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Do these terms mean someone can boot a machine over the network? What is on the hard drive of the machine? I have seen Dell and Xen and others. I'm not getting it. Thanks.

Can you run an OS remotely like that? Office applications, etc?

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Yes you can remote into these clients if you set it up to support it and share the display but most are limited to console. – Ramhound Sep 24 '13 at 21:13

zero clients have no hard disks unlike thin clients which can store OS files and some configuration in its flash memory. See http://searchvirtualdesktop.techtarget.com/definition/zero-client for more info

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So on a thin client, what is on there? For example, I have Windows 7 VM I made with xen (not really, just for the question). What is on the physical machine? – johnny Sep 25 '13 at 12:59
    
It has the common interfaces including USB, VGA, graphic card, Audio in and out and most importantly the NIC(Network Interface Card) and the flash memory. – Zigmaphi Sep 27 '13 at 14:57

Zero clients do have some memory but no operating system and no hard disk, just a firmware able to drive a graphic card, a NIC, and USB ports (keyboard, mouse). Everything else is running elsewhere over the network.

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