NetVista N2200e, Thin
Client Express
A Brief Technical
July 2000
© IBM Corporation
IBM NetVista Thin Clients
Access for today, flexibility for tomorrow
Page 1
What is NetVista Express?
A Thin Client with:
Preprogrammed Flash Card (No
boot server)
Operates In Kiosk Mode (No
With a Simplified Local
Client Configuration Tool
NetVista Express
ICA Client
CFG Tool
Flash Card
Web Browser
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What is NetVista Express?
It is a NetVista thin cient, that operates without a boot server by getting all of its
operational software from a flash card.
The configuration files that determine the desktop that the user sees are stored on the flash
card and can optionally be updated using a local configuration tool. These files can also be
pre-configured on a server by an administrator before being written on the flash card.
For those who are already familiar with the full thin client that is booted from a boot server,
the NetVista Express can be thought of as a full thin client, configured to boot from a flash
card, and which operates in kiosk mode thereby not requiring a user to logon. The major
difference however is that the configuration files that determine the operational
characteristics of the client can be configured locally, on the client, using a configuration
tool that is a simplified version of the NSM/TCM application that normally executes on a
The basic applications are the same as those found normally on a thin client, such as the 3270,
5250 and Vtxxx emulators, that can access any host on the network, the Citrix Independent
Computing Architecture (ICA) client that allows use of Windows applications executing on a
Metaframe server and a Web Browser that is planned for 3Q2000 availability.
NetVista Express on the other hand does not offer a JVM either as part of the planned
browser or as a stand-alone JVM.
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Why the N2200e Thin Client Express?
Easy to set up
Thin Client Manager (TCM) server technology not required
Flash based boot
Peer boot - boots many thin clients that do not have flash cards
Minutes from opening box until up and running applications
Simple to manage
No TCM/NSM required, very simple local configuration tool provided on
No-charge Utilities available for flash and remote operation management
(Express Service Utility and TCM Operations Utility)
Update Thin Client Express in remote locations
Room to grow
Rapid entry into NetVista thin clients
Seamless, no charge transition to full server-based environment
Applications included are functionally equivalent to those found in TCM
Browser and dialer support in 3Q 2000 (via PTF and new from factory)
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The main driving factors for the Thin Client Express were primarily the ease of installation
and setup, the simplicity of management (no requirement for a server-based TCM) while
maintaining the ability to grow.
It is very easy to set up, right out of the box, because there are only a few steps required
to make the box operational. It does not require a set of configuration files to be managed
by TCM and downloaded from the network. All it requires is already on the flash card,
except for the very basic initial network information required to connect into the network,
which is configured via a Setup Wizard the first time the unit is powered on.
It is very simple to manage because of the presence of a local configuration tool as well as
a set of utilities for flash and remote operations.
Finally, there is ample room to grow as the unit can very easily transition to a full
server-based environment. The switch to a server-based environment is in fact so simple
that it can be done remotely via the TCM Operations Utility.
Note that browser and dialer support is expected in 3Q00 and the flash card has already a
sufficient capacity to accommodate these additional components.
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How Is Thin Client Express Positioned?
Extend HW investment, SW transition options
IBM NetVista N2200
X86 legacy-free
Supports multiple
software environments
WBT Standard 1.5
For those who
want Microsoft thin
client software
Packaged solution
Local WBT IE 4
Local emulators
Transition to TCM,
N2200 Zero Footprint
For space savings
Brackets attach
N2200 to IBM T55 flat
panel screen
Thin Client Express
For those who want
IBM thin client SW
with rapid setup,
Packaged solution
Local Netscape 4.5
Local emulators
Transition to TCM,
N2200 TCM V2R1
For those who want
Thin Client for Linux
full function clients
For those who want
open source, SW
IBM toolkit,
instructions on Web
IBM moderates
Web discussion
Transition to / from
© IBM Corporation
with full server
management SW
Local Netscape 4.5
Local emulators
Local JVM
Transition to Linux
IBM NetVista Thin Clients
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This chart illustrates where the N2200e Thin Client Express fits within the range of the
NetVista N2200 offerings.
Each offering is targeted to satisfy a specific set of needs, while maintaining the flexibility to
transition to other uses, thereby protecting and extending the hardware investment.
Note that the N2200w and N2200e are packaged solutions, in the form of code being
supplied on a flash card with the unit, in order to make it easier and simplify an
The N2200w is oriented mainly to an environment where access to applications on a
Windows Terminal Server is the primary purpose, with local emulators also being
The N2200e on the other hand is a simplified full TCM V2R1 environment oriented to rapid
and easy deployment.
The N2200l is meant for those who want to benefit from an open source environment and
the availability of software download that this provides.
The N2200 with full TCM support is geared to a full server management base with the
capability for running local Java based applications.
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The N2200e at a glance!
32MB => 288MB
Citrix ICA 1.8
5250/3270/VTxxx Emulators
Netscape Navigator 4.5 (3Q2000)
Can transition to TCM V2R1 or Linux
Server Reqt's
None for local boot
Same as TCM V2R1 for server boot
Normal application servers for emulators, ICA and browser
32MB CompactFlash card
Ethernet 10/100Mb
Two USB, one used for keyboard/mouse
2MB RAM, VGA, SVGA, XVGA up to 1280x1040 at 256K
PC Style USB Keyboard and mouse
16-bit audio with stereo jack and mono input jack
16 watts
Three years
Flash Memory
I/O Ports
Video Support
Input Devices
Audio Support
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For those who need a few speeds and feeds, here is a summary of some of the
specifications of the N2200e. The hardware is identical to the N2200 used for TCM V2R1
except that it comes with a 32MB CompactFlash card pre-loaded with the required
software and is available only in an Ethernet configuration.
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Available Now . . .Built for the Future
IBM NetVista N2200e Thin Client Express
Proven thin client hardware - N2200 (N2800 3Q)
32 MB compact flash - room for browser
TCM Server software not required
USB Keyboard and mouse
3 year warranty
Ethernet connectivity
Express client software
ICA 3.0++ for Windows access
Terminal emulators
3270, 5250, VTxxx
Netscape 4.5 browser (3Q)
Systems management
Transition options
Entry to Thin Client Manager
Thin Client for Linux
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Some of the key highlights are that the N2200 hardware is a solid proven base, that is
used in the other environments as well. The N2800 is also planned to be available in 3Q00.
The 32MB CompactFlash card has the room to accommodate the Netscape 4.5 browser
planned for 3Q00.
The applications that can be used are:
An ICA client for access to a MetaFrame server
Emulators (3270, 5250 and VTxxx)
A browser to be available in 3Q00
The N2200e can be fully controlled and managed remotely via the TCM Operations Utility
which uses an SNMP agent on the unit to perform remote control operations.
Transition to TCM V2R1 can be accomplished with minimal changes.
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Three Ways to Boot NetVista Express
Boot Server
Boot Server
Boot From
(or a Peer)
NetVista Express
from Server
NetVista Express
Boot From
NetVista Express
CFG Tool
Flash Card
Flash Card
Flash Card
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NetVista Express is designed to operate as a flash card based thin client, with the objective of being easy to
use and operate without the need for a boot server. However, the NetVista Express is also capable of
operating in other modes to suit the needs of the user and to provide flexibility and transition capabilities.
This mode is the normal NetVista Express mode. On power on, the station loads its kernel from the flash
card, then loads its configuration files also from the flash card as well as any application that the user wishes
to start. There is no logon required nor any files to be downloaded from a server on the network.
Customization of the unit is accomplished via a local client-based configuration tool that manages
configuration files on the flash car. This tool performs a subset of the configuration tasks that would normally
be performed via a server-based NSM or TCM application.
Note: A station with a flash card can also be used as a "master" to allow peer units, that do not have their
own flash card, to boot from the flash card on the master unit.
In cases where we still want to load the kernel from the flash card, while also taking advantage of the
flexibility provided by the centralized management of configuration files, the NetVista Express can be
operated in the "Authenticate from server" mode. In that case, after the kernel has been loaded from the flash
card, a login panel is presented to the user, where a user name and password is entered, and the
configuration files for that user are then downloaded from a boot server.
The unit can also be operated totally from the network in the Boot From Server mode, where all files are
downloaded from a boot server. In that mode, the flash card is essentially not used and the unit is operating in
full V2R1 mode.
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Three Ways to Use NetVista Express
Stand Alone Mode
For small deployments, or where each client requires unique customization
No server is involved
Client configures desktop via local cfg tool
Server-administered configurations
For large deployments, or where Express clients require group-specific desktops
Managed via the server-based TCM Manager Operations Utility using SNMP
Management capabilities
One "master" client configures multiple desktops to be used by other Express clients
Peer Boot clients without a server
For deployments where peer boot clients with no flash card use the Express client
software, configuration, to spread cost of Express client across multiple peers without
flash cards (no server involved)
"Master" Express client configures a desktop to be used by other peer boot clients
The peer units share all the characteristics of the Master client (Preferences, printer
config, language, mouse configuration)
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We just saw three ways of booting the unit, but let's discuss now the three typical ways of
using the Express Unit.
Stand alone mode - This is the primary use of the Thin Client Express, in environments
characterized by a small deployment and where each client can be uniquely customized.
There are no boot server involved and the client can configure its own desktop through an
easy to use graphical interface.
Server administered configurations - This scenario is typical of large deployments where
there is a need to configure units based on groups. Using the TCM Operations Utility on a
server, one unit of a particular group can be customized, and then its configuration files can
be pulled to the server and pushed back down to multiple other units, effectively replicating
the configuration of one station to many others.
Peer Boot clients without a server - This is for environments where we can make use of
the peer boot facility of the Thin Client Express. In this case, other units without a flash card
can boot from the flash card located on a "master" Express unit. The units without a flash
card do not require a server as they get all their operational code and configuration from
flash card located on the master unit. Note that in this case, the peer units are absolutely
identical to the master unit, since the exact same configuration files are used for all units,
and these peer units cannot be customized on an individual basis.
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Easy to Set Up and Configure
Easy to Set Up and Configure - Three Simple Steps
1. Configure TCP/IP network data, display resolution, and
keyboard language
2. Specify one application, or configure a set of applications on
a full desktop with launch bar
3. Begin using the workstation
Configuration Tool
Preloaded on the Thin Client Express
Offers rapid initial configuration
Customize Desktop appearance
Single application kiosk configuration
Complete desktop, launch bar, and auto start options
Software update - Request client flash update from remote update
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The Express unit is easy to set up because there are only three required steps to become
operational, and they are performed via the Setup Wizard:
Specify the basic IP network data (which can be a simple as selecting DHCP), choose a
display resolution (default can be selected) and keyboard language (default can also be
Identify at least one application to be started on power up
For the selection on an initial application, or for further configuration once the unit is
operational, the Express unit includes a local configuration tool that is preloaded on the
flash card and provides the user with a very easy to use graphical interface.
This configuration tool is used mainly to allow customization of the desktop and to request
software updates from a remote server when required.
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Functional Comparison - DRAFT
Less Function
Less Function
Less Function
Less Function
No Java
x (PTF 6)
Not Applicable
Kiosk Mode
Full Desktop Kiosk Mode
Windowed Environment
Convert to other OS
Convert to V2R1 boot
Not Applicable
Not Applicable
Client functions
Remote Application
5250, 3270, VTxxx
Netscape 4.5
Client Configuration Tool
Easy field update
Efficient cloning
WAN Friendly Update
Other OS Support
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How does the Express Unit then compare with other thin clients of the same family?
This chart provides some of the main characteristics for the N2200 (TCM V2R1
server-based) unit, a generic Windows Based Terminal and the IBM version of the WBT (the
The main points to observe are that the main difference between the full TCM V2R1 and
Express are that the Express browser to be made available in 3Q00 does not have Java
support but it can be transitioned to either server-based environment or Linux.
The Express Unit is particularly strong as well in the easiness with which it can be cloned
and operated from a remote central site via the TCM Operations Utility.
The WBT does not have a local browser because it is expected to use a browser on the
terminal server via either a Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or ICA session.
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Thin Client Utilities
Simple to manage
Two "as-is," no-charge utilities available
Thin Client Express Service Utility (5648-D83)
Contains latest complete client flash image
Client has code to pull and reflash from these files
Thin Client Manager Operations Utility (5648-D84)
Set of tools for remote operations for N2200e, N2200, and N2800
N2200, N2200e, N2800: client lockdown, wake on LAN, remote reboot
N2200e: clone configuration, force flash update, force authentication to server
Available as Web download or on single orderable CD, select software for V2R1
NetVista Thin Client Utilities CD -- GEMS order number 11K7686
PC Server or desktop with
Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 or Windows NT 4.0 TSE
Windows 2000 (Beta)
Do not need to be available on network during normal operation
No need for utilities to be permanently resident on network server
Can be loaded on laptop and attached to network during updates
English only
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There are two utilities available to manage the Thin Client Express units.
Thin Client Express Utility:
The first one, called the Thin Client Express Service Utility, is used to update the code on the flash card of a
Thin Client Express. It is basically an NFS-based utility, residing on a Windows NT server, that has BOM
(Bill-of-Material) files that lists the components that need to go on the flash card.
The thin client can pull code from this utility in order to reflash the card or to update the contents of the
Thin Client Manager Operations Utility:
The second utility is called the Thin Client Manager Operations Utility and is basically a tool to remotely
trigger actions on a remote client, such as:
o Wake on LAN - Cause a remote client to power up and come alive
o Shutdown/Reboot - Cause a remote client to power down or Reboot
o Remotely change the NVRAM configuration so that the unit, on the next boot, will either boot from flash,
booth from a server, or boot from flash but authenticate and get its configuration from a server.
o Start or Stop the Telnet and FTP Daemons on the client
o Flash Update - Cause a remote unit to pull a flash update from a server
o Backup and Restore configuration files by causing an FTP of these files to/from a server
o Change the remote access authorization passwords on a client
o Grant or Deny access to the configuration tool on the client (i.e. lock up the config tool)
o Reset the remote unit to factory defaults
This utility can also be used to perform some limited functions on other thin clients.
These utilities are available for download from the Web and are very easy to install and operate.
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Simple to Manage
Update Thin Client Express in customer locations
Client Side Pull (Thin Client Express Service Utility)
- OR -
Latest image available on web or CD
Download update service to file on Windows NT
Install on Windows NT workstation or server
On client, select configuration tool's
software update, request flash update
Management Service Push (Thin Client
Manager Operations Utility)
Install Java based management tool
from web or CD on Windows NT workstation
or server
Windows NT workstation or server initiates
client pull
- OR - Update via peer
Assuming Boot Monitor intact
Configure peer to reset flash
from master
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There are three easy ways to update the content of the flash image on a remote
The client can pull an update simply by requesting it from the configuration tool on the
client. This causes the client to contact the Thin Client Express Service Utility on a
Windows NT server, to compare its BOM file with the BOM file on the server, and to
download the updates.
One or more clients can be remotely triggered to request an update using the TCM
Operations Utility
A peer unit can be configured to reset its flash card from the master unit
In all cases, the update operation is very simple and straightforward.
Note: There is also a fourth way which would be to do a complete flash recovery by
rewriting the flash card completely. This would be done when there is a need to either
burn a new blank flash card or to recover a corrupted one. In this case, one would
configure NSBOOT to load a version of the kernel from the Express Service Utility that
initially display a choice of BOM files from which to reflash the card. The code is
downloaded, written to flash and the unit rebooted.
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Configuration Tool
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The larger panel on this chart is the main configuration tool panel on the NetVista Thin
Client Express.
It is accessed either through an icon on the launch bar entitled "Configure Tool" or by the
CTL-Alt-Shift key sequence, assuming that the administrator has allowed access to the
configuration tool.
Of the three selections available on the main panel, the first and the last may require a
password if an administrator password has been configured for the station.
Configure Workstation is the main task that allows the settings of all the parameters that
describe how the workstation operates
View Network Information is a single panel displaying the network data for this station
Software Update is use to configure all the parameters related to either updating the
software on the station or allowing remote access to the station.
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Configure Workstation
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After selecting Configure Workstation, and entering a password (if a password has been
enabled), the panel displayed here is the first configuration panel.
From this panel, there are three primary choices:
The Workstation mode determines the main operating mode, and the seven choices are
displayed here. Notice that the first five choices are all a single application that would come
up automatically when the station starts, where as the last two choices are multiple
applications, with or without a launch bar.
Main Tasks are available to provide categories of parameters
Once a main task is selected, a set of subtasks if displayed for selection. In this example,
when selecting hardware, one can configure either workstation specific parameters such as
a left handed mouse for example, or printer specific information.
These are all very simple and user friendly configuration tasks.
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Main Tasks and Subtasks
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In an effort to provide a general idea of all the subtasks that are available, this composite
picture shows the subtasks for each of the five main tasks.
For those who may already be familiar with the Thin Client Manager application
(TCM/NSM), you will no doubt notice that these are a subset of what is normally available
for configuration via the full server-based TCM/NSM V2R1 configuration application.
In fact, the configuration file produced by this local configuration tool is similar to the file(s)
produced by the full server-based TCM/NSM application.
The tool is designed to be simple and to address most typical configuration needs and can
therefore be considered as a subset of NSM running locally on the Express unit.
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Sample Workstations Details
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If you have not yet had a chance to use the configuration tool and to browse the different
menus, here is an example of the Hardware/Workstations subtask panel, showing the
mouse and keyboard settings part of the panel.
Again, notice the similarity with the full TCM/NSM server-based tool.
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Desktop Launch Bar
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It is certainly not necessary to cover all the configuration panels, as most are pretty simple
to understand, but here is the most important one in the case where the station is
configured with a launch bar, because this determines the appearance of the launch bar.
On the right, the Launch Bar content window displays the current content of the launch bar.
Folders and applications are added to this window by selecting them from the left hand
windows and clicking on the Add--> button.
Once on the launch bar, applications can be moved up and down relative to one another
and they can be modified, duplicated and also removed.
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Network Info and Software Update
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This particular page shows the information obtained by using the View Network
Information button on the main panel, which is a single panel.
No password is required for the user to access this panel and it may be used, in problem
determination situations, to quickly verify some of the most important parameters that
relate to networking.
We have also displayed here the tasks list obtained by clicking on the Software Update
button, after entering the password, if required.
All of these tasks relate to remotely accessing the station from the TCM Operations Utility
and to performing updates to the software residing on the flash card. We discuss the details
on these tasks in a separate presentations where we discuss the NetVista Utilities such as
the Express Service Utility and the TCM Operations Utility.
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Finally, even though the configuration tool is fairly simple, there are still a fair number of
parameters to configure and not everyone may be familiar with their usual settings and
their use.
At any time, online help is always available by a click on the help button.
We have illustrated here the main Help panel displayed when the user clicks on the Help
The help facility can be configured to be context sensitive, meaning that the information
displayed will be based on the task that was being used at the time the help button was
pushed, or general help showing all topics and letting the user choose the appropriate
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Configuration Files
System Configuration Files
Shipped.nsm (in /termbase/profiles)
Base configuration parameters - Not modified by the cfg tool
Update.conf (in /termbase/profiles)
URL of the update server
gen_cp.nsm (in userbase/profiles)
Used only for the first initial configuration (out-of-the-box or after reset to factory
Start-up config designed to bring up the configuration wizard
cp.nsm (in /userbase/profiles)
Created when the configuration tool is used for the first time
Main operational configuration file
Application created configuration files
Contains ICA and Emulator application configuration and preferences (for
example, emulator color preferences)
in /userbase/home/kiosk/.ICAClient/*
in /userbase/nsmshared/kiosk/*
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If you are an administrator, you will no doubt be interested in knowing about the main
configuration files types and location. There are two types of configuration files:
System Configuration Files - There are four of these
The shipped.nsm, located in /termbase/profiles, contains base configuration parameters
that are never modified by the configuration tool.
update.conf, also located in /termbase/profiles, contains the URL of the update server to
contact when requesting a flash update. The data in this file is supplied either via the
configuration tool or remotely via the TCM Operations Utility.
gen_cp.nsm, located in userbase/profiles, is used only for the first initial configuration
when configuring the unit for the first time or after a reset to factory settings. This
configuration actually causes the Setup Wizard to start and to create the next file based
on parameters supplied by the user.
cp.nsm, also located in /userbase/profiles is the main operational configuration file. It is
initially created by the Setup Wizard and contains all the parameters configured via the
configuration tool.
Application Created Configuration Files
There are a variety of these files that contain ICA and Emulator application configuration
and preferences (for example, emulator color preferences). The ICA data is located in
/userbase/home/kiosk/.ICAClient/*, and all the other files are located in
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Additional Information
IBM NetVista Express Product Publication
NetVista N2200e Thin Client Express Reference - June 2000 SA23-2803-00
Available from
Other presentations related to NetVista Express
IBM NetVista TCM Operations Utility
IBM NetVista Express Service Utility
These can be found on the web support site below
Support Site
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The product publication for the Express unit can be obtained from the site.
There are also two other related presentations on the NetVista Utilities that can be found on
the support site These provide additional details on how to remotely
manager Express units and how to update the software on an Express Unit.
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