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How to: Create a Headless Device 

A headless device is a device that lacks a graphical UI. For example, this could be an embedded device that does not include a keyboard and a display screen. A headless device running the .NET Compact Framework does not include any .dlls that support forms, controls, drawing, and Managed Direct 3D Mobile.

Before you can create a headless device, you must install Platform Builder and the most current Platform Builder QFE that supports .NET Compact Framework version 2.0 SP1. To obtain the correct Platform Builder QFE, go to Windows CE Updates.

The requirements for a headless device include:

  • .NET Compact Framework version 2.0 SP1, which is included on the Platform Builder QFE.

  • Windows CE 5.0.

The Platform Builder QFE includes a new Catalog item that you must add to your image. The contents of the new Catalog item are as follows:

  • Cgacutil.exe

  • Mscoree.dll

  • Mscoree2_0.dll

  • Mscorlib.dll

  • System.dll


  • System.xml.dll



  • System.messaging.dll

  • Microsoft.visualbasic.dll


The .NET Compact Framework CAB files are not supported on a headless device.

The programming model for headless devices remains the same with the following exceptions:

  • HTTP proxy settings cannot be detected automatically and must be specified in code.

  • Network connections that require credentials will fail unless you provide credentials within your code.

  • The option to call ShellExecuteEx with the ProcessStartInfo class is not available because the shell is not available on a headless device.

To create a headless image

  1. In Platform Builder, include the .NET Compact Framework 2.0 SP1 headless Catalog item in your image.


    This Catalog item is used in place of the .NET Compact Framework 2.0 Catalog item. In some cases, you can also exclude NETUI, but you need to ensure that any other Catalog items you include are not dependent on NETUI.

  2. In Visual Studio 2005, create an empty Windows CE project.

  3. In the Devices tab of the Project Designer, deselect the Deploy the latest version of the .NET Compact Framework (including Service Packs) check box.

    By deselecting this option, the .NET Compact Framework CAB files will not be included in the project.

  4. Once your Visual Studio solution is completed, include it with the image in Platform Builder.

See Also