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Information Technology Services
Peter H. Armacost Library

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

toll-free: (800) 456-9009
local: (727) 864-8318

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Information Technology Services

Information Technology Services

Frequently Answered Questions

What is a Thin Client?

How is this thin different from a regular Personal Computer?

Thin Clients store all their data on a central server. This means your work is protected and that you can move easily from computer to computer and keep working. It also means that everything depends on the network connection to the server.

A PC has a hard drive that stores an entire Operating System on it. A typical PC is storing many gigabytes of data locally, and if that hard drive stops working the data is lost.

Will all my normal applications run?

You are in a standard multi-user Windows environment. This means that software installed by ITS will work like you are used to, but you probably wont have rights to install any other software (Smart Card users are in an entirely different UNIX environment, so the rules are different there).

A little technical information, and Sun's own Technical FAQ

The Sun Rays are managed by a redundant pair of Sun SPARC servers running Solaris (a type of UNIX) and the Sun Ray Software Service. Once connected to a Sun Ray server the server connects to a session on a Windows Server 2008 Terminal Server. No configuration of any kind nor any data is stored on the thin client itself.

You can check out Sun Microsystems' Sun Ray web site and their Frequently Answered Questions page.

Smart Cards

This section is for users of our "Smart Card" program. This program is on hiatus until we can provide individual Windows session to card users.

What do smart cards do?

The smart card carries your "session" information. This means you can pull your card from any SunRay and insert it in any other and continue to work. Your programs are running on the central server and continue while you are away from the SunRay.

2.1 Where's Internet Explorer?

On the SunRays, we use the standard web application Mozilla Firefox. Access this program through the "Launch" menu in the Lower Left.

Launch --> Web Browser

What if a web page requires Internet Explorer?

If you are using a smart card, click on the Launch Menu, then Run, and type in iexplore to bring up Internet Explorer. ITS stresses that you should use Mozilla Firefox for normal web browsing.

Using "Gnome" to open programs and files

The Launch Menu

The menu in the lower left corner of the screen, labeled Launch performs the same function as the Windows "Start" button. Sub-menus under Applications contain programs for Internet access, Multimedia, Office, and so on.

File Management

Files can be saved to your HOME directory or to other locations such as your desktop. Because this is a multi-user system there are locations you can not access, or can not write to. If you run into one of these, just look for Home. The file manager knows how to read most types of files just by clicking on them, and shows previews of images.

Your files are available on any Sun Ray on campus as soon as you put your smart card in.

If you are using the SunRay without putting in a smart card, remember that any files you have saved go away as soon as the Thin Client restarts!

Customizing your desktop (Smart Card Users)

Under Launch -> Preferences you can customize the appearance and behavior of your desktop. Desktop background lets you choose any image you have downloaded as your desktop. Use Themes to select a different appearance for Windows and icons on the screen.


Internet Access

Our web browser is Firefox, available as Launch --> Web Browser. Also available is Instant Messenger.

Audio Support (the Multimedia menu)

We recommend XMMS or Java Media Player for .wav and .mp3 files, and Real Player and GXine for movie formats. You may occasionally encounter a movie that will not play correctly (but you're using these to study anyway, right?).


StarOffice is a set of productivity applications, just like Microsoft Office. You can use it to make spreadsheets, text documents, and presentations. If you are going to use these files on a PC, make sure you save them in the appropriate Microsoft format before e-mailing the file or putting it on a thumb drive.

Microsoft Office and other Microsoft Applications

Microsoft Office is available through the Launch -> Applications -> Windows Applications menu. With one exception this will work like Microsoft Office does on your own PC. The exception is that the files are actually on a central server. To access your files, click Launch -> Applications -> Eckerd -> Your Microsoft Office Files.

Your Sun Ray "Session"

What is a session?

A session is anything you do on a Thin Client from the time you log in until you decide to click Log Out. The server uses the smart card to seamlessly connect your session to the thin client you insert the card in -- your programs are actually running whether they are displayed to a thin client or not.

How long will my session last?

The server resets every Monday morning, so up to seven days.

Is my session secure?

The only way to access your session is with your personal smart card. Do not leave your card in the SunRay unattended!

USB Storage devices and Smart Cards

You can use USB key drives and CD drives with SunRays. It is important to disconnect these before you pull out your Smart card, or you may lose any files you had open.


The SunRay screen is blank and it is flashing a square hourglass icon.

The is a problem with the network connection -- in this case notify ITS or the lab staff.

The SunRay screen is gray and the mouse cursor is just an X, or the programs on the screen are just not responding.

Something has happened to the SunRay Session. You can tell the SunRay to restart (like ALT-CTRL-DEL on a windows PC) by holding down the Control and ALT keys and pressing Backspace twice quickly.

I've moved my Smart Card from one SunRay to another, and now my screen is the wrong size or the bottom and right sides are blank!

Different models of SunRay operate at different screen resolutions, To fix your session, click Launch --> Log Out and log in again.

The SunRay rejects my password or I've lost my Smart Card

Follow the directions on the Smart Card page to reset your password or obtain a replacement smart card.

Microsoft Office applications ask for a password, and my SunRay password is not working, or I receive a strange error when I use Microsoft Office.

Contact Walter Moore at ITS and describe the error you received.

I'm using Microsoft Office and I can't see files on my USB drive.

Because of the system used for Microsoft Office, detachable storage is not visible inside the program. Copy your files to the "Your Microsoft Office Files" folder (/windows_documents/username) before using Microsoft Office.

Get ITS Help

You can now request ITS help online by using the Eckerd College ITS ticket system. Request help here.

Google Apps for Edu


Eckerd uses Google Apps for Education (GAE)! GAE is a hosted suite of applications including communication (Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar) and collaboration (Google Docs, Google Video, Google Sites) tools. Learn more | Google Apps Status Dashboard

Microsoft IT Academy

Eckerd provides self-paced instruction through Microsoft IT Academy. Contact John Duff to request an access code for your course. Access Microsoft IT Academy here.