Friday, June 1, 2007

XPe tip #50: Smallest Windows XP(e) based thin client image

Another post in the newsgroup has led me to an investigation in results of which I came up with probably the smallest networked XPe image that include fully functioning RDP client.

Basically I suggested to start with image that would include the following:
- Your hardware + HAL (only hardware you plan to support in the image)

- NTFS FS/File format. The latter is zero-size and may bring more components in as dependencies - however not actually required if you don't plan to format disks in NTFS under XPe.
NTFS will help you to compress the file system and thus to minimize the disk space usage.

- Basic: NT Loader/Nt Detect/Windows API - GDI, Kernel, User, Advanced/Shell32 API/Ole32, OleAut32/Language support/Winsock/Common Controls and dialogs/etc.

- Terminal Server Client

- Windows RAM Disk Driver (this is for RAM or Remote Boot support if you plan to use it)

- Winlogon or Minlogon (big difference in image footprint and significant difference in boot time)

- CMD shell (useful for debugging purposes). You can remove this shell later when you are done with the image config, or replace it with your own custom shell or the MSTSC.exe (RDP client) running as the shell.

If you do the above with Minlogon your image size can be less than 96Mb (uncompressed). With Winlogon it will grow by ~20-30Mb. The given numbers are rough and I got those off some of my demo images I have here with RDP client working. The actual image size may very dependent on some other system specs. I often do more optimizations for image sizes in TD and post-FBA even if Minlogon used. Then 96Mb can go down to 64Mb or less (with RDP still working).

Perhaps, the most sensitive area is the hardware support. If you use TAP output to create platform macro component please make sure to disable there as many component dependencies as possible based on your final target device specs. I typically use Selector Prototype component as the prototype for all my platform macros and it helps me to disable unnecessary hardware support in TD.

Often, the challenge is to get the networking to work properly in the MS Client network environment and not blow the image size with lots of network components that have over-crossing dependency chains.

So, continuing the path I just drew I got my VPC Minlogon image with fully capable RDP client running and tested down to uncompressed size ~38Mb / compressed ~28Mb.
Plus you'd want to add 2-3 more Mb for the Terminal Services dynamic cache that is created at run time.
Note: one real device the image would be smaller.

As you can plainly see, the image is small enough to fit on cheapest 32Mb USB stick (yes, possible to make it to boot the image off a USB 2.0 device). Just imagine - you carry a stick that you can boot off on any Intel/AMD based machine and it will give you a Terminal Server Client capabilities to your network - cool!

7 comments:

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Hello
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Thx Tom
www.webcam-bad-hersfeld.de

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