Friday, October 28, 2005

A necessary evil...

Yup, I'm talking about Windows here. As much as I normally avoid it, the need to use it does occasionally crop up. It could be when the g/f wants to go to some ActiveX game-tracking ESPN site, someone actually *needs* to use MS Office (the real thing), or when I want to run some embedded development software written for low-end Windows tinkerers.

Of course your usual Windows desktop is useless for this, give how my computing setup is presently designed. Outside of my personal desktop in my computer room, all my "around the house" computers basically consist of SunRay thin clients. (which provide an X-based desktop running Gnome served off a Solaris machine) Even with VNC (which is slow and crappy) or "Remote Desktop" from a normal Windows machine running your average desktop version of Windows, I'd still run into problems once more than one person wanted to use the thing at a time.

So, what I need is a mult-user remote-desktop-capable Windows machine...

For the hardware, I've got a SunPCi II card currently sitting in my Sun Blade 1000 workstation. This is a machine I plan to turn into a server soon to replace the Sun E420R which I've been using as an interim server since I decided that my Sun E4000 used too much power. In any case, I've been using the SB1000 for tinker purposes lately, so it was perfect to test out some things on. Now the SunPCi II was basically a 600MHz Celeron with 192MB of RAM on a PCI card inside the Sun. I've since upgraded it to a 743MHz Pentium III (1GHz P3 with a 100MHz FSB... darn clock multiplier locks). I also need to add RAM.

For the software, I basically had two choices... Windows 2000 Server or Windows 2003 Server. Since the SunPCi II software only supports Win2k Server, my decision was made there. So I got that installed and running. Unfortunately, to my dismay, the "Terminal Services" in Win2k server (remote desktop backend) only supported 8-bit color, and might not work as well as desired for the serial ports. Thankfully, there was an alternative... (I know WinXP Pro would have worked, but it would have failed my multi-user requirement if both users wanted to be using at the same time.) I dug out this wonderful product called Citrix Metaframe XP Presentation Server. (3rd party remote desktop up the wazoo) Not only did it work with serial ports, but I even got login music (which I promptly disabled).

Now there was just one piece of the puzzle left... authentication. So I went ahead, and once and for all figured out how to get Windows domain-style logins running through my Samba server. Now all my normal "Logicprobe accounts" can also be used to log into this Windows machine.

(I'll have to set this all up again when I rebuild that SB1000 into a server, but at least I've done a test run of everything and know it will work.)

No comments: