ThinLinx on Raspberry PI First Impressions

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ThinLinx recently released their custom Raspberry PI image that has HDX hardware acceleration support and a management software. Their H.264 plugin leverages the System on a Chip (SoC) architecture of the Raspberry Pi.

Citrix also posted this article Citrix, Raspberry Pi2 & ThinLinx: High-res Graphics Client for $50!

While the title is a bit misleading, here’s the correct costs:

Many people have been talking about the difficulties with putting all the parts together. In my mind the best option is to buy the complete kit. Putting the motherboard inside the RPi2 case takes less than 5 seconds.

So the complete cost is $96.78 and if you put a 21,5-inch monitor you end up at $200.

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ThinLinx Installation

Download the 30 day free trail of the Raspberry PI installer and run the setup. This will extract the image and then start Win32DiskImager. Plug in the Micro SD Card and boot it up.

ThinLinx Management Software

Download the TMS installer and run the setup. TMS will quickly discover your RPi2.

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Because my labs run isolated environments I’m using a Netscaler Gateway for access. Therefore I’m using Web as the Protocol in Full Screen and Kiosk mode.

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The Netscaler Gateway is configured to redirect port 80 to 443. Now because the PI image doesn’t come with too many Root CA’s (this need to be fixed to be enterprise ready) you need to upload them to the PI.

Update: According to the comment below from Bob Aalbue this is no longer needed.

Digicert certificates normally comes in a .crt format. Simply rename to .pem and upload.

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Now because my Netscaler Gateway is located on my internal network with a private IP I cannot use external DNS for access. Therefore I need to edit the hosts file of my clients.

To be able to do this with ThinLinx you’ll need to create a public / private SSH key. The easiest way is using PuttyGen. Generate the SSH key and copy the key content to MyPI.txt and upload.

Save the Private key as MyPI.ppk

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To connect from WinSCP select the Private Key and login as root.

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Now from the console of the RPi2 itself select Shutdown to save the Private SSH key.

I did have some problems with the screen resolution not being detect automatically. If that happens do the following.

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ThinLinx Performance

I’ve been testing the performance on a Windows 2012 R2 with Citrix XenApp 7.6.300 configured with 4 vCPU and 16GB of memory.

The test file is a 720P H264 Blueray Rip at 2.5GB MP4. The file is located on my Synology 411J NAS connect through 1 GbE.

The movie plays perfect without ANY problems. The Windows Media Player CPU is around 12%.

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The nice thing about using Netscaler Gateway are that I get Netscaler Insight as a bonus.

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As you can see above the 95% average is 7.96 Mbps with ICA RTT 2ms.

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The same movie running of my Windows 10 machine has 95% average at >4.0 Mbps but Windows Media Player utilization is ONLY 1,7% without Hardware Acceleration which was introduced in Citrix Receiver 4.4.

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Finally the Frame per Second (fps).

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The Citrix Policy used for the tests was High Def UX, up next is the Very High Def UX introduced in Feature Pack 3.

I really like the combination of the Raspberry Pi and the ThinLinx custom image.

ThinLinx is the Perfect HDX Ready Thin Client!

Stay tuned for the Perfect HDX Premium Thin Client.

 

 

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54 Responses to ThinLinx on Raspberry PI First Impressions

  1. Very nice, Eric! Make sure to leverage the H.264 native decoding to make best use of the Pi. See Martin’s blog at http://www.martinrowan.co.uk/ for details.

    We’re very much looking forward to the RPI2 option as a long-term replacement production solution for our lab, kiosk and print releases station environments.

    Note that Flash and HTML5 videos are dealt with a bit differently than WMV files and that there are also codec licenses available to boost WMV playback for a few dollars by leveraging the hardware already on the Pi2. We tried these, however the differences were pretty minimal.

      • Hi, Eric:
        You are correct in that should take place automatically. There are ways of course to enable/disable certain features, but there is no reason at all not to use H.264 native decoding. Those who experiment with various settings should just be aware that this can make a big difference, as illustrated in Martin Rowan’s blogs.

        Any idea why the RealTime Optimization pack shouldn’t/doesn’t work with the Pi2 Receiver?

        The one other issue we see is specifically with a Windows 10 guest OS running as a VM under XenDesktop 7.6 FP2, we see a semi-periodic delay in the video every few seconds (it’s subtle, but evident). Have you observed that and do you see the same or not if using a regular thick client running Windows 10 and Citrix Receiver? It makes us wonder if there is a bug in the Receiver code, since this is not seen with with Windows 7 or 8.1 clients.

        Finally, a new ThinLinX TLXOS for the RPI2 was just released that uses Receiver 13.3!

        Best regards,
        -=Tobias

        • Hi Tobias, according to the ThinLinx documentation H264 is enabled by default.

          “In the case of Citrix HDX mode, you can select HDX to run the native Citrix HDX mode or use the local Web Browser to connect to your Citrix HDX session. The default Citrix HDX mode on the RPi is H.264 which delivers excellent performance at 1080p resolution”.

          XA/XD 7.7 just released so will give your Win 10 situation a try in the lab. RPi2 just updated to latest build.

          Eric

          • Yes, H.264 is indeed enabled by default. And, yes, we will try that on Win 10 and see if there are any differences using the latest ThinLinX TLXOS release for the Pi2, which incorporates the latest Receiver 13.3.
            Cheers,
            -=Tobias

          • Just tried it with Windows 10, XenDesktop 7.7 and TLXOS 4.0.7. Thick client with Windows 10 everything okay, but with the RPi2 it doesn’t offload at all, CPU 99% for Windows Media Player.

            Let’s see what John answers

  2. Hi, Eirik:
    First off, sorry for mistyping your name — I get that a lot, alas, as well!
    My understanding is that RTME isn’t available for 64-bit Linux, which is rather surprising in this day and age, and of course that’s the OS behind TLXOS. We should get on Citrix’ case to push forward with why this is the case.
    Best regards,
    -=Tobias

    • Citrix says to use the 32-bit version plus libraries for now; the 64-bit Linux version isn’t as high priority as other projects, alas.

      • Looking at the overall market opportunity, I’d like to hear what customers see as the priorities for potential new versions of the HDX RealTime Media Engine (RTME). Is a full 64-bit x86 Linux RTME (eliminating the need to install 32-bit libraries) more important than, say, an ARM version? What about ChromeOS or Android or iOS? If you answer that they’re all important, remember that we probably couldn’t deliver them all at once, so prioritization (against each other potential new RTME version but also against other potential HDX RealTime Optimization Pack enhancements) is going to be critical. Community input welcome!

        Derek

        • Common sense would indicate the number of Linux workstations potentially making use of RTME would be minimal compared to thin clients that predominately use ARM or other processors and Linux variants. I wrote a proposal a number of months ago based on using thin clients in a 60-seat call center, but it was rejected because of the lack of native RTME support.

          There are over 2 million RPI2s in circulation and millions of Linux-based thin clients and if anything, more support for these would encourage further deployment of them in this capacity. The real answer would be to look at who currently uses Skype for Business on what platforms and ask them if they had a choice of something else that performed as well, what would it be? In our case, it would clearly be the Raspberry Pi 2.

          Thin clients have a future for uses that tie in well with areas like support centers and office machines that are used primarily for communication and simple tasks. They are well-established for such use already with Citrix Receiver. Thin clients running Windows are already covered, so it’s the Linux-based variants that IMO are the highest priority.

  3. Hi Trond,

    Firstly thanks for reviewing TLXOS on the RPi2 🙂

    I vote for an ARM based RTME as a top priority, I have been using a RPi2 running TLXOS as my primary Citrix Desktop for months now, in fact I am using it now with a Windows 10 VM

    ThinLinX has just released an updated version 4.0.7 of TLXOS for the Rpi, we are adding “Smart Card” support in the near future, so the only really important thing missing is the RTME which is easy to integrate. We also have plans in 2016 to release TLXOS for other ARM based devices such as the Rockchip RK-3288, NVIDIA Tegra etc

    Cheers,

    John Nicholls
    President ThinLinX Inc.

    • Just tried it with Windows 10, XenDesktop 7.7 and TLXOS 4.0.7. Thick client with Windows 10 everything okay, but with the RPi2 it doesn’t offload at all, CPU 99% for Windows Media Player.

      • WMV playback, I believe, does not use H.264 decoding, since it is its own protocol, so there will be some extra load on the CPU unless the appropriate codec license is installed. That is odd behavior, as WMV files ran before on 7 and 8.1 with pretty minimal CPU load. We will not get to testing this this week, unfortunately, but thank you, Eirik, for the heads-up for when we do get to taking a closer look — hopefully next week.

          • I thought WMV playback leverages MPEG 4 and VC-1 compliant formats, and specifically not H.264. ???

          • AFAIK the Server sends everything in H.264 if that is enabled at the Server end, except in the case when Media redirection is enabled. WMP will redirect the Video to the client to be played locally. This offloads the Server if the Client has the appropriate Codecs to play the file locally. In the case of our TLXOS implementation for the RPi2 this is NOT enabled yet, but is on the todo list 🙂

            John

  4. Hi,

    Regarding Derek’s post 🙂

    Most of the Thin clients we sell here for the last couple years are usually Linux based and they are being used in very different kind of use cases from schools, 2D/3D design, manufacturing, finance and health care sector. So I would definitely want that Linux Receiver to evolve faster and catch up with Windows based Receiver.

    I don’t really see a reason why TC vendor’s would take Android over Linux based devices because they would just be able to cover smaller amount of use cases in different sectors because they would lack features and proper peripheral device driver support. Also the same reason why ARM based TC’s never flew in sales here.. you could just add bad performance to the list of lacking features and bad peripheral device support.

    • Most popular of those Linux based devices are from Igel and below are couple of the reasons why customers really seem like those devices.

      – Long hardware warranty that includes management & firmware updates
      – Lower price than Windows Embedded devices
      – Proper, solid and very flexible management
      – Wide driver & peripheral device support
      – Wide support for different vendors to avoid vendor lock-in
      – You can push drivers and applications as custom packages
      – Usually fits to almost if not all use cases at the customers sites
      – Good support for Lync with Citrix
      – Multiple versions of Citrix receiver inside the same firmware (good for bug, pre-prod testing for instance)
      – You can automatize a lot of management through the UMS (now even with REST API)
      – You can also convert existing physical PC’s or other TC’s to Igel Linux TC (for example medical PC’s that require a certain certifications)

      So at the end of the day customers would like to be able to use same thin for every use case they have and that is where Igel’s Linux based devices are very good at.

  5. It certainly sounds like ARM and Linux are the clear favorites for native RTME support.

    • This should be a top priority for Citrix with so many new low cost Arm based devices appearing everyday. Once Citrix release a ARM RTME package, adding it to TLXOS is trivial for us to do.

      • Agreed! The new ARM architecture is IMO way more worthwhile putting resources into than Android or iOS and with native RTME support, could provide immediate benefits for many existing and future clients.

  6. Hi,

    From the comments above, where does the problem lies:

    1. HDX RTME not having 64bit ?
    (how hard is it for ThinLinx, to create a test 32bit TLXOS, to see if this will fix the problem)

    2. TLOXS does not have the needed codecs ?
    (are their any open source codex, that can be use that has HW acceleration, how about VLC libs)

    3. RTME ?
    (is their an alternative open source RTME, that could be use)

    4. Windows 10 ?
    (have anyone tried it with windows 7/8.1 ?)

    5. xenDesktop 7.7 ?
    (did it work with xenDesktop 7.6, with win10/7/8.1 ?)

    Thanks.

      • Hi, Eirik:
        I’d be curious where you saw/heard that/ WOul dthan mean support for both 64-bot ARM and 64-bit Linux architectures?
        Thanks,
        -=Tobias

        • Argh, horrible typing above… let’s try that one more time (it was 14 F this Am and my fingers were still cold!):

          Hi, Eirik:
          I’d be curious where you saw/heard that information regarding a 64-bit RTME release. Would than mean support for both 64-bit ARM and 64-bit Linux architectures?
          Thanks,
          -=Tobias

  7. Just downloaded and connected through Netscaler GW w/ Digicert SSL certs and didn’t need to update the cert on ThinLinx. They must have updated it.

  8. Thanks for the article and all replies. It was very useful in helping us with our set up.

    I work in a high school in Wales, UK. We have decided to try the Raspberry Pi 2 with ThinLinX OS – since we already use a few Thin Clients with Citrix Receiver.

    We have set up one in the IT Support Office and trialled it for a week without any problems. It is being used for word-processing, spreadsheets, databases and help-desk.

    We have purchased and received another 15 Raspberry Pi 2 devices. I have set them up with a monitor and we had audio output from the monitor’s headphone socket.

    Today we received 15 monitors to be used with the 15 Raspberry Pi 2 devices. However these monitor do *not* have a headphone socket – so we are not hearing audio.

    I would appreciate simple step-by-step instructions to be able to output audio via the Raspberry Pi 2 headphone socket.

    I can see the school purchasing further Raspberry Pi devices (if we can get the audio to work!) as the low cost is so attractive.

    • Sorry, I forgot to mention (in my last post) that we are using HDMI cables. The monitors do *not* have in-built speakers.

      We tested an HDMI to DVI cable (we only have one) on another monitor. The audio was output from the Raspberry Pi 2 headphone socket – without us having to configure anything.

  9. Can you tell me what I have to configure in “TMS – Access Protocol” for an internal Storefront 3.5 configuration with HTTPS? I switched to HDX but can’t tell what values I have to enter for “Cmd line arguments” / “[protocoll]hostname[port]”
    I always end up on the “Add Account” screen.
    Can you give me a hint?

    • Me to, so I just went with the Web version instead. I guess Add Account will always be there if you go that route, if you need kiosk go with the web. Same with a normal PC, new profile, then Add Account screen.

  10. Hi everybody.
    I’m in intermship
    I use Raspberry PI3 with Thinlinx OS. I try to join some session with RDP or RemoteFX and lauch some application.
    For example

    /opt/turbordp/bin/xturbordp –app t.exe -u user -p pw -d dns 192.168.0.1

    t.exe is the app that I want to launch

    Someone can help me please?
    Help me
    Thanks for advance

  11. Another question is that the sessions we use have a login page that requires a token to be entered from an RSA program. Is this something that can me added to the device or would an external token program be needed?

  12. Hi.

    Thank you very much for you article.
    If Storefront uses home certificate how to configure CA trust?
    CA certificate uploaded via TMS works only for receiver itself but not for Chrome.

    Thank you

    • Hi Vitalij,

      I have the same problem. RootCA is installed but it works only with Receiver. With Chromium I receive the Certificate Warning Message.
      Did you figure out what is the solution?
      Best regards

  13. Hi, I installed Thinlinx on RPi 2 from NOOBS sd card and altough I use Citrix receiver for work, I have a great deal of difficulty understanding exactly what it is I’ve got here. I start up Thinlinx and I see an interface with Chromium web browser and that’s it. What am I missing?

    TIA Stewart

      • Yes (thanks for reply BTW), after logging in to the Netscaler Gateway, I click on the icon to get my desktop and it just downloads the .ica file. It doesn’t know how to open the Citrix file and I don’t know how to tell it what to do – pretty useless for a Citrix app. I tried downloading the Chrome Citrix extension but that’s just not working.

  14. Raspberry pi 3 is I believe, the currently most sold computer in the world, beating even the legendary c 64. I would think making a little bit more fuzz around yourselves, like on youtube might bring in some revenue. At the moment it is very hard to find any informational material and reviews about thinlinx on raspberry pi. Or is this product more or less strictly ment for companies?

  15. … in fact I find I have downloaded Chrome Citrix extension and it still doesn’t know what to do with .ica files, except the error now says ‘Your File was not found’ – lol.

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