Linux Terminal Server PXE boot OS image Question

  • devilwood
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Can I boot any compressed OS image from a Linux Terminal Server as long as the OS image uses the same kernel?

It seems all the Terminal Server projects that I've come across are out-of-the-box ready and basically do everything for you which is actually very nice. However, some are heavier than my needs so I want to run the terminal services but send a lighter flavor of linux across the network boot. So, can I run Edubuntu terminal server and then copy over my compressed OS image of another distro that uses the same kernel and then build/copy (?) the image to the ltsp/i386 folder? I'm also a little confused as to how the packages are sent. For instance, when the client PXE boots off the network and the server sends it the OS image, which programs/application packages get sent? Do all the native programs that are installed on the server get sent or can this be configured for the client somewhere in the client environment? This is really why I want a lighter linux distro sent cause I want a simpler interface on my clients rather than a full-blown Ubuntu desktop where the user can access the System tab but I know with permissions once they click on any admin tool that it will not allow it but I still don't want it there. My clients really do not need a Places or System tab at the top.

I'm playing with Edubuntu but I'm also wondering exactly which packages do I really need to turn any linux distro into a terminal server? (ltsp-server, ssh, etc,etc) This may be easier cause then I can just turn my lighter flavor of linux into a terminal server and not have to worry about matching up kernel releases or any other incompatibilities. Which then I could compress the image and build the client environment and be ready to go, as well as, pick the applications I want the clients to have.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • kc0tma
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I think you can, and the reason I say that is because I just happen to be building the same thing literally right now. My host server is a RHEL5, but my chroot environment is going to be a fedora 9 or 10 (the k12linux distro).

The packages you need are pretty much dhcp server, ltsp server, NFS, cups for print sharing, maybe a few others. The LTSP website has a wiki with some hobbled together write ups that should definitively answer your questions.
  • devilwood
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Oh good. I looked at k12linux too. But really went with Edubuntu cause I already had hardy heron installed on a machine laying around and I just tried the add-on cd, but all it did was install applications and I don't think it checked to make sure dhcp, ltsp-server, NFS, cups, ... were all installed so I just went ahead and downloaded the 3.3gigs of Karmic Koala. That kinda peeved me off. I much prefer the light distros. I was going through some of my distros documentations cause I sit around and test drive linux flavors when I got spare time and I found slax.org which I'm actually really enjoying. I think vectorlinux got me into slack, but slax has a nice customizable build. So, I would really like to run some slackware for the terminal server and just build it with the packages and then boot slax. Thanks for the reply. I'll dig deeper in the ltsp website and make me a list of everything I need to just turn any old distro into a terminal server.
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the old LTSP server that I'm trying to get off of was a Hardy Heron server and I wasn't too thrilled with it. When students would log in at a thin client, then later log off, it wouldn't kill all their processes so I had to go several times a day and kill all their abandoned processes. If I didn't that thing went down to slug speed.
  • devilwood
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Are you saying the kids logged off properly but Hardy Heron still didn't terminate the processes? WOW.

I did like the new graphics package that was installed when I ran the Edubuntu add-on CD to go from Ubuntu Hardy Heron to Edubuntu.

You saw my other post so you get an idea that I'm trying to boot a light linux distro with the ultimate goal to boot the clients wirelessly.

Really the kids lab I'm doing they don't need all those learning applications. We really just want them to have internet access and a browser and they will be doing mostly CLOUD computing for Word Processing, Spreadsheets, and Powerpoint Presentations using Google Docs. They would also check their school site and download class information posted by their teachers, google searches for class projects/homework , and they would check email or use it for entertainment. The lab is for a kids after-school program so alot of the time the kids will be having fun. I figure they'll mostly be on myspace, facebook, twitter, and youtube.

Thanks for your help.
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You're a lot nicer than me! I (mostly the principal and superintendent) don't allow them to go to those social networking sites or email. Teachers can get to youtube and teachertube and email, but not students. I manage that through my squid proxy and dans guardian filter. Some of the high school kids are sneaky, they have learned about proxies and stuff so they are still getting to the banned sites and when they do I figure out what they did and close that hole then write them a discipline notice because they violated their acceptible use policies.

I'm not happy at all with ubuntu on an LTSP server, but it could just be because the guy here before me that built that was an idiot. I do know that part of my problems are because that server only has a single dual-core proc and only 4 gigs of memory, and the physical architecture of the network is crap. He built it as a long daisy chain of switches, so way out on one end I have a lab with 25 thin clients and a couple dozen other computers, then down the hall there is another switch with a couple dozen computers, then down the hall another switch, and so on and so on. So by the time it gets to my server room, there is tons and tons of data going over the one wire. And if a rat chews through that one wire I've got 3/4 of the school all offline. I'm fixing that over the summer with some fiber optic home runs out to the computer labs. I'd use copper media, but my farthest run is close to 500 feet so I would need a switch or a bridge in the middle but I'm trying to avoid doing that, hence the fiber. And my new server I'm building this week has 2 of the six-core AMD opterons, 16 gigs of ram, and a terabyte and a half of useable hard drive space on raid 5, so it should be a little more speedy and robust than the old server.
  • devilwood
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I read some specs for terminal servers somewhere and they didn't seem to me that they needed to be that robust. Though, I know depending on the amount of terminals it's running. My lab will be only 8-10 computers so I'm actually using another old system they had laying around and adding some memory and I was hoping it would be good enough for about 10 computers.

Your post made me laugh. On my previous post I was just about to rant about the physical architecture of the network that I'm working on. Actually, last Saturday I was there all day pulling out old drops and re-wiring. I would bet their setup would rival yours but you do have a task with that 500 foot run. :-) I guess the organization had a few different IT companies come in and do work but they all did it sloppy. I'm just volunteering trying to get the kids a computer lab. Anyway, I worked Monday and Tuesday also pulling drops and I've probably recovered 100 yards of unused network cable. Also, the companies I don't think used a spool and cut the run the exact length cause one drop literally goes the length of the facility to a back office and then wraps around some lights in the ceiling in order to take up slack. The company cut an easy 50 foot extra. So, either the company purchased expensive out-of-the-box cable or were too stupid to work measuring tape. I was trying to pull it through yesterday and it blew my mind cause it kept getting caught. Today I should finish up all the wiring so I can work on the kids lab without having to take the administration offices offline :-) and I'm done siphoning through rat terds. So thank god for that. Well, I wish you luck in the future and hopefully you'll get a nice efficient and cost effective solution.

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