running edubuntu as a virtual server

Clinton Blackmore armagon_ca at
Thu Mar 6 18:10:17 GMT 2008


I thought of trying to run an Edubuntu LTSP server within Parallels, but
decided it would be simpler to do on a real machine.  [I've really only
run a couple of test configurations.]  If you are to try that route, I
think you'll have some struggles with the networking, as the virtual
machine is (usually?) in a different subnet, and Parallels provides a
bridge. [Then again, I've never tried anything like it, and I imagine
that, instead of just using Parallels to run Windows, people do use it to
run servers, so there must be a way to do so.]

If I were in your position, I'd consider this:

- Have a nice file server, with RAID backup.  Make sure user files are
accessible over NFS. [This would work nicely on an XServer with OS X
- Scale up by having one switch and one Edubuntu server in each lab.  The
server is connected to the main network (where it can authenticate users
over LDAP and access their files over NFS) and to the lab network, which
has tons of data running over it to support the clients.
- If your labs are not, well, labs but scattered units, I think you could
put your Edubuntu servers and switches in the network closet.


- Have a nice file server, as above.  If using OS X, you could certain run
DHCP, and I believe you could configure it to run TFTP and send out the
kernel images.
- Have multiple lesser Edubuntu servers, set up in a
failover/load-balancing arrangement.  If one should go down, the system
keeps going.

My fear with the latter arrangement is that your network will be so
congested that the clients will really suffer. I was going to say, I
wouldn't do that without a gigabit network, but it looks like that is what
you intend to put in place.  [If I were going with the other arrangement,
Id use gigabit cables from the Edubuntu servers to their respective
switches, and 100 MB/s cables from the switches to the clients.]

I do think you'll be better off with multiple, less expensive servers (and
switches!) then you would be with one giant server. 

Clinton Blackmore

--- Daniel Hunt <daniel.hunt at> wrote:

> Something funny going on with the reply-to's here I think.
> At the moment, the school I'm involved with has a 10/100 network in
> place
> that I inherited, and I've finally convinced the powers-that-be that a
> new
> networking arrangement needs to be found if they want to allow the
> school's
> networking capabilities to grow in a manageable fashion.
> Unfortunately, that may well mean that I'll be drafting in a few friends
> to
> help with recabling the school, and running ethernet cables up and down
> the
> fake-ceilings. Hopefully we won't have to go that far though :)
> I'm happy in my understanding that in order to go ahead with an LTSP
> network, a gigabit backbone is a requirement, not an optional extra. Or
> at
> least, in order to have any form of acceptable performance its a
> requirement!
> There are currently ~50 machines on the network in the 2 computer labs
> in
> the school, plus a few extra ones dotted around the school - totally
> approx
> 60-65 machines. Whatever solution I put in place has absolutely got to
> scale
> above 100, and possibly even up to 120-130, to allow for future growth.
> Its for these reasons that I've been looking at the _INCREDIBLY_ over
> powered server. As far as scalability goes, I'm more than confident that
> a
> machine of this spec will be able to serve the network well enough for
> the
> next few years at the least. Virtualising for a network containing this
> many
> machines just doesn't feel right to me.
> About the Dell pricing - the price for the server I listed is approx
> 7000e,
> which, while expensive, is certainly within the realms of possibilities
> when
> you consider exactly what it is that will be happening to the school
> from a
> technological perspective. I intend to replace absolutely every machine
> that
> they have with thin clients (hopefully mounted on the backs of some
> suitable
> TFT monitors) - it will drastically reduce the running costs of the
> existing
> labs, completely eliminate licencing costs and allow for much cheaper
> scalability options.
> Well, thats the sales pitch I'm going for with them ;)
> Daniel
> On Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 4:10 PM, Madzsar, Andrew
> <amadzsar at>
> wrote:
> >  As of now we have 10/100 in place throughout the building.  Ideally
> this
> > grant will allow us to put in a gigabit backbone, a new server, and my
> boss
> > wants 45 clients.
> >
> >
> >
> > If I have it my way we will buy an Xserve and a raid solution which if
> > virtualized can be used by the whole school rather than just the thin
> > clients.
> >
> >
> >
> > I just read your blog.  There is a section on Dell's website where
> they
> > sell servers without an operating system.  I think you may have to go
> to the
> > small business section.  Also your server specs are out of this world.
>  I
> > mean I would love to get my hands on it, but it sounds very expensive.
>  How
> > many clients do you want to support?  Now I don't have any experience
> with
> > this, but I would imagine that multiple slower servers would be better
> than
> > one really fast one.  I don't know how well it works but according to
> the
> > manuals you can set up multiple thin client server that synchronize
> files
> > and also do load balancing with the clients connecting to them.  Also
> this
> > way you have redundancy and don't have to worry if something goes
> down.
> >
> >
> >
> > The two issues that I already see being a problem with my adventure
> are
> > that there is already a dhcp server in place on a windows server for
> the
> > whole district.  I will need to figure out how to point the thin
> client boot
> > requests to the linux server.  My 'little network' won't actually be
> > separate from the network that is in place because not all of the thin
> > clients will be in the same room.   Also I am not sure that a
> virtualized
> > server (an affordable one) can handle that kind of a thin client load
> > Though it looks like the server you have spec-ed out could...
> >
> >
> >
> > Let me know what you think.
> >
> >
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> >    Andrew
> >
> >
> >  ------------------------------
> >
> > *From:* Daniel Hunt [mailto:daniel.hunt at]
> > *Sent:* Thursday, March 06, 2008 10:53 AM
> > *To:* Madzsar, Andrew
> > *Subject:* Re: running edubuntu as a virtual server
> >
> >
> >
> > Funnily enough, I'm intended to do a similar thing, albeit with a real
> > server, not a virtual one:
> >
> >
> > I'd be quite interested to hear how you intend to go about setting up
> your
> > little network :)
> >
> > Daniel
> >
> > On Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 3:47 PM, Madzsar, Andrew <
> > amadzsar at> wrote:
> >
> > We just received a grant which will allow us to buy around 45 thin
> clients
> > + a server.  Has anyone ever run Edubuntu as a virtualized server? 
> This
> > school does not usually get new hardware, so if I can get a new xserve
> and
> > (hopefully soon) run vmware or parallels virtual server products on it
> then
> > we would be very happy.
> >
> >
> >
> > -Andrew
> >
> >
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> >
> >
> >
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