Thursday, March 8, 2007

Adventures from State Surplus - ThinStar NCD300

On a recent adventure to one of my favorite places, North Dakota State Surplus Property, I decided to break down and drop $15 on a NCD 300. These guys have stacks of these little monsters for super cheap.

I was hoping that the audio jacks on the back meant that I could possibly use this bad boy as at least a music terminal without too much trouble.

I was right about the music terminal, but not about the trouble. Flaming reverse backflips through hoops ensued!

I found online that these things run Windows CE 2.1 which is a bummer. NCD has crippled this poor little P133 so completely you can't even find a way to smash one of Linus' awesomely flexible kernels into it. Technically the S3 Trio video adapter "should" be able to handle full screen video.

I popped over to HPC Factor to see if I could find some other software. (HPC Factor has some awesome Windows CE resources. Check them out if you need to find drivers for your old CE based PDA.) I found nothing. Looks like I'm stuck with CE 2.1 bleah! This is the most abandoned OS in the history of the world. No one made any software for it because it was so crappy.

The thin clients that this machine comes with were for RDP and ICA. I put in the ip address and connected to my handy dandy fileserver that I have on the stairwell to my attic behind a door I don't have a key for (another long story) and it came up in 16 color mode! Progress! Now how to get this thing to play music?

I got no sound. NCD knows there's no sound. of course they don't care.

"NCD has no plans to offer any software updates to enhance the TS450/400/300 product.

NCD is now selling software that converts any existing or new PC into a manageable Thin Client device. NCD ThinPATH PC provides users with a simple to used UI like today's Window Based Terminals or a Windows like UI. It also provides administrators with a PC lock down tool and a simple to use desktop management tool. NCD ThinPATH PC allows administrators to choose if/which PC applications are run locally or from the Terminal Server host. Test drive NCD ThinPATH PC at or download NCD ThinPATH PC and Portal from to fully test all the features. This product includes a free no restriction 2 user licenses. It is provided upon download of NCD ThinPATH Portal/PC software."

However, they do want me to purchase a full fledged PC and BUY their shitty PC based thin client software to connect to my Windows 2k3 server. I thought the whole point to thin clients is that they would work in the future with anything?! I guess back in 1999 the future was 2002, not 2003.

So at this point I got two choices, install a Windows 2000 Terminal Server JUST FOR THIS THIN CLIENT, or get a copy of Citrix Metaframe JUST FOR THIS THIN CLIENT. So I decided to do Citrix on a new 2k3 server just so I could say I've used that software. Damn do I get bored!

So I fire up the vmware on the machine I had named metaframe earlier because there was a big metaframe sticker on it. I guess these two guys knew each other in a past life, they both came from Surplus.

I pulled a snapshot of Windows 2k3 and put it into Terminal Server mode, and then his the uber-pirate web for a copy of citrix. This took about ten minutes to download, and about four hours to get installed!

After installation the software wanted four different licenses, none of whice were identified by the license manager software. I had to generate like 80 different licenses with my keygen before I could find the ones it wanted.

Then the citrix software proceded to remap the drives on my server and reboot. MMmmm tasty server. Machine comes up NTLDR Not found. Well there goes one install.

Reload from snapshot.

Tell Citrix to not mess around with the drive or application mappings. Reboot. System now complaining about the WINDOWS Terminal Server Licensing. WTF? Turns out that Citrix is hanging off of the dingle berries of MS' ass. You can't have a citrix license without first having a Terminal Server License.

I thought these were competing thin client architectures. They aren't, MS stole their software, made it into RDP and then somehow talked Citrix into being their ass buddy and requiring dual licenses.

Back to the uber-pirate web, crack the Terminal Server out.

Ooops, NCD requires you to pay to license their updates and manager software to get the current (2001) updates for this crap.

Uber-pirate web again!

I have to find and install the ThinPATH Portal, the ThinPATH Plus package and I grabbed ThinPATH X just for giggles. Wow, this would have cost me about $10,000 already, just for a $15 thin client! No wonder no one uses these things. The licensing costs nullify the cheapness.

Connect! Great! Now I have to install WMP9 and a codec pack. Yay! Audio! Sweetness by Jimmy Eat World. Try some video, ick. SpeedScreen doesn't work for shit when you only have P133 to do the compression.

Well, as soon as I get around to running a CAT6 over to my room I'll have a nice little music server. But that's gonna cost me a couple of ends, and 25 cents a pop is a bit much for the added functionality of this little monster.

I did get a nice connection to my Ubuntu server with the ThinPATH X software. It was super easy too. Too bad X doesn't have a standard for audio. I could be l33t and use Amarok for my audio and not have to worry about anything.

Gah... Power down and save the citrix server vmware machine...

1 comment:

Lance VD said...

I was minding my own business, working on a nagios project. Reading the fine manual on the latest version of nagios, i came across the topic of piping sound across the network to a management station, and it mentioned PCXware for VVindovvs. So, i Goog PCXware and came across your 'adventures', and read the whole dang article.
Much enjoyable, in the way that BoFH is at is.
Yet another techie from the SouthWest