[K12OSN] LTSP and Macintosh

Shawn Powers spowers at inlandlakes.org
Wed May 5 13:05:26 UTC 2004

I have to pipe in too -- I've been working hard to get our 5500s working 
as reliable thin clients.

Sadly, I can't find an OS 7.6.1 compatible vnc client...  I wanted to 
try that as an option.  Here's what I've tried with varied results:

1) installing yellowdog 3.0.1, because it is easy to install, onto the 
mac.  This requires a mac partition and bootx to get it to boot.  Then I 
do an X -query in the inittab to get it to start up with a 
login screen.

1a)  Pretty fast.  Definitely faster than MacOS on the machine.
1b)  Sound will likely work with some other commands (Eric Harrison sent 
a few things to try so as to get network sound working on them.  Since 
getting esd to work on the local linux install is easy, I'm confident 
that getting network sound working will not be too hard, I just haven't 
had the time yet)
1c)  Flash crashes mozilla (and any other browser) silently with no 
error messages at the console, etc.  If I put the computer in 256 color 
mode, it didnt' crash mozilla -- but it was the most horrible pallete 
I've ever seen, and was unusable.  I don't really care if flash is slow 
or unworking -- but it can't crash the browser.  There are too many 
flash sites out there.  This is a big show-stopper for me right now.
1d)  Shutting down the machines is tricky. :)  The best way I've found 
is to edit the inittab file, and change the behavior of ctrl-alt-del to 
"halt" instead of "reboot".  Then, I have to ctrl-alt-backspace to kill 
X, and quickly ctrl-alt-del to halt the machine cleanly.  Unlike thin 
clients, it IS an issue because there is a full linux install running on 
the hard drive.  Maybe if I had it mount the partitions readonly it 
wouldn't be an issue if it was just shut off, but I haven't explored 
that option.

2)  Load linux, but instead of running an X -query, I start X with a vnc 
session to the server.  This LOOKS identical to #1, with a few different 

2a)  While it's not really any slower or faster, it *feels* a bit slower 
because of the way the screen is redrawn.  It is very usable, but 
just...  well... vnc.  :)
2b)  Sound will not work.  VNC does not support it, and I don't see how 
it could be mangled to work.
2c)  FLASH WORKS!!!!  This is a big deal for me.
2d)  I don't know of a vnc client for OS7.6.1, and while getting rid of 
linux sounds horrible -- it would be one less point of failure to get a 
native VNC client working.  I have my doubts about a mac version being 
as "good" as the linux version of vnc anyway... but that's beside the 
point. :)

3) Try different version of X on the mac.  I have tried different 
xservers, different versions of X, different config files, different 
amounts of system RAM, different resolutions, etc, etc.  I can't get 
flash to stop crashing mozilla when running an X -query command.  It 
drives me nuts.

Hope this was enlightening. :)  It's been quite a trip for me so far.


Shawn Powers
Technology Director
Inland Lakes Schools
PHN: 231-238-6868 x9174
FAX: 509-356-7024
spowers at inlandlakes.org

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