Thin Clienting at Home




About: Good day! Im currently a college student studying Construction Engineering. I love building things and trying to make something out of nothing! Lets build something.

Have you ever wanted to have an few extra computers in your house for house guests, that you dont want using your $2000+ computer, or do you have kids that want a computer and you dont want to shell out 400+, but still want them to have a computer for web surfing and word and have complete control over? Well then you have stumbled onto the right instructable.

Your solution? A Thin client......A THIN WHAT??
A thin client, a thin client is basically a stripped down computer that is used as a window to the Terminal Server, some use complex platforms to connect to the server, but today I am using RDP because that was the easiest for me (and cheapest).

RDP??? RDP stands for Remote Desktop Protocol which is a handy way to connect to a computer from a remote location, say you are on buisness and you go OH CRAP you forgot a document on your home computer, all you have to do is have the computer turned on then connect to it from your laptop or whatever you are carrying with you, get the file and email it to your self and Finito! you are now out of hot water and you can brag to your friends.

Starting from scratch, expect to spend about $100-300, as for me, I spent about $41.99 to be exact, because I had the computer already as with the home network and everything else.

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Step 1: Materials

Well you are going to need a few Items to set this up.

1-Extra Computer (well, you could actually use the one you are using now), Running Windows XP PRO, Specs dont really matter, I am using a 2.6ghz with 512ram, any old one hiding in your closet would be fine.

2-Compaq Evo T20 Thin Clients (again you could use any type, I just used these because that is what I found on ebay) These can be purchased on ebay or mabey from a company thats liquidating, I even found some on craigslist! I found three of them for $.99 well plus $40 to ship, but they were new in box!

3-Wired Home network (Cat 5e preferably)

4-DSL or equal home connection

Step 2: Pre Config, Setup

So go ahead and install your "server" in the location you select for it.
Connect the network, the power, and the secondary network (optional)

Step 3: Windows Modification

OK here is the easy part, all you have to do is download this software and install it on the "Terminal Server" (the computer you want to use as your server)

This is personally what I used, but I am not responsible for any screw ups you might cause to your system, not limited to Trojans, Malware, Viruses, anything else, etc..., ......

Ok, download this directly to the server, dont put it on a flash drive because I tried it and it didnt work right, so just to be safe.
Now go ahead and install it, then determine the number of terminals you want to use, then take and set up that number of user accounts WITH Passwords
Personally I have three thin clients that I want to set up, so I have three accounts.
Your almost done! Yay

Step 4: Connect & Configuring

Ok, this is really quite simple, just connect the terminals to your network, then connect your server.
It should be pretty self explanatory, make sure your server has the terminal services enabled, to check go to
Start>Control Panel>Performance&Maintnence>System> then click on the remote tab
Now, make sure both boxes are checked, then click ok.
Make sure that there is one account per thin client terminal, these accounts MUST have a password, otherwise they will not work!

Configuring- Well go ahead and start up your thin client and it should come up to some kind of connection window, with windows CE (If you have a Compaq Evo you may have to reset it, all you have to do to reset it is, hold down G while turning on the thin client) Now,go to the connection editor, the default should be named something like RDP test or RDP .......something, IDK what your config is but edit that connection and get the IP of your server (the local IP or whatever it may be) and place the server IP in the remote server box and click OK.

To Find the IP address of your server
Go to: Start>Connect To>Show All Connections>Then click on your LAN connection>Support

Now, Pray that it works.

If everything works right you should see something like the picture below. Insert your information.

Continue to next step

Step 5: Finish!

You Should now be finished and should get something like the screen below

For troubleshooting PM me

Thanks for reading,

If you are reading this then I presume your muddled your way through my boring instructable. Well, Sorry about the lack of creative writing but, hey, its supposed to be an informative instructable.

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    27 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Woah dude! I'm no white knight but patching a Microsoft - non server OS with terminal services .dlls is highly illegal. Will it work sure, will you get caught, probably not, but man this is straight up piracy. Each session except for the administrative RDP would require a license this holds true for a virtualized environment as well(Hyper-v etc). Be careful mang.

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Hahaha, you make it sound like the police will be knocking on your door if you replace a DLL.

    1) Nobody will ever find out, 2) modifying a file on an OS that you legally own isn't piracy 3) nobody even cares about piracy except film companies 4) even if it was piracy (it isn't) and "they" did find out (they won't), the worst you would get is a fine.


    Reply 2 years ago

    @wintergoat I'd hate to have you as my lawyer


    2 years ago

    Do you think this would work on XP Pro 64 bit?


    3 years ago

    I have an old Pentium4 laptop with 2GB RAM that I'd like to use as a thin client and have my workhorse main PC to do the heavy lifting as the server. How would I do this? What software do I need on the laptop? I only need OpenOffice/Excel, Chrome browser, and the ability to print to a networked printer on the laptop that I use for work.


    Reply 3 years ago

    No. Think of it as a hardware gateway to a remote desktop session. They are typically smaller and less expensive.


    4 years ago

    can we install '' terminal server '' windows 10 ?
    and if we want to install some programs, it'll appear on all thin clients ?

    Thank You In Advance.

    No, once they are set up, you can use them on the same network as the host PC without needing an internet connection.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    you have some kind of experience with windows XP embedded?
    i need help. o tried to install the Embedded Studio to make the custom images for different equipments, but i just get a Database Error and cant run the program


    9 years ago on Step 5

    great instructable. i just ordered a thin client off of ebay just so i could set this up.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Introduction

    If you're planning to use Citrix, might well use LTSP. Although it is faster, you'll pay more running Citrix for the licenses. One user license for Windows for each user license for Citrix.

    Have you used any of the images from the HP site to re-image your t20's or would you recommend something else? I used netxfer years ago, but it looks like I need to re-image some locked down units I found.

    2 replies

    Unfortunatley I cant find any way to get into the Bios type menu. I have the CE version of the T20 thin clients and they dont allow me to do anything but boot directly to their CE config

    Thanx for checking.  There is not a traditional bios on those things. Don't worry about it. I think I remember what I did now/


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Just wondered if you could use an external DVD reader and install windows (or other OS) on a flashdrive? This way, it would be a stand alone computer, only using the network for internet? Would this boot faster or slower than using a client/server approach?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The nice thing about this instructable is that you can take old thin clients with as little as 32 megs of memory and work just fine. Xp will not run on them. You can get them for dirt cheap. At least one or two of mine were only 5 bucks. Buy a new mswindows box for that.