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Friday, December 2, 2011

iPAQ (desktop computer) as headless server

A headless system is a computer system or device that has been configured to operate without a monitor (the missing "head"), keyboard and mouse. A headless system is typically controlled via a network connection, although some headless system devices require a connection to be made via RS232 for administration of the device.
PC BIOS limitations related to headless operation During bootup, some (especially older) PC BIOS versions will wait indefinitely for a user to press a key before proceeding if some basic devices are not installed or connected, effectively halting an unattended system. These can include:
On more modern systems, the BIOS factory setting will typically be configured to behave this way as well, but this setting can be changed via a BIOS setup facility to proceed without user intervention.
Even in cases where a system has been set up to be managed remotely, a local keyboard and video card may still be needed from time to time, for example to diagnose boot problems that occur before a remote access application is initialized.
Hardware remote control Some servers provide for remote control via an internal network card and hardware that mirrors the console screen. For example, HP offers a solution called Integrated Lights-Out (ILO) that provides this functionality. Remote access to the system is gained using a secure web connection to an IP address assigned to the ILO adapter, and allows for monitoring of the system during start-up before the operating system is loaded.
Another hardware solution is to utilize a KVM-over-IP switch. Such a switch is a traditional Keyboard-Video-Mouse sharing device with the added ability to provide remote control sessions over IP. Connection to the KVM device is gained using a web browser, which allows for remote monitoring of the connected system console port.
Software remote control

In the past systems were typically administered through a text-based interface such as a command line in Unix. These interfaces were often called 'virtual terminals' or 'terminal emulators', as they attempted to simulate the behavior of "real" interface terminals like the Digital Equipment Corporation's VT100.
Later on, systems such as X Window System and VNC combined with virtual display drivers allow remote connections to headless machines through ordinary Graphical user interfaces, often runnning over network protocols like the internet's TCP/IP.
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The iPAQ Desktop Personal Computer in its various incarnations was a Legacy-free PC produced by the Compaq Computer Corporation around the year 2000.
The Compaq iPAQ was primarily designed to be a portable desktop computer that could be used as a simple internet capable computer


iPaq Desktop Front

iPaq Desktop Legacy Rear
The iPAQ had very few limitations on upgradability; hard drives, RAM, CPU and 'Multi-Bay' drives can be readily interchanged, although the iPAQ did not contain sockets for expansion cards.
It featured an interchangeable 'Multi-Bay' slot that could accept a 3.5 inch LS SuperDisk drive (the only way to read a floppy disk - standard Multi-Bay floppy drives do not work), optical drives, or a secondary hard disk device. The slot was the same as those found on many Compaq Armada and many other HP/Compaq laptop computer systems.
By a method of convection for cooling, these computers are commonly found in office environments due to their low noise (dB) output.
The iPAQ ran on either an Intel Pentium III processor or on an Intel Celeron processor; ranging from 500 MHz to 1 GHz processor in a PGA370 socket.
The internal RAM was upgradable to 512 MBs of 100 Mhz 168pin SDR SDRAM. Strangely enough, the BIOS in the iPAQ actually prevents the system from booting if there is more than 512 MBs of RAM installed (a message displays during POST instructing the user to decrease the amount of RAM in the system to no more than 512 MBs). The reason behind this forced RAM limitation is unknown.
The first version came in two different models, "Legacy free" which had no parallel, serial, or PS/2 ports and instead 3 additional USB ports on the back; and the traditional one which included the parallel, serial, and PS/2 ports but only had USB ports on the front. The second version had different styling and had a backpack which added the "legacy" ports. Both models would make good headless servers, except that a bug or oversight in the BIOS requires that a keyboard must be connected in order for the computer to boot. This can be bypassed with a couple of BIOS tweaks [1]
Look for
Running Linux on old hardware

Windows Seven on old hardware and processor and low mem

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