[K12OSN] k12LTSP Documentation

Peter Scheie peter at scheie.homedns.org
Wed Mar 4 03:08:19 UTC 2009

K12LTSP-EL5, which is LTSP 4.2 running on Centos 5, works well with older client 
hardware.  It's solid, and unless your needs change, it works quite reliably. 
It's age is irrelevant, and updates to the base OS are still coming out.  To 
install it, just boot the server from the DVD and choose the default 
installation options; you'll have a server all set to go in about 30 minutes.

However, as time passes, people often want to do more with their LTSP setups, 
things like automatically detecting new sound & video chips and running 
applications on the clients because they have the hardware to support this.  To 
do these things, and to address a variety of other issues, LTSP 5 
implementations, such as K12Linux, use the packages that come from the 
distributions, and people from various distributions have gotten much more 
involved in the process.  This makes it easier to update the client software so 
that it can handle things like newer video chipsets found in the clients, but at 
the expense of possibly not working with older hardware.  The dichotomy is this: 
'Bob' has shiny new 2Ghz clients with 2GB RAM that he wants to use to handle 
some of the software load so he doesn't need as hefty a server; 'Sara' has old 
200mhz PIIs with 64MB but has a decent server.  The software can't really 
stretch to fit with well with both scenarios.  But being FOSS, the older 
version(s) will always be available to anyone who wants it. No sales rep has a 
commission riding on you upgrading to the latest version. If K12LTSP EL5 works 
with your hardware and does what you need, don't worry about what version it is 
or how new or old it is; to do so is to buy into the marketing mania that drives 
many institutions to waste money on things they don't really need.  You can, 
incidently, update individual applications on the server, as some have done, for 
example, with OpenOffice.org.  It's not automatic, but it can be done.  Or just 
setup a separate server to host the new application, using a more modern OS. 
With LTSP, it's all remote display anyway; users won't know that it's coming 
from a different server.

A Centos-based K12Linux will come eventually, but because RHEL/Centos 5 don't 
contain some significant necessary pieces for supporting LTSP 5, I suspect that 
it won't happen until RHEL/Centos 6 are out (and I've not heard of a timetable 
for that).

I still deploy K12LTSP EL5 in small offices and schools, using old PCs as 
clients, and it works just fine thankyouverymuch.  The lifespan of Fedora is too 
short to install K12Linux in these settings.  Stability is more important than 
flashy in these cases. In other cases, K12Linux is more appropriate. I use what 
fits.  Others on this list do likewise.

As for the wiki, it's a community effort, meaning people document problems and 
solutions as they encounter them. There's no real coordination.  If there's 
something missing that you wish were there, add it.  This is a user-based project.

BTW, for anyone having trouble getting K12Linux installed onto a USB stick, 
consider unetbootin (http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/) which will install 
(almost) any ISO file onto a USB stick.


Marcus Moeller wrote:
> Good Evening.
>> I too had the same frustrating experience of not finding what I needed in
>> one place. For myself, I worked up a Centos based server which failed to
>> work in the classroom/lab where I deployed it. I'm now trying a ubuntu based
>> server, and having a lot of difficulties in getting my t/c to boot. I've
>> looked at the fedora ltsp server on a usb stick, couldn't get that to write
>> to a stick - I don't run fedora anywhere here. All of this is to replace our
>> aging ltsp4.2 server on FC6 which will not run an app we need for testing
>> (Oaks secure browser). We have (as most of us here do - I presume) a
>> collection of old technology we use as t/c's that just do not want to work
>> with the newer implementations of ltsp. Kinda sucks to have to get rid of
>> that old junk just to run the shiny new server and IMHO, moves us farther
>> away from the ideals on which ltsp is based.
>> So, best of luck choosing and let us know how you make out when you do
>> decide.
> The question is if it would perhaps make more sense to transfer
> l12LTSP into an official 'CentOS project'. Here, the documentation
> could be re-organized and some stuff could be re-worked. I am also not
> sure if it really make sense to offer install media but a good repo
> containing all necessary packages.
> Maybe someone who is responsible for the current development could
> post a comment, here.
> Best Regards
> Marcus
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