local apps, apologies, and the importance of ltsp

Jordan Erickson jerickson at logicalnetworking.net
Wed Jul 22 19:22:23 BST 2009

Not to change the subject at all, but regarding Localapps - from my 
point of view (an outside tech consultant for schools and LTSP), it is 
still a fairly new technology (hasn't hit an LTS release yet, just got 
introduced with 8.10 for *buntu). Keep in mind that new technology will 
have its problems (even though Localapps seems to work very well for it 
being new).

That being said, can you explain how Firefox is slow when run from the 
server? I'm not using Jaunty (only for testing, not at schools - LTS 
versions are good to keep things from breaking every so often, which is 
important especially if you don't have a lot of time to dedicate to 
tracking down bugs and reporting, etc.). Firefox shouldn't run slow from 
the server if all other apps run fine, however. Maybe it's something we 
can look at together (if you haven't already done that.. not sure what's 
been gone over). I run many concurrent Firefox sessions from the server 
(Ubuntu 8.04) and it works great.


Joseph Hartman wrote:
> That's my blog post you referenced. I want to apologise for causing 
> you frustration, I should have been more diplomatic about my 
> complaints and avoided putting out such negativity in the community. I 
> just read the comments on the post for the first time today and 
> someone wrote that it isn't the job of the developers to teach me 
> basic networking principles, which I think is true, but at the same 
> time I've been able to accomplish a lot with Ubuntu without more than 
> a rudimentary understanding of networking principles because of 
> community support and good documentation. Thus the frustration with 
> this particular feature. If I had known what to write to "correct" the 
> wiki I would have taken the 5 minutes to do so and I admittedly should 
> have posted something here about my troubles. So I want to also thank 
> you for trying to clear up the instructions and bringing my attention 
> to a possible alternative.
> To put a bit of a human face on the importance of LTSP I'd like to 
> relate my situation, which I think is not unique, but maybe will make 
> up a bit for my prior negativity. I'm a fifth grade teacher at a 
> charter school in San Diego. Since I know more about computers than 
> anyone else at the school I am also the "tech guy" for both my school 
> and the adjacent middle school. Together we have about 50 teachers, 
> administrators, and support staff. We have about 750 students, about 
> 150 classroom computers, about 35 staff laptops, about 25 projector 
> carts, about 15 laptops for student use, wireless Internet, and a 
> computer lab of about 50 machines. Everything except the teacher 
> laptops run Ubuntu; everything except the student laptops run it via LTSP.
> This year we laid off both our Spanish teacher and our Human Resources 
> person, terminated our music program mid year, shortened the school 
> year and eliminated 4 paid "professional development" days for 
> teachers. Thus, Ubuntu and LTSP are extremely important for us. 
> Without it many computers simply would not be available for use as 
> most of them are 10-15 year old P2 or P3 machines too slow to run a 
> contemporary OS and, more importantly, we can not afford to upgrade or 
> replace the machines.
> Despite our limitations, we've made impressive progress 
> technologically at school. We've added hardware thanks to generous 
> donations, and the classroom computers and lab both work reliably 
> (which they did not when running Windows 2000). A couple of years ago 
> we implemented Google Apps for Education which allows the students and 
> teachers to work collaboratively in the cloud on presentations, 
> documents and even websites. Our main problem now is the slow 
> performance of Firefox within LTSP. Unfortunately, this characteristic 
> alone undermines all the positive aspects Ubuntu and LTSP in the minds 
> of many students and teachers who openly complain that "Ubuntu is 
> slow". Thus my enthusiasm for implementing local apps, which I hope 
> will speed up Firefox on even our slow and outdated machines.
> For administering and troubleshooting the Google Apps implementation 
> and all the equipment I detailed above I receive a stipend of $4,000. 
> Dividing by the $30/hour rate of pay for all non-teaching positions 
> that teachers accept yields a little less than 4 hours per week for me 
> to work on technology related issues. This may seem like an absurd 
> amount of time to dedicate to technological support for schools of our 
> size, but it is no more absurd than the fact that we have nobody to 
> handle any HR related issues, that we use daily computers with 
> stickers on them that say "built for Windows 95", or that someone as 
> underqualified as myself is the sole source of IT support.
> As I said above, I don't think my situation is unique. I mention it 
> only to relate the importance of Ubuntu (and specifically LTSP) to us 
> as a school. It is vital to us at this point, a game-changer, an 
> empowering, enabling, and indespensible tool. It's not something I 
> take lightly. It's not something I toy with for fun during the summer 
> when I have the time. It is something that hundreds in my school 
> community depend on daily. It allows learning and discovery and 
> collaboration. It makes a daily impact on the lives of children from 5 
> year old boys and girls who learn how to use a mouse and read English 
> because it exists to 14 year olds who use it to interview local 
> authors and prepare presentations on climate change.
> This is a good thing, and we are all a part of making it happen. None 
> of us are in ideal situations, but the work that we are doing is 
> important and has a positive and tangible impact down the line. 
> Likewise, when aspects of our work are done poorly it has a negative 
> impact down the line. If all Howtos were written so that lowly 5th 
> grade teachers couldn't follow them my school and community would be 
> for the worse. Similarly, if all lowly 5th grade teachers just 
> complained unhelpfully on their rarely updated blogs instead of 
> contributing back to the community in a positive way it would be for 
> the worse.
> Sorry again, and thanks sincerely for the help. I'm going in to work 
> tomorrow and will try some of these new options out. Hopefully I'll 
> have good news to report back. Cheers -joe
>     Subject: ltsp local apps + nat + ....
>     Hi,
>     I received some emails overnight offering an alternative
>     (simpler?) setup
>     for getting internet access to your thin client's local apps.
>      http://www.suares.an/index.php?page_id=1&news_id=253#news-top
>     <http://www.suares.an/index.php?page_id=1&news_id=253#news-top>
>            https://wiki.ubuntu.com/ThinClientHowtoNAT
>     I'm not that convinced it's really simpler, but I guess it's no
>     great harm
>     having alternatives.
>     Some more feedback on local apps is apparently here:
>      http://hartmansblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/ltsp-local-apps-progress-or-lack.html
>     It's a little frustrating to have people complain on their blog
>     about how
>     bad a wiki is, but yet not actually take the five minutes to
>     correct it or
>     even draw attention to the problem in the community.  However, I know
>     the real developers have much greater frustrations.  I have
>     attempted to
>     clarify the issues.
>     One issue seems to be that people don't realise that this will be
>     necessary
>     at all and find firefox can't get internet access.  I've added a
>     note to
>     the bottom of these pages to state that explicitly.
>      https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuLTSP/LTSPLocalAppsJaunty
>            https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LTSPLocalAppSetup
>     I hope that's okay.
>     Gavin

Jordan Erickson
Owner, Logical Networking Solutions

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