If you have been around computers any amount of time or studied the history computers I am sure you have heard of the “Mainframe” era. You had one big computer with everything centralized (this was before the advent of personal computers). But you could access the Mainframe computers with “Dumb” terminals (desktop units that were only equipped to talk to the mainframe and not do any computing on their own. Now a days in the home area everything is usually (but not always) decentralized. Everyone has their own computer. Each person can run autonomous. Managing many separate computers can get to be a challenge. So to minimize that work. specialized computers called servers were set up to act like mini mainframe computers. You could still use you personal computer to access the server with software what is called a terminal server client. It is just a special piece of software that acts like a dumb terminal that can be run along with other software on your machine. Now a days business are using the terminal services more and more to save money. you can use a low powered computer (known as the client) to access a larger more powerful computer (known as the server) to maximize money spent for computer infrastructure. In my case with a little horsetrading we were able to set up a server, print and five thin clients (the dumb terminals so to speak) for around three hundred dollars. That included the price of free open source software. Some companies will charge you thousands of dollars for the commercial software alone. In linux. you have two major players in the server/client area known as Tcos and Ltsp. I now use Ltsp, but plan to test Tcos later. Many school districts around the world use ltsp to save money. Now what do I need?

You obviously need a server and clients. A home computer can act as a server. For only a few clients a fairly recently purchased system with at least 1 gig of ram will do fine. You will probably need to purchase and install a second Network card. The first network card will be for access the internet or greater network you have access to. The second network interface card will be to connect to the clients. Since there is only one place to plug in a connecton, you will also need a switch to hook all the cables from the clients to the server. They are inexpensive. You can go wireless but that tends to be real expensive and not as efficient. the last part of the hardware is the clients. You can older computers (with network interface cards) or thin clients that can pxe boot, Instead of booting for an internal hard drive, the system will try start up from the network.  You can get used thin clients and relic computers real cheap. If you have a computer that can not pxe bot there are ways around that. I will talk about that later. the two at the end of the articles have more information on that. What’s next?

You need to get the software for your machine that will enable the systems to be used as thin clients to talk to the server. If you are using MS windows you can use (I have not tried it) XP/VS Terminal Server as an add on. it may require smart clients but not pxe boot clients. You can add on ltsp to existing linux systems to become servers. Lastly you can get a cd that will install the basic linux os and ltsp from scratch. There is another package cto at least be considered called  lxp that will let the client desktop look like windows xp for people that are squeamish about using linux.

It would not hurt to have a mentor aound who is familiar with networking to aid you in setting everything up. Now you may want to collect everything you need for the next episode.



ubuntu quick install – https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuLTSP/LTSPQuickInstall