Wyse X90

Part of my collection and proved to be hard to find! I ended up with 2 of these machines, one British, one French which came from a recycler in Lithuania (how it got there remains a mystery), brought as working.Not many people know what these machines are and as such, go for silly money, like pennies, the second one set me back £20 and has aspecial copy of Windows XP – Known as Windows XP embedded, thefirst one I think cost 99p without the delivery. They also differ inmore ways than one, one is a X90e and the other is an X90. One has a512mb DOM, the other has a 2GB DOM. Both have knackered batteries andboth are very similar, only one has bluetooth and smartcard reader though. One had an operating system, one didn’t.

So, what is it?

A thin client, which before anyone asks, it allows you to connect to a remote comptuer, over a network connection and that computer can be anywhere. At home, in a server room or another notebook. These are not your average computers, they last for a long time, you just change the server. Nothing is ever stored on the device and its steal proof, as long as you remember your username and password and don’t store them on the computer.

I’m very interested in this technology as it allows me to have my data centralised and just access from elsewhere. The only real problem is the server which has to be well protected to stop hacking attempts.

The device itself:

  • Specs: Via C7-M1.2GHz
  • RAM: 1GB ram (both)
  • ROM: 512mb or 2GB(both Disk on modules)
  • GPU: Embedded ViaChrome 9 IGP
  • OS: Windows XPembedded
  • Screensize: 12.1”WXGA (1280×800)
  • Ports: 3xUSB 2.0,VGA, headphone, microphone, expresscard, ethernet
  • Features: Bluetooth(X90e), Smartcard (X90e), Wifi(X90, X90e)
  • Power supply:

My original one came with no OS, which was a pain, trouble is, I don’t have a managed network as I don’t own my own network yet, so, USB installs were not possible as its not supported, every other way was not supported, installed a compact flash card which didn’t work, etc. So the next step was to find another. Its bigger brother which is different, the X90L can be found easily with a variety of setups, but could I find another X90? No, not on eBay at least. Once I brought a functioning one, all I had to do was swap bits around and I have a working machine, except, I had to then turn everything to English and remove some programs, then install others. One particular one is “Vodafone Mobile Broadband” which gobbles up about 130mb of space. It doesn’t sound so bad on a modern comptuer, but on a device with no storage at all, every byte counts. Otherwise, programs will take a byte out of your free space. So, 230mb free often means 20mb free.

Next task, lock it all down, which involved re-enabling guest, deleting FleuryMichon (The user), deleting a lot of other junk and installing Windows Embedded 2009 theme and as mentioned, VMB. Then it worked well. Swap some more parts over and we have a working thin client, except finding batteries is the next biggest hurdle.

Hardware:

The access panel is held in with 9 screws(!) and its metal which is good, more on thatlater.

You have, Wifi card,RAM, IDE DOM socket and what seems to be a USB DOM socket with screw. Why? I don’t know. Nothing else can be reached unless you dismantle the device. I’ll leave that with David Parkinson who owns an interesting site over at “parkytowers.me” and repurposes thin clients for completely different purposes. Yes, its possible to run afull version of Windows, if space permits.

 One specificrequirement, make sure if you do replace the hard drive, make sure what you have is set to master and not cable select, the computer will flatly refuse to detect it.

One final note,these machines appear to be quite rugged which I didn’t expect as I mention above, one of the panels was metal. I did have one fall 7 feet(!) in a neoprene sleeve from a cupboard onto the floor, hitting the radiator and possibly my bed in the process and made a nice bang with it. More interestingly, the client suffered no damage. The chassis turned out to be metal which I thought was mostly plastic.Even modern laptops are not that tough as I found out with another laptop which is a story for another page.

In use:

X90 In use
In use as a thin client. Notice a HP Elitebook 2170p in the background (acting as a server)

Using the the thin client is a lot like using a normal computer, with a few exceptions:
– First, you are logged into Windows XP Embedded as “User” by default and are heavily restricted
– Secondly, your desktop is very bare! This is how Wyse sets these  up with little on the thin client.
So all you have to do is plug it in or connect to a WiFi access point. Once you are connected and use whichever method is applicable to your network, that is RDP or Citrix ICA (never tried it), using it isn’t so bad. It has some nice touches, like the trackpad that dissapears and is flush with the case. There is no latch holding the lid shut. It does have a hell of a spring that clicks though. The screen is actually quite nice and feels really solid to use. The keyboard can be quite spongy though, but I’m used to that.

Life after me. (December 2018)

In December 2018, I decided to give a thin client to David Parkinson (www.parkytowers.me.uk/thin/ – Opens a new tab/window). The AZERTY keyboard one complete and working. The decision was because I could not get an operating system to meet my needs to fit a tiny 512mb DOM. David however, has had a lot of fun with it since, so he informs me. I still retain the QWERTY version, which I then discovered also doesn’t support NLA which is a protocol that Microsoft use for connections to RDP servers. It means “Network Level Authentication”.

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