[K12OSN] Plans for K12Linux EL6 and Future Fedora

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Fri May 13 16:10:50 UTC 2011

On 5/13/2011 9:06 AM, Jan Middelkoop wrote:
> Dear list,
> Gavin attended me to this mailing list in #ltsp. I didn't know of it's
> existance before. For the past few days I've been eargerly following the
> discussion going on here about the future of LTSP in RHEL and (more
> importantly, to me) Fedora.

There are very big differences in use cases between RHEL and Fedora. 
Fedora changes very quickly and to keep up you you have to reinstall 
frequently.  Some people like that, but I'd rather spend my life doing 
something other than re-installs. working around new bugs, and finding 
my hardware is no longer supported.

> Eagerly, because I've recently deployed Fedora-powered LTSP terminal
> server and clients in our company and I would be very, very sad if it
> were discontinued so soon. It's more than that though. I also firmly
> believe that a project like LTSP is a wonderful piece of software and
> deserves to be a part of Fedora.

If you don't mind not having all of this week's features in Fedora, you 
can use the K12LTSP EL5 distribution.  This is a respin of Centos 5.x 
which will have update support for 3 more years.  It uses LTSP 4, 
though, which supports older hardware as terminals.

> For lack of knowledge I cannot join in on the debate about if LTSP and
> remote X is technically a good solution and if there couldn't be better
> ones.

You can use remote X technology a slightly different way by running the 
desktop and some applications locally.  Where audio and video are 
involved, this is probably a better direction but authentication and 
mapping remote resources are issues that don't have standard solutions.

> I do however think it seems premature to drop LTSP support in
> Fedora. I don't think Fedora currently contains a piece of software that
> provides the same ease of use and functionality as LTSP (correct me if
> I'm wrong).

Basically anything running X can run anything remotely, including the 
window manager and desktop environment.  For example you can boot a 
livecd version of about any linux without starting X, then start it with 
"X -query remote-host" and if the remote host is configured to accept 
remote logins, you get a GUI login prompt, followed by the display of 
the remote desktop.  LTSP is just a wrapper to network-boot machines 
into that state.

> I believe LTSP brings unique functionality to Fedora. One thing I
> haven't heard an alternative for in the debate going on now, is running
> applications locally on the clients, yet integrating them nicely into
> the desktop environment.

If the desktop hardware is really a PC capable of running its own OS, 
you can run any version of X there to get the remote desktop or the NX 
client from www.nomachine.com which works the same but has better remote 
performance and works with freenx or their commercial server. 
Personally, I use a 2-headed windows box with an NX session to a linux 
server on one, local apps on the other, but there is intentionally no 
integration other than being able to cut/paste text between the windows.

> Something LTSP does, with remote X. This
> functionality is vital for our company. We use VoIP softphones for our
> telephony needs. When I run a softphone on the LTSP server, it simply
> doesn't work flawless (I've tried most, if not all). There are too many
> problems with the audio. When I run the softphone locally on the clients
> (cutting out the middle man), most work flawless. I cannot see
> softphones performing well in a virtualized environment.

That's why I prefer to expose the difference between local and remote 
apps.  If I ran linux locally I'd be able to make the apps appear 
seamlessly in windows in the same window manager, but I don't quite see 
the point.  I have always been surprised that there wasn't a good 
X-oriented application menu concept to merge program launchers among 
local and remote hosts, though.  If there is such a thing, I've missed it.

> I try to spend around ten hours per week supporting open source
> development, in one way or another. I have written documentation,
> translated packages to Dutch (including LDM at one point), submitted
> bugs and bugfixes, and yet... somehow I've never gotten involved with
> K12Linux. Why? Because K12Linux seems distanced from Fedora. In fact,
> for a long time I've had the impression that K12Linux was a Linux
> distribution by itself, having LTSP readily configured for Fedora.

K12LTSP _was_ a respin, originally both in fedora and centos versions, 
but eventually I think everyone gets tired of dealing with churn and 
instability in fedora.   It was designed to come up working with no 
special technical expertise if you used a typical 2-nic configuration. 
K12Linux was supposed to be the replacement based on separately packaged 
applications but without a stable OS distribution it doesn't have the 
same traction.

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at gmail.com

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