Keep it simple
Thin-client systems differ from regular PCs, or "fat clients," in that they do not run programs locally at the desktop. They can be self-contained, sealed units; older workstations; or PCs with ports for a keyboard and a mouse. However, they have no hard disk, RAM or modem. In some cases, at the information technology manager's discretion, an external drive or printer can be connected. Thin-client machines have enough ROM to hold the kernel of the operating system, a graphical user interface and, increasingly these days, a Web browser.
A Network Interface Card provides the server with each thin client's Media Access Control address so it knows where to send information. During computing sessions, the only data that passes through the network between the thin client and server are screen updates. All application processing is done on the server.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.