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Will Novell Adopt The LTSP Project? 277

Posted by timothy
from the add-air-to-fire dept.
SafeTinspector writes "Yesterday I attended a Novell/HP Linux seminer "Delivering & Deploying Linux Across the Enterprise" Among the boring and expected stuff, the Novell representative had several slides in his presentation claiming that Novell is going to get heavily involved with LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) to bring policy based security and administration to the LTSP similar to those found in Microsoft and Citrix terminal servers--probably through their venerable Zenworks product line. Also heavily hinted at would be an install wizard provided by Novell that would greatly simplify the installation and configuration of LTSP, which is currently quite complex. I can find no hard information about this on LTSP or Novell websites, nor any information within Google newsgroup search. Does anyone know more about this? On a side note, the laptops of both the HP rep and Novell rep were running SuSE Linux Desktop with Ximian XD2 installed and the presentation was made using OpenOffice Presentation."
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Will Novell Adopt The LTSP Project?

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  • Reinventing X? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:38AM (#9064892) Homepage Journal
    We all like to decry all the networking cruft that X has designed into it, but this kind of participation of a first tier vendor like Novell in redeveloping the X remote terminal service really shows how necessary all that cruft really is.

    It doesn't really explain why they feel the need to reinvent the wheel, but it just goes to show how far Linux has come when it can attract the likes of Novell into its growing ranks of corporate sponsors.
    • Re:Reinventing X? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by afidel (530433) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @12:12PM (#9065258)
      Sorry but X SUCKS compared to RDP/ICA. I can be quite productive using RDP on a 28.8 dialup line if I turn on bitmap caching and turn down the resolution/bpp. X on the otherhand is almost unusable across a slow DSL line. Multiply this times hundreds or thousands of employees and the bandwidth savings are HUGE. X was great for when it was invented but it doesn't hold a candle to RDP/ICA.
      • Re:Reinventing X? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by b17bmbr (608864) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @12:42PM (#9065573)
        no, X doesn't suck. it's based on a client/server model when all computing was networked. the computer on every desk mentality eminated in redmond. X works great across networks. in fact, instead of LTSP, i just used a singe X server and had several X clients running in my classroom last year. (i am at a new school this year.) i had a P3/933 w/512MB running 7 X clients, OO.org, moz, etc., without a hiccup. in fact, i had a knoppix boot cd that i could pop into any old box on campus and get X from anywhere. freaked some people out. X works great across networks. it doesn't suck. most of X's problems are driver related. hardly its fault. just learn how to make it work well.
        • Re:Reinventing X? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by afidel (530433)
          Seven clients, whoopee. We run between 30 and 50 clients per server. These are typically Dual Xeon's with 2GB of ram, decent but not terribly expensive servers. The problem with X is that it sends the entire bitmap across every time there is an update, whereas RDP/ICA caches the bitmap and will reuse it, even across sessions. This makes for some heavy network traffic. Add to RDP the advantage of not losing the session because of network or client problems and it's a clear winner. I loved X when I first used
          • seven clients doesn't sound like much, but that was over a 10MB hub (cheap one at that). and i know i could hook up several more. the point was that a lowly P3 could serve 7 clients simultaneously and not hiccup. i understand (and i could be wrong) that windows term services use tons more hardware resources per client, which can be a factor. part of the problem is that X i don't think was ever intended to be a remote desktop, but rather a network desktop. i haven't used a pure networked client, but wha
          • Re:Reinventing X? (Score:3, Interesting)

            Have a look at NX from NoMachine. Haven't had a chance to use it yet, but reading through the available docs, it works better than VNC/RDP/ICA, using the standard X protocol. It just compresses things, combines commands, and caches a lot of regularly-used info/commands on the client computer. It can also be used with VNC/RDP to make them run even faster.

            Their goal, and supposedly they've achieved it, it to be able to use standard X apps across a 9600 bps modem.

            They've also got a tesdrive server you can
    • We all like to decry all the networking cruft that X has designed into it, but this kind of participation of a first tier vendor like Novell in redeveloping the X remote terminal service really shows how necessary all that cruft really is.

      The cruft isn't necessary when your processor and graphics card are only separated by some traces on a motherboard. The network abstraction should have been added on top of X. They could have called it "X Net" or something.
  • by Krondor (306666) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:39AM (#9064899) Homepage
    I attended this same conference, and I was asking a question about LTSP and EDirectory authentication. The presenter took my information and said this is called Project Sundance and he would email me with additional information the closed beta is supposed to start in the next 6 months.
    • I'm replying to myself because I also forgot to mention that Novell said that NSS has already been ported internally to Linux and will be available in Novell Open Enterprise System (Netware 7) with the linux kernel.

      They did not say if non Novell server distros would have the ability to run NSS or whether it would be Open Source'd.

      The full netware rights system will be there though, which is a good thing for me.
      • Thanks for adding this post. Comming from a NetWare background, I have kinda hated the Owner,Group,Other rights that Linux has. Yes I understand you can bolt on ACL's, but you still have the legacy OGO stuff to deal with. However, my concern is now the following: Will NSS be a "bolt" on also. If not then will it be closed source. I am concerned that they will not open source it, and if it is just a bolted on solution, then I have to ask them WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!!! Don't be stupid and start t
        • As Novell will be releasing a Linux and a Netware bases File-server/whatever, they need to be able to easily migrate between those.

          Filesystem-support is definitly something you'd need.
  • by jwitch (731255) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:41AM (#9064913) Homepage
    LTSP stands for "Linux Terminal Server Project"

    So why does the title read "...LTSP Project"?

    That reads Linux Terminal Server Project Project
    • I heard it's based on NT Technology !
    • Hrm. You probably need a NIC card to use it. Oh, well.
  • by genericacct (692294) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:45AM (#9064960)
    It's been hyped since the mid-90's, but thin clients have never really caught on in the corporate environment. Why is that? Perhaps the low cost and ubiquity of [GNU/]Linux can give the adoption of thin clients a much needed boost.
    • Please research the term 3270 before you post on this topic again.

      Thank you
    • by kabocox (199019) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:56AM (#9065080)
      It's been hyped since the mid-90's, but thin clients have never really caught on in the corporate environment. Why is that?

      No, it is because tons of managers that just need IE, Outlook, and Wordpad, opps Word, and Access won't stand it. Managers have to have a scanner, digital camera, video capture cards, and dual monitors. It doesn't matter what they are managing they approve the budget. If it wasn't the manager, it would be the IT guy or the desktop publishing/web guru that needed it. The managers would generally argree that they need to lock down and micromanage all their employees. They want all that on the same platform as all their toys.

      Thin clients should be on almost every business desktop. Other than call centers, I'd doubt that will ever happen. Remember if it was good enough for the manager it is good enough for his sec. or assistant.
      • I'm not 100% sure what you are trying to say here, but LTSP supports some of that stuff: dual monitors, scanners on clients is coming along I think... certainly printers on clients are totally fine, we do this all the time where I work.
        • People want/need a good Network Laser Printer.. don't they ?

          Who wants to give up desk-space for something silly as a printer ?

          If it prints to a set of 3 printers in seperate room, that's just perfect (automatic printer routing, weeeeh ! ;-) ).
      • Having worked with both Citrix and RDP, and supporting a large number of workstations on Active Directory...

        The only advantages of thin clients that I've seen over PCs is that the thin clients tend to do better in dirty production enviorments (no clogged fans leading to fried processors).

        The great strength of Windows thin clients, be it ICA (Citrix) or RDP (Windows 2000 and 2003 Terminal Services) is database applications that use ODBC connections. Over a remote link (modem, cable, or even T1 WAN) the
        • The great strength of Windows thin clients, be it ICA (Citrix) or RDP (Windows 2000 and 2003 Terminal Services) is database applications that use ODBC connections.

          I'm lost now. LTSP runs all of its apps on the server by default. Only display and input go through the network. It is also not really meant to be used over a modem, cable, wan. It was designed as a diskless workstation solution to be run on a LAN. I am blown away by how many people are offering opinions on this technology when they have obvious

    • So far the barrier has been that MS's base solution was not flexible enough, and Citrix's offering costs an arm and a leg to impliment (including Bill's cut of TSCAL's). A Novell supported linux based TS platform would be a welcome relief.

    • While many managers LOVED their ultra-fancy, green screen, terminals (despite never figuring out how to use all the extra features they paid for), they associate the idea with "old-tech". Managers want to be on the cutting edge. They perceive the cutting edge to be the tremendous waste of computing resources we call a PC. They don't have the background to understanding that a shared machine means the following memory usage pattern:

      Let B = Size of binaries on disk
      Let D = Size of working data set
      Let U = Numb

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @12:15PM (#9065279) Homepage
      It's been hyped since the mid-90's, but thin clients have never really caught on in the corporate environment.

      HUH?? please explain all the NCD exploras and other thin clients flooding the used market and ebay.

      They all came from somewhere... these NCD explora 701's that I got by the pallet full were certianly in use at some corperation.

      Maybe not at the companies you work at (windows based) but there are GOBS of companies that use SUN and silicon graphics hardware as well as other UNIX systems that use thin clients every day and have been for a long time now.

      thin clients under windows is overpriced because of the bullcrap that microsoft plays with licensing.. solaris doesn't extort a full OS license per thin cleint used like microsoft does.

    • I see them all the time, but only in places where they're restricted to a very small number of applications, almost a green-screen replacement.

      I think the biggest obstacles have been things like multimedia, peripheral access, software compatibility (some of it Windows' fault, some of it the software's fault), cost, and scalability. And then there's *laptops*, which breaks the whole model.

      Any one of those things can be a huge showstopper, and then you factor in *politics* where some group of employees sim
      • I think the biggest obstacles have been things like multimedia, peripheral access, software compatibility (some of it Windows' fault, some of it the software's fault), cost, and scalability. And then there's *laptops*, which breaks the whole model.

        USB devices can be mapped to the server. Im not sure how but dedicated thin clients ive seen have had this option and it has been backed up on #ltsp. Laptops can be set to boot from network then progress to the hdd if no DHCP server sending a kernel location ca
    • It comes of age when no-name browsers on no-name hardware are as good and fast as you care to have them.

    • It's been hyped since the mid-90's, but thin clients have never really caught on in the corporate environment.

      At MyCorp we used X terminals for a few years in the early 1990s.

      They were great from the standpoint of centralized administration. That's still a big advantage to thin clients even today.

      But we had implemented them with the idea of putting only as much graphics display at the end of our networks that we could get away with and then using the extra money to buy huge servers. (Consider now all t

  • LTSP & SuSE = GOOD! (Score:5, Informative)

    by MeBadMagic (619592) <{mtpenguin} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:46AM (#9064983)
    I am a developer that make extensive use of ltsp. I also use SuSE for the server that LTSP runs on.

    I can say from fist hand experience that installing and configuring ltsp is not as difficult as suggested.

    The install scripts worked as expected on my SuSE 9 install.

    Tech support for ltsp is wonderfull! Any questions can be answered in on on line chat room on freenode.net #ltsp

    I just asked the main developer for ltsp about novell and he said it was news to him. I would invite him to comment directly to this thread.

    Also, on a side note, disklessworkstations.com has very inexpensive boxes that just work when plugged into a network that has an ltsp server installed on it.

    There is a sister project k12ltsp that is to quote Jim McQuillen, "k12ltsp is a distro built around Fedora, that includes ltsp".

    websites for these projects are
    ltsp.org
    disklessworkstations.com
    k12ltsp.o rg

    B-)
  • by thgreatoz (623808) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:46AM (#9064984)
    If you're talking about the one in Southfield, then I was there as well. The implications of a Novell LTSP adoption almost had me drooling.
    One of my colleagues and I had an opportunity to talk to a Novell engineer about it, and he said that Novell was indeed working very closely with the developers of LTSP, and that closed betas of the result of that collaberation would be starting in a few months.
    An interesting side note -- the main presenter made a comment in that same conversation that he was "positively humbled" by the volume of people that were involved in the development of open source projects, and not only that, but the degree of intellect that these developers display regularly in the various IRC channels and usenet groups.
    • by chupacabrito (776931) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:53AM (#9065057) Homepage
      How come Jim McQuillen doen't know about this? He is the lead developer. I have been with the project for years and know nothing about this either.
      • That is very odd, I think I will email Jim with the business card from the novell presenter. There really should be dialog between them if this thing is a reality. They probably developed it all in house, but they did say they were working carefully within the LTSP framework to insure their changes would be compatible with future iterations.
    • The implications of a Novell LTSP adoption almost had me drooling.

      It'd be neat if they can line up a manufacturer of tiny, stripped-down, solid-state PCs that boot off the network and run a Linux-based X server. If they could get the price under $100 per box, it'd be funny to watch Microsoft and Novell bid on a big installation contract. The Microsoft bid would include a full Windows PC on every desktop and various servers, and the Novell bit would be for these mini-boxes and a few servers and open-sour
  • by Adriax (746043) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:47AM (#9064989)
    If they make a live-cd client (maybe live floppy), I'll be mucho happy.
    I'd love to be able to offer customers a cheaper alternative to the overprices winterm dummy terminals out there.

    Mini-itx board, small case, single drive, live-cd client, run this on the server with OO.org, mozilla, etc...
    Heck of a lot cheaper than Win2k advanced server + terminal serviced + licenses + office and licenses...
    • It boots off the boot rom. No floppy or cd needed.
    • You don't even need the drive, or floppy, or CD for that matter (although some users will want it for music). If the system supports network booting (which Mini-ITX does, I think) you can literally plug it in with net-booting enabled, and be ready to go. The minimal OS and everything loads over the network.

      You can even go a bit further and run them as OpenMosix nodes to share processing. The keen admin may also consider adding a box or twenty on very fast links to the LTSP server, so allowing 600 MHzfanle
    • Instead of a 'hard' client, PXE booting is the way to go.

      Just plug in a machine, and let it go..

      Most any new machine does this..
    • In case network booting is not available on your board, a cheaper (and probably faster) alternative would be to use some kind of Flash storage (USB keychain, etc).
  • by IDidn'tPostThis (749439) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:48AM (#9065006)
    Does it put the cover on the TPS reports ?
  • http://www.novell.com/documentation/lg/ex10lnx/pdf doc/21ex3_rn/21ex3_rn.pdf

    This pdf shows a sundance.o linux kernel module under ethernet-drivers so that guess is probably correct.
  • by Eagle5596 (575899) <(gro.6955) (ta) (resUhsals)> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:49AM (#9065018)
    Can someone please explain to me how this is different/better than using SSH with X Forwarding? I run a server at home which I use in a manner similar to what I understand of thin clients, connecting to it remotely via SSH, and then forwarding the displays to my terminal. How is this different? Am I missing something?
    • by altair87 (442241) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:53AM (#9065054) Journal
      The advantage of LTSP is you don't need the full operating system on the client. The client can be booted off floppy or boot rom and still connect by X.

      If you are using ssh+x forwarding the client still has to have an operating system.

      • Actually, you need about as much of an OS for ssh with X forwarding as for XDMCP-based remote X. Both need to boot up a local kernel and minimal userspace, the only difference is that one uses 'X -query' to do an XDMCP request, where the other SSH-es to a server and runs the desktop start script. Before starting X, the needs are the same, and the only extra thing the SSH -based one needs is the ssh program and a small shell script.

        Thin clients are available that support getting a remote display over SSH wi
      • The advantage of LTSP is you don't need the full operating system on the client.

        Unfortunately that is not correct.

        While Microsoft may have conned some into thinking that the browser is part of the operating system, the reality is the operating system is the layer that works between the hardware and the software.

        In this case the client still needs an operating system, but only needs enough in the way of applications to communicate with the terminal server and relay the users input to it. There are fairly

  • by IntlHarvester (11985) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:56AM (#9065079) Journal
    First they bring back "SuperNOS" (NetWare running on a *nix kernel), and now this:

    Novell Brewing a New 32-Bit GUI Environment (PC Week)

    >From PC Week for April 25, 1994 by PC Week Staff

    Novell Inc. is developing a low-cost, 32-bit multitasking operating
    environment based on a "freeware" version of Unix that sources said will
    run Windows, DOS, NetWare, and Unix applications.

    Novell is expected to demonstrate the software -- which it is developing
    under tight security at an off-site warehouse -- to a few select users
    at next week's NetWorld+Interop trade show, said sources close to the
    Provo, Utah, company.

    The new system, code-named Expose', is not a derivative of Novell's own
    UnixWare; it is based on Linux, a full-featured Unix clone for PCs that
    is distributed under a free GNU Public License, sources said. Linux 1.0,
    which shipped in March, runs on 386- and 486-based ISA and EISA
    computers.

    Expose' will be based on a graphical X Window System environment called
    Looking Glass, which Novell licensed from Visix Software Inc., of
    Reston, Va. It is expected to use an advanced 3-D desktop metaphor to
    allow users to easily navigate through it, sources said.

    Expose' "is not as much an applications environment as it is a front end
    to many environments, [including] NetWare, Unix, and Windows
    applications," said a source who has been briefed on the project. Users
    also will be able to run Expose' as a front end to the Internet, possibly
    through the Mosaic GUI, sources said.


    rest here [google.com]

    Basically, this was a X11 terminal server sort of thing that could also redirect Windows apps. The project was eventually killed, and Ray Noorda picked up the Linux pieces and formed Caldera (later SCO).
  • by Donny Smith (567043) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:57AM (#9065089)
    >greatly simplify the installation and configuration of LTSP, which is currently quite complex.

    What? You mean "quite simple"?

    "Greatly simplify", I presume, stands for "tie up with Novell's proprietary stuff".
    How much easier can it get?

    Downloads at:
    http://www.k12ltsp.org/download.html

  • by AYeomans (322504) <ajv AT yeomans DOT org DOT uk> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:57AM (#9065093)
    K12LTSP [k12ltsp.org] is a very simple way of installing LTSP. Current version 4 is based on Fedora Core 1 with a few updates. As easy to install as FC1.

    Although thin clients have been around for a few years now, in those days 300 MHz server CPUs and 10 Mbit/sec Ethernet were top-of-affordable-range. And the performance was a bit clunky.

    Now we have 3000 MHz servers and 100 Mbit/sec networks, thin clients can really fly. So long as you forget the clunky days and try them!
  • Is there any significance in HP sending a rep with a laptop running Java Desktop System?
    My understanding is that HP will offer Linux as an option on their systems but hasn't previously - to my memory - been associated with Sun's distribution.

    That said, any Linux installation on laptops is a good thing.. lets hope it catches on. (personal note - A Sasser-infected Win2000 laptop knocked my network out yesterday)
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @12:01PM (#9065128) Homepage Journal
    I'm running Ximian Desktop at home, and I've got a remote X display in a comfortable, sunny room (servers are in the basement). I can definitely attest that full support of LTSP would be a wonderful thing.

    There's lots of talk about Linux desktops replacing Windows desktops, but too many people want to use Linux as a drop-in Windows replacement. That's unfortunate, because to really get the most out of Linux, you have to treat it like Linux -- play up its strengths. The remotability of X11 on a window by window basis (as opposed to the whole desktop, which is how it's done in Windows) is central to this.

    This is, in fact, how the folks in Largo, FL made their system work so well [zdnet.com]. Everything runs from big servers. The nice thing about this model is that you can roll out dedicated servers for various applications. You could have a big box dedicated to OpenOffice, for example. It would run lots of instances of that application (and you get the associated memory footprint savings) being displayed on everyone's desktops. Easy to deploy, too: you just publish the icon or menu item to fire it up, and it executes remotely and transparently. The user doesn't even know that the app is running on a different server -- not even when he/she goes to load and save files, because you're using NIS and NFS to unify the authentication and the document directories across all servers.

    It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. Elegant and seamless. And it's only possible in a Unix/Linux environment -- Microsoft doesn't have anything even close to this. They can't, because it screws up their pricing model. And we all know that money is more important than technology in their world.
    • @IGnatius T Foobar:

      "The remotability of X11 on a window by window basis (as opposed to the whole desktop, which is how it's done in Windows) is central to this."
      -------
      I'm sorry, I have bad news to you (and I hate to say it): Citrix/ICA can do "window by window" remoting already a long time. and Microsoft's RDP (Remote Desktop Protokol) in their latest versions can do it too. Plus, both take less bandwidth than X. And both are snappier than X, with less latency for the user. And both can near-seamlessly

    • The remotability of X11 on a window by window basis (as opposed to the whole desktop, which is how it's done in Windows) is central to this.

      Actually you can do this with Citrix Metaframe as well.

  • by codepunk (167897) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @12:13PM (#9065265)
    I am currently running 150 desktops off of two servers using thin client deployment. Instead of going with ltsp we use a slackware live cd that gets it's final config from a web server using wget and a php script that passes out configurations based on the sent mac address.

    Finally it just lanches x against the servers using the -query option. This is one hell of a lot simpler than ltsp and we do not have to worry about nfs mounted root or none of that junk.

    The servers are actually redhat AS 3.0 running in clustered mode. Now if redhat would just hurry the up and release GFS I could run a shared /home which would be really cool.

    The gnome guys could also help out greatly by adding the ability to deploy desktop icons to multiple users from say root's desktop. I have scripts to do this but it would be nice to have it
    as a option to creating a link to a application.
  • also port it to Windows, MacOSX, and other platforms.

    It would be a good way to get employees to use Linux without having it installed on their machines. So machines that could not run Linux due to unfriendly hardware can run a terminal to it.
  • by dilute (74234) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @12:24PM (#9065359)
    Want to play with this? Pop a Knoppix CD into any X86 machine on your network and try 'knopixterminalserver' (from the command line or the KDE menus).
  • by Marcus Erroneous (11660) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @12:26PM (#9065384) Homepage
    I'm always happy to see them eating their own dogfood. Especially after reading an article where the presenter talked Linux but used a Mac with M$ Powerpoint for his presentation. Running Linux and using OpenOffice for their presentation shows that they at least use and know something about the Linux environment. It's kind of hard for me to take you seriously about your commitment to a Linux product line when you're using M$ products. If your company has so few people that are Linux literate that they have to send M$ drones to represent them, how do you expect to produce a native Linux product? I wish them success and hope for the best. But, their failure won't stop me from using my Linux boxen. ;)
  • We all know that Novell will keep theirs closed and commercial, ( they are a company that wants an income afterall. ).

    Has anyone started a project to create an open tool for configuration and management for those of us that cant purchase what Novell will be offering?

  • by Doug Dante (22218) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @12:56PM (#9065724)
    I had a hard time installing LTSP for a demo until a friend suggested using the K12LTSP [k12ltsp.org] Iso images. Installation was completely painless using them.
  • On a side note, the laptops of both the HP rep and Novell rep were running SuSE Linux Desktop with Ximian XD2 installed and the presentation was made using OpenOffice Presentation."

    In spite of this, if you want an HP laptop, you have to buy Windows (XP Home). Since their upgrade to XP Pro is $50, about half the retail difference, I suppose you could only expect saving 50% of the retail price of XP Home ($200*50% = $100) if they were to leave it off. While saving $100 would be nice, NOT sending anything t

  • Wouldn't it be nice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Action_Jax (267425)
    If they could work on other enhancements to LTSP or X such as "screen" like session management [uni-klu.ac.at] or vnc session management [sourceforge.net] or load balancing like Citrix.

    I think its greating them getting involved, LTSP is quite a mature project and while I'm not quite sure what kind of extra value they would add hopefully they will be looking at solidifying LDAP/Edirectory integration [pcxperience.org] and other enhancements (like bandwidth optimisation).
  • by tulare (244053) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:43PM (#9066208) Journal
    Sometimes it's hard not to kick oneself for being an early adopter. I've been successfully deploying LTSP labs at work [k12.or.us] this year using SuSE 9.0 as a base system, and the project has been a success, but it's been a heck of a lot of work. As we're deploying these as student lab computers in a K12 environment, lockdown is key, so I've had to learn (and make good use of) the KDE Kiosk API [kde.org], and of course this is before the Kiosk admin tool [kde.org] became available. Additionally, we have an Active directory with accounts for all secondary students, so I got to learn how to compile, install, and configure Samba 3 to get winbind to do some of the tricks I needed it to do besides just auth. Also, our primary students don't have an account of their own but rather use a shared school account, and Mozilla has that very annoying profile problem when a user tries to run multiple instances of it, so I had to write a wrapper [k12.or.us] so that it could run sandboxed (which also provides the benefit of keeping the kids from setting bizarre configurations which are then replicated to all the other users as they are wont to do in our other labs).

    All in all, I'm kind of glad I did all this work by hand - I learned a lot, and most of it is now very easy for me to do. On the other hand, had the rumoured deployment tools been available when I started the project, I would have jumped on that and quick. I'm frankly not sure which is better in the long term, but I know it would have been faster to just click'n'run =]

    One last thing - before someone flames me for being stupid and not just using K12LTSP, I have to say I tried it, and didn't like it - for one thing I needed more flexibility than was provided by K12LTSP, especially where AD auth comes in, and besides that, as a matter of preference I like what the KDE Kiosk api provides, and we all know just how much Redhat-based distros Don't Support KDE =] In the end, I got to know the system a lot better, and can do a lot more with it than I would have been able to do under a K12LTSP system. This isn't to disparage the effort and amazing work produced by the K12LTSP team - they really do have an excellent product and I recommend it wholeheartedly for K12 staff needing to get a fast deployment out - it just wasn't the fit I needed for this project.
  • Another easy way... (Score:2, Informative)

    by swusr (689597)
    PXES [sourceforge.net]

    From the page:

    PXES Universal Linux Thin Client Features

    Supported servers and protocols

    • Unix/Linux supporting XDM
    • Microsoft Terminal Server using RDP
    • Citrix using ICA
    • VNC using TightVNC
    • LOCAL local graphical session with simple desktop
    • LTSP or K12LTSP
    • IBM Host using 3270 or 5250 emulation (soon)
    • Telnet emulating ANSI terminal
    • SSH
    • Tarantella using proprietary protocol
    • Nomachine using NX

    Boot methods

    • PXE network card included in most modern PC hardware
    • Etherboot to boot
  • by jdclucidly (520630) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @02:11PM (#9066522) Homepage

    Our company [lumensoftware.com] has been been doing LTSP server installs in local area school for a year, now. In that time we've learned a lot about what LTSP needs and doesn't have and have developed tools to deal with those issues. Novell has a long road ahead of them to deal with that list of challenges. Off the top of my head, here are some common ones:

    1. Devices connected to thin clients are extremely difficult to bind back to the server for enumeration and individual user access. Think users in different rooms want to print to their printer on their desk. Our tools handle that but took months to develop.
    2. Managing the KDE Kiosk API to lock down user desktop is not currently possible in anything but config files; again, our tools manage those things but took months to develop.
    3. Managing the rolling out of user profile changes requires scripts and GUI interfaces to those scripts.
    4. Changes in hardware configurations require close relationships with customers where an advanced Linux technician can respond timely. This is a huge cost to our company but it make the stuff work and makes our customers happy.
    5. People that purchase LTSP servers have no interest in learning or administering Linux. They want it to just work; they're tired of adminstering variances in Windows labs and networks. You have to have a Linux tech to closely support the server.
    6. Upgrades between releases of SuSE cannot be done, AFAIK. Presently, the only distros that can continually upgrade without breaking are Gentoo, Debian, LFS, and Slackware. This is Novells biggest challenge. This means that users of Novell's implementation would have to reinstall to receive any new software.
    7. With currently available SuSE tools, it's not possible to boot from CD remotely and do a complete server rebuild or forensics in case of absolute disaster. We can do this by using Gentoo boot CD's.
    8. Clients invariably have one Windows app that they just have to run in Wine. It requires time, patience, and working with the Wine folks and good debugging skills to get some of these things to work. I don't think Novell has the time or interest due to costs of such things.

    Novell has their work cut out for them but I think that, ultimately, a company this large will find that the cost of supporting these servers running in places with noone with any Linux knowledge is too high -- they'll get out of the business or their customers will not get sufficient support and leave.

    ... IMHO, of course.

    • # Devices connected to thin clients are extremely difficult to bind back to the server for enumeration and individual user access. Think users in different rooms want to print to their printer on their desk. Our tools handle that but took months to develop.

      Really? I just did a quick lookup in the login script to set the PRINTER environment variable to the right printer depending on the hostname/display (depending on if it was an LTSP terminal or full Linux system). It's a little ugly but dead simple. If

  • by LibrePensador (668335) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @06:51PM (#9068984) Journal
    Mandrake already offers what Novell is now getting around to implement. Look at Mandrake's terminal server, which also does audio and local terminal to floppy file saving through some pretty nifty tricks.

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