[K12OSN] Future LTSP direction: Local Apps

Robert Arkiletian robark at gmail.com
Thu Mar 22 19:22:25 UTC 2007

On 3/22/07, Joe Korzeniewski <jkorz at mceschools.com> wrote:
> Any idea where they are getting these clients from?

Not sure who their supplier is but I checked the prices on newegg

Case  ($40 USD )
Apex Supercase DM317

Motherboard  ($63 USD )
BioStar AM2 6100 Mainboard

Processor (Actually the Sempron 3000+ is now $41 USD)
AM2 Sempron 2800

RAM  ( $35 USD )
512mb KINGSTON DDR-2 667 memory

***For a grand total of $179 USD***

A couple of points:

-The TX series cases, have some mini towers, although a little bigger
than the DM series they are probably  quieter because of the bigger
PSU fan

-There is a similar motherboard made by a division of asus called
Asrock with some additional features as compared to the Biostar.
Although Kamloops is not using this one since it's just released:

-parallel printer port
-gigabit nic
-dual independent video output with a DVI card

It's selling for $69 USD (there are some reviews on newegg) and here
is a linux compatibility review of it from last Dec.
Although nvidia has come out with newer binary drivers since then so
*maybe* the pci id is no longer an issue. It's only $6 more than the
Biostar and you can run 2 displays (as long as one monitor supports
DVI) plus a gigabit nic. Well worth it in my opinion.

> >>> robark at gmail.com 3/21/2007 11:40 pm >>>
> I just got back from visiting Kamloops school district here in Canada.
> http://www.sd73.bc.ca/district-operations.php/page/linux-in-education/
> Their goal is to switch their entire district to Linux diskless
> clients and they are doing it. However, they are not using 100% LTSP.
> They use bits of ltsp to pxe boot their clients and mount / over nfs
> and they use NIS or LDAP for auth but they DO NOT use XDMCP or ssh to
> shoot the display over the network. Everything runs locally. Every new
> client is an AMD Sempron cpu with 512MB (easily powerful enough to run
> everything locally). The clients are almost the same price as many
> thin clients. About $250 CAD. They are actually using a modified
> Muekow ltsp implementation built in house inside a virtual private
> server
> http://linux-vserver.org/Welcome_to_Linux-VServer.org
> Kind of like a super chroot environ that requires a patched kernel.
> (Not a virtual machine like Xen or VMware)
> The clients are still diskless. But since everything runs locally
> there is no traditional problems associated with ltsp. Like having an
> entire classroom (30 clients) watch a full screen youtube video
> (flash). Or fullscreen quicktime/mpeg4 video (remember you are
> streaming [over nfs] the highly compressed video file in exchange for
> cpu power required to decompress it). Or have a Beryl 3D enabled
> student desktops. Or 30 kids playing GNU/Chess. Good luck doing these
> things with traditional thin client ltsp. I don't care if you have a
> dual Opteron, it's still going to fall to it's knees. The nfs server
> at Barriere Secondary serves the entire school: approx. 115 clients.
> Local devices like USB sticks: no problem, each client is running a
> full blown OS. No need for ltspfs. All clients run Xvnc so support for
> the district techs (who by the way are all highly qualified certified
> Linux/BSD gurus) is a snap since they can fix things remotely.
> LTSP 5 has this ability as it uses the distro packages instead of it's
> own and is much easier to implement local apps. In my mind, this is
> the future of ltsp. Kamloops is just ahead of the curve because they
> realized that if their initiative was to be successful they didn't
> want any of the limitations of ltsp while still having the advantages.
> Clients are diskless centrally managed appliances. Plug it in and it
> works, advantages that ltsp has always had.
> Some may say apps take longer to load over nfs. This may be true but
> if you configure your network properly you can address this. Gigabit
> switch backbone. Port trunking. Another solution I like, use multiple
> gigabit nics in your nfs server on different subnets connected to
> separate switches as described here.
> http://k12ltsp.org/mediawiki/index.php/Technical:Subnetting
> Thereby, creating dedicated bandwidth for different parts of a school
> and preventing bottlenecks.
> In any case, once an app is loaded it's fast and if you happen to
> shutdown the app (say Firefox) and start it again the machine does not
> take nearly as long to launch it again because apps are cached locally
> in the memory of the client machine (remember the 512MB).
> The only down side is power consumption as compared to real thin
> clients. However, having said this I know that most people running
> ltsp are using old hardware as thin clients which are not energy
> efficient. However, I believe the advantages outweigh this issue
> especially when you have to compare them to stand alone Windows labs.
> Having said this, those AMD Semprons are actaully a pretty efficient
> cpu.
> Part of the reason local apps have not gained as much momentum in ltsp
> circles is that the raison d'etre of ltsp was that you didn't have to
> purchase new clients. Simply re-deploy existing old boxes (As I and
> many others have done) as thin clients. So after a few years and ltsp
> was seen as a viable solution people kept the "Run it on the server"
> ideology. Even though the price difference between new real thin
> clients and relatively powerful diskless clients has almost
> disappeared.
> My last point, the nfs servers in Kamloops are actually hybrid
> servers. They actaully have scripts to determine how powerful a client
> is at boot time then decide how many apps (all or some) will run
> locally. So the nfs server is also a traditional ltsp server. This, I
> believe, is a stop gap measure until all their clients are replaced
> with new ones.
> --
> Robert Arkiletian
> Eric Hamber Secondary, Vancouver, Canada
> Fl_TeacherTool http://www3.telus.net/public/robark/Fl_TeacherTool/
> C++ GUI tutorial http://www3.telus.net/public/robark/
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Robert Arkiletian
Eric Hamber Secondary, Vancouver, Canada
Fl_TeacherTool http://www3.telus.net/public/robark/Fl_TeacherTool/
C++ GUI tutorial http://www3.telus.net/public/robark/

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