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Cloud computing with Linux thin clients

May 14, 2009, 21:47 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jeffrey M. Osier-Mixon)

"What about applications? Something beyond the operating system is required in order to gain access to the cloud, and cost must be considered here, as well. The cloud has made thin clients possible, but the key to making them inexpensive is limiting the cost of the software to run them.

"As most developers know, some of the most powerful network-oriented applications available are completely free, including Web browsers (such as Firefox, Opera, and Chrome), e-mail software (such as Thunderbird and Evolution), instant messaging (such as Pidgin and Trillian), and multi-platform application environments (such as Java™ technology). The combination of just these four application types alone would make a formidable thin client, all completely free.

"Note, however, that free, open source operating systems and applications do not mean that you can make a device completely without cost. As noted open source developer Jamie Zawinski famously said, "Free software is only free if your time has no value." You must accept a certain amount of work to design and implement systems based on free software, just as you must do when evaluating proprietary software. However, because the base product is free and its source code is available, the value gained for that time is far higher for free software than for paid software, even if the process itself takes a little longer."

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