[Thinlinc-technical] client for phones and tablets

Peter Astrand astrand at cendio.se
Fri Nov 2 12:45:17 CET 2012

Hi. Version 4.0.0 does not include a HTML5 client, but we hope we are able 
to deliver such a client in a relatively near future. In general, there 
are many different problems on phones and tablets that needs to be 

First of all, with thin client products, you are typically running 
"normal" applications on the server side, applications which are not 
designed for phones and tablets. They are designed for large screens. The 
screen area of a typical desktop screen is typically more than 20 times 
larger than a smart phone (with 17" vs 3.5"). This means that even though 
the resolution is OK, many GUI elements will be too small to read. Normal 
applications are designed for user input via a physical keyboard and 
mouse, which you don't have on phones and tablets. "Apps", on the other 
hand, depend on touch screen gestures such as sliding and pinching, which 
the remote applications will not understand.

This means that regardless of which thin client / remote desktop product 
you are using, the usability with normal applications on devices like 
these is poor. It can work in some special cases, for example with 
advanced/forgiving users, or if you have the chance of re-designing the 
server side application, so that it is better suited for the target 

When it comes to the technology, the choice is between native "Apps" and a 
HTML5 solution. There are pros and cons with both solutions. An App can 
probably provide better functionality in the long run, but there are 
several problems with Apps:

* We would need to develop different Apps for different platforms: It is 
in practice impossible to create a cross platform App that works good on 
both iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android. Other platforms such as Windows Phone 
must also be considered.

* In ThinLinc, we have a common code base for all of our clients. Large 
parts of the client is based on GPL-licensed Open Source projects, such as 
TigerVNC. However, the Apple App Store does not allow such software. This 
means that we would need to re-write the entire core of our client into 
proprietary software. This would require a huge amount of work, and also 
feels wrong - we would like to continue working with Open Source software.

Due to reasons above, we are instead looking into a HTML5 client. I think 
this technology looks promising, although it will likely still be a 
secondary / supplemental client type. We expect that it can replace our 
Java Applet Client; it will not replace the native clients. It is also 
possible that we will create, say, a native Android App later on. There 
are few challenges with a HTML5 based client as well:

* For good performance and other reasons, it makes sense to use the 
"WebSocket" technology. However, many browsers does not implement 
WebSocket yet. This includes the latest stable version of Internet 
Explorer and the Android Browser (see http://caniuse.com/websockets).

* The HTML5 specification is still work in progress. The proposed plan is 
to "to release a stable HTML5 Recommendation by the end of 2014" 

* We do not want to compromise on security, so we must ensure that the new 
client fulfills our requirement. Websocket does provide encryption 
(wss://), but again, there are compatibility issues with certain browsers.

So, it will take some time before a HTML5 client can be a universal 

Btw, apparently the Windows ThinLinc Client works pretty well on Windows 8 
based tablets, so if you really need a tablet solution at this point, this 
could be something to check out.


On Wed, 31 Oct 2012, Karl-Heinz Frorath - gmail wrote:

> Hello Peter,
> Is there in the new 4.0.0-release a html-5 based Web-Client? I want to use Thininc on tablets? Or is there an android-client?
> Greetings
> Karl-Heinz
> ---------------------------
> 2012/10/31 Peter Astrand <astrand at cendio.se>
>       A beta version of the upcoming 4.0.0 release of ThinLinc is now available. Take it for a spin and let us know what you
>       think! We are happy for all feedback, good as well as bad.
>       Please note that this pre-release version should not be used on critical
>       systems. The beta version can be downloaded from our web site:
>       http://www.cendio.com/downloads/beta/
>       Rgds, ---
>       Peter Astrand           ThinLinc Chief Developer
>       Cendio AB               http://cendio.com
>       Teknikringen 8          http://twitter.com/ThinLinc
>       583 30 Linkoping        http://facebook.com/ThinLinc
>       Phone: +46-13-214600 http://plus.google.com/112509906846170010689
>       _______________________________________________
>       Thinlinc-technical mailing list
>       Thinlinc-technical at lists.cendio.se
>       http://lists.cendio.se/mailman/listinfo/thinlinc-technical
> --
> Karl-Heinz Frorath
> Lazariterstr. 5
> D - 79189  Bad Krozingen
> Germany
> Tel.-Nr. :  07633 - 101971
> Mobil :      0152 -  56300179
> FAX-Nr. : 07633 - 101973
> Web :   http://www.compu-wine.de   und    http://www.ubuntu-freiburg.de
> E-Mail : info at compu-wine.de          und    khfrorath at googlemail.com
> Skype : khfrorath  ( if offline, then redirected to the local phone for free )

Peter Astrand		ThinLinc Chief Developer
Cendio AB		http://cendio.com
Teknikringen 8		http://twitter.com/ThinLinc
583 30 Linkoping	http://facebook.com/ThinLinc
Phone: +46-13-214600	http://plus.google.com/112509906846170010689

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