Guidelines for Deploying Network Zero Client Stations

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(Updated 2016.05.24)


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Introduction

Network zero client multiseat configurations have a number of advantages over either video card zero client or USB zero client devices.

  • More Stations on One Host Computer. The number of stations possible with network zero client multiseat solutions is not limited by the number of PCI slots on the motherboard (for multiple video cards) or the number of USB 2.0 ports on the host computer (for USB zero clients).
  • Stations Can be Much Farther Away From the Host System. Network zero clients connect through Cat-5e network cabling and can therefore be located up to 100 meters away from the host station via a single cable. Longer distances can be achieved by using active hardware such as repeaters or switches. In contrast, stations using either additional video cards (which use USB-connected input devices) or USB zero client devices are limited by the maximum length of USB cables (5 meters ideally,less than 30 meters even with daisy-chaining).
  • Easier Scalability and Flexibility for Deployments. By using switches as part of the network, the stations using one host system can be spread among multiple rooms with a minimum of cabling (only a single network cable from host to each switch). New network zero client devices can be added to the network without physical access to the host system, simply by plugging a network zero client into a switch that is part of the LAN.

Network Guidelines for Multiseat Systems Using Network Zero Clients

Userful recommends the following network hardware (exact details will depend on the number of stations to be set up and the desired physical configuration).

  1. Good quality network cable for all connections is important. Cable should be Cat-5e.
  2. Network zero client devices should not be connected to the computer directly, but should connect to a network switch.
  3. More than one switch can be used - and in fact may be desired, depending on the physical configuration of the room or rooms.
  4. A good quality router is needed to act as a DHCP server to give IP addresses to the network zero client devices, unless using a static IP address for each device.

Network Speed/Capacity

LAN-connection-speed.png

Different parts of a network zero client MultiSeat LAN have different connection speed minimum requirements. When planning your deployment, please ensure that routers and switches have the required number of gigabit ports, as described below:

  • The required speed of the connection from the router (which is required to provide a DHCP server, and provides a connection to the outside network or internet) to the main switch depends on the speed of the uplink to the internet/outside network.
  • The connection between the host PC and the main switch MUST be gigabit capacity.
  • The connection between two switches must be gigabit capacity.
  • The connection to a single network zero client device can be 100/1000 Mbps.


Other Network Considerations

  • Depending on the size and complexity of the installation, you may want to isolate the network client LAN from the existing network infrastructure using a router or a VLAN.
  • Do not place a router between the host PC and any zero client devices. The router may introduce small delays that can cause system instability.
  • It is important that the host PC is on the same subnet as the network zero client devices.
  • If there is more than one host PC on a subnet, they must have unique hostnames. This is because network zero client devices are locked to PCs based on the system name (or "hostname"). Having duplicate host names on one subnet causes erratic behaviour of the network devices.
  • If connecting to the internet through an ADSL modem with a static IP address, a router is still needed (to act as a DHCP server). Two options for connecting through an ASDL modem:
    • Recommended: Connect the modem to the WAN port of the router. Connect a switch to the router; then connect the host PC and stations to the switch.
    • Advanced: Connect the modem, router, host and stations to a managed switch in a star topology. Configure the routing tables in the switch to recognize the modem as the gateway and the router as the DHCP server.
  • Userful recommends deploying no more than 20 network zero client stations on a given subnet.

Example Configurations

1 Onboard + 20 Network Zero Clients Using Single 24-port Switch

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1 Onboard + 18 Network Zero Clients Using Three 8-port Switches in Series (Daisy-Chained)

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1 Onboard + 18 Network Zero Clients Using Three 8-port Switches in Parallel (Hub-and-Spokes)

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If the standard configurations shown in the examples above are not suitable for your deployment, please contact Userful or consult with an expert in networking and network deployments when planning the configuration of your system.

In addition, Userful recommends testing your desired network configuration with expected use cases before deployment.