back to article Citrix bakes up Raspberry Pi client boxes

Citrix has unveiled a desktop thin client based on the Raspberry Pi microcomputer. The HDX Ready Pi is a Citrix-built box containing the Raspberry Pi 3 hardware and a ViewSonic Linux build designed specifically to run with the Citrix HDX virtual desktop platform. In addition to the Raspberry Pi 3 board, the client boxes …

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Internal Power Supply?

What kind of power cable would you use for this box? Certainly not a three-prong grounded like you would for a PC or monitor. Even a two-prong polarized (like to your laptop's power brick) would be heavy and unruly. Why not stick with a traditional USB wall-wart?

And are they charging you for the software? Why is this thing $90 on sale?

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Re: Internal Power Supply?

From the size of the box in comparison to how much space an RPi board uses, they could certainly house a tiny switching p/s in that box, then use a two prong cable to feed it. The box itself is already a "wart" so simplifying the plug in bits by putting the p/s in the case makes sense here. Consider the end-users in this case[sic]; make it DEAD SIMPLE.

Yes, an RPi3 with a case is not going to fetch anything close to $90, so that is what you're getting; about $50 worth of hardware and the rest for their software suite. It looks pretty competitive, if there's going to be a fight for this space in business thin-client desktops.

I'm a bit of a RPi nut, so I'm all for more RPi making their way into the heart of the computer industry. Is there anything these tiny boxen CAN'T do? I love it! Also, out the back-end when these start to loose their luster there will be lots of tiny reusable RPi boards to pick up on the cheap.

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Re: Internal Power Supply?

So let's get this straight? You ask a question, admit you don't know, make a blind guess and them complain about how crap your guess would be.

As for the price, if you don't like it, don't buy it. Yes, you are paying a premium for the complete package. This surprises you? If other people look at it and decide it it is worth buying that doesn't make them wrong, just less blinkered. They may decide that this is ideal for them based on various criteria, or may figure that a standard Pi setup is in reality much more expensive than it first appears once you get to a complete set up - "I had so and so lying around" doesn't cut if it you want to deploy them by the thousand.

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Re: Internal Power Supply?

Oh god you're one of those?

"The components alone cost x, how can they justify it costing y?"

Because youre not just paying for a pile of components you are also paying for the assembly, software probably some form of support...

Little anecdote about my experience last week that is quite fitting.. I was out and about and a little peckish so nipped into a shop and bought some crisps.

It was only later I realised that crisps are just sliced up cooked potatoes! They cost pennies... yet I was charged £1 for a bag which couldn't have contained more than two mid sized potatoes. How are they getting away with this??

It's a fucking scam, and Gary linniker is behind all of it.

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Re: Internal Power Supply?

Oh my goodness, such response, I feel so special.

First off, if Citrix or ViewSonic described the power situation, I wouldn't have to be so confused, but their websites don't mention anything or have pictures displaying the power connection. If they use a standard two-prong 120/240V 13/7A power cable, it will weight more than the box itself (better have some sticky feet on there). Also, what about replacement power supplies, or are they hoping the $120 retail will be totally replaceable to most companies?

As for the cost, Citrix isn't making the Raspberry Pi. It doesn't sound like the hardware is customized at all. And support, doesn't that come with your Citrix server subscription? I would think Citrix would sell these on the cheap and recoup cost with licensing. Citrix IS a software/service house, not a hardware company. THAT's why the cost is surprising to me. I mean, if I can buy a cheap laptop for $300, that sounds like a better option than a Pi + Monitor that acts SOLELY as a Citrix terminal (for workstation needs at least).

It just seems odd that they would rebadge existing hardware, instead of just pushing the software that runs on it. Why not sell the software/support for $120 and let people buy their own $35 Pis?

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Re: Internal Power Supply?

"Why not sell the software/support for $120 and let people buy their own $35 Pis?"

Because there are buyers who could never in a million years convince their boss that it is a good idea to pay $35,000 for a thousand Raspberry Pis, but can easily convince him that it is a good idea to pay $90,000 for thousand boxes that do nothing but running Citrix clients.

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Re: Internal Power Supply?

"yet I was charged £1 for a bag which couldn't have contained more than two mid sized potatoes"

Christ, that must have one ginourmous bag of crisps. IME, you can make at least three bags of crisps from a single medium sized spud.

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Re: Internal Power Supply?

"Because there are buyers who could never in a million years convince their boss that it is a good idea to pay $35,000 for a thousand Raspberry Pis"

Not to mention the 1000 PSUs, the 1000 HDMI cables, the 1000 cases, possibly the 1000 keyboards, screens and mice and the labour costs to put the Pi's in the cases and then attach them to the backs of the screens either via pass though VESA mounts where the screen actually allows for that, or just gluing them to the back of the screen. They won't last 5 minutes on a users desk with wires coming out of three sides.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Internal Power Supply?

USB

WALL

PLATES

Come visit 2016, it has some pretty cool stuff.

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Re: Internal Power Supply?

Presumably it's a power supply which solves the sudden power off problem, which would be nice. After all, would you like to reformat, rewrite, and swap 1000 SD cards?

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Re: Internal Power Supply?

Is it an internal power supply, though - or just a power supply?

The El Reg article says it's internal, but if you read the linked Citrix blog post you'll see it simply says it comes with a power supply - no mention of it being internal. Plus, if you look at the pictures, the case isn't much bigger than the Pi itself, and one of the visible ports is the micro-USB used for the normal power supply.

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If you really want to complain about mark-ups on Raspberry Pies...

... just get your self down to Maplins.

They won't sell you a Pi for £25, but will bundle it will some so-so accessories for £70 or whatever.

I don't care how much Citrix sell their solutions for - their customers will make their choice after doing the sums. But Maplins could have sold the Pi for cheaper - hopefully to young, budding tinkerers - and thus grown the market for all the sensors, LEDs, Arduinos, daughter boards and other gubbins they sell at a mark-up.

Yeah, I know we should buy this stuff online, but sometimes you want something right now! Oh well, I've known Maplins to sell an external HDD enclosure for more than they sell and external HDD.

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Re: Internal Power Supply?

$89 (£61+VAT).

My first thought was that I'd certainly struggle to buy a Pi, an SD card, a safe PSU, a case, and pay someone to assemble those things and install software, pay someone to test that all of that has happened correctly for sixty quid.

Then I checked. I could buy all the bits from Pimoroni for c. £46. ex VAT, delivered. So that's £15 for customised software, making the PSU internal to the case to help with swapping out units and avoiding endless bent/broken microUSB plugs, and after-sales service all coming from the same place.

Extortionate. And presumably if you order really quite a lot of these, there's a bulk discount.

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Anonymous Coward

If this little puppy can drive a couple of decent sized displays, then this is a fab thing. We can leave the high touch data apps in the data centre where they belong, and present space and power efficient displays which can also support a mobile/hot desking workforce.

Top stuff. Oh sorry, I forgot you said it was Citrix. Nevermind, I'll go and swim in some molasses with barbed wire over there.

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"If this little puppy can drive a couple of decent sized displays,"

Are there any USB based display devices that are supported by Linux? The Pi has HDMI and composite video outputs but they are exclusive. You can't drive two displays that way

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HDMI and composite will output the same image, but you wouldn't want composite for a computer monitor if you could possibly avoid it anyway. The Pi has other options for attaching additional displays. I believe that two-screen output using the GPU for both screens is possible using either one of these or one of these so if it were a make-or-break feature for a small network client, it wouldn't be beyond a company like Citrix to make it work.

M.

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> "The Pi has HDMI and composite video outputs but they are exclusive"

Actually, they abandoned the composite video with the Raspberry Pi 2 (and 3...)

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Re: > "The Pi has HDMI and composite video outputs but they are exclusive"

"Actually, they abandoned the composite video with the Raspberry Pi 2 (and 3...)"

"The Model B+ features a new 3.5mm audio jack which also includes the composite video signal. This has allowed for the removal of the composite video socket found on the Model B."

AFAIK this is so for Pi 3

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"I believe that two-screen output using the GPU for both screens is possible using either one of these or one of these"

Thanks, didn't knoe about the VGA adaptor. I suspect both options are not quite ready for mainstream yet to run as dual large screen. And may be a drain on resources making other stuff slow. But it's nice they are there and that they may well work.

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If this little puppy can drive a couple of decent sized displays,

I wonder if it would be possible to add additional Citrix/RPi devices for each additional HDMI display, then it would just be a software/configuration issue and you could have as many displays as you need. Keyboard and mouse would be connected to the "master" device with all the additional screens connected to the "slave" (display only) devices.

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Re: > "The Pi has HDMI and composite video outputs but they are exclusive"

AFAIK this is so for Pi 3

Just to clarify, before Pi 2 there was a 3.5mm stereo tip-ring-sleve (TRS) jack for audio, and a separate RCA, "phono" socket for composite video. The Pi 2 dropped the phono and moved the composite video to the additional ring of a tip-ring-ring-sleeve (TRRS) jack which also carries the stereo audio. This is a standard connector as found in many other devices. Yes, the same connector is used on the Pi 3.

M.

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I suspect both options are not quite ready for mainstream yet to run as dual large screen. And may be a drain on resources making other stuff slow

As both options use the GPU they do not stress the processor, but they do increase contention for the shared memory, so this may well slow things down. Quite how much, I couldn't tell you as I've never tried it.

While the DSI option is relatively new, the VGA adapter has been around for some time so if you are interested you can probably find quite a lot of discussion online. In fact the articles I linked above would be a good place to start.

M.

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Anonymous Coward

It was only a matter of time really. Thin clients only rely on a few factors on the hardware side hence the term "thin". The Pi 4 will probably check everyone's boxes depending on the case as it will need to be positioned in a certain way to hold the Pi otherwise it won't work correctly.

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First thing I thought

Was that yea, you can do this already, and RPi's are only £25. 3 times the price for cost of an install on an SD card...?

Then I remembered, the boxes are ~£10, power supply, SD card etc on top, and actually, £90 isn't that mental. Yes I've seen the Citrix receiver client thingy exists - but this is why it exists, they were playing with the thing before launching their own product.

Still, an enterprise can employ their local PFY to copy some SD cards and chuck them into off the shelf PIs and still see a saving, I'd barter. Probably not supported though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: First thing I thought

put a Citrix label on the box, rather than the Viewsonic one, and they'd prob sell far more into PHB-land: with support on that, then a £55 price point (it's on Viewsonic's site for pre-order at $89, and there's a first order discount for end users, so corporate pricing should be able to do something with that) is fairly easy.

Hell, a £100 price point is probably within reach - if could be PoE, even better.

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Re: First thing I thought

" if could be PoE, even better."

I was thinking that too. In a pass-through VESA mount and a slightly larger case with an adaptor inside to take the power around to the micro USB port. And if the case is going to be a bit bigger anyway, maybe bring the connectors all to the same side internally. Yeah, a little extra cost, but in the corporate world of PHBs, that minor detail isn't really a worry when it;s going to be offset against taxes anyway.

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Re: First thing I thought

Was that yea, you can do this already

Sure can:

http://xenappblog.com/2015/thinlinx-on-raspberry-pi-first-impressions/

The price point has probably been chosen to make it simpler to select the ready made and supported Citrix/Viewsonic product rather than build your own.

Aside: there is a short history of the Citrix product here: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2015/12/10/citrix-raspberry-pi2-thinlinx-high-res-graphics-client-for-50/

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Took them a while

(we have been building and supplying Pi based thin clients for four years) but it's nice to see a company with their status doing the same thing. Standardised, cheap commodity hardware is a refreshing thing in a market like thin clients...

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Re: Took them a while

But it seems they still got it wrong!

From having done several deployments, the big thing is that the system unit should and needs to go on the back of the monitor - using the standard VESA mounts provided, with a port extension block that attaches to the bottom/side/top of the monitor.

Looking at the picture, it would seem that Citrix wish this box to simply add to the clutter on the typical office desk.

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Re: Took them a while

From the site: "the SC-T25 easily attaches to your VESA-ready monitor,"

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Re: Took them a while

Thanks Billse10 for the clarification. However looking through the website, it would seem the means of attachment is likely to be the same as that used for the SC-U25 [ http://www.viewsonic.com/us/desktop-virtualization/shop/sc-u25-bk-us0.html ], which assumes the monitor uses it's own (non-VESA) stand leaving the Vesa mount available for the client box.

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From a magazine giveaway to ...

Let's stop bitching about the price and just remember

5 years ago the Pi was a breadboard project on a kitchen table (lashed up from ex mobile phone bits and some free software.)

4 years ago a pallet of privately funded and manufactured 'educational' single board computers turned up in the UK

A few months ago as a result of the staggering accidental success of the whole project they were able to give away a slimmed down version on a magazine cover. (I still have my Pi Zero in it;s Box as shipped on the MagPi magazine. I've booked in for the Antiques Roadshow 2035.).

And now Citrix have put one in a neat box (compute module maybe?) and are flogging it for less than the extra periphals you will need to create a full blown desk top client/computer... With still enough power to run useful stuff standalone..

In my book that's pretty frigging awesome.

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If you already have...

The monitor and keyboard/mouse you don't need much more. Sure, it is only a single display, but for LOTS of applications this is all you really need.

OK, a nice VESA mount and built-in supply to make it better, but in reality, the most expensive part of a "THIN CLIENT" are the peripherals. If you go to a warehouse store and get a nice TV which has HDMI input(s) and a cheap keyboard/mouse you are in business. In my case, when I got the 55 inch TV for the living room, I plugged it in. The keyboard mouse combo was a nice IR based one that I could use form the couch across the room. What more do I need for a thin client (I used a WiFi dongle). The RPi was $50 on Amazon (with wall wart WiFi and SD card) the IR keyboard/trackball was $20 at the local surplus store.

What a deal!

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Bah!

The board cost me close to $45 when all factors were costed in. More than $10 added for the official (inadequately ventilated less'n you leave panels off) case, ten bucks for a decent power supply and cabling for it. And whatever micro SD card they plugged in, say another $10 but probably more.

So not really such a mark-up when judged by build-it-retail metrics. And getting the O/S in and all the bits playing nicely was a tad more intense and time consuming than with previous Pi models (I have model Bs going back to the first one and speak from actual hands-on experience) and that don't come free if someone else is doing it for you.

And if you still think it's usurious DON'T BUY IT.

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Coat

With extra whipped cream.

"In classic disruptive fashion, the Raspberry Pi has already taken a significant share of the education PC market with over 8 million devices shipped," - Chris Fleck

To be fair about fifteen of those are scattered around my house. I don't know what I'll do with all of them, but they're so cheap that every time they release a new version I grab a couple.

I know I left one in one of these pockets.

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But what's the management like??

How much these things cost, what they look like, what they do, etc. makes next to no difference to me. There are a myriad of thin clients that all do the same thing, whatever the OS, components, etc. - I couldn't care less which one I use as long as the components are up to the job - and for simple Office task workers that job does not require a lot of power.

What sells a particular thin client to me is how good the management suite is, yet these articles never mention it. Cheap does not appeal to me if wrangling the client fleet is like herding cats.

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hmm, wonder if it'll work with 2X?

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Anonymous Coward

As far as I remember, Compaq/Wise WIDs were about £200+, so these seem like a bargain... or the original WIDs were a rip-off

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Anonymous Coward

Citrix Optimised HDX Raspberry Pi's

Allow me to run a deobfuscation on this.

"Raspberry Pi with a bunch of extra packages installed".

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Childcatcher

Internal PS? - what about an "internal Pi3"?

One can't help but wonder when we'll see a monitor with a built-in Pi3 board. This would eliminate the external PS and case.

With ViewSonic being a monitor company and all, I'd bet a five'r that they've already got some prototypes on the bench in a lab somewhere...

This, will get interesting and might be a bigger threat to MS, depending on whether they offer a Pi-Monitor with Win IOT core option instead of HDX.

Hopefully this will be end-user configurable. I just picked up 2 RPi3's at the Dayton Hamfest this past weekend, one of which will be bolted to the back of a monitor for a complete surfing solution.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Internal PS? - what about an "internal Pi3"?

Ive seen loads of people doing this themselves.

Also...Velcro...its the future.

http://www.mdpub.com/pi/allinone/index.html

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Re: Internal PS? - what about an "internal Pi3"?

One can't help but wonder when we'll see a monitor with a built-in Pi3 board.

It would be a piece of cake if they added the SODIMM socket for the Compute Module (currently using the RPi1 SoC but pin-compatible and so upgradeable when the CM3 is launched). Monitors have pretty much all the IO ports (USB, audio) required for the Compute Module to become a full computer, so the cost would be pennies (RJ45 port for wired Ethernet and the SODIMM for CM). The CM could even be optional, as it's as easy as a stick of RAM to install.

Connect a keyboard, mouse, network (a $2 USB dongle would enable WiFi) to the monitor, select the Compute Module as an AV Input and crack on...

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Re: Internal PS? - what about an "internal Pi3"?

when we'll see a monitor with a built-in Pi3 board

Surely that's an All-in-One?

I suspect it wouldn't be too difficult to mount a Pi3 etc. inside a barebones All-in-One chassis and have plenty of room left over for batteries - if touchscreen variant, you could have yourself a 21.5 Raspberry tablet/desktop !!!

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It is all about approvals.

As soon as you put a PSU inside a product, the WHOLE product has to meet EMC & safety requirements.

Split the PSU out and it can be approved separately, with the other shit being below 25v the approval process and cost is significantly lower.

That is why those fuckwhits over at ruckus supply a shitty rack mounted corporate 'zone director' with a separate 12v input and really crappy half assed PSU.

FU ruckus, charge me a hundred buck more and put the PSU where it belongs, with a proper cable restraint bar, not some shitty 12v plug that takes down the whole WIFI installation when the ill fitting PSU plug drops out.

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It's ll about minimising deployment costs

A lot of shops are still using Windows/7 or dare I mention it XP.

To maintain currency, that means around 80% of existing desktop platforms are going to have to be upgraded, although they have perfectly sound monitors, mice and keyboards, therefore the move to a "thin client" makes sense at a number of levels.

First off, they use considerably less power, even if you include the additional overhead of running more juice into substantial servers.

Secondly, you save a lot on licensing - only proportion of units are on at any one time and you only require that many tickets from Microsoft, which offsets the Citrix software overhead.

Most significantly, your support costs are reduced significantly- by operating a "standard" detop image, it is often far quicker and cheaper to delete the old (and possibly broken) session and replace it with a brand new one rather than debug it.

The final piece in the jigsaw is the thin client itself - all it does is establish a comms link with the server and run what is essentially RDP. the 'processing power' of the Pi hardly comes into question.

Finally, and perhaps most significant of all, unless you're moving to "touch screen" (3D, 4k monitors, instert technology innovation of your choice) it essentially insulates your desktop environment from back-office technology - these would remain "good" for many years to come, and with lower power, no moving parts it isn't unreasonable for these to have a service life in excess of ten years.

Of course that simply moves your "big ticket" items into the server room from the workplace, but it does permit the luxury of upgrading the entire estate in one afternoon!

A previous employer spent three years laboriously re-imaging 70,000 desktops from W2K to XP, and had to repeat the process over a similar time for W/7, once this kit is installed a changeover (with a generous six month lead-in) can be implemented overnight.

Finally the choice of RPI - it is literally a "building block" - proven design of inexpensive components, widely understood and bring all teh advantages of mass production. If you balk at the price tag, there's little to stop you buying the back-office technology and "rolling your own" on the desktop, although for most companies, the unit cost is sufficiently low to absorb the costs.

There's the added benefit of not leaving any confidential information in the "field" - the devices themselves would barely be worth stealing, and so you wouldn't have the constant headache of teh potential loss of confidential data.

A little overpriced - perhaps, but bring significant benefits to the organisation

(for the record I don't work for or have any financial interest in Citrix)

- sorry if that isn't isn't up to the usual witty discourse we're accustomed to on "teh register"

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is it really worth it?

The ARMHF binaries for ICAClient (Citrix Receiver) have been available for a while.

The .deb package of these install on Raspbian Jessie, and configures almost exactly the same way as x86 or x86-64 debian variants. Only trick then, is locking down a windowmanager configuration to make it a bit more user-proof (I recommend fluxbox, it's easy to customize).

I'm curious what actual effect the change in hardware will have. I've tested our method on a rPi3 off-the-shelf board connecting from Texas to California, and had great results. When the "standard" rPi3 board can be had for $35 USD, runs off any 2-amp android wall-wart and microSD card, why would I spend $90 USD for a "special model" that might not improve UX at all?

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We have tested ViewSonic SC-T25. There is problem with multilanguage support, English keyboard is always pre-set as primary one, even when de-installed from the user profile. We didn't find any sutiable configuration of the SC-T25 as well as our Citrix software to make it working well. Seems to be still immature. ViewSonic support didn't help at all.

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