Remote desktop applications fill a broad spectrum of uses, with each program catering to a specific group of individual with their unique feature sets. Client-server model are generally setup such that a host machine with a user friendly operating system with the aid of a graphical user interface (GUI) will access a remote machine which may be a dedicated server or may be a user friendly operating system. The most basic operation of a Remote desktop application is the remote frame buffer protocol (RFB protocol). It is a simplistic connection protocol in which the remote machine will send each frame rectangular screen data to the host machine, which will send mouse and keyboard inputs to the remote machine. More advanced remote desktops clients will allow multiple host machines to access and run separate session on a single remote machine which will run multiple virtual desktops, acting as a terminal machine. More Specialized software will allow processing on the aggregate of the two or more machines resources, instead of it all being done on the remote machine.
The most universal remote desktop software is Remote Desktop Connection, which come as part of the windows operating system. Any pc running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 either has Remote desktop on it, or can freely download it from the microsoft.com. It is included on windows server 2003 and 2008 and is available on windows mobile and Mac OS X. The purpose of Microsoft's remote desktop service is to provide a capable GUI for the client machine allowing it to fully access all of the windows functionality of the remote machine. Due to its wide spread across multiple type of machines, Remote desktop connection is overwhelmingly available to all windows user, allowing for easy access to any other type of machine which supports remote desktop.
Microsoft, with remote desktop in mind, has developed operating systems, design to run on old or limited hardware. The intention of the OS is to allow the repurposing of aged useless machines to run a slimmed down version of the operating system, giving it basic functionality above running an archaic operating system such as Windows 95 or prior operating systems. Most importantly is the capability to use remote desktop connection to enable it's usage as a thin-client in a client-server setup, granting it functionality based of the processing and resources of a server machine. The slimmed down version based of windows XP is Windows is "Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs"(WinFLP). The newest operating system based off windows 7 is Thin PC (WinTPC).
Alongside Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection, there is an extraordinary amount of commercial, personal, and open source licensed remote desktop software. There is remote desktop software built to run on any common operating systems in use today. The vast majority of this software's run in a manner similar to Remote Desktop Connect but with their own set of features. While others have more specialized purpose such as remote access to monitor the basics of a server, or turning tens to hundreds of computers into thin-pc's which all run virtual desktops concurrently on a single dedicated server.
There are many different pieces of hardware in the market that currently support KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) access. Depending on the specified piece of hardware, multiple users or administrators can access a single server at any time and modify it in any way they wish. Alternatively, there are products like the Raritan Dominion KX II that act like switches and allow multiple servers (up to 64) to be connected. All of these servers can be accessed through a single device simultaneously. Additionally, the switch can be accessed through any device that supports web browsing capabilities including netbooks, laptops, and mobile smart technologies. In particular, the Dominion has one of the industry’s best video resolutions and therefore a feature we must take into consideration. A desirable feature here is that certain devices are able to get the local ports to function independently and parallel to remote ports.
In order to optimize a portable computer for remote desktop functionality, the base hardware must support the software installed. If we plan to use an existing operating system, like Windows 7, we will need a minimum of the following:
1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or64-bit (x64)processor
1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
Other Linux based software have similar system requirements and therefore do not leave us with many options aside from developing a custom OS. When considering hardware for remote desktop software, the operating system is the most burdensome piece of software in the system. Most remote desktop software require as little as 4-6 MB of memory while the bulkier products require about 6 GB. If the sole purpose of the machine is to run remote desktop software, hard disk memory should not be an issue.
Would our product be worth it? How much would companies be willing to invest on our system? These questions form economic restraints on the system – that affects its price and ultimately what we can actually achieve with that certain price constraint. Our laptops have to be under the regular prices for netbooks (300$) - and much less than actual workstations (1000$). The proxy laptops as well as the powerful main terminal must be lower in price than if a company would buy workstations instead.
“Manufacturing computers is materials intensive; the total fossil fuels used to make one desktop computer weigh over 240 kilograms, some 10 times the weight of the computer itself.” The production of computers has a large impact on the environment. It is our responsibility to limit the amount of toxic materials used in the production of our product as well as inform our clients on how to properly dispose of our product. However, since the hardware requirements for the laptop are not extensive – it is more environmentally friendly than most of the usual workstations.
Health and Safety:
The use of a product such as the proxy laptop is just as safe as any other computer device. Minor things we have to consider are: brightness adjustment for eye health, ergonomic design on keyboards to relieve stress on the employee. Although unlikely, since employees would stare at the screen all day, we would also put countermeasures against visuals that can invoke epileptic shock to those prone to the condition.
Since it is the computer age, the technology to manufacture our product is very prominent whether it be chip fabrication or molding for the casings. The design on the laptop would have to be easily assembled through an assembly line as well as use cheap and easily accessible materials.
Technology evolves rapidly – we have to make certain that our system will meet the needs of the company not only now but also in the future. This will be done through updates and fixes. However, since our system only uses the proxy laptop as a window that views computations by a more powerful computer, it is much easier to sustain technology by updating the few main terminals than if the company had to update all of its workstations.
Professional and Ethical Responsibilities
Since our system is meant to be used by other professionals – like a company – they have the responsibility to set their own professional and ethical standards in the use of our system. However, there are some major responsibilities we have to those companies and these responsibilities are: non-disclosure of confidential information and security procedures. It is the computer age, important records and information about the company is stored and accessed by computers. By switching to our system and the maintenance that comes with it, the company entrusts us with handling ( even if temporarily) some of their data. With that in mind, we have the professional responsibility to keep that information confidential. The same goes for security procedures – since our system will be used by the company we have to make sure that the system is secure enough to protect that company's confidential information. The challenge for this project is to maximize the security of the system so that our clients will have the utmost confidence that their information is safe.
As said before, our system is to be used by other professionals – thus the ethical responsibility rests on those companies. Some ethical questions that those companies would have to decide on include:
Should the employees be able to access the internet?
Should the employees be able to use the proxy laptop for anything other than work?
Our system would be made able to do these things – like surf the web. However it is up to our clients to make the ethical decisions of how to treat their employees who use this device.