As Hp acquired Neoware several months ago, customers are searching for new thin clients .. and I received a Neoware e90 thin client (that wasn't used anymore). What could I do with it ? ... hmm, let's try to use it at home as a small appliance to host a USB HDD that can be shared . Advantage is that it doesn't consume a lot of electricity (in comparison with my Asus Barebone with a AMD x2 64) and doesn't produce noise at all .. which is also a good thing. The thin client I received has a Via Nehemiah cpu @ 800mghz and 128Mb ram. It also has a small IDE-DiskOnChip disk (32mb) but that is obviously too small to setup CentOS on it. I decided to dedicate a small 1Gb USB stick gift I received from a "well-known hypervisor" company (aka Vmware) and use it for / and swap.
I disconnected the DiskOnChip module from the motherboard and configured the bios to boot in pxe as first device and local usb-hdd for the second one (if you need a password, it's likely to be either 'dogbites' or 'DOGBITES') and i started a CentOS 5.3 setup. But that didn't work on first try : the embedded NIC (VIA Technologies, Inc. VT6102 [Rhine-II] (rev 74) ) refused to aquire an IP address . Switching to VT3/VT4 showed me that even if via-rhine.ko kernel module was loaded, it was impossible to have a network connection. (message was related to "netdev watchdog transmit timed out" and some IRQ messages too). I then decided to add the kernel parameter 'irqpoll' and then the setup was able to work on the network. One problem solved ... Second problem is that with 128mb ram, CentOS 5.x normally isn't installable. Well, if you use text mode (anyway graphical mode will even refuse to start ...) and use disk-druid to create the swap partition, anaconda will use it directly to simulate the missing RAM. Other thing is that I *had* to use was a NFS based setup : I tried a http based setup and it always died on me (maybe because it had to fetch stage2.img while with NFS it just loop-mounts it ...). Anyway it installed succesfully on the USB stick (minimal install, so every component removed from the software selection, took 29 minutes to complete) and it rebooted normally. Don't forget also to add the irqpoll kernel parameter in grub.conf so that you'll have network connection after reboot ... And as an image talks more than a long sentence .. :