Building and configuring an ACP thin client network requires three types of hardware and three types of software. This document will provide an overview of the process and provide links to more detailed articles.
The most important component of the server hardware is memory (RAM). Each terminal user that logs into the server will have a self-contained session requiring enough RAM to run its applications. To determine the quantity needed, add the amount needed for each session to the 1024 MB needed for the operating system. While 32 MB may be enough for an office terminal running a word processor or an e-mail program, HMIs and SCADA programs require higher amounts. Plan on 128 - 256 MB for each HMI operator station.
Processor speed is also important. Multi-core and Multi-processor servers will have more capacity and will yield better performance.
We often think of servers as a specialty style of hardware: rack mounted, RAID hard drives, dual or quad processors, and redundant power supplies. This style of hardware is ideally suited to the demands of server computing, but is not the defining criteria. What creates a server is the operating system. Server software can effectively run on a variety of hardware configurations. While the modern rack-mounted server is ideally suited to the task, desktop workstation hardware can also be used to run server software.
ACP Enabled Thin Clients connect to the terminal server using TCP/IP. Most current models use 100-based-T Ethernet. Fiber optics can be used for the network backbone.
The thin clients will each need an IP address to join the network. ThinManager Ready thin clients can use a static IP or be assigned addresses by a DHCP server. ThinManager Compatible thin clients need to use DHCP to receive their address.
Firewalls will block the in-bound traffic to the ThinManager Server. You can disable the firewall but it is a better practice to open the ports needed.
ThinManager primarily uses TCP/2031 and UDP/4900. For a complete list of port assignments, see the Ports Page.
ThinManager Ready Thin Clients
Thin Clients are computing devices that run without a hard drive or configurable operating system. This cuts down on the amount of maintenance required.
They connect to a terminal server, login, and start a session. The processing is on the terminal server but the input and video output are on the thin client.
ThinManager Ready Thin Clients
ThinManager Ready thin clients are thin clients that have an ACP BIOS on board that allows it to connect to ThinManager to receive its firmware and configuration. The ThinManager Ready label on the hardware shows that it is ready to connect to ThinManager.
ThinManager Ready Logo
ThinManager Capable Thin Clients
ThinManager Compatible thin clients are common off the shelf thin clients that can use PXE boot to download the firmware and configuration. This expands the hardware options for a ThinManager system.
PXE boot and ThinManager Compatible thin clients require an XLi license.
Terminal Server Operating System
ACP Enabled Thin Clients require a server running a Microsoft operating system that is listed on the Compatibility Matrix. These allow terminals to login to the terminal server and run a complete Windows session on the server that is distinct and separate from the other sessions.
Microsoft requires that each terminal session have a Microsoft Terminal Services/Remote Desktop Services Client Access License. It is called a TS CAL with Server 2000 and Server 2003 servers and an RDS CAL with Server 2008 and newer.
ACP ThinManager has failover capabilities. If one or more terminal servers are used, ACP ThinManager can be configured so that if one server fails, the terminals will quickly connect to a server that is designated as a secondary server.
ThinManager is an administrative user interface that controls, configures, and organizes the ThinManager Ready and ThinManager Compatible thin client. ThinManager is the visible control panel that works in conjunction with a background service named ThinServer.
The ThinManager interface has a control panel with a tree-view pane and a details pane. The tree-view pane provides "at-a-glance" management by icon color to show the on/off status of the terminal. When the terminal is expanded it shows what terminal servers or display clients that it is assigned and connected.
Selecting a terminal icon or group icon in the tree-view pane will display the configuration parameters of the terminal or group in the details pane. This provides quick access to configuration information.
ThinManager can be installed on most computers, either servers (Server 2000 SP3 and later) or workstations (XP SP2 or later). Please see our Compatibility Matrix for more indepth information on supported Operating Systems. It is easier to run on servers because it is easier to open ports and grant permissions.
ThinManager doesn’t need to be installed on a terminal server, although that is a common place to install it.
ThinManager has redundant licensing that allows you to synchronize two ThinManager Servers. You can point the thin clients to both and if the first ThinManager Server isn’t available the thin client will connect to the secondary.
Full redundancy gives you two synchronized ThinManager Servers and an administrative console on both. Mirrored licensing gives you two synchronized ThinManager Servers and an administrative console just on the primary ThinManager Server. Configuration When a new thin client is added to the system, the ThinManager will prompt for the configuration of the new terminal. The terminal can be easily configured by either:
- Adding it to an existing Group and receiving the Group configuration
- Copying the configuration from an existing terminal
- Auto-Creation from the floor to match the configuration of a default terminal
- Individually configuring the terminal to meet individual needs
The configuration parameters include:
- Whether the terminal boots automatically or whether the user login is manually entered at each terminal boot
- Whether an initial application is run upon terminal booting
- The video resolution
- Which modules to load
- Specifying which server to connect to if multiple servers are used.
When a terminal is added to a Group, it will inherit the configuration of the group.
Use of modules speed the terminal boot process because the terminal will load only the code from the modules that are specified. The modules include:
- Touch screen drivers
- Instant Failover
- Sound drivers
- Serial Mouse drivers
ThinManager can be installed on a virtual machine. It will need to have its license re-activated whenever it is moved or copied as the install ID is tied to the SID.
ThinManager can use virtual terminal servers. They can be defined as if they are physical servers.
ThinManager can connect to a VMware ESXi server and control and manage the virtual machines from within ThinManager. Any virtual terminal servers can be defined as virtual terminal servers in ThinManager.
Applications need to be installed on the terminal servers that the thin clients will connect to. Each software vendor has its own licensing model but you will usually need a license for each active session.
Before establishing the ACP thin client environment you need to decide the following:
- Determine how you want IP addresses assigned, using DHCP or Static IP addresses.
- Decide whether the thin clients will logon automatically at start, or whether the operator will be required to logon at startup and on reboots.
- Decide if you want the ACP Enabled thin client to be configured individually, organized into a single group with similar configurations, or divided into multiple groups, each with a different configuration.
- Define the naming convention for the groups.
- Define the initial startup session, deciding whether you want the Windows desktop or a specific application to run on startup.
- Decide what level of Windows security needs to be assigned to the users.
- Define the naming convention for the ACP Enabled thin clients