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Operating Systems Software Linux

Small, Fast RDP Client? 40

Posted by Cliff
from the linux-for-a-specific-task dept.
Tazor asks: "I'm working for a small municipality in Denmark where most of our users are using our Windows terminal servers. Now we want to run a RDP client on our older PCs (133 mhz, 32 mb RAM, 2 gb disks). We figure that the best way to do this, is to use open source, and this is where I need your help. I'm trying to find a small Linux distro, running from either a floppy disk or from hard disk, that boots straight into a RDP client logon screen. It needs to be easy to customize (not much Open Source knowledge in our department) so that we can configure hostnames and set the distro to use Danish keyboard settings. We would also like it to be free. I found PilotLinux, but it runs from a Live-CD and is difficult to customize (for a PFY like me anyways). Hope that hardcore OSS geeks in here can help me."
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Small, Fast RDP Client?

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  • Here's what you do: (Score:4, Informative)

    by bersl2 (689221) on Wednesday November 03, 2004 @06:42AM (#10709009) Journal
    Take any distro you want that has an X server. Install enough to get the X server running. Install rdesktop. Find which runlevel boots straight into X in /etc/inittab and change it so that it runs the following command: xinit rdesktop [options].

    I just thought that up on the spot. You can do all of this with Slackware easily. DamnSmallLinux looks like it works too if you modify the OS image.
  • Netstation Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 03, 2004 @06:45AM (#10709024)
    NetStation [sourceforge.net] is a Linux distribution for diskless thin clients terminals using standard x86 hardware. It can boot from network, floppy, or flash-disk and connect to an application server using VNC, RDP, XDM, SSH, telnet, Citrix ICA, or Tarantella.

    set karma_whore 0
  • rdesktop.org (Score:3, Informative)

    by servicepack158 (678320) on Wednesday November 03, 2004 @06:47AM (#10709030) Homepage
    is really easy to install and works perfectly as far as I can tell.
  • Everything you need (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrSkwid (118965) on Wednesday November 03, 2004 @08:16AM (#10709449) Homepage Journal

    sell the hard drives and buy decent network cards then use :

    http://pxes.sourceforge.net/

    boot the thin clients from the network, and hey presto : Rdesktop kiosks

  • Bad news for you. (Score:2, Informative)

    by afd8856 (700296) on Wednesday November 03, 2004 @08:27AM (#10709520) Homepage
    First of all, you can use LTSP and rom-o-matic to create a network where you boot from floppy disks and have networked X computing. On a 100 Mbit switched LAN it works fast and with almost no problem. The bad news is that your stations will be too slow. In my experience, there is a big difference between P200 MMX and P2 233.

    In the end, if you don't want to replace your hardware, you would have to run win95 with and RDP client on them.
  • Re:Netstation Linux (Score:2, Informative)

    by Shulai (34423) on Wednesday November 03, 2004 @08:33AM (#10709556) Homepage
    Yes. Netstation and others like Thinstation and PXES (all in sourceforge.net).
    All of them are related projects (I do not remember which one is the original and which are the derivatives).
    They usuallay boot via Etherboot floppy, as are too large to fit into a floppy themselves. One of those (I do not remember which) can be installed on a Windows server, having any Linux station installed.
    OTOH, when I investigated about this, I modified a LEAF-Dachstein Linux floppy router.
    The result was a Linux self contained on a floppy booting and starting rdesktop on framebuffer (via NanoX and VESA 2.0). Not a so easy thing to do, but feasible.
    Lamentably it didn't work for us, as lots of our oldies didn't have VESA 2.0 video cards, and a svgalib version didn't work well.
  • by wolf31o2 (778801) on Wednesday November 03, 2004 @09:42AM (#10710001)
    PXES is a small Linux distribution based on Red Hat binaries that is designed to be used as a thin-client. It is capable of booting from a CDROM, a hard disk, a netboot image, or PXE. It is capable of running several protocols, including ICA, RDP(v5, too), XDMCP, and others. I jave used it quite extensively. All you do is create the image using the pretty GTK+ interface an dyou're done. There are also default pre-built images. There are packages for Red Hat, Debian, and even a Gentoo ebuild. All in all, I find it to be a wonderful solution and quite easy to customize. The developer, Diego, is also very helpful and friendly.
  • CAL Licensing (Score:5, Informative)

    by gadwale (46632) on Wednesday November 03, 2004 @10:24AM (#10710352) Homepage
    Each user connecting to a Windows terminal server needs a valid Client Access License (CAL). Windows 2000 and XP apparently come with their own CALs. If you are going to use a different OS or client, you may need to separately purchase a CAL for each client and the CAL costs about as much as a seat license for Win2K or XP; so you might as well buy and install the OS.

    More info:
    http://www.winnetmag.com/Windows/Article/Ar ticleID /5863/5863.html

    -Adi Gadwale.
  • Pilot Linux... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DMadCat (643046) <dmadcat@@@moondans...com> on Wednesday November 03, 2004 @10:45AM (#10710585)
    Actually, though it may seem difficult, Pilot Linux is actually quite easy to customize.

    I was looking for a quick and easy solution to getting more use out of aging PCs at my former job last Spring. We had a Microsoft RDP environment (switched from Cisco) and a bunch of old PIIs still running Windows 95.

    I found Pilot Linux, which boots straight to RDesktop in effect turning your PC into a thin client.

    Customizing it is really only a matter of changing a couple of scripts. The challenging part is mounting the .iso (mount -o loop -t iso9660 tiger.iso /mnt/iso).

    After that you simply copy all of the files to another directory, dip into one of the config files (can't remember which off-hand) to change the settings (I even added a .png of my company's logo at boot) and then use mkisofs to create a new .iso with your customized files. Burn to a disk and you're done.

    I want to stress that it took me about 3 hours to learn all of this prior to which I had zero experience with any form of CD distro. I didn't even know you could mount an .iso before I did it but Google is a wonderful thing.

    Unfortunately, though it worked wonderfully well, my IT Director didn't know anything about Linux and therefore didn't like it. Instead he stuck with Microsoft products and so he ordered 50 new PCs with Windows XP pre-installed just for the Remote Desktop feature (everything else was locked down), in the process using up much of the department's leftover budget for the whole year within the first six months (the majority was spent on new XP servers).
  • Re:CAL Licensing (Score:3, Informative)

    by nachoboy (107025) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @01:36AM (#10720791)
    Wow that article's old - from 1999, when the latest server offering from Microsoft was NT4. The story remains mostly the same for Windows 2000, but in Windows Server 2003 things get complicated quickly.

    For Terminal Services running on Windows servers, clients require a separate TS CAL. For NT4 and Windows 2000, this TS CAL requirement is waived if the client OS is of an equal or greater version. For Windows Server 2003, Microsoft discontinued this free TS CAL. A transition plan [microsoft.com] was made available for all Windows XP licenses owned prior to April 2003 (when Windows Server 2003 was released), granting XP license owners a free TS CAL, but any licenses acquired after that date are not granted the complimentary TS CAL. Part of the reasoning was due to an expansion of TS CAL types - TS CAL's can now be either per-device or per-user (previously only per-device was available).

    Terminal Services licensing can be quite tricky, but the best thing to do is keep clear the distinction between normal Windows CAL's (not free; allow authenticated clients to access services like file and print shares) and TS CAL's (used to be free, not anymore; only allow access to Terminal Services).

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