Fun with .Net 2.0 and XPe on HP t5730 Thin Clients

Late last week, we received our first batch of HP t5730 thin clients running Windows XP Embedded. The plan is to use these machines to begin replace our aging check-in fleet here at Granger Community Church as well as for a few new check-in stations at our new Elkhart campus. We knew ahead of time that the only prerequisites for the Fellowship One check-in application was the .Net framework and figured the thin clients would be a slam-dunk. We were almost wrong. Almost. It turns out the XP Embedded image that HP loads on these thin clients lacks a couple of things needed to make .Net and the F1 check-in application happy.

To make a long, LONG story very short, we got it working and I know there are other churches wanting to do the same with F1 and XPe, so let me give you the run down of what we ended up doing with our t5730 boxes. You must be logged in as Administrator to do this on the HP units. Check your documentation to figure out how to login if you don’t already know how.

A note of preparation: Prior to beginning the steps below, I’d suggest you download and extract the .Net 2.0 Framework redistributable on a standard desktop machine. The extraction likes free space and RAM both of which are somewhat limited on the XPe box. The .Net package I downloaded was this one:  Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1 (x86) [Filename = NetFx20SP1_x86.exe]. The installer doesn’t have an “extract only” option that I can see, so double-click it and once you get the “Setup is loading components…” message box, you should have a very obvious temp directory appear at c:\ that you need to copy to a place accessible by the thin client (a network share or USB drive would be wise). The directory on my machine was c:\b95b22b2b96f153cdb2b so I copied that to my USB drive and renamed it “dotNet-install”. Head to a command line and change to the directory where your download is located and type: NetFx20SP1_x86.exe -x which will prompt you for where to extract the contents fo the archive. I suggest putting it on a network share accessible by the thin cilent or on a USB drive. (Hat tip to Bill Green aka kilodelta for the extraction trick – it’s undocumented. Thanks Microsoft.) Once you have the files, you’re ready to start working on the thin client.

  1. Boot your thin client and disable the flash disk write protection. On HP, this is done by right-clicking the padlock icon and disabling EWF and then rebooting.
  2. Increase the size of the RAM disk by going in to Control Panel->HP RAMDisk Manager and cranking that all the way up to 64MB. Reboot again.
  3. Right-click the Sygate icon in your system tray and choose “Disable Sygate Security Agent”
  4. Grab the .Net install folder and find the setup.exe file in there and run it. .Net should cleanly install. Reboot again here just for good measure.
  5. Install the F1 check-in application. Do NOT start the F1 check-app after installation – keep reading because here’s where it get’s extra tricky…
  6. From a known-working check-in station you need to grab “C:\Program Files\Fellowship Technologies\Fellowship One Check-in 2.5″ and copy that over to your thin client.
  7. Remove any shortcuts automatically created by the F1 installer and create a new shortcut to “C:\Program Files\Fellowship Technologies\Fellowship One Check-in 2.5\2.5.0.8\FellowshipTech.Application.Windows.CheckIn.exe”
  8. Reboot again because I needed a filler – 10 steps seems more feng-shui
  9. Fire up your shortcut and watch the F1 app start!
  10. Celebrate!

If you’re a geek like me, and you must be if you’re still reading, I know you want to know why this works. By default, the F1 check-in application launches AppStart.exe which runs an update process to grab any patches/fixes from the F1 servers. This update process relies on the BITS service in Windows, which is NOT included in the HP t5730 XP Embedded image.

Big thanks to Sid Emory of Fellowship Tech who has been hanging out with us in #citrt while we ironed this out. XPe is NOT an officially supported OS for their check-in application and the steps above come with no guarantee or warranty from me or the fine folks at F1.