[K12OSN] K12LTSP server for a student organisation

Nils Breunese nils at breun.nl
Wed Mar 14 15:13:15 UTC 2007

Hello all,

I have been on this list for some time now, but have only once just  
done a short test session with K12LTSP. I have been running Fedora on  
my workstation since version 1 and use CentOS for servers at my company.

I also happen to be a volunteer in the sysadmin team for a small  
student organisation for a few years now. This organisation doesn't  
have an IT budget really and the current setup consists of a server  
(well, desktop) running Debian (serves Samba shares, runs BackupPC,  
handles mailinglists and serves some wiki's and other simple internal  
web applications) and ~8 workstations defaulting to Ubuntu, but some  
of them dualboot Windows XP (the accounting software only runs on  
Windows). These workstations (a few different models) are not very  
powerful machines (around 450 MHz or so).

I was thinking this is an ideal place to introduce an LTSP server.  
They are already using OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Thunderbird and  
Scribus (we started a move to Linux a couple of years ago, Windows  
licenses were just to expensive). With an LTSP server I think the  
workstations should be a lot speedier than they are now. Buying new  
computers has been an ad hoc business until now. "Oh, a computer  
broke, we need to get a new second hand machine!" I'm trying to  
figure out what hardware I need for an LTSP server that could serve  
8-10 workstations for the coming years and what kind of money it  
would take to set this all up. Since there is no real budget I'm  
looking for a cheap solution. If I can convince them that in the long  
run this is cheaper than keep going with fat clients I might be able  
to get some money for this (I hope).

People are a bit sceptical though. The sysadmin volunteers are not on  
site that often and they fear an LTSP server going down and not being  
able to work at all. I might be leaving the sysadmin team at the end  
of this year, so we'd need something that's low maintainance. Of  
course only having to admin one machine (the server) should be less  
work than keeping 10 different machines up to date. But there's a  
bigger single point of failure as trade-off. Right now, when the  
server is down they can't get to their files, but at least they still  
can surf the internet and use email.

Any recommendations for hardware? We are in The Netherlands, so if  
anyone has any recommendations for hardware you can get here at  
interesting prices, I'd be more than interested. I'm planning to do a  
K12LTSP 6 install on an old borrowed 6-way (!) 450 MHz server with 2  
GB RAM and a SCSI RAID array. I'm thinking that for a production  
server we should probably get a fast dual-core processor and 1-2 GB  
RAM? I guess SATA (probably RAID-1) should be fine? Currently  
everything is on 100 MBit switches, I think we'll need a gigabyte  
model attached to the server? Still debating whether to use the LTSP  
server as a gateway or not.

Thanks in advance for any tips,

Nils Breunese.
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