3 Mar 2005 dfenwick   » (Journeyer)

We bought a pile of HP T5515 thin clients at our lab. The box itself is pretty cool, sporting a caruso processor, 128MB of RAM, 128MB of flash RAM, and other sundries. It comes with a thin client Linux build that HP produces for it that has Xfce as the desktop environment.

Unfortunately they omitted Xnest from the build and they force all rdesktop sessions into full screen mode, which drives me bananas. So I went out to the HP site to see what I had to do to create a new build environment for the box. It told me to go visit Metrowerks to get the build environment for the thin client. Mind you, we paid $450 for these boxes in an effort to save money. Metrowerks wants $7000 just for the build environment. That's more than all of the clients we purchased cost us. Just for the build environment. Argh.

So I started looking for options. The thin client world in Linux is all over the place. LTSP has a decent build, but it's somewhat server-centric. I'd like to put the build on the 128MB flash RAM (that acts as an IDE drive within the kernel.) I installed a distribution then hacked it apart and moved it to my Solaris server, along with the PXELinux environment and got a client booting into LTSP. Then I looked at the build. It doesn't have Xnest either. Argh.

I looked at a few other distributions (PXES, ThinStation, etc.) and none of them provide what I'm really looking for in a thin client distribution.

So I've started the process of building my own distribution based on the LTSP distribution. More appropriately, I'm going to submit some modules to the LTSP distribution to make it more like what I'm looking for in a thin client build.

I've basically been running "thin" client architectures for years, but back in the day we called them X terminals. I must say, though, that with the open source projects that are out there, the universal thin client architecture is finally becoming a reality. It's really nice being able to run X, RDP, Citrix, or even standard terminal sessions on a single client with a very small build.

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