Instructables
Picture of Another almost free computers thin client set up.
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If your computer budget is too high, then you need to look at this instructable. Great way to save on costs. Older machines can be converted to thin clients therefore reducing the need to purchase new equipment. Linux is replacing proprietary systems everywhere.  Get on the bandwagon and save money! This project (the first time we used it), saved us over ten thousand dollars in licensing fees alone for just a small office. That could make the difference in the bottom line. Those savings do not even touch the amount we saved in hardware costs by not having to get all new equipment.  It's your wallet.

ltsp (Linux Terninal Server Project).LTSP allows you to have one computer to do the heavy lifting for several or many thin clients. It is cheaper to purchase thin clients than full desktops, therefore less computer hardware cost overall. Also you have only one computer to support software wise as you only have to update just one machine instead of many.  Ltsp has been around a long time and I think was started by Redhat, but picked up by the community. You can cluster ltsp together and build massive networks, It is also very good for small businesses and small schools such a day care center.

What's needed:
Basic knowledge of linux and networking (tcpip setup and usage). If not get a pro to help.
Internet connection for downloading and installing software.
Computer (min 300mhz, but the faster the better) with two nics (network interface cards). the nic that will be used for the thin clients must be set up as static (256 meg ram plus 64 - 128 meg ram for each thin client. (i'm using 512 meg ram and a 800mhz machine for demo purposes. 
Some pxe bootable x86 compatible thin clients (or pxe bootable x86 based diskless pc's) with 128 meg ram or better that are setup for getting dhcp dynamically based ip addresses. The more memory the better and no need to statically assign ip addresses of client systems.
Network cabling (as needed). (100mhz or better).
Network switches (as needed). (100mhz or better).

Note: www.rom-o-matic.org allows you to make cd/usb/floppy boot disks if your computer does not support pxeboot.
Later you can also add support for other architectures such as the intel atom or even the old ppc based macs. If you are using a 64bit server, you will need to load the support for the 32bit architecture to support the older x86 systems.
Original instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Using-Thin-Clients-a-quick-way-with-Debian-linux/

Future instructables:
Part II  LTSP Internet access and some safety net.  http://www.instructables.com/id/Another-almost-free-computers-thin-client-set-up-P/
Part III LTSP Maintenance. http://www.instructables.com/id/Part-III-LTSP-Maintenance/
Part IV LTSP Clustering (in progress)

Note: the original version of ltsp (v4) supported the old less than 128 mb thin cleints and computers. Some people say that they run both at the same time, but I have never tried it. Still do have a server with the old version of ltsp on it. Just to keep the old thin clients useful.

Setup a Raspberry Pi as an LTSP client: http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Jack-of-all-trades/#step7

Note: You can use an RDP client to access MSWindows servera and Vnc to access Apple based systems. So you are not locked out of access those worlds.

 
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Geraintp6 months ago

Would this work with raspberry pi's as thin clients?

Computothought (author)  Geraintp6 months ago

Yes, In fact I have an older image or a pointer to an older image for the RPI in the thin client instructables.

Hello! Let me start off by saying I found your instructable to be very helpful. I have always wanted to do something like this but I never could figure out how to do it. But I ran into a problem, the thin client won't boot. I followed your instructions exactly except I did it on ubuntu 10.04 Desktop i386 edition. I put etherboot on a CD and booted it on a thin client. It went through all the DHCP junk ok but then it halted and said "No root path or file defined, NO BASIC System halted". Can you please help me? Thanks for helping!
Computothought (author)  ARMmaster171 year ago
Are the thin clients on the separate ltsp network and not your normal local lan network? If you are using only one thin client and not using a switch or hub, you may need to use a crossover cable when only one client is connected. Normal networking cablling protocol and nothing to do with ltsp. Does that make sense? You also need to make sure the network card is supported on your thin client software and there are not other dhcp servers (i.e. router on the same ltsp network).
WWC2 years ago
Would Handy Cafe also work with this?
http://www.handycafe.com/
Computothought (author)  WWC2 years ago
It depends. Handy Cafe is for MSWindows computers and LTSP is for linux based computers. If they were on separate machines or one was in a virtial machine you might be able to have them work together. in some way. There is also Zencafe available for linux that might be a better choice for linux if you are wanting to go in that direction. I probably need to do an instructable about it. Internet cafes were all the rage for a while in this area until cable took hold and now they have all disappeared.

Update: just installed xrdp so a MSWindows type machine could access the server. Fixing to install Zencafe and see if it works with xrdp.