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Plan Ahead

Browse this wiki and the associated mailing list archive to get a preliminary idea of what is possible and what you will need to know and do to reach your goals. Let the results influence your hardware choices and expectations.

To get anywhere on this project, you will need some basic hardware and authorizations:

  • root access on a linux system on the same network as the Evo, and
  • [perhaps] access to administrator privileges on the network switch or router.

Experience with most of the following skills will also be useful (although you can also learn them by trying to complete this project!):

  • downloading and installing precompiled system software,
  • compiling and installing software from source,
  • manually editing configuration files,
  • restoring a borked system after manually editing its configuration files,
  • demonstrating patience, perseverance, and ingenuity.

Get the Thin Client Hardware

You can find the Evo T20 cheaply on ebay. Some other manufacturers (e.g., Wyse) make devices with identical hardware for which everything on this wiki will work. The newer Evo T30 is not yet fully understood, however.

Connect the Supporting Hardware

The Evo T20 box needs the following items to run:

  • an external power supply (many thin clients are sold with one),
  • a USB keyboard,
  • a USB mouse,
  • a monitor that accepts analog VGA input, and
  • an RJ-45 plug carrying live ethernet signals.

Play Around

Go ahead: plug everything in and see what happens. It's rather obvious what goes where; the keyboard and mouse can be plugged into any of the USB ports on the back of the box. The round power switch on the front conceals an indicator lamp that may be off, yellow, or green. To restart the device, hold the button in long enough that the lamp goes dark for several seconds. Then let it go and watch your monitor to see what happens. It may take up to 30 seconds before anything happens.

Unlock Your Evo

When the Evo boots up from factory firmware, it starts Windows in an unprivileged mode. To gain a few more privileges, press the following five keys, one at a time, in order: Tab, Home, End, Left Arrow, Right Arrow. Give "Administrator" as both the (case-sensitive) username and password, then select "Logout" from the Windows Menu. Logging in again should give you more privileges--like access to the Windows Control Panel to experiment with video resolution.

If this doesn't work, you may have to re-initialize your device to its factory default settings by "flashing" it with a copy of standard firmware available for download from the manufacturer.


If your Evo boots successfully and gives you menus and mouse-pointers in Microsoft Green, you may opt to use the little device as a terminal on a linux-powered network. This is comparatively fast to set up and easy to use. Go on, try it! Look for a package called xrdp to install on a nearby networked computer running your favorite distribution. Then you can use the Evo to access a graphical session provided by the other box. This is a strong fall-back position when nothing else works for you.

Identify your Hardware

Look on the bottom and check the table on another page.

Download Official Firmware

Go get something authorized from the HP Support Site.


Karl's excellent script is an effective way to transfer a file from a networked linux computer into the flash memory of the Evo. The best way to find out how the script works is to read through it. The wiki page on flashing your firmware may make this easier. Practice flashing first with official firmware from the Evo's maker. Once this works, go ahead and try a custom flash image. Frank has written plenty of wiki material on Evo firmware.


Windows RDP is nice, but it's not linux. To load a linux kernel into the CPU of your Evo is another challenge. Etherboot is a great way to achieve this: instead of storing the kernel in the Evo's firmware, the kernel is served to the Evo through its network connection. This makes it possible to experiment with changes to the kernel without flashing it into the firmware every time you want to test the results. For the Win CE2.12 model, Frank's bootp.bin file just works. Flash it using and ... then what? You need to be ready to supply a kernel, a filesystem, and all sorts of other stuff. The Linux Terminal Server Project supplies all that, but there are some hardware-specific issues that need to be tackled for best results. [There is more writing to do here.]

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Page last modified on April 30, 2008, at 04:43 AM