Using Debian as AIX Thin Client?

Kernels & Hardware, configuring network, installing services

Using Debian as AIX Thin Client?

Postby iamnotreallyhere » 2017-10-04 15:33

I'll try to keep this simple. Keep in mind this is a work related project so please don't make any suggestions that may get me in trouble :lol:

Basically, we have mess load of these CLI Thin Clients laying around that have windows CE installed on them.They are used as terminal emulators, they replaced the old IBM terminals we used to use out on the production floor. Not important but point is we have a lot of them laying around and in stock.

NOW WHAT I WANT TO DO is replace some old neostations we use to connect to an IBM server. Basically, all they do is load as an X11 session so workers out on the production floor can monitor automation equipment and run reports, and maybe some printing. We also use Xming on PCs around the company that connect to the same server. So this tells me that it's nothing special.

With that said, I went ahead and installed Debian on one of the thin clients to see how well it would perform. And it runs great! No driver issues or anything. So, I want to take this to the next step.

I want to know if it is possible to setup Debian to automatically connect to an AIX/x11 session or establish a remote session at startup. I
I don't have much experience setting these up in Linux - But seems like my only solution unless I want to order the exact same hardware with a different OS installed.

The goal here is to save money by recycling some of these thin clients and doing some of the work in house. To be honest I am not even 100% sure if what I want to do is legal. Are there licensing issues violations using Debian this way since this is a corporate environment?

I do not know what tools to use in Linux to accomplish this. So if anyone has any input let me know. Until then i'll be working at figuring this out.
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Re: Using Debian as AIX Thin Client?

Postby iamnotreallyhere » 2017-10-05 11:09

I managed to make some progress. I realize it is possible at least one way.

There are two ways I can connect to the server. I can connect using xdmcp. Which I am pretty sure I can get working in any version of Linux from what I have been reading.

But the other method I don't fully understand because it is old. Basically the neostations pull an image off a network location along with some configuration files. It uses netOS as means of authentication(netOS login screen before connecting to the desktop environment).
I don't fully understand how it works. I also don't really know what the image is. All I know is that image works ONLY with the neostation/client hardware. This may not sound like a big deal but there are a few neostations with printers directly connected to the client.

From what I can tell their website used to be www.neoware.com - So HP must have bought them out at some point - Since it takes me to some HP think client website.

Is anyone familiar with neostations and NetOS?
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Re: Using Debian as AIX Thin Client?

Postby ljones0 » 2017-10-06 23:19

I'm probably wrong but I thought of this site about repurposing old thin clients.

I don't have any ibm thin clients here but I have a few old HP and dell ones (some are mentioned on the site I linked to). It can be quite easy to get debian on them -- usually it is a case of removing the (often far too small) DOM, replacing it with a CF to IDE converter (older) or SATA drive (newer) and then installing. Sometimes (if it is possible) it pays to increase the memory as well. Though one thing I did learn -- 1. avoid anything called a "zero client" (Can't be repurposed) and 2. Avoid anything with "sun" written on it (they use their own propietary bits and pieces, and again can't really be repurposed).

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Re: Using Debian as AIX Thin Client?

Postby iamnotreallyhere » 2017-10-07 06:25

I managed to get Debian installed and mostly configured.

Now it's just a matter of getting the client to connect to the server.

I'm trying ssh -X myusername@aixserver /home/app/bin/applicationIwanttorun &

The output is:

[1] 232

[1]+ Stopped ssh -X myusername@aixserver /home/app/bin/applicationIwanttorun &

The number in brackets climbs the more I try. It's almost like it starting a session but it's not forwarding to my desktop.
Xforwarding is setup on the server side since there are a few Linux boxes that are using this method.

I enabled Xforwarding on the client side.

What am I doing wrong?
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Re: Using Debian as AIX Thin Client?

Postby iamnotreallyhere » 2017-10-10 13:31

I think the problem may lie with xfce.

Is there anyway to configure xdmcp with xfce ? I read no because it's built into gnome and kde. But that just seems bogus since GDE KDE GNOME are all X11 or xwindows. BTW I believe the system I'm remoting into is GDE.

Can someone point me in the right direction? I read there's a check box someplace to enable remote but I haven't seen it.

This guy: https://serverfault.com/questions/20615 ... er-in-xfce.
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Re: Using Debian as AIX Thin Client?

Postby iamnotreallyhere » 2017-10-12 12:26

I installed gnome enabled xdmcp in GDM config, restarted GDM, then ran Xorg -query myserver :1 and BAM! full GDE through XDMCP. It was not easy getting gnome installed on 4GB flash memory. Half of which was taken up by swap. Basically did a minimal XFCE install and went through and removed almost everything except text editor, a file browser, and terminal. Then removed xfce.

Now, I will need help configuring privileges and locking this bad boy down.

The end user should not be able to do ANYTHING. Except stay within the remote session. I also need a way to handle and prevent them from getting to local terminal in case of disconnect(or at least prevent users from being able to do anything in terminal). Maybe some check to see if the session is active and reboot if its not?

So basically what I need to do is (and I don't expect it all of it to work out):

Boot the system and automatically establish a remote session (this is a must).

I would like to disable the gnome login screen and prevent the user that auto-logs-in from having any gui at all - and automatically establish the remote session(thats what im trying to do now, this is a must). This would also mean allowing some permissions, I dont think Xorg -query can run as a normal user. I would need some way around that.

Prevent user from accessing anything at all (this is a must).

if a session disconnects have a way of checking when connection is established and reconnect automatically(not necessary but would be great).

----------So if we can start with disabling the gnome log in screen and enabling a limited user to log in automatically that would be great. Then maybe just have a script that establishes a connection after login?
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Re: Using Debian as AIX Thin Client?

Postby iamnotreallyhere » 2017-10-13 14:02

I managed to disable gnome from auto start by using #update-rc.d -f gdm remove
I added a service in systemd using the autologin option.
I then created a script owned by root that that started the remote session using Xorg that all users can run to get around the Xorg issue (Xorg -query myserver :0 can only run as root).

But I'm still having to run the script manually because I am unsure where to put the startup script to run the script for Xorg.

Basically since gnome is disabled at startup I don't know where to put the startup script that will start the Xorg script after autologin. I tried putting it in systemd but I am unsure how.

Once I get that all I'll have left is locking the system down and th n figure out a way to make sure the session is always running and reboot of its not.
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