I learned about Sun's new thin client technology by reading a Register story by Ashlee Vance. Sun has released the new Sun Ray 170. This is like the new Apple iMac since it is essentially all screen.
To power the new Sun Ray, Sun released Sun Ray Server Software 3. The Sun Ray server can be UltraSPARC-based to run Solaris or it can be an x86 box running Sun's Java Desktop System, Release 2, Red Hat Enterprise Server AS 3 (32-bit), or SuSE Enterprise Linux 8, service pack 3 (32-bit).
According to Ashlee's article:
"Sun will also be looking to convince service providers to consider thin clients as options for their customers. The basic idea is that AOL, for example, could give consumers a thin client for free and then charge monthly fees for its 'computing' service. AOL would be able to manage consumers' software from its servers and provide a secure, simple package for people that really just want to surf the internet, check e-mail, message and do a bit of word processing. Consumers would receive a sleek device that runs quiet, and they wouldn't have to worry about hardware upgrades or their legs catching on fire."
This is a great idea and I think it is exactly where the industry needs to move. In a previous blog entry I imagined that AOL or Google might offer thin clients using live CDs. Sun is thinking even further, believing a company like AOL would rent hardware to users, not just give CDs. I have been talking to some Sun employees and hope to become more familiar with the new Sun Ray technology in the coming months.