A few years ago a company was selling off some of their old thin clients. We purchased a whole bunch of them for about $50.00 each for the non-profit I was working for and started using them to connect to our Windows Server 2000 and 2003 Terminal Servers. They worked really well for us connecting to Windows Terminal Server.
Well since we have started to play around with Linux Terminal Server we have also discovered that they actually work quite well as Terminal Server Clients for that. All we needed to do was install a software update to the thin clients and there we go! They just worked, which was fantastic and totally unexpected.
The thin clients that we are using are NCD ThinSTAR 200s. Although NCD went out of business a few years ago some of the employees are still running what looks like basically a consulting firm to support all the thin clients that are already out there. On their site you can download the software and manuals that you need to upgrade the software on the thin client. Because of the small amount of RAM in the ThinStar we had to only set it up with two clients, so we did the Windows Terminal Server client and the Linux X Connection client. The upgrade was simple to the new configuration (It was actually so simple that I ended up accidentally upgrading ALL of our thin clients with it one day instead of just our two test ones when we had a power outage and they all reboot with the thin client manager PC running on the network.)
These thin clients are now configured to connect to our Windows Terminal Server as well as our Linux Terminal Server which is great. We have still not started to use Linux Terminal Server as a production server since I don’t have the hardware to run it, but the potential is definately there.
I have seen more of these thin clients come up for sale on eBay and other used computer sites around the web. I reckon that would be the way to go, especially if you can pick them up in pallet size orders as was one deal I saw in the UK. With a dozen of these, a terminal server, a switch, a dozen LCD monitors and a satellite connection you would have a pretty neat little package to send to a remote location. The LCDs and thin clients wouldn’t even use that much power so it wouldn’t be impossible to run the whole thing off of a portable generator.