For a project I'm working on the customer ordered Raspberry Pi3 Thin Client from ViewSonic to evaluate. Why is this interesting? Citrix made the promise to release a Thin Client blow $100 dollar to end, in my opinion, stupid discussion about Thin- and Fat Clients and the initial price for the device.
Thin Client vendors have blown up the price for their devices that many customers said it's the same or even more expensive as a fat client. The customer total leaves out the fact that Thin Clients have normally a much longer lifetime than a fat client. I have customers still using the same Thin Clients for more than 10 years! The guy who is purchasing the device for the company doesn't know about it and just compare A with B and is a comparison between apples and pears - it's simply not the same!
The ViewSonic Thin Client based on Raspberry has an official price of $119 dollar. Not below $100 but close. Note that the device is shipped without keyboard and mouse but can be ordered separately for $49 dollar - almost have of the TC price and if included with the device they wouldn't be close to the $100 mark.
I had a close look at the device and management, integrated in a Citrix XenDesktop 7.9 environment. Here my review about the Raspberry Pi3 Thin Client from ViewSonic.
Let's start with the specifications of the device
ViewSonic SC-T25 Raspberry Pi3 Thin Client
- Raspberry Pi Platform
- Citrix HDX Ready
- Digital HDMI output supports displays up to 1920 x 1200
- Equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and RJ45
- Peripheral support with four USB V2.0 ports
- 4W of power consumption
- Quad core ARM Cortex CPU
- ViewSonic Thin OS (VTOS) ARM Linux OS
- 1GB RAM
- Audio Output
- 300-gram weight
- Option for Wall mount (?)
- 60 second boot time
I just plugged things together and then the little black Thin Client seems to get lost.
Can you spot the TC? To be fair that was the only USB keyboard I had.
Time to boot took 120 seconds the first time around and afterwards 60 seconds. The factory default is a local browser session to ViewSonic but what about a Citrix session?
The long story about creating a Citrix session
The title gives it away, doesn't it? After closing the web session, you get to a configuration bar where you can select Citrix HDX and then click "new" that will ultimately start Citrix Receiver asking for the URL/email address. Actually both options have their issues and only one might work, so choose wisely ;-)
In the user guide you will find that using an email address is not supported. Guess you wanted to use the URL anyway BUT that has a specific issue as you might know. Yes, by default Citrix Receiver is ONLY using HTTPS (SSL) connections and you are using a Linux device. That means you need the root certificate (internally rarely a public certificate is used for StoreFront) on the device but how do I get it one the Thin Client? The answer is with ViewSonic Device Manager (VDM)
ViewSonic Device Manager (VDM)
VDM is a free download and a Windows based application you need to install. When starting the first time the device manager wizard starts to do some basic things like downloading the latest firmware. At some point I've been ask for licensing with an email address and a password? No idea and nothing in the user guide. So I just put in something and worked?!
Next I noticed that the one device I have is already listed. Since I didn't do anything on the Thin Client I guess they are using a broadcast by default. You can and should set the VDM on the TC because then it uses a TCP port.
There is nothing really to write about the VDM because it has very basic functionality and I would actually call it a "Pre-Beta" and absolutely not version 3.0!
The one thing you do need is "upload" to get the root certificate onto the device. Before that there is another hurdle to take because you need the root certificate in PEM format. Once you have the root certificate in the right format the upload goes quickly and all set for Citrix Receiver.
Citrix Receiver on the Raspberry
Finally, you can fill in the StoreFront URL but I couldn't find anything in the VDM to pre-set the URL. The application set shows up and you can launch your session. You're done working? Well you can log off from Receiver but still shows the application set and there is no turn off button; Not on the device and not on the screen. Guess they think you would leave it on anyway or just unplug the power supply? Shadow the device through VDM, no. Again very, very basic.
You are looking for a cheap Thin Client and do not expect anything else then an ICA connection to work? Then that's exactly what you get, not more not less. ViewSonic isn't really a name in the Thin Clients business, at least not for me. Maybe no wonder there isn't really much too it. The ViewSonic has potential in a far, far away future. Most likely a named Vendor will come out with a cheap Raspberry Thin Client that actually is usable in environments with more that 10-20 users.
What do you think? It's all about the price and the rest like management doesn't really matter?
Please comment below!