Network Architectures for Industrial Automation

Dear folks

I am creating a new section on network architecture. Please feel free to post your questions here.

Excellent online resource created by Inductive Automation.


I have been researching if it is feasible to use an industrial thin client with Inductive Automation software. My understanding is that it must support JWS (Java Web Start), which according to the Sun website is part of JRE. In looking at the Windows XP Embedded operating system which can be used with thin clients, and website information from Sun, java will work within it. However, it appears the “componentized” nature of XPe requires it to be setup by the OEM before it could support java.

I’m not trying to create my own machine, but are there any out there that come with support for Java which would work with FactoryPMI? This impacts my installation plans; I have a remote operator panel that I was going to access via fiber optic KVM extenders, but I’d prefer to put a din-rail mountable thin client in a local panel out there, and use standard ethernet.

I’ve looked at websites for Advantech, Kontron, Inducomp, Arista, Allen-Bradley, Midcomdata, and Netvoyager. No one seems to want to mention java in their information.

XPe will definately run Java, but yes, you’d have to install it. I think to use XPe you have to buy an XPe OEM kit.

Here is another crazy idea - use Linux! Linux will happily run Java (and JWS). There are bootable linux distributions like Knoppix that require no installation - they just boot off the CD. They don’t typically include Java though :frowning:

A side project that we’re always trying to get around to here is creating a custom bootable linux distro that is pared down to only what you need for a FactoryPMI client - a web browser and Java. Any linux experts out there that want to give us a hand?

Hey, about the linux distro idea, I have ran various versions of Ubuntu from time to time, and I have never been able to get an FPMI client to work. Next time I try, Ill call in and we can figure this out.

I have personally ran FPMI on ubuntu with no problems. You just have to install Java! To do this, run Ubuntu’s “Add-remove programs” app, and make sure that you’re looking at the entire list, not just the GNU GPL list (this lets you install software with proprietary licenses, like Java)


After you mentioned Knoppix I had to start checking it out. I’m downloading version 5.1.1 right now which is supposed to include java support (version 1.5). I’m going to try to test it in Virual PC 2004 (that could be iffy, but we’ll see).

Cool! I’m downloading it right now too to see what Java VM is installed (official Sun VM or some 3rd party VM)

Why test it in Virtual PC 2004? Just stick the CD in your drive and reboot - thats the magic of it, its very non-commital (no install or setup required)

Yay! I downloaded Knoppix 5.1.1, and it does indeed come with Sun Java 1.5.0_10, an acceptable version for use with FactoryPMI.

This means that Knoppix, out of the box, makes a great FactoryPMI thin client OS. I booted it up, opened a web browser, and launched FPMI. Networking was set up automatically through DHCP - it was literally zero configuration. Very cool.

Cool deal on the Knoppix.

When OP mentioned “thin clients” I was thinking of something like Wyse terminals. These vary in “thickness”, but all run some sort of lightweight operating system. In order:
-Wyse Thin OS - basically a Windows RDP appliance
-CE 5
-Wyse Linux
-Windows XPe - these are the one’s I’m used to running. We use them at my workplace as glorified RDP appliances. They are capable of running Java locally.

Running FactoryPMI under RDP works, but is pretty silly; it doesn’t leverage our powerful architecture.

We do have as small number of clients running our software on thin RDP clients, and while it makes me cringe, it does make sense in certain situations, such as when the RDP appliances are already installed.

I thought I’d give an update on my own testing experience with the Knoppix. I noted that when I tried to connect to my project, FactoryPMI said “An acceptable version of Java was not detected”. However by clicking on Cancel, rather than OK to install a new Java version (would have been Windows based rather than Linux), the option appears to “Open with Sun Java 5.0 Web Start”. Everything worked fine with it.

I was also able to run the Knoppix under Virtual PC 2004. However, to get the mouse to work under Virtual PC, at the initial boot prompt the following must be entered: knoppix i8042.noloop

What browser are you using? That detection script is a Javascript tool that attempts to determine the correct Java version; I believe that any version of Java 5.x or 6.x detects as good. It may need to be updated. It can be disabled in the gateway config page if it causes user confusion.

Yeah, thats a Linux browser/javascript issue in general. If you’re going to have linux clients, you could turn that off entirely by telling the gateway to skip javascript detection under System / Settings. I suppose we could improve the javascript to just skip detection automatically if OS==‘linux’, but its not a showstopper.

I appreciate all the good information. To answer nathan’s question, I was using the Konqueror web browser that Knoppix comes with. When the Gateway appears, the Java information says “You have Java 3 installed and FactoryPMI needs a newer version. Click here to Install Java 6.” If you click to load it, you don’t have an option to run it in Linux. If you try saving the file, you can see the java file name is for Windows.

Yeah - we certainly don’t want to get into hand-holding Linux users through a Java install. Basically, when it comes to Linux, we assume a much higher level of knowledge for the user. If a novice is using linux, we expect that a sysadmin has set it up properly beforehand.

I’m still working on an active project predicated upon using a thin client. I’ve learned how to transfer the Knoppix CD image into a usable, bootable Compact Flash card for use on a diskless, fanless thin client (see attachment for the procedure). However, during testing I found the performance of the client was too slow to be usable. I’ve seen suggestions for the server side, but what would be a good “average” requirement for CPU speed, and physical memory for a client? The thin client I first tried was a 400 MHz, 250 MB box.

I’m looking into perhaps setting up a linux swap partition, but without a “real” hard drive I wasn’t sure if the performance from a CF card would yield improvements.
Creating Bootable CF card.doc (38 KB)

Cool, thanks for the info. As for requirements, anything that will run the JRE will run a FactoryPMI client. Performance-wise, 250mb ram seems pretty low. Try 512. Also, you’re going to want to tweak knoppix to load as little as possible. All you need is a basic windowing system and the JRE. You could even skip the web browser by using the techniques outlined here … aboutjava/

Hope this helps,