[K12OSN] Booting older thin clients

"Terrell Prudé Jr." microman at cmosnetworks.com
Thu Mar 1 17:38:40 UTC 2007

James P. Kinney III wrote:
> On Thu, 2007-03-01 at 10:51 -0600, Kemp, Levi wrote:
>> Ok I have to ask at the risk of sounding ignorent. I asumed that Linux
>> was going to be running a great deal faster on some of my older
>> systems than it is. Maybe its the hardware, or it could be the setup.
>> I havn't set them up as diskless yet because we need to familiarize
>> ourselves with everything first. Aside from that we have a lot of
>> Compaq iPaqs 450Mhz with Ram ranging from 128 to 256. They are PXE
>> capable but right now I'm running it off the local HD, varying amounts
>> 20GB 40GB and 80GB, all Western Digital 7200RPM drives. They don't
>> appear to be doing much better then XP is and if I can't show that it
>> will be worth it I won't be able to get the Admin to move on the
>> project. Any suggestions? Should I just set up a diskless and see for
>> myself?
>> Levi
> There are many factors that determine the felt speed of the system. The
> greatest factor is RAM. If the system has minimal RAM (128MB is
> considered minimal) then heavy environments like gnome and KDE will feel
> sluggish.
> Now add that these are older IDE drives that have slow IO and very slow
> CPU speeds.
> So as far as running these old boxes as desktops, they will be slow
> since they are underpowered.
> But using them as thin clients eliminates most of these issues. All of
> the computational work gets done on the _server_ and the load on the
> client is minimal. 128MB RAM is just fine as well as the 450MHz CPU. 
> The key there is the server has some CPU horsepower and RAM. All the
> client has to do is spit bits on the screen.

And that's why my Pentium-166 thin client feels like a dual-Athlon
machine.  My K12LTSP server is the dual-Athlon.  Everything (Firefox,
OpenOffice.org, KDE/GNOME, etc.) runs on the dual Athlon, not on the
Pentium-166.  It's basically a graphical dumb-terminal, like back in the
mainframe "green screen" days.

I agree with James; don't try running those old boxes as standalone "fat
clients" like you used to do with Windows 98.  The only way that would
feasibly work is if you use a "micro" GNU/Linux distribution like Damn
Small Linux (yes, that's its official name), which fits on a 50MB
mini-CD.  But that probably isn't what you're looking for.

Go ahead and set up diskless.  That's the way you run LTSP/K12LTSP
anyway, so that's the proper demo to have.  Whenever I demo K12LTSP, I
*always* go diskless + server.

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