Virtualization

New Castle SD Converts Old Netbooks to Thin Clients

New Castle School District in Indiana has cut costs and improved the user experience by repurposing its old netbooks as thin clients rather than buying new thin clients.

The district had 800 six-year-old Acer Aspire One netbooks, one for each of its elementary school students. They were running Windows XP, which is no longer supported by Microsoft, and had reached their end of life. The district considered replacing them with 800 new thin clients at a cost of $200 each, but instead decided to convert the existing netbooks to thin clients.

The district replaced the netbooks' Windows XP operating system (OS) with a Linux-based OS called Stratodesk NoTouch Desktop. Stratodesk enabled the district to repurpose the devices to host the Citrix VDI-in-a-Box virtual desktop infrastructure. According to Stratodesk, "NoTouch saved the district $136,000, or 85 percent of the cost of new thin clients."

The system enables the IT team to make district-wide setting changes in minutes from any computer. With the old system, the team could respond to teachers' requests for changes or additions to desktop software only once a semester. Now they can make changes overnight, once a month, and the thin clients can run applications that wouldn't run on the netbooks before, so all students now have access to the same software. "We can now offer a consistent user experience across the district," said Dustin Chew, senior network engineer for the district, in a prepared statement.

According to information from Stratodesk, the centralized desktops run with 50 percent more RAM and a 33 percent faster processor than the netbooks, and boot-up and log-in takes 75 percent less time, saving approximately 20 minutes a day.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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