Thin client mod begining....

, posted: 9-Oct-2006 14:13

A while ago I bought an HP t5300 thin client (no hd, 500mhz Transmeta Crusoe processor and 64mb ram) off TradeMe. I was running DamnSmallLinux off of a USB stick and the swap space was on an external USB drive. I wanted something with a bit more power so I bought an HP T5500 (no hd, 800mhz Via Eden Processor and 128mb ram) with the same setup and it was faster.

I really wanted to run a full linux distro on the T5500 but I needed a 44pin laptop IDE cable. It was really hard getting one. I ended up getting one from cablesonline. I was set! I had already removed the WinCE flash device so I plugged in the cable (incidentally, I was quite worried about this because I knew that if I put the cable in the wrong way on the motherboard I could fry it, but I didn't know which way was correct. So, I prayed and I felt God say, 'turn it around'. So I did - and it ended up working!) Then, I attached the massive 1.5 GB laptop hd (I had previously used a 2.5 to 3.5 adapter and installed Pclinuxos .93a mini-me on the hd using an old Dell Optiplex)

PCLINUXOS booted up. I had to play around with some settings to get the display and sound to work, but after that everything was cool.

The next step is to cut away some of the case to make room to attach the HD to the covering plate. Then I can put the plastic cover on and it will look like a normal (but much more useful) thin client.

It's neat because it's silent and solid state except for the hard drive. I've seen some cool mini and nano ITX systems on the net but they're so expensive. All up, this has only cost about NZ$ 140.

Cool !


Other related posts:
Nokia N800 (Part 1)
Wii Will Rock You!
Christmas, Harry Belefonte & iTunes

Comment by Anthony Suddaby, on 19-Dec-2006 05:08

I've just bought a couple of 5520s through ebay without PSUs. Do you have any info (eg voltage and current)?

I'm going to try to PXE boot BeaFanatiX. Your tech site has been very useful in showing what can be done.




Anthony Suddaby

Author's note by VanAlstine, on 19-Dec-2006 07:55

The power supply on my t5500 is an external adapter: 100-240 volts(1200 mA) in and 12 volts out (3330mA). The original adapter is made by Delta Electronics,, model ADP-40WB REV.B. Glad my site was useful. If you do anything cool or make some interesting discoveries with your thin client, please post a link here.

Comment by Jeroen Hannink, on 30-Jan-2007 12:06

This is a really interesting. I've been playing around with the idea of doing something similar. Will the T5300 do, in terms of computing power, for a small home file/web server, or would it be best to look for a T5500 (with the Transmeta 733 Mhz) or the T5520 (like yours, with the Via C3 800 Mhz)?

Comment by lee emms, on 8-Feb-2007 23:39

James, I think my T5500 is different from yours. It has a 733Mhz TM5800 processor but otherwise the same memory. The board looks slightly different too, with a much smaller heatsink to the right and the IDE slot roughly where your smaller heatsink on the left is.

What I'm after is a low power music server. Currently I have to leave my juicy Windoze PC on with either iTunes or Firefly Music Server running. This serves a Roku Soundbridge, which is a neat peice of kit. You may know Firefly as mt-daapd under Linux.

HP shipped later versions of the thin client with their version of embedded Linux, instead of Windoze CE.Net. I wonder whether it is possible to load this onto the T5500 - I've asked in the forums but no reply.

Anyway, although I'm not much of a Linux user - I used AIX/UNIX way back in the 1980s and can't recall a whole lot - I decided on a different route, inspired by your notes. I managed to download DamnedSmallLinux onto a USB memory stick and the T5500 booted straight off it, no probs. This leaves me with a spare USB port which I figure I can hook a USB hard drive into.

What I'm after is installing either Firefly/mt-daapd or some other music server software on DSL. Can you advise any s/ware that works? Twonkyvision perhaps?

Many thanks, in advance


Author's note by VanAlstine, on 16-Feb-2007 21:13

I checked out the Roku Soundbridge and it looks cool. It's been a while since I've used DSL, but check out the DSL repository (programs with a .dsl extension) and see if you can find what your after. Sorry I can't be of more help. Let me know if you make any progress.

The T5300 could definitely function as a server because I remember a site on the web where people were using older less powerful modified thin clients as web servers.

Comment by Gigi Marga, on 10-Mar-2007 04:10

Cool !

Really interesting indeed. Do you have some time to write a "How to " for t5500 ? ... or something like that ?

Many thanks in advance,


Comment by user_xy, on 15-Apr-2007 00:32


at first thanks for your MOD. I have an t5300 and want to get Linux on it. I looked @ cablesonline but dont now wich cable iss the right. first i thought an cable with two female ends will work on the thinclient. If it isnt right correct me. Or better show me wich cable i need.

Very Thankfull


Comment by Sam, on 19-Jun-2007 05:43

Hello Sir, Great Mod. Congrats.

I have a question. Is it possible to install XP on these thin clients? Any experience in this regard.



Author's note by VanAlstine, on 19-Jun-2007 11:06

I haven't tried it, but I'm sure you could run XP on the t5500, but it might be a bit slow with obly 128 mb of ram. Windows 2000 would be a better choice if you really want a Micro$oft product. If you're just going to use it for word processing, music and emails, Linux is a better choice (and free!) on the t5500.

Comment by Alan Boyd, on 20-Aug-2007 10:23

Great Mod

Have been thinking of trying to Mod a thin client for some time. I'm wanting to create a simple external file server/media server for backing up music & photo's from my main PC. I would also like to run it as a low power bittorrent client.

I'm just waiting to take receipt of a VXL Itona TC 3533 thin client. The spec's look promising Via C3 @ 800Mhz, 128 Mb RAM (upgradable to 1Gb) and while the manufacturers website has no detailed hardware manual, the vendor tells me it's basically one of the original VIA mini-ITX boards (right down to an integrated game port!) and boots from a CF card attached to one of two IDE headers.

I'm thinking if I boost the ram to 512Mb I could probably get WinXP to run OK on this CPU. Since I know M$ OS's very well but am very much a Linux virgin, I don't necessarily want to go down the Linux route but if this would suit the hardware better, I'm not averse to learning.....

Any suggestions/advice on where to begin the Mod? I'm thinking open her up, connect my laptop HDD to one IDE header and an old CDROM to the other and just go for an OS install. get her running on the network then disconnect the CDROM and close her up.

Ultimately, I would want to run the Itona without a monitor/keyboard etc, managing it by remote logon from my main PC. Any idea how feasible this is, particularly if I did go down the Linux route while keeping WinXP on the main computer?

Loads of questions I know but any advice would be welcome.

Alan B

PS - Downloaded Freespire 2.0 (free version of Linspire aka Lindows) as a possible beginners Linux. This seems to quite current (based on Ubuntu v7.04) but claims to be optimised for Linux noob's like myself.

Any thoughts on how this might compare to PCLInux 2007?

Comment by Karoly, on 18-Oct-2007 07:52


I've just ordered a T5520. I am planning to run a stripped down version of Windows 2000 on it. Is this the cable you used for your thin client?

Thanks in advance


Comment by Darky, on 13-Dec-2007 22:54

i have a t5500 thin client and want to use it in my car as a car pc for music and videos. what i would like to do is add a laptop hard drive and seat it inside the case, when i take off the case i can see the flash which is on the ide headers only trouble is i cant find a ide cable that fits most of the cable i ahve tried have been to long or big, if i get the hdd working im gonna run ubuntu on it :)

any ideal about which cable to use


I can't remember the name of the cable from Cablesonline, but it was a laptop IDE cable (not common because laptop hard drives just plug in directly to whatever on the inside of the laptop) I still have a cable from cableonline and the plastic it came in has a sticker that says 'F12 06'

Comment by Darky, on 13-Dec-2007 23:28

i have a t5500 thin client and want to use it in my car as a car pc for music and videos. what i would like to do is add a laptop hard drive and seat it inside the case, when i take off the case i can see the flash which is on the ide headers only trouble is i cant find a ide cable that fits most of the cable i ahve tried have been to long or big, if i get the hdd working im gonna run ubuntu on it :)

any ideal about which cable to use


Comment by Chrs, on 6-Mar-2008 22:51

Hi, I've got a VXL TC 3111. It's quite low spec but i'm not to bothered by that because i've found GeexBox which claims to run on almost anything and plays any media file you through at it. The problem i'm having it that i've removed the boot rom and plugged in a laptop hdd to one of the headers and switched it on, now it says "BOOT FAILER. PLEASE INSERT A BOOT DISK AND PRESS ANY KEY." I Think that I need to change a setting somewhere, but i've no idea where. Any one any idea's what i can do next, please???

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James VanAlstine
New Zealand

I'm unashamedly a gadget/computer geek. It all started with a Commodore Vic 20 in the early '80s. I'm really into mobile computing. I've had a Palm M125, and an HP Ipaq 2210. Presently I have an HTC Falcon Pocket PC phone and a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. My computer interests are fixing up old PCs and installing Linux on them. My distros of choice are DSL and PCLinuxOS.

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