Jon “maddog” Hall gave a talk about using Linux thin clients (e.g. the Linux Terminal Server Project) to provide Internet and application access to schools, third-world countries and organizations in general. He specifically noted that thin clients (like the HP Compaq t5125 which only uses 10 Watts of power compared to the 550 Watts used by most computers) could easily provide low-power, high-performance computing on a large scale.
After hearing this, it sparked my curiosity since I typically use Remote Desktop as part of my job to connect to Windows Terminal Servers at our college head office. So, I basically used my SGI O2 (180MHz CPU, 64MB RAM, running Gentoo Linux) to do ALL of the work I normally do at home for the past three days by connecting remotely to Windows and Linux Terminal Servers. And yes, aside from downloading music (which is not suited for thin clients), everything that I did worked just as fast on this SGI O2 thin client as compared to the three modern computers I normally use on a daily basis. So, I imagine that the HP Compaq t5125 thin client (with a 400MHz CPU and 128MB of RAM) can only do better at a price of $199.
I can definitely see using thin clients in a school environment (as well as other environments). I wonder if thin clients will catch on…..they would be a good solution for California’s power shortages :-)