Diskless workstation and thin client
Alternatively referred to as a diskless node, dumb terminal, or dumb terminal, a diskless workstation is a networked computer that provides no local hard disk storage. These terminals have a monitor, motherboard, network card, keyboard, and mouse. This term can also be used to describe any computer that has a hard drive, but is booting and using applications from the network instead of from the local hard drive. This type of computer is often referred to as a hybrid computer or network computer.
The thin client was first used in the mid to late 1990s, but the term "thin client" was coined in 1993 by Tim Negris, a VP at Oracle Corporation. These very basic computers provide a graphical user interface and input and output for the user. Thin clients are not typical computers, but rather a terminal that relies on another computer (usually a server) to supply the operating system and software applications needed by the user. Multiple thin clients can be connected to one master system that run their own "instance" of an operating system and software. The picture is an example of a Thin client from Dell. Unlike a diskless workstation, a thin client does very little processing and usually only runs a small client that handles the input and output and basic display.
Why are these computers used?
These computers are used in a corporate and hazardous environment because of the reasons below.
- Much cheaper than a traditional computer.
- Saves energy and reduces overall power costs.
- No moving parts such as fans and hard drive platters. Helpful in production floors where dirt, dust, and heat are a concern.
- Because there are no moving parts they are less likely to fail, when compared with a normal computer.
- Easy to manage since it's the server you're maintaining not the hundreds or thousands of clients.
- More secure since all updates and data is handled at the server end.
- Replacement is much easier since its an immediate setup with no software or updates required.
Where are these computers used?
There are numerous places these types of computers can be used. However, they're most often found in corporations, schools, and libraries.