Can I flash a linux thin client with a windows thin client OS?

Posted on 2010-03-25
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-15
We have some linux think clients that we thought would work in our environment.  We have some applications that only run in Internet Explorer.  We dont want to run th internet emulation on the linux because the newest version that works is IE6.  We have some windows embedded think clients now.  Is there any way to flash the windows OS onto the Linux thin clients?  They are both HP brands.  Thanks
Question by:TriCountyIT
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Expert Comment

ID: 28591393
Why not try virtualbox to accomplish this?
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Expert Comment

by:Daniel McAllister
ID: 28593007
The OS that a thin-client runs natively is of no real consequence... all it does is boot the hardware and connect to the server. The server then provides ALL of the rest of the data -- effectively turning the "thin client" into nothing more than a Keyboard/Video/Mouse interface.

Perhaps it would be useful for you to describe WHY you feel you need to re-flash the hardware with a Windows boot system vs. using the Linux one... I suspect there is some other problem that you are expecting the switch to Windows to solve...


Author Comment

ID: 28681264
We are not looking to use remote desktop on these thin clients.  We have a couple peices of software that we are going to install right on the thin client and it needs a windows type OS and internet explorer to run the programs.  
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Expert Comment

by:Daniel McAllister
ID: 28684234
Hmmm.... good luck with that! The amount of free "storage" on a thin client is pretty slim!

Never the less, the vendor will have flash utilities to change the base OS to Windows... but don't expect it to be any kind of full-windows! Just like the linux system on there now, the intent of the hardware AND software on those boxes is to get "up" only as far as needed to access the remote terminal service and load a remote terminal.... that's it!

Some vendors (like HP) can be very picky about releasing the flash images... call customer support and be VERY nice!

LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 28685319
Again, try virtualbox.....this should work for you

Author Comment

ID: 28687218
I only have about 500mb on these thing clients.  Will virtual box work with that small of a storage?
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Expert Comment

ID: 28687265

Author Comment

ID: 28689555
How do I install it.  I always have problems installing stuff on linux.
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Expert Comment

ID: 28690102
go to virtualbox.org

Everything you need should be there

Author Comment

ID: 28696083
do I need to install wine?
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Expert Comment

ID: 28706409
You shouldn't need to

Author Comment

ID: 28707274
I have had no luck installing.   What do I do after I download the file to the root?
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Accepted Solution

Mike earned 2000 total points
ID: 28710793
As taken from the virtualbox website under user manual....

2.3 Installing on Linux hosts
2.3.1 Prerequisites
For the various versions of Linux that we support as host operating systems, please
refer to chapter 1.4, Supported host operating systems, page 15.
You will need to install the following packages on your Linux system before starting
the installation (some systems will do this for you automatically when you install
 Qt 4.4.0 or higher;
 SDL 1.2.7 or higher (this graphics library is typically called libsdl or similar).
Note: To be precise, these packages are only required if you want to run
the VirtualBox graphical user interfaces. In particular, VirtualBox, our main
graphical user interface, requires both Qt and SDL; VBoxSDL, our simplified
GUI, requires only SDL. By contrast, if you only want to run the headless
VRDP server that comes with VirtualBox, neither Qt nor SDL are required.
2.3.2 The VirtualBox kernel module
VirtualBox uses a special kernel module to perform physical memory allocation and to
gain control of the processor for guest system execution. Without this kernel module,
you will still be able to work with virtual machines in the configuration interface, but
you will not be able to start any virtual machines.
2 Installation details
The VirtualBox kernel module is automatically installed on your system when you
install VirtualBox. To maintain it with future kernel updates, for recent Linux distributions
– for example Fedora Core 5 and later, Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy) and later and Mandriva
2007.1 and later –, generally we recommend installing Dynamic Kernel Module
Support (DKMS)1. This framework helps to build kernel modules and to deal with
kernel upgrades.
If DKMS is not already installed, execute one of the following:
 On an Ubuntu system:
sudo apt-get install dkms
 On a Fedora system:
yum install dkms
 On a Mandriva system:
urpmi dkms
If DKMS is available and installed, the VirtualBox kernel module should always work
automatically, and it will be automatically rebuilt if your host kernel is updated.
Otherwise, there are only two situations in which you will need to worry about the
kernel module:
1. The original installation fails. This probably means that your Linux system is not
prepared for building external kernel modules.
Most Linux distributions can be set up simply by installing the right packages -
normally, these will be the GNU compiler (GCC), GNU Make (make) and packages
containing header files for your kernel - and making sure that all system
updates are installed and that the system is running the most up-to-date kernel
included in the distribution. The version numbers of the header file packages must
be the same as that of the kernel you are using.
 With Debian and Ubuntu releases, you must install the right version of
the linux-headers and if it exists the linux-kbuild package. Current
Ubuntu releases should have the right packages installed by default.
 In even older Debian and Ubuntu releases, you must install the right version
of the kernel-headers package.
 On Fedora and Redhat systems, the package is kernel-devel.
 On SUSE and openSUSE Linux, you must install the right versions of the
kernel-source and kernel-syms packages.
 Alternatively, if you have built your own kernel, /usr/src/linux should
point to your kernel sources. If you have not removed the files created
during the build process, then your system will already be set up correctly.
2. The kernel of your Linux host got updated. In that case, the kernel module will
need to be reinstalled by executing (as root):
/etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup
1See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_Kernel_Module_Support for an introduction.
2 Installation details
2.3.3 USB and advanced networking support
In order to use VirtualBox’s USB support, the user account under which you intend to
run VirtualBox must have read and write access to the USB filesystem (usbfs).
In addition, access to /dev/net/tun will be required if you want to use Host Interface
Networking, which is described in detail in chapter 6.4, Bridged networking, page
2.3.4 Performing the installation
VirtualBox is available in a number of package formats native to various common Linux
distributions (see chapter 1.4, Supported host operating systems, page 15 for details).
In addition, there is an alternative generic installer (.run) which should work on most
Linux distributions. Installing VirtualBox from a Debian/Ubuntu package
First, download the appropriate package for your distribution. The following examples
assume that you are installing to an Ubuntu Edgy system. Use dpkg to install the
Debian package:
sudo dpkg -i VirtualBox_3.1.6_Ubuntu_edgy.deb
You will be asked to accept the VirtualBox Personal Use and Evaluation License.
Unless you answer “yes” here, the installation will be aborted.
The group vboxusers will be created during installation. Note that a user who is
going to run VirtualBox must be member of that group. A user can be made member
of the group vboxusers through the GUI user/group management or at the command
line with
sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers username
Also note that adding an active user to that group will require that user to log out
and back in again. This should be done manually after successful installation of the
The installer will also search for a VirtualBox kernel module suitable for your
kernel. The package includes pre-compiled modules for the most common kernel
configurations. If no suitable kernel module is found, the installation script
tries to build a module itself. If the build process is not successful you will be
shown a warning and the package will be left unconfigured. Please have a look at
/var/log/vbox-install.log to find out why the compilation failed. You may have
to install the appropriate Linux kernel headers (see chapter 2.3.2, The VirtualBox kernel
module, page 35). After correcting any problems, do
sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup
2 Installation details
This will start a second attempt to build the module.
If a suitable kernel module was found in the package or the module was successfully
built, the installation script will attempt to load that module. If this fails, please see
chapter 11.5.1, Linux kernel module refuses to load, page 170 for further information.
Once VirtualBox has been successfully installed and configured, you can start it by
selecting “VirtualBox” in your start menu or from the command line (see chapter 2.3.5,
Starting VirtualBox on Linux, page 42). Using the alternative installer (VirtualBox.run)
The alternative installer performs the following steps:
 It unpacks the application files to a target directory of choice. By default,
will be used.
 It builds the VirtualBox kernel module (vboxdrv) and installs it.
 It creates /etc/init.d/vboxdrv, an init script to start the VirtualBox kernel
 It creates a new system group called vboxusers.
 It creates symbolic links to VirtualBox, VBoxSDL, VBoxVRDP, VBoxHeadless
and VBoxManage in /usr/bin.
 It creates /etc/udev/60-vboxdrv.rules, a description file for udev, if that is
present, which makes the module accessible to anyone in the group vboxusers.
 It writes the installation directory to /etc/vbox/vbox.cfg.
The installer must be executed as root with either install or uninstall as the
first parameter. If you do not want the installer to ask you whether you wish to accept
the license agreement (for example, for performing unattended installations), you can
add the parameter license_accepted_unconditionally. Finally, if you want to use
a directory other than the default installation directory, add the desired path as an
extra parameter.
sudo ./VirtualBox.run install /opt/VirtualBox
Or if you do not have the “sudo” command available, run the following as root
./VirtualBox.run install /opt/VirtualBox
After that you need to put every user which should be able to use VirtualBox in the
group vboxusers, either through the GUI user management tools or by running the
following command as root:
2 Installation details
sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers username
Note: The usermod command of some older Linux distributions does not support
the -a option (which adds the user to the given group without affecting
membership of other groups). In this case, find out the current group memberships
with the groups command and add all these groups in a commaseparated
list to the command line after the -G option, e.g. like this: usermod
-G group1,group2,vboxusers username.
If any users on your system should be able to access host USB devices from within
VirtualBox guests, you should also add them to the appropriate user group that your
distribution uses for USB access, e.g. usb or usbusers. Performing a manual installation
If, for any reason, you cannot use the shell script installer described previously, you
can also perform a manual installation. Invoke the installer like this:
./VirtualBox.run --keep --noexec
This will unpack all the files needed for installation in the directory install
under the current directory. The VirtualBox application files are contained in
VirtualBox.tar.bz2 which you can unpack to any directory on your system. For
sudo mkdir /opt/VirtualBox
sudo tar jxf ./install/VirtualBox.tar.bz2 -C /opt/VirtualBox
or as root:
mkdir /opt/VirtualBox
tar jxf ./install/VirtualBox.tar.bz2 -C /opt/VirtualBox
The sources for VirtualBox’s kernel module are provided in the src directory. To
build the module, change to the directory and issue
If everything builds correctly, issue the following command to install the module to
the appropriate module directory:
sudo make install
In case you do not have sudo, switch the user account to root and perform
make install
2 Installation details
The VirtualBox kernel module needs a device node to operate. The above make
command will tell you how to create the device node, depending on your Linux system.
The procedure is slightly different for a classical Linux setup with a /dev directory, a
system with the now deprecated devfs and a modern Linux system with udev.
On certain Linux distributions, you might experience difficulties building the module.
You will have to analyze the error messages from the build system to diagnose the
cause of the problems. In general, make sure that the correct Linux kernel sources are
used for the build process.
Note that the user who is going to run VirtualBox needs read and write permission
on the VirtualBox kernel module device node /dev/vboxdrv. You can either define a
vboxusers group by entering
groupadd vboxusers
chgrp vboxusers /dev/vboxdrv
chmod 660 /dev/vboxdrv
or, alternatively, simply give all users access (insecure, not recommended!)
chmod 666 /dev/vboxdrv
You should also add any users who will be allowed to use host USB devices in
VirtualBox guests to the appropriate USB users group for your distribution. This group
is often called usb or usbusers.
Next, you will have to install the system initialization script for the kernel module:
cp /opt/VirtualBox/vboxdrv.sh /etc/init.d/vboxdrv
(assuming you installed VirtualBox to the /opt/VirtualBox directory) and activate
the initialization script using the right method for your distribution. You should create
VirtualBox’s configuration file:
mkdir /etc/vbox
echo INSTALL_DIR=/opt/VirtualBox > /etc/vbox/vbox.cfg
and, for convenience, create the following symbolic links:
ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/VBox.sh /usr/bin/VirtualBox
ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/VBox.sh /usr/bin/VBoxSVC
ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/VBox.sh /usr/bin/VBoxManage
ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/VBox.sh /usr/bin/VBoxHeadless
ln -sf /opt/VirtualBox/VBox.sh /usr/bin/VBoxSDL Updating and uninstalling VirtualBox
Before updating or uninstalling VirtualBox, you must terminate any virtual machines
which are currently running and exit the VirtualBox or VBoxSVC applications. To
update VirtualBox, simply run the installer of the updated version. To uninstall
VirtualBox, invoke the installer like this:
sudo ./VirtualBox.run uninstall
2 Installation details
or as root
./VirtualBox.run uninstall
. Starting with version 2.2.2, you can uninstall the .run package by invoking
To manually uninstall VirtualBox, simply undo the steps in the manual installation in
reverse order. Automatic installation of Debian packages
The Debian packages will request some user feedback when installed for the first time.
The debconf system is used to perform this task. To prevent any user interaction during
installation, default values can be defined. A file vboxconf can contain the following
debconf settings:
virtualbox virtualbox/module-compilation-allowed boolean true
virtualbox virtualbox/delete-old-modules boolean true
The first line allows compilation of the vboxdrv kernel module if no module was found
for the current kernel. The second line allows the package to delete any old vboxdrv
kernel modules compiled by previous installations.
These default settings can be applied with
debconf-set-selections vboxconf
prior to the installation of the VirtualBox Debian package. Automatic installation of .rpm packages
The .rpm format does not provide a configuration system comparable to the debconf
system. To configure the installation process of our .rpm packages, a file
/etc/default/virtualbox is interpreted. The automatic generation of the udev rule
can be prevented by the following setting:
The creation of the group vboxusers can be prevented by
If the line
is specified, the package installer will not try to build the vboxdrv kernel module if no
module according to the current kernel was found.
2 Installation details
2.3.5 Starting VirtualBox on Linux
The easiest way to start a VirtualBox program is by running the program of your choice
(VirtualBox, VBoxManage, VBoxSDL or VBoxHeadless) from a terminal. These are
symbolic links to VBox.sh that start the required program for you.
The following detailed instructions should only be of interest if you wish to execute
VirtualBox without installing it first. You should start by compiling the vboxdrv kernel
module (see above) and inserting it into the Linux kernel. VirtualBox consists of
a service daemon (VBoxSVC) and several application programs. The daemon is automatically
started if necessary. All VirtualBox applications will communicate with
the daemon through Unix local domain sockets. There can be multiple daemon instances
under different user accounts and applications can only communicate with
the daemon running under the user account as the application. The local domain
socket resides in a subdirectory of your system’s directory for temporary files called
.vbox-<username>-ipc. In case of communication problems or server startup problems,
you may try to remove this directory.
All VirtualBox applications (VirtualBox, VBoxSDL, VBoxManage and VBoxHeadless)
require the VirtualBox directory to be in the library path:
LD_LIBRARY_PATH=. ./VBoxManage showvminfo "Windows XP"

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