A Thin client open source model for a rural health facility
Thin clients are diskless desktop devices that rely on a centralized server for their computing power. In contrast with a typical PC that may download applications via a client/server environment, thin clients are fully dependent on servers: all data and applications are stored on servers. These systems have been touted for years as a low-cost means of enabling certain sectors of employees to work more effectively and efficiently. The major objective of this study was to develop and implement an open source thin client model and illustrate basic functionality using a prototype IS. The study went further to investigate integration with existing networks, in particular a network of handheld computers, by the use of a wireless access point coupled with a switch that was used to bridge the wired and wireless networks. Access to the prototype IS was implemented on the handhelds (PocketPCs) too. The particular area of interest in this project was the application of this thin client model in a rural setting in Uganda. A prototype information system designed for that particular rural facility was also ported onto the developed system to illustrate the advantages that can accrue from a basic thin client system in a rural setting. Major challenges in the implementation of the project were faced in model development and configuration and installation of the thin clients. One of the major recommendations was made in the area of further integration of open source thin client systems with wireless networks. Areas of future development identified were in the usage of bridged networks: wired and wireless, in rural areas as a way of improving information management. Further investigation and eventual change to open source software as a cheap, reliable yet also secure way of implementing networks was also cited.