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?

  • 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, 2013 at 21:13

2 Answers 2


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.


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

  • 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, 2013 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, 2013 at 14:57

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