Clarification about PXE, VDI and thin client technologies?

scp

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Aug 5, 2015
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I've been trying to research a concept but I'm unsure what its actually called and was hoping someone might be able to point me in the right direction, or give me a very basic rundown on how it works and what its called. I'm probably using the wrong terms to describe it here.

Is there such a concept as taking a low power laptop or a desktop and installing a bare/thin OS (like a hypervisor?) on it that would then allow you to PXE boot or "stream" another OS to it? The "streamed" OS would be a virtual machine running on a VM server? For my use case, I would like to take an old Chromebook and turn it into a thin client that can access one of my many VMs that I curently run on my KVM server (Win10, Win7, etc). This is in a home environment.

I know I could do a Chrome Remote Desktop session as I've read about that, and I have used VNC and RDC before but is there something better that would give a near native feel, but keep all the heavy processing on the VM itself, or does this kind of concept always come down to basic remote desktop or VNC technologies?
 

ecosse

Active Member
Jul 2, 2013
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I've not looked at this topic for a while so I am really rusty but FWIW you don't need a hypervisor if you want to PXE boot the OS. Here is one example; I skim-read it but seems sound enough- just search for "diskless Windows 10" for example.

Diskless Windows 10 PC Setup Procedure

Wyse had a streaming manager at one stage - looks like its part of Dell's stuff now.

Wyse WSM Desktop and Application Virtualization is now part of Wyse vWorkspace | Dell

Not convinced you'll be able to get a chromebook working e.g. is there a sanboot option / ISCSI support? (just thinking this is a tosh statement since this is a function of the PXE package)
 
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NetWise

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Jun 29, 2012
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If the OS is running on the "VM Server", then all this is, is a PXE booted thin client - which can be whatever minimal OS you need to run MSTSC/View/Horizon/Citrix/etc. There is no need or benefit to 'stream' an OS to the low powered device, only the keyboard/video/monitor.
 

Rand__

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Mar 6, 2014
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What you are describing would be the basic VDI setup. Usually you'd use a Thin or Zero Client, but a low power Box with a client tool will also work.
The easiest option would be Windows Server + RDP (requiring a win box as client) but with less performance and some limitations.
Else VMWare Horizon or Citrix are the typical enterprise examples, and I am sure KVM has options too
 

hlidskialf

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Apr 28, 2016
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I do something similar to this for my wife's computer needs, running a thin client and streaming her VM to either that or her tablet. I use Nomachine for this and any time I want to tweak / interact with one of my VMs on my main workstation. (Proxmox passthrough GPU to Arch.)
Saves me having to debug on her machines directly and gives the glory of snapshots when she inevitably mucks something up.
 

scp

Member
Aug 5, 2015
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I do something similar to this for my wife's computer needs, running a thin client and streaming her VM to either that or her tablet. I use Nomachine for this and any time I want to tweak / interact with one of my VMs on my main workstation. (Proxmox passthrough GPU to Arch.)
Saves me having to debug on her machines directly and gives the glory of snapshots when she inevitably mucks something up.
Oooh, yeah, that sounds kind of like what I want to do. So with NoMachine, what is my base OS on the Chromebook supposed to be? Would it be ChromeOS, or would I put some Linux flavor on it? And to be clear, I don't "boot" into the VM - I boot into an OS, then initiate a NoMachine session to my VM?

The "streaming" terminology has confused me for the longest time - isnt that just a fancy way of describing VNC / RDP, etc? It's a remote desktop?

NoMachine seems like a decent solution to handle a wide variety of VMs. If I wanted to exclusively use Windows VMs, then RDP is definitely the protocol to use. But if I want to switch it up to a MacOS or Linux VM, it wouldnt work.