Replace Windows XP with a minimal Ubuntu based thin client

At one of my clients there is a preference to keep using equipment as long as it is good enough for the task at hand. This means a lot of older computers running Windows XP, some of them barely chugging along. Due to a lot of legacy software in the business, this is arguably not a problem.Yet.

A slow transition to a Citrix XenApp solution is taking place since a few years ago. Old computers that die of age are replaced with thin clients, mainly HP ones.

Windows XP is due for replacement for real by next year. So I decided to prepare a minimal Linux with Citrix Receiver for the old or otherwise lesser computers. My first client to run this custom installation on was a HP T5740 thin client, with only 2 GB local storage. Ubuntu doesn’t like this very well, since it is less than the minimum required.

I looked at and gave Jackie Chen’s guide based on Tiny Core Linux a shot, but I find the Citrix Receiver openmotif interface offending. And my users are accustomed to the XenApp web interface. What I wanted was a setup with a stripped-down LXDE, Mozilla Firefox and integrated Citrix Receiver. I also wanted to use Ubuntu to stay on the same distribution across servers and desktop.

Starting with the Ubuntu MinimalCD, I chose to select what packages to install. These packages being: libmotif4, lxde-core, lxrandr, xserver-xorg, gdm, firefox and remmina.

GDM because I wanted to use AutomaticLoginEnable in /etc/gdm/custom.conf. libmotif4 because Citrix Receiver depends on it. lxde-core for a minimal desktop with a start menu, and lxrandr to adjust screen resolution. And, of course, Firefox to access the Citrix XenApp web page. I added Remmina for Windows server management.

When all was said and done I came across some awesome work by Tony Brijeski. Remastersys let me easily save the whole setup to a LiveCD. I had an issue with not enough local storage space to perform the “backup” to a Live iso. I solved this by plugging in a 32GB USB stick with an ext4 filesystem on it for remastering storage.

Then I installed the remastered ISO image to a USB stick. Now I have a USB stick that boots straight into Firefox with the client’s Citrix XenApp login as the home page. Citrix Receiver is well integrated with Firefox on Ubuntu, so it all works like a charm.

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