Apr 272007

Internet Appliances haven’t hit the mainstream yet, and I don’t know why. The constraints are simple: I want a web browser that has no moving parts and makes no noise, so it can go in the bedroom and not annoy me. Back in the day, I had great hopes for the BeOS-based Sony eVilla and was the only person, I think, who liked Be’s focus shift to BeIA. The wife and I recently experimented with an MSN tv 2, which lasted all of one day — it was difficult to read and cumbersome to navigate.

The present setup pleases me. I picked up an NCD nc900 X terminal on eBay for $50, and I picked up a 17″ flatscreen at CompUSA for $130 after rebate. It just runs X sessions off an OpenBSD box in the basement. In theory, I could have just run a KVM extender cable down to a Windows PC, but there is the geek factor…. NCD is out of business, by the way.

nc9001.jpg desk.jpg

The OpenBSD box runs a tftp server that serves up the nc900 boot file (p4v4013.tar.gz is the latest — os.900 is the operating system file, and you’ll want the newest boot_mon.900 you can find to update the flash). It also runs X with xdmcp, xfce, and FireFox (only because IE7 isn’t available). It took a little bit to get running. For instance, it took a while to figure out to set root_depth to 24 in ../config/xp.cnf to get 24-bit video. And it really took a long time to figure out how to change the resolution on the terminal (“BOOT> selftest monset” –> for instance, mine is monset 121 [1024×768 at 70Hz at 17″]). Here’s a somewhat related FAQ.

Works splendidly.

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