VDI

Linux Thin Client Agent for remote workers with Praim Agile4Linux

Linux Thin Client OS for remote workers with Praim Agile4Linux. It provides snapshots, write filter, Live USB boot Linux VDI and management

Highlights

  • It provides you the benefit of a thin client management while allowing you to flexibility rely on a Linux OS (installing or simply running your solution LIVE)It allows you to uniformly use devices that do not have a Windows license available.
  • From my vantage point here, this helps to nicely round out the product offering from Praim to encompass what the majority of organizations will want to use for remote thin client devices and provide flexibility in the platform chosen.
  • The Agile4Linux solution is in good company with the Agile4PC and Agile4Pi solutions from Praim and provides the capabilities of thin client management also on a Linux-based OS.

In this past year and a half, organizations have been required to use new solutions to empower remote employees to communicate, collaborate, and access business-critical resources. For many remote workers, this has meant using a device to connect to corporate resources, either by VPN, remote desktop, or VDI connection. However, a significant challenge that organizations are having is securing the platform the end-user is using to make the connection to the sanctioned corporate environment. After all, many end-users are working from their home network, out of the control of corporate network protections, and fail-safes. In addition, Windows licensing, and BYOD devices can lead to a tremendous corporate spend and additional security concerns. Using a Linux-based platform as a thin client is a great solution, also for remote workers. Let’s take a look at how you can effectively use a Linux thin client with Praim Agile4Linux.

What is Praim Agile4Linux?

The Praim Agile4Linux is the third agent in a suite of products in the Agile product line.
The Agile4Linux solution is in good company with the Agile4PC and Agile4Pi solutions from Praim and provides the capabilities of thin client management also on a Linux-based OS. From my vantage point here, this helps to nicely round out the product offering from Praim to encompass what the majority of organizations will want to use for remote thin client devices and provide flexibility in the platform chosen.

Built for the Ubuntu Mate distribution

Praim leverages for his product on a well-known and proven platform, the Ubuntu MATE distribution, which provides ease of installation locally or running from a LIVE-bootable USB stick. Ubuntu is recognized as an extremely versatile and well-supported Linux distribution. It is noted by many as one of the easiest to use and support, due to its wide driver base and software compatibility. Some of the benefits offered by the Ubuntu configuration capabilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Multi-monitor and audio peripheral management;
  • Flexibility in supporting external peripherals;
  • Autonomy and flexibility in the use of your favorite applications (client, VPN, etc.) or open source tools (office tools, graphics, etc.).
  • Availability of a wide set of applications and tools with an extremely easy-to-use installation and update framework.

Write filter and snapshot-based cloning for security and management

One of the really great features brought by Praim’s Agile4Linux is the ability to secure and protect devices with what Praim refers to as the Write Filter. This is disk protection that allows providing end-users with a “like new” experience. Any changes made with the write filter enabled are discarded after restarting the device.

This tool can not only be leveraged for security purposes, it also allows administrators the tools they need for experimenting and going back to a previous version. With the write filter, administrators can make changes, install tools, and then simply restart to revert back to a pristine state. Administrators can simply save the configuration and changes once satisfied to make the changes persistent.

Administrators can effectively enable or disable the write filter even remotely using ThinMan Server. It allows the tools needed to tweak and tune configurations for remote workers using the Agile4Linux agent. Furthermore, Agile4Linux enables a snapshot-based cloning capability that provides better performance and is reversible by simply applying the previous snapshot.

This snapshot-based cloning feature also allows easily backing up specific workspaces since these are lighter than the full system image backup and faster to operate than the replication of a complete sequence of configurations. Also, snapshots can be scheduled in ThinMan Server for capturing at specific intervals throughout the day.

Benefits of Agile4Linux

There are many advantages brought to the table for organizations with the Praim Agile4Linux offering. Note the following:

  1. It provides you the benefit of a thin client management while allowing you to flexibility rely on a Linux OS (installing or simply running your solution LIVE)
  2. It allows you to uniformly use devices that do not have a Windows license available:
  1. Agile4Linux-empowered devices can be centrally managed and controlled from remote using ThinMan Server, right like Agile4PC and ThinOX4PC
  2. In particular, it offers thin client capabilities with a more affordable solution for «low costs and low requirements » scenarios kiosks, hot spots for data collection, with the benefit of a fully manageable endpoint
  3. Freedom to customize software and support peripherals specific to your organization
  4. Setup a clone of a “master” configuration for your Agile4Linux-empowered workstation that can be replicated to hundreds or thousands of nodes

Deploying Agile4Linux

Agile4Linux is easily deployed. It is applied on an Ubuntu MATE image that can be run also in Live mode from an USB disk, created using Rufus in just a matter of minutes. Once the image is installed, you simply boot your device either normally or from the USB stick. Once you are booted simply run the Agile Configurator.

Praim Agile4Linux booted from Live USB stick
Praim Agile4Linux installed on a Live Ubuntu MATE system booted from USB stick

This launches the configurator and allows plugging in the ThinMan Server address for licensing and managing Agile4Linux. Alternatively, you can sign into your Praim account to license the solution.

Adding the Agile4Linux remote thin client to Praim ThinMan Server
Adding the Agile4Linux remote thin client to Praim ThinMan Server

Below, the remote Linux thin client running Agile4Linux is now added to ThinMan Server and able to be managed.

Agile4Linux remote thin client added to ThinMan Server
Agile4Linux remote thin client added to ThinMan Server

Using the Capture and Apply Snapshot functionality

One of the great new features coming along with Agile4Linux is the Capture and Apply Snapshot functionality. In effect, it allows you to capture and apply “snapshots” much as you are familiar with in a hypervisor world, minus capturing the memory. As mentioned above, it is a great way to create a “master” image for your remote work thin clients and applying the image to additional endpoints.

You can capture installed custom software, configurations, tools, and proprietary in-house solutions in the snapshot and then apply this across the board. Before capturing a snapshot, let’s install the software. Below, I am installing Google Chrome.

Installing Chrome in the Ubuntu Mate environment of Praim Agile4Linux thin client
Installing Chrome in the Ubuntu Mate environment thin client

Now that Chrome is installed, I have placed a shortcut on the desktop.

Chrome installed and shortcut placed on the desktop in Agile4Linux
Chrome installed and shortcut placed on the desktop

Now that we have the software installed that we want, right-click the device, click Update > Capture Snapshot.

Create a snapshot of the Agile4Linux device in ThinMan Server
Thanks to Agile4Linux, create a snapshot of the device in ThinMan Server

Select Yes to create the snapshot.

Save the snapshot in the package repository
Save the snapshot in the package repository

Enter the admin credentials for the device.

Enter the credentials for Agile4Linux
Enter the administration credentials for the client

The snapshot creation command begins successfully.

Snapshot capture successfully started
Snapshot capture successfully started

Now, I have spun up a clean thin client with Agile4Linux for a remote worker. I want to apply the snapshot to the new device. Click Update > Apply Snapshot.

Applying the Agile4Linux snapshot to another Agile4Linux device
Applying the Agile4Linux snapshot to another Agile4Linux device

Select the Snapshot from the ThinMan Repository and click OK.

Choose the snapshot and apply the snapshot to the machine
Choose the snapshot and apply the snapshot to the machine

Confirm the snapshot restore.

Confirm applying the snapshot
Confirm applying the snapshot

Enter admin credentials.

Enter the Agile4Linux admin credentials to apply the snapshot
Enter the Agile4Linux admin credentials to apply the snapshot

The restore snapshot command begins successfully.

The snapshot apply command is sent to the Agile4Linux device successfully
The snapshot apply command is sent to the destination device successfully

The remote endpoint will show a system update in progress. It will reboot a few times during the process.

Agile4Linux device begins applying the snapshot
Agile4Linux device begins applying the snapshot

On the target device, after it reboots it now has Google Chrome installed, per the snapshot.

The Snapshot restore in Agile4Linux successfully restores software and settings
The Snapshot apply via Agile4Linux successfully restores software and settings

Using the Write Filter

Enabling the write filter is easily done through the ThinMan Server console. To enable the write filter, right-click the remote device, select Special Functions > Enable Disk Protection (Write Filter).

Enable the write filter in Agile4Linux
Enable the write filter in Agile4Linux

You will be prompted to reboot the device after enabling or disabling the write filter.

Confirm to enable the write filter and reboot
Confirm to enable the write filter and reboot

Reset Agile4Linux or the whole system to defaults

What if I want to reset the device back to the Agile4Linux defaults? For example, if I want to start a new Agile configuration on the device from scratch? We can do that from ThinMan Server. Right-click the device you want to reset, select Special Functions > Reset Agile to Default. This command will forget all the configurations made via the Praim Agile4Linux Configurator.

Reset Agile4Linux to the defaults
Reset Agile4Linux to the defaults

Confirm the reset and choose if you want to reset the network configuration also.

Confirm the reset and choose how you want to handle network settings
Confirm the reset and choose how you want to handle network settings

The reset command is successfully sent to the remote Agile-featured thin client.

The reset command is successfully sent to the remote host
The reset command is successfully sent to the remote host

Notice that this command will clean the device only of the specific customization controlled from agile, such as VDI resources, desktop or peripherals lock-down, eventually network or ThinMan settings. But if I also want to reset any other action I did, such as forget about other applications installed or customized, and other configurations made on the Ubuntu option? Thanks to Agile4Linux it is possible to obtain this effect, directly from the Agile4Linux Configurator, sending back the whole system to its initial setting, selecting the “Reset system to Factory” command.

Wrapping up

The new Praim Agile4Linux allows easily using a Linux OS on thin clients that provides many benefits. Further than requiring no Microsoft licensing and the ability to boot from a LIVE USB stick, as benefits of being offered on top of an Ubuntu distribution, Agile4Linux includes snapshot capture and restore capabilities, a write filter, and centralized management features controlled from ThinMan. It is a great solution that will provide organizations with a great option for in-office and remote employees to work on a Linux platform with its security and licensing benefits

Learn more about Agile4Linux and other Praim solutions here.

Check out my other Praim posts here:

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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