[K12OSN] Plans for K12Linux EL6 and Future Fedora

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Sun May 8 16:40:44 UTC 2011

On 5/8/11 7:50 AM, Warren Togami Jr. wrote:
> BIGGEST PROBLEM: 32bit EL6 supports a minimum of i686 and they have excluded
> certain kernel modules required by LTSP like nbd.ko. For this reason, we may
> need clients of EL6 to boot images based on Fedora 12/13?/14? that still have
> userspace capable of running on i586. I would need to see what are the supported
> archs and kernels in those versions of Fedora.

I've always thought it would be useful to have a generic PXE boot mechanism into 
a livecd image on the server.  That way you could use any distribution's live cd 
or dvd image or use the tools they provide to build a custom version and it 
would work the same whether booted locally or over the network - and importantly 
for this use would not take per-client maintenance.  I think DRBL can boot at 
least a clonezilla-live image but don't know if other images would work.

> * LTSP relies on the ancient and almost now untested functionality of remote X.
> Fedora 8 through 12 I was effectively the only Red Hat engineer working on
> remote X desktop and netboot issues. The entire Fedora distro will continue to
> further drift away from working remote X desktops as it simply was never a
> priority.

That's ummm, extremely unfortunate.  I gave up even looking at Fedora long ago 
because they seemed so out of touch with the way unix/linux is actually used, 
apparently wanting to turn it into a single-user toy.  On the other hand, it is 
fairly likely that future client hardware would be able to run the desktop 
locally, given a way to boot a fairly fat client.

> Next Generation of K12Linux: Desktop Virtualization
> ===================================================
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_virtualization
> I have been thinking about a theoretical next generation technology replacement
> for LTSP. Fedora contains the remote desktop protocol SPICE and kvm, the Open
> Source core components of a VDI solution.

Is spice licensed for redistribution?  I thought I just saw something mentioned 
on the Centos list that they couldn't include it in 6.x.

> A theoretical K12Linux based on SPICE would have each user's desktop running
> within their own virtual machine on a pool of centralized servers. Maybe each
> user's desktop VM would be hibernated to disk when their client disconnects in
> order to conserve central server resources.
> The desktop GUI and sound would be forwarded over the network and viewable with
> the SPICE client running on thin clients. This would theoretically allow
> K12Linux deployments to connect to any mix of both Windows or Linux virtualized
> desktop machines, although K12Linux would only document the Linux case.

Seems like the wrong way to go compared to booting something that can run video 
locally.  That is, you are adding several layers that are going to require cpu 
cycles and probably use a less efficient network protocol than the original 
video source format.  There would be some tradeoffs between beefing up the 
server and the clients, but needing to do both sounds wrong.

> Youtube sucks much less over the SPICE protocol than with remote X of LTSP.
> Modern expectations of stuff like video are another nail in the coffin for the
> old LTSP model.

How would it compare to, say, running vlc directly on the client where for 
classroom use you could multicast the stream to scale out?

    Les Mikesell
      lesmikesell at gmail.com

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