How to Set Up a Thin Client Environment

By David Weedmark

A thin client is a network workstation that does not use memory or a hard drive. Instead, it uses the resources of the network server to run applications, store data and process information. There are many benefits to thin client environment and few drawbacks. Thin clients are less expensive, seldom need to be upgraded, and are less prone to breakdowns. As long as the network able to handle the transfer of information and the server has the resources in processing power, memory and hard drive space, users seldom notice the difference between a thin client and a typical workstation.


Decide on an operating system for your server. Most thin client environments use Microsoft or Linux on the server.

Purchase a server that has the necessary memory, hard drive capacity and processor speed to run your thin client workstations.

Determine the software required by the people using the workstations, including email, word processing programs, spreadsheets and other typical applications. Then ensure you have the updated software and required software licenses.

Create a test network by connecting the server to one or more thin clients and following the steps below. Only after you are satisfied that the server is working as required should you attempt to install the server and workstations into a working environment.

Linux Environment

Install the Linux operating system onto the server.

Install terminal server software onto the server.

Install other required software programs. These could include Open Office, a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software suite equivalent to Microsoft Office. SAMBA is a software that enables file csharing with Microsoft servers. Rdesktop is a program that allows your network to connect with Microsoft Windows Terminal Server. Evolution is an email program used with Linux.

Microsoft Environment

Install Windows Server 2008 onto the server, including Windows Terminal Server.

Install Microsoft Platform Builder onto the server. This comes with most thin client workstations.

Launch Platform Builder from the start menu and follow the installation guide.

Install any necessary applications for your thin client workstations. These typically include applications like Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook.

Network Configuration

Select a firewall to protect the server from hackers and malicious software on the Internet.

Select a switch to allow you to connect each thin client and the server together.

Connect the firewall to the Internet, and connect the switch to the firewall. Connect the server and thin client workstations to the switch using 10/100 Ethernet cables.