Computer Lab and BOSaNOVA Bolster Thin Clients
May 10, 2005 Alex Woodie
Now that IBM has decided to wind-down non TCP/IP networking and stop selling Twinax adapters for the iSeries, it might be time to bite the bullet and make the move to a TCP/IP and thin client infrastructure, if you haven’t already done so. Luckily, there are many vendors providing Windows and Linux thin client terminals for the OS/400 community. Two of those vendors, BOSaNOVA and Computer Lab International, recently improved their thin client offerings.
A couple of weeks ago, we reported how IBM plans to stop selling Twinax adapters in 2006 (see “Rochester Winds Down Non-TCP/IP Networking on the iSeries”). IBM is not, however, entirely hanging your legacy applications out to dry, and has plans to bring SNA forward through something called the “Enterprise Extender,” (see “iSeries SNA Software Support Continues with Enterprise Extender”). But the handwriting is on the wall: TCP/IP is the future, so get with it.
BOSaNOVA, the North American distributor for B.O.S. Better On-line Solutions, last week announced it has delivered software updates for both its Linux and Windows-based thin client offerings. The Phoenix company’s line of Windows XP-based terminals, which include the XTC-1000 and the XTC-400, are now shipping with the embedded version of Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).
Windows XP SP2, which shipped last summer, brought important security facilities to Windows XP, including activation of the Windows firewall by default, a new Windows Security Center, closing of ports after system start-up, and several other features.
For BOSaNOVA, using XPe SP2 provides additional advantages, including enabling automatic operating system updates for thin clients. In the past, updates would originate from BOSaNOVA, and they would have to be pushed out to the thin clients. With XP SP2 under the hood, distribution of updates originates from a Windows server running System Update Server (SUS) or other update software, and the updates come directly from Microsoft over the Internet.
BOSaNOVA has also taken the opportunity to update other software components of the Windows-based thin clients, including a new pop-up blocker, support for DirectX 9, Windows Media Player 9, Acrobat version 7, and support for Bluetooth and VoIP drivers.
Also enhanced are BOSaNOVA’s Linux-based thin clients, which include the LTC-1000 and the LTC-400. The new feature allows users to customize their desktop wallpaper. Finally, the company says its XTC and LTC offerings support inexpensive PCI wireless cards. The top-of-the-line XTC-1000 and LTC-1000 models, which include a 1Ghz Via processor, ship with an open PCI slot. For more information on the company’s thin clients, visit www.bosanova.net
New Computer Lab Products
Meanwhile, in late April, Computer Lab launched three new lines of “next generation” Windows-based thin clients, including the ET4500g and ET5500g, the ET4500x and ET5500x, and the MT1200c, MT1500g, and MT1550g devices.
The new ET4500g and ET5500g thin clients use 667MHz Via processors, feature 128MB of RAM and a full complement of terminal emulation software and ports, and use the Windows CE 5 operating system. The only difference between them is the ET5500g features a PCMCIA expansion slot for adding things like wireless network connectivity, which adds $36 to the ET4500g’s cost of $427.
The new ET4500x and ET5500x are outfitted similarly to the thin clients described above, except these devices are loaded with the Windows XPe SP1 operating system, and include twice the RAM, or 256MB, to run the beefier OS. The addition of a PCMCIA slot on the ET5500x adds $36 to the cost of the ET4500x, which is $582.
Computer Labs’ new MT line of devices is designed to be mounted on the back of LCD monitors to conserve space. All of these devices use low-power AMD Geode GX processors and Windows CE 5, and feature Microsoft and Citrix software for connecting to Windows, Unix, and Linux servers.
The MT 1500g and MT1550g add 5250, 3270, and VT terminal emulation software, in addition the Internet Explorer Web browser. The MT1550g also adds an internal smart cart reader for authenticating users. Pricing ranges from $320 for the MT1200c to $413 for the MT1550g. For more information, visit www.computerlab.com.