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After I wrote the article “Raspberry Pi 4 – The Ultimate Thin Client?” I have been asked on Twitter to write about the Raspi in combination with Stratodesk’s NoTouch OS. I have no hands-on experience with this operating system, but am currently helping a partner who is doing a proof of concept with a customer. The customer uses AMD-based thin clients for their tests and one important criteron is Skype for Business. As you maybe know from my previous article, Skype for Business (SfB) is not running with the Horizon Client on TLXOS. The supported Horizon Client features include Blast Extreme, USB redirection, and H.264 decoding.

And I think I know now why. It’s not the Horizon Client on TLXOS, but the Raspi’s CPU architecture. In the VMware Docs for the Horizon Client for Linux 5.1 (most recent at the time of writing) it’s clearly stated that:

Real-Time Audio-Video is supported on x86 and x64 devices. This feature is not supported on ARM processors. The client system must meet the following minimum hardware requirements.

So, if I want to test all features of the Horizon Client, then I have to use my Intel NUC Skull Canyon. I’m still going to test the user experience with NoTouch OS, but the RTAV with SfB is off the table with this device.

Horizon Test Environment

I’m going to use VMware’s TestDrive to access a vGPU enabled Windows 10 desktop from the EMEA region. Such a Windows 10 1709 desktop is equipped with a Xeon Gold 6140 CPU and a Nvidia Tesla V100 card.

Raspberry Pi 4 Setup

There is no special manual needed to set up a Raspberry Pi. Just unbox and install it in a case, if you ordered one. Here are some general instructions: https://projects.raspberrypi.org/en/projects/raspberry-pi-setting-up

Install NoTouch OS on the Raspberry Pi 4

Format the SD card because TLXOS is installed. On Windows open the “Disk Management” tool to delete the volumes on the SD card.

After the deletion it should look like this.

Register for a free trial to download the  installer “Stratodesk-NoTouchOS-DiskImage-2.40.5587-EEs-k419-armhf-190808.zip – NoTouch OS – Standard Edition k419 (Raspberry Pi 3 and 4) – Disk Image Installer”

Uncompress the ZIP archive

Double-click on “FlashSDcard.cmd” and check in the appearing “Win32 Disk Imager” that the drive letter points to your SD card (in my case “F”). When you are sure click “Write” and wait for the operation to complete.

After the write has been successful, remove the SD card and put it into the Raspberry Pi. Boot and let’s see.

Wizard Step 1 – Location and Keyboard

Wizard Step 2 – Create a connection (for Horizon View)

Wizard Step 3 – Admin Password and EULA

Wizard – Configuration stored and Horizon Destop icon appears.

After a reboot, try to connect to your Horizon environment by double-clicking the icon on the desktop.

Works fine – my TestDrive desktop appears

I wanted quickly to test audio and video, but the video was very laggy and no audio at all. I couldn’t find a way, same with TLXOS, to minimize the Horizon session to get back to my NoTouch desktop. After checking the Blast settings in the Horizon Client I could see, that the H.264 decoding is not allowed by default.

Before we connect back to the desktop we need to fix the audio problem as well. In the start menu you can access the system configuration where you have to enter a password first.

After access the “Audio” settings I had to change the “Standard audio device” to “Analog” and allow the other settings marked with “On” now.

Tried to save the config change but this resulted in an error. I decided to reboot the OS.

Checked the settings again – yes, they were saved. Finally, I could move on to the first test with YouTube.

Testing

 

1) User Experience with YouTube

As a first test I’m using the same Avengers 4K trailer on YouTube.

AVENGERS 4 ENDGAME: 8 Minute Trailers (4K ULTRA HD) NEW 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVFPRstvlvk

Result: Video good, audio unusable

2) TestDrive – Nvidia Faceworks

Result: Good performance (same like TLXOS)

3) TestDrive – eDrawings Racecar Animation

Result: Good performance (same like TLXOS)

4) TestDrive – Nvidia “A New Dawn”

Result: Video animation good, audio unusable

5) FishGL

Result: Good performance (same like TLXOS)

NoTouch OS – VMware Horizon Audio Problems

The good thing about the NoTouch OS is, that it gives you more configuration and diagnostic options. And one of them is  “play test sound”:

This tells us that the problem only exists in the Horizon VDI session. What happens if I change my analog speakers to USB and test it again?

Result: Good performance (same like TLXOS)

NoTouch OS – Configuration Options for the Horizon View

I have to admit that Stratodesk’s NoTouch OS is way more mature than a TLXOS. With TLXOS I had the feeling that the configuration options are very limited and the big advantage there was, that you could only configure one application or connection. Meaning you could only use Horizon or a web browser for example.

With NoTouch OS this is really different. You can configure Horizon, Citrix, RDP, Chromium etc. and place all the icons on the desktop or in the start menu.

Maybe I was not familiar enough with TLXOS or it’s not very intuitive, but the NoTouch OS gives me a rich set of options to configure the Horizon Client or my Horizon session.

Conclusion

Compared to the TLXOS I have to admit that Stratodesk’s NoTouch OS is the better option. You have way more options to configure the thin client (the operating system in the end) and the Horizon Client. In addition to that you are also allowed to configure more than one application or connection, which is limited to only one with ThinLinx (TLXOS).

And according to a current customer, who is performing a Horizon PoC, the management software from Stratodesk is also awesome.

If you look for an enterprise-ready operating system for thin clients, then NoTouch OS is the better choice for sure. I can confirm that Stratodesk is correctly installing our Horizon Client for Linux in their image including all the necessary libraries and dependencies!

The only thing which you have to keep in mind is the limited feature set with a Raspberry Pi. Skype for Business with the optimized mode currently is not supported. This means you have to go with a thin client which is based on a Intel or AMD-based CPU architecture.