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.
- Read the official release post from Praim here: Agile4Linux: the new solution for Linux lovers! – Praim
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:
- 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:
- Agile4Linux-empowered devices can be centrally managed and controlled from remote using ThinMan Server, right like Agile4PC and ThinOX4PC
- 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
- Freedom to customize software and support peripherals specific to your organization
- Setup a clone of a “master” configuration for your Agile4Linux-empowered workstation that can be replicated to hundreds or thousands of nodes
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.
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.
Below, the remote Linux thin client running Agile4Linux is now added to ThinMan Server and able to be managed.
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.
Now that Chrome is installed, I have placed a shortcut on the desktop.
Now that we have the software installed that we want, right-click the device, click Update > Capture Snapshot.
Select Yes to create the snapshot.
Enter the admin credentials for the device.
The snapshot creation command begins successfully.
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.
Select the Snapshot from the ThinMan Repository and click OK.
Confirm the snapshot restore.
Enter admin credentials.
The restore snapshot command begins successfully.
The remote endpoint will show a system update in progress. It will reboot a few times during the process.
On the target device, after it reboots it now has Google Chrome installed, per the snapshot.
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).
You will be prompted to reboot the device after enabling or disabling the write filter.
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.
Confirm the reset and choose if you want to reset the network configuration also.
The reset command is successfully sent to the remote Agile-featured thin client.
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.
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:
- Simple and Secure VDI Access with Praim Smart Identity
- Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
- Manage and Configure Raspberry Pi Citrix VDI thin clients with Praim Agile4Pi
- Praim Raspberry Pi3 Powerful Low Cost Citrix Thin Client VDI
- Praim Agile4PC vs ThinOX4PC VDI Thin Client Management and Configuration