Tag Archives: XPe

Odds and Sods: Resurrection, DocBoxes

After much fiddling, I seem to have been able to get my domain techfornonprofits.com to map directly to this blog, which is hosted with bloodspot.com. For a week or two it seemed it was lost in the ether, and I’m still not exactly sure what fix finally was. But, between Google/Blogger, and my domain host at Network Solutions, it looks as if the DNS records have finally got sorted out. Techfornonprofits, the blog was started when the Blogger program was relatively new, before it was purchased by Google. My first entry was in February of 2001 which seems like ancient history now.

I’m trying to sell a few DocBoxes. These are industrial-strength Mini-Itx machines originally sourced from Logic Supply. The have AOpen cases and motherboards, using Intel Celeron chips, with 1 meg of memory, a 60 or 80 Gig hard drive, and a CD or DVD-ROM. I originally had them loaded with Windows XP embedded, or Windows 7 embedded, but have reformatted them to use Xubuntu, which is Ubuntu configured to use the XCFE interface, a lightweight front end which seems to work well with the limited 1 meg of RAM on these machines. The best thing that I liked about this was a stock installation of Xubuntu automatically found the wireless network interface, and my wireless router and my printer. With XP and Windows 7 I had to go rooting around to find drivers for both of these things.

Nothing precludes running the boxes on Windows…I’ve tried it with a stock Windows 7 Professional installation as well as the embedded versions. In their original lives, they were running Windows XP Embedded. The units might have a number of applications:

  • Granny or kiddie workstation 
  • Thin client
  • Industrial controller
  • Process controller
  • Mini file or media server 
  • Lightweight web server  

The picture shows the docbox with a Logitech Orbit camera on top, which was the original configuration. I’m experimenting with how best to advertise and sell these, with a couple options, Craigslist, eBay via Global Garage, a third-party seller, and Do-It-Myself eBay.

Tech Friday — WES and Ruby

Microsoft has made available considerable information about Windows Embedded Standard, (WES) which is the latest version of Windows Embedded, based on Windows XP.

There are (roughly) three versions of embedded operating systems from Microsoft:

Windows Embedded Standard: Allows a stripped down version of Windows XP for powering set-top boxes, game boxes, and machines dedicated to a single application. This is what we’re using in one version of our telemedicine set-top box.

Windows Embedded POS: An enhanced version of WES for cash registers and checkout scanner applications.

Windows Embedded CE: This is the version of Windows used for mobile phones and other hand-held and portable devices. The code base and software development tools for CE are different than Windows Embedded, with many of these related to WES.

There are a total now of twenty-nine (29!) training videos related to Windows Embedded Standard.

The Windows Embedded Developer Center site is the gateway on Microsoft’s Developer Network to all things related to Windows Embedded.

The Windows for Devices web site has information related to all version of Window Embedded as well as hardware that runs under Windows Embedded.

Other Notes:

Smashing Magazine has a nice introduction to Ruby on Rails.

Logging in as Root in Ubuntu with Live CD

We just had a little contretemps as we attempted to replace system files on our Windows XP embedded machine with a new image. The easiest way we’ve found to copy the files is to run an Ubuntu Linux Live CD, which boots up a Linux desktop. Since the default user in the Linux desktop is guest, the user does not have privileges to replace the files a second time. To get around this, you have to log in using the root account. Steps:

1. in the original desktop, under the security tab for logins, be sure to check the box “allow local administrator to log in” under system->administration->login window.

2. Open a terminal session

3. type sudo passwd root

4. enter a password for the root user

5. re-enter a password for the root

6. shutdown – change user, and log in as root with your new password.

Background: There are three sort of funny things about this process for users who are not familiar with Ubuntu.

1. Ubuntu does not install a root user account by default. Or, maybe it installs the account, but it doesn’t allow its use. Thus, the act of assigning a password to the root user account is necessary to activate the account.

2. Even if you have a valid root account set up, by default Ubuntu does not allow you to log into a standard Gnome desktop. That’s why you have the change the setting in the security preferences.

2. In this example, since we are using the Live CD, you have do step 1 first. If you restart the computer from scratch all configuration settings are lost, because the Live CD does not allow you to permanently write anything to the disk.


In any case, this solved our problem; we were able to blow away the system files on our target hard drive C:, so that we were able to copy a fresh version of our XPe image to the drive.