Use Linux to boot to TS...

Posted on 2006-03-22
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
Well, hopefully I don't get my head bitten off in here, but I have come here looking for your advice.  I am looking to develop a Linux boot application that will bring a thin client up with prompt to log into a Terminal Server... a Windows 2003 terminal server.

I have read alot about rdesktop - http://www.rdesktop.org  - and I think this is just what I am looking for.  BUt what I am unclear on is what I will need to do in order to create a Linux boot that will bootup and load the rdesktop application to log into the TS.

If you are willing, I would appreciate any help you guys can offer.
Question by:nprignano
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Expert Comment

ID: 16265386
Do you want an OS that loads from the client, or do you want it to netboot.
A thin client is typically netbooting, and getting the OS from the server.  If you want to run 2003 TS then you would use a windows netboot client.  OR
you could just netboot a linux distro like redhat, and setup the desktop (gnome) environment to load rdesktop at login, and when the user closes rdesktop it kicks them out.  This will help to ensure they only run apps from the 2k3 server BUT this means you will need to have a linux terminal server that will handle the netboot process, and give a linux OS to the thin client.  Then you will rdesktop to the Windows TS to get the apps.  I have only worked with Linux Terminal servers for netbooting and thin client computing.  Anytime I have used Windows Terminal services, I have been pushing the apps out via the web browser.  
Are you buying thin clients, or trying to get extra years out of old machines?
LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 16266318
Suppose your client is a PC (there are hardware thing clients also).
First decide from which media client boots it can be either: NET, HDD, CDROM, USB-FLASH.
Second download any small livecd linux which is installable on your boot media.
For example this (cd and flash installable): http://slax.linux-live.org/?lang=en
or any other livecd distro with rdesktop.
Modify livecd (it is  not too hard) so, that remote desktop would start instead of login application (in X).
that's all.
Of course such distro will contain many 'extra' software. You may create your own distro, it's easy too :)

Expert Comment

ID: 16267545

for building a homebrew solution:

If you wanna spend some (few) bucks:
The latter is a complete thinclient installed on an DiskOnChip-Module - simply plug it into your motherboards IDE port and you're done....

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LVL 15

Author Comment

ID: 16270061
blcarter14:  NET boot is not really an option.  at least not the way we want to go.  but the idea of booting to the rdesktop application seems right on track, as well as kicking them out or returning to the rdesktop screen when they log out.

Nopius:  in regards to modifying a live distro, you say its easy - what about for someone with little Linux experience (I have only used linux to run Apache).  Do you know of a good comprehensive guide/tutorial/overview of modifying a live distro?

XoF:  For the IDE plugin, two questions:  is this the only company making this product?  I'm in the US and I wonder if their is a local solution (thinking about support and shipping).  Also, you say plug it in and your done, but does the IDE plugin have a Linux distro on it already or would I add it myself?

Thank you for your assistance and advice.

Assisted Solution

blcarter14 earned 500 total points
ID: 16270285
So you want the OS to run on the thin client, but use rdesktop to run apps?
I would get something like dsl (damn small linux) and install it on the local drive, or run it from cd.  Then customize the desktop for rdesktop.

something like:
gnome-terminal &
exec metacity &

will set the xsession to run only rdesktop.  I have done this but used mozilla, for a thin client that only runs mozilla.  When the user logs in he will get mozilla, and when he closes mozilla it ends the session.

Assisted Solution

XoF earned 500 total points
ID: 16271930
that IDE plug ships with a ready2run installed mini distribution. Plug it in, power on and your thin client is operational. Damn sweet.... Tried these out some time ago on a via epia board. So I had a fanless, noiseless TC...

I haven't seen any other companies with a product like that one.

LVL 27

Accepted Solution

Nopius earned 1000 total points
ID: 16276547

Modifying distrimutive is really easy, but I haven't see any tutorials.

What it you should do:
1) Get LiveCD .iso image (filename.iso) or just mount your LiveCD to /mnt/iso.
2) Mount that .iso: something like 'mount -o loop -t iso9660 filename.iso /mnt/iso'. It's read-only FS.
3) Copy entire distro content to some directory (suppose /tmp/distro) on your local filesystem.
4) Modify startup programs and entire content as you like in /tmp/distro
5) Assemble .iso back from your customized directory and make it bootable, this link may help: http://syslinux.zytor.com/iso.php
6) Burn your CD and boot it.

Of course you may have some difficulties but all they are resolvable. There is no magic in modifying and creating boot cd's.

LVL 15

Author Comment

ID: 16277181
thanks for the help.  i think i have enough to dive in and start playing around.  i am definitely optimistic.


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