

For me the Pi Thin Client comes down to the cost of replacing the thin client itself. I setup the scripts and whatnot all around the the thin client and yes that took me time at first. But now that it's all in place...if for some reason a thin client died on me it's a very cheap replacement. I never need to replace cords or cases or that kind of hardware. And in two years I've never "Had" to replace a Thin Client either that died.

Also adding in a new workstation is pretty cheap for us since I've got everything all setup already.

Just my two cents...Smile

But I do hope others answer your question with regards to Pros/Cons of "Real" Thin Clients and the Pi Thin Clients.
28-03-2019, 12:08 PM, (This post was last modified: 06-09-2019, 01:45 PM by Garry Tribure.)
RE: What's a Pi Thin Client Cost Anyway?
The list of programs is good, but I did not find , it's a great program to connect your devices remotely. And it works very well in the thin client. At our company, we use it for universal access to the MFP machine through the server. There were no problems. although the price is not small, but we did not think about it at our company.

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