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What's the best Desktop Virtualization model?

My customer has 20 old laptop machines (P4 vintage, 512-MB to 1-GB of RAM), all running Windows XP which is about to lose MS support.  He has purchased 2 new IBM servers, 32 GB of RAM, 8-core processor, lots of Hard disk space.

Can you please help me design a desktop virtualization solution ...

I assume Windows Server 2012 on the servers, setting the two servers up for redundancy.

I'm guessing Linux on all the laptops.  Which version of Linux makes the most sense for a small business - Ubuntu?

Is there a case to be made for leaving Windows  XP on the laptops but set them up so that they immediately run the remote desktop software to connect to the server?  Would this address the issue of security on these old XP machines?

Obviously, I'm new at this.  Maybe somebody can point me to a tutorial.  Thanks.
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Dwight Baer
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Dwight Baer
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Dwight BaerAuthor Commented:
How much training will be required for the users if their workstation is Linux but immediately boots into a Windows desktop environment?  (Hopefully none or very little).  We need to be able to print locally ... hear audio locally ... what else might require the user to know a bit about Linux?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You could rollout a terminal server or remote desktop solution with your existing servers, but that is not really a Desktop Virtualisation solution.

the following article lists and compares most Desktop Virtualisation solutions.

http://www.pqr.com/images/stories/Downloads/whitepapers/vdi%20smackdown.pdf

You will need to login and download the article.

http://www.wtslabs.com/Downloads/TSAtoZ.pdf

The above article describes Terminal Services, and what it is.
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rindiCommented:
I'm not sure I understand the Question correctly. Are you trying to use m$ Windows as the remote desktop OS, or Linux? Are you mainly asking about using Linux on your local PC's, and then connect to the Remote OS with that? If that is the case, you'd probably be better off using a zero or thin Client instead of a local PC. That is cheaper and more efficient. As HyperVisor I'd go for VMWare. You can still use standard PC's to connect to the virtual Desktop, but what OS you use for shouldn't matter much. If it is going to be Linux, personally I wouldn't go for Ubuntu, but rather something like Mint, BlackLab Linux, Zorin (these are based on Ubuntu, but have a more traditional desktop, BlackLab is geared for enterprise use), or Korora (based on Fedora, but more complete and easier to use), OpenSUSE (also very easy to use and fast), PCLinux Fullmonty (very easy to use and manage, very complete).

All those distro's I have mentioned are very easy to use and hardly need any instructions for the previous Windows user to get along with. The normal ubuntu is harder to use, as it's desktop is more geared for touch enabled devices (similar to Windows 8.x), and not everything most people will want is included by default.
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Dwight BaerAuthor Commented:
Thanks Andrew Hancock and Rindi.  I'm researching.  

Yes, the customer's requirements are that we will have Windows Server 2012 on the servers.  We'd like to make use (if it makes sense) of our existing 20 old machines, to use them as workstations.

I'll close this question because you've given me tons to work on.  I may open a related question later on this weekend.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Remember connecting to ANY RDS 2012 solution is going to require the purchase of 20 x RDS CALs, ontop of the Windows 2012 Server License.

Also take into account, your requirements gathering, if users need to use, local printers, USB printers, USB devices (iphones, cameras), handheld scanners, scanners, and USB flash drives for documents.

You can certainly re-use your Windows Laptops, but you may want to keep Windows as a platform, and use RDP, Windows is the Best Thin Client OS, which exists, in terms of RDP compatibility!

Windows XP, can be dumbed down and locked, so it just becomes a Windows XP dumb terminal running RDP.
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Dwight BaerAuthor Commented:
Thanks Andrew.  Let's say it's a given that users need to use  local printers, USB printers, USB devices (iphones, cameras), handheld scanners, scanners, and USB flash drives for documents ... What does that imply about the choice of OS for the workstation?  I hear you saying that you  recommend Windows for the workstations, rather than Linux, to simplify all these issues.  I don't mind opening a new question.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You would have to rule out Linux, and Windows XP, because RemoteFX, which is required for USB redirection, is only supported on Windows 7 and Windows 8.

I've answered in your other question, to keep this On-Topic here! We can continue discussing there!
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Dwight BaerAuthor Commented:
Thank you very much.  I may open a follow-up question later, actually I expect before I have this design proposal finished I'll have lots more questions!
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