PC to thin client

Posted on 2010-09-12
Last Modified: 2013-11-21

Does anyone know a good solid way of using a PC as a thin client and will boot straight into a terminal services logon screen?


Question by:mattleedc

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ID: 33658551

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ID: 33658645

I'm working in a school with heaps of old PC's.  The schools server has 2 terminal services servers hosted and room for more.  I would like to use the old PC's as thin clients, but have had no experience with thin clients.  I would like something that when you boot up, you are presented with a log in screen that will log you into a terminal services session.



Expert Comment

ID: 33659214
The best open source solution I have found is It's free and works great. However, even though you can get pre-compiled versions to ease you into the ThinStation world I have found you still end up needing to compile one yourself.

For the beginner I reccomend you use the TS-O-Matic website. It will help guide you through the process by automating most of the process on the back-end so you can concentrate of deciding which options best fit your environment.
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Author Comment

ID: 33659334
Yeah I was looking at that.  I also wanted to concider the Windows for legact PC's.  Is there a way to boot into windows where the RDP client login loads without showing the local windows desktop?

Expert Comment

ID: 33659467
Yes I believe there is, but when you start RDP if you don't login it will time out and close the session. That will create a problem for you if there are things on the desktop you're trying to hide. You can mitigate that problem by creating an empty desktop except for the RDP icon you want displayed.
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Cláudio Rodrigues earned 500 total points
ID: 33663275
Couple very important things to keep in mind:
1. All open source solutions rely on RDesktop as the RDP Client (as they are all Linux based). RDesktop is WELL known for NOT being 100% compatible with the RDP specifications. As RDP is always changing this means there may be features that will NOT work on RDesktop and will work PERFECTLY when using the full blown Win32 RDP Client (and in this case WinFLP makes way more sense).
2. If using Windows, take a look at Thin Desktop from It does exactly what you mention, completely locking down a PC into a thin client, running the RDP client and NOTHING else. No matter what the user does he is always back to the RDP client. Sure it costs money but it works 100% and can be implemented in a matter of minutes.
3. If willing to stick with a Linux based approach, also check the 2X ThinClient Server ( They have a centralized management solution that would allow you to either load a local, locked down OS on these PCs or boot these over the network. All from a fancy, really polished web based interface. Indeed a neat, great solution. Again, only drawback I see is being Linux based (keep in mind if you do NOT care/need full 100% compatibility for the RDP client, then consider a Linux solution for sure).
4. Note that Windows for Legacy PCs (WinFLP) is NOT available for everyone. You MUST be under Software Assurance with Microsoft to get that. An alternative in your case is to take a look at BartPE.

Hope this helps.

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - Remote Desktop Services
Citrix CTP
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 33670664
What OS are these old machines running? If it is XP, you could create a gpo:
- that removes all desktop items
- removes all items in the start menu
- starts the app mstsc.exe at login

This is about as close to what you ask that I could think of.

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