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Your Guide to Green Computing Terms: Thin Client, Diskless Node and Energy Star

written by: MD Weems•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/29/2008

Three terms in green computing is not nearly enough to cover all you need to know, so here is the second part of this series to help keep you on the green track.

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    Let's Jump Right In!

    Now that you are familiar with some of the basic terms, here are three others that you should get to know as well so that you can have a better understanding of all the different areas that encompass green computing.

    Thin Client

    This term is synonymous with lean clients and slim clients. A thin client is a computer or software in a client-server network that depends on the central server for processing and focuses on transferring the input and output between the user and the remote server. This is different from the thick client which does the bulk of the processing for the user and only passes data for storage purposes to the main server. Thin clients usually run on web browsers or remote access software, which means that all of the processing occurs on the server. But, some devices that are out now are being called thin clients that can actually run the complete operating system like Debian (a Linux distribution system which you can find more information on here:, which qualifies them as a diskless node or a hybrid client. One of the problems is that the term "thin client" has become a regular term that applies to any device that is marketed as one in it's original definition, which doesn't help even if their capabilities are so much better.

    Diskless Node

    This basically means that you have a diskless workstation, which can be a workstation at an office or a home computer that does not have disk drives at all, instead it uses a network boot to load it's operating system from a remote server. Of course, this term also encompasses those computer workstations that do not use disks to boot up and boot from a remote server even if they have disk drives. But, diskless nodes are usually called network computers or hybrid clients. These are just other terms for the same thing, and when you hear them now, you will know what they are talking about. There are tons of advantages of diskless nodes, including a much lower production cost, lower costs to run them, and a much quieter operation. Plus, the manageability of these diskless nodes are so much easier for IT administrators.

    Energy Star

    Just about everyone has heard of, or seen, the Energy Star logo, yet few people truly understand what it means when it comes to computers. The program is actually an international standard to help create more energy efficient consumer products, including computers and computer components. It was first created by the U.S. Envrionmental Protection Agency, and then many other countries took up the program, including Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, the European Union, Canada, and Japan. There are now millions of different devices that carry the Energy Star logo, but some of the devices in European countries also use TCO Certifications, which is a rating that combines both energy usage and ergonomics that was developed by the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees. (You can find more information about Energy Star here on Bright Hub at

    In the next part of this series, we will go through some of the other organizations that help to regulate green computing in today's technical world - such as TCO Certifications, Climate Savers Computing, Green Computing Impact Organization, and Green Electronics Council.