Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-edu (150 mails)

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RE: [suse-linux-uk-schools] Advice please
  • From: kevin.taylor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 08:36:48 +0000 (UTC)
  • Message-id: <C125695B.002EAD6B.00@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

> looking at the related HOWTO's on thinclient, X terminals etc,
> there not as straightforward and clear as many of the other documents.

If you have comments on the XDM /X Terminal one - do pass them
on - I maintain it :-) This was the first version - so it could do with
some feedback.

One of the biggest confusions here, is the large number of choices
you have. For example, to provide a remote desktop using networked
X, you can do any of the following (depending on what equipment you
have) :

1. Diskless workstations - see thin client/diskless/etherboot howto
2. Locally booting workstations, with root on a server - see NFS Root/thin
client howto
3. Locally booting and running workstations

It really depends on how much diskspace you have locally,
and what level of future maintainence you want vs how long
do you want to take to set it up ?

> I am about to (today) do some experimenting with
> Etherboot/Netboot and booting net kernel images
> from floppies.

Our Northants group project Angelcynn (constructing a cluster
out of junk 486s) involved doing this. I had a system with a server
providing root images for each client (mostly using symbolic links)
and using a boot floppy for my clients, containing a kernel, built with
'nfsroot', 'rarp' and 'bootp' startup configured. The beowulf stuff
had some scripts for creating the rarpd/bootpd server configurations
and duplicating the servers filesystem image using symbolic links,
providing a directory structure that is mountable via NFS for each

When I was mucking about with XDM, I didn't bother with this - I
just installed a minial SuSE system, in (approx) 200 Mb of local
disk - enough to get me to run the networking code and an X server.

This was with SuSE 6.3 - which is not easy to scale down. I am
told that SuSE 6.4 is more easily scaled - but haven't tried it
personally. The RH distros (sorry Roger :-) are quite good at
scaling down too - as you can individually select the RPMS
on a smaller granularity - but the best is debian or slackware
- which you can really chop down to a small size.

> A document and/or a workshop on making X terminals from
> refurbished kit would be really good, and also access to an
> EPROM burner. Any suggestions here?

Well, like I said, really you are trading off ease of initial setup
against ease of maintanance. Personally I see no need to
blow eproms - just boot of a floppy if you want diskless
workstations (ok - diskless apart from the floppy :-). Is this
a problem in the classroom ?

A small local harddisk is always useful for swap anyway.

The easiest to setup is a local installation on each client
- enough to run X. This is also probably the easiest if you
have quite a diversity of different hardware - as each
PC may need a different X server, etc.

This is the hardest to manage though - as you have to
maintain each maching individually.

The O'Reilly book 'building Linux Clusters' has a CD with
some tools for managing large numbers of machines,
but this is dedicated more to clusters than X terminals,
but I would say the principles are the same.

I would certainly contribute (if I could) to anything you
have in this area. Like I said - if you want something
adding to the XDM X terminal howto - just pass it on.

Our last LUG talk was about X, its architecture and
using XDM - I demoed my 486 showing my usual
desktop from my main machine. I will help if I can, but
with a full time job and a very young family, tanking around
the country is not so easy at the moment :-)

The LUG talk contains some very simple instructions
(in conjunction with the XDM/X Terminal howto) on
configuring 2 existing machines to share X desktops
using XDM - if you have 2 machines - I would start from
See : for meeting notes.


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