Praim has been the leader in Italy in thin client and endpoint management solutions for years. When it comes to centrally and efficiently manage, control and automate the configuration of tens, hundreds or thousands of corporate devices, perhaps distributed in different locations, Praim offers IT administrators a wide range of solutions that adapt to the different use cases and sectors, especially when the use of VDI (virtual desktops) or cloud-shared web applications and resources is needed.

In particular, the main difference between the Praim endpoint products, whether they are thin clients or software solutions, is the “family” to which they belong, which is divided between Linux-based workstations, offered through the ThinOX operating system by Praim, or Windows-based workstations, optimized by Praim and powered by the Agile agent.

However, what all these solutions have in common is the ability to effectively manage and automate device updates, look & feel and security, through the ThinMan Advanced management console, which allows to manage both ThinOX and Windows-Agile workstations and even mixed fleets, offering IT administrators countless features to facilitate, accelerate and scale large installations management.

Ecosistema Praim

Praim products

ThinOX is Praim’s Linux-based operating system available both on thin clients and in the ThinOX4PC version to reuse/transform any hardware (third-party thin clients, laptops or PCs) into a thin client. Powerful, secure and fully manageable through ThinMan.

Agile is the agent software for Windows that enables these devices to centrally manage the endpoints from the ThinMan management console. It’s flexible and allows easy access to virtual resources or applications in the cloud. It’s integrated into the Windows 10 IoT thin clients optimized by Praim and is also available in the Agile4PC version to integrate other third-party Windows hardware (PCs, laptops, etc.) within the ThinMan management.

So how to choose the most suitable product for your needs, between ThinOX or Windows with Agile? What are the differences? Let’s find out…

Some questions to ask yourself

Let’s be clear: if you are Windows fans or if you love dealing with everything that’s part of the Linux world, then you can directly follow your preference and both solutions will offer you the potential you need!

But if, on the other hand, you want to optimize your choice, a good way to start is to ask yourself a few questions, beyond knowing the interoperability between your infrastructural solution (i.e. VDI technology and protocol used) and Linux or Windows clients.

1) Do you already have the endpoint hardware? How important is it to reuse your pre-existing hardware or save money on buying new one? Do you have obsolete hardware (as old Windows 7 workstations) that you still want to use, or your users already have hardware (i.e. laptops) to which you want to add thin clients for accessing VDI? So, uniformity and management can be criteria for this choice.

2) Do you use special peripherals or applications that use very sectorial network/connectivity protocols?

3) Do your users work on the move, or do they use fixed workstations, perhaps linked to a specific department or dedicated to a particular activity? How important is the user experience and the ability to customize the aesthetics?

4) Do you use collaboration applications or video-conferencing? Which ones and how widespread are they in your company?

5) How much the use of the local network or bandwidth on WAN networks (for remote offices) and the frequency of updates are a problem? On the other hand, how relevant is IT security and the prevention of incorrect use of workstations by your users?

How to choose the best solution

Let’s see some use cases that can help you decide, it being understood that here at Praim we’re always available to offer our advice.

Let’s start with the hardware. If your use case is simple (very linear user interaction, perhaps with Citrix or VMware virtual desktop) but you need to acquire new hardware, then you are already at a crossroads. If you aim to spend less, ThinOX may be the ideal solution for you, because it doesn’t require Microsoft licensing costs and because, being a lighter operating system, it requires less “structured” hardware (in terms of RAM and disk).

However, are you sure that all of your peripherals are fully supported on Linux distributions? And how quickly do you evolve the VDI infrastructure you integrate with? There are cases in which a Windows workstation can guarantee greater compatibility with different peripherals and with new versions of virtual environments, this is not because Windows is better than Linux, but because it’s unique (controlled by Microsoft) and pervasive.

Similarly, if you have to reuse the old hardware, ThinOX4PC can be the best choice, requiring less performance for its execution, but on the other Agile4PC can be the ideal solution if the hardware you want to integrate in the same management is Windows and recent, for example in the case of laptop or PC workstations that you want to integrate into a uniform management with new thin client workstations.

However, if you look at the security issue, the answer may surprise you… Did you expect a clear 3 to 0 for “ThinOX”? Well, “it depends”. Praim’s Windows 10 IoT thin clients integrate the Write Filter functionality and, among the Agile features, allow to distribute security certificates and manage the desktop lockdown and the blocking of unwanted peripherals (such as external USB keys). ThinOX, however, is a closed system, entirely managed by Praim, and therefore it’s not writable and is intrinsically more immune to the common problems related to viruses and malware more abundantly spread for the Windows world. If, therefore, the “specificity” of ThinOX can be a limit in the integration of new peripherals or software, it’s a potential for greater security. Result: 3 to 3, it all depends on you… Let’s say that if we’re talking about large company installations, with stringent controls and security audits, then ThinOX will win in overtime. If, otherwise, you need a solution that is very flexible and integrated but still guarantees security (particularly from misuse by end users), then Windows + Agile could win on penalties.

Speaking of end users, we mentioned mobility (whether they work from home or from other places) and how much they need collaboration tools. Well, these applications can influence your choice. First, sometimes it’s necessary for you to set up the use of some VPNs and check their compatibility according to the operating system. Furthermore, when we talk about video conferencing (which also includes the use of webcams, headphones, etc.), we enter a world of its own, in which compatibility and performance must be tested. Some tools, like Microsoft Teams, are obviously optimized for Windows, while others are totally and perfectly agnostic. In this case it’s difficult to give a straight answer, but what’s certain is that if you need to run some applications locally then the best solution for you will probably be Agile on Windows.

As for the user experience, except for the simple cases of direct access in VDI, users who prefer traditional desktop interaction might find themselves more comfortable with ThinOX, but if they (or even you, IT admins) want a more modern look & feel, a simplified and totally customizable interface and an immediate configurability, then we recommend Agile, with which, in particular, you can create and replicate web kiosks in the time of a coffee.

Finally, we come to the IT managers specific use case. How often do you update your devices? How much do you worry about these activities? Should they be efficient and perhaps even applied to remote devices that are difficult to reach? And how much do you have to customize or change workstation configurations?

ThinMan offers tools optimized for these cases, both on ThinOX and on Windows, but with significant differences. Windows updates are larger and even more so are its images, and, in the case of a total reset of a device, they require much longer application times. If speed of updates is essential for you, then ThinOX will be your ideal product, as it’s a lighter firmware and with a selective update system. Furthermore, ThinOX offers the possibility of configuring and personalizing a device even offline, directly from ThinMan, by applying the changes on the first start-up, a function not available on Windows, where instead a new configuration must be performed on the device (in both cases, then, the applied configurations can be quickly distributed to all other devices with a few clicks from ThinMan). No hope, therefore, in these cases, for those who would prefer Windows (perhaps because of the previous points)? Absolutely not: updates distribution and application can also be optimized for remote Windows devices thanks to the ThinMan Gateway module and its specific replica and repository distribution functions.

So, the big choice is up to you… Who won in your case?