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USB stick converts PC to thin client Igel Universal Desktop Converter lets firms repurpose existing hardware

Daniel Robinson
Wednesday, October 7, 2009

IGEL TECHNOLOGY is touting a USB stick that converts a PC to a thin client.
The idea is to allow businesses to extend the life of ageing hardware by using it to access server-hosted computing sessions or virtual desktop infrastructure, rather than try to run the latest and greatest software on its aging processor.

Available immediately, the Universal Desktop Converter is simply a USB stick that carries a version of Igel's Linux-based firmware from its own thin client systems, plus one or more licences. Customers simply plug the Converter into a PC and boot from it. The Igel firmware is automatically installed on the hard drive and a converted PC can then be managed as a thin client.

"By converting to thin client firmware, customers get a simple way to test out and enter virtual desktops and server-based computing, and it lets them sweat the assets they have today," said Igel UK general manager Simon Richards.

"The maintenance overheads of thin clients are less than a traditional PC operating system, so it enables you to get cost reductions at the desk and deliver a consolidated back-end."

The Converter can be used to upgrade any number of systems, but each must be licensed before it can be used. Licences can be applied using the Converter, or centrally using Igel's Universal Management Suite software, which automatically picks up the devices once converted.

The device is a development of an earlier PC Conversion Card that fitted inside a computer chassis, but because the Converter is software-based it can also be used to convert other thin client hardware, such as that from HP, Neoware or Dell, to Igel's firmware to create a homogenous environment.

Igel's firmware is available in three flavours. The Entry pack supports basic ICA and RDP remote desktop capability, while Standard and Advanced offer more features such as clients for VMware and Citrix virtual desktop infrastructure. Customers can unlock the functionality they need simply by upgrading their licence, Igel said. The firmware can also be deployed using other methods, such as PXE boot or Igel's Universal Management Suite, but the key thing about the Converter is that it makes it easy for customers to test out conversions, according to Richards.

"Customers can go to our site and get a free licence to try it out. We can create a .ISO file for them to test on their own hardware, and this does not need the Management Suite to deploy. It's simple and doesn't cost anything," he said.

Pricing for the Universal Desktop Converter starts at 24.50, which is the cost of a single seat using the Entry version of Igel's firmware.

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