[ubuntu-uk] SolarNetOne solar-powered LTSP installation

Ian Pascoe softy.lofty.ilp at btinternet.com
Thu Oct 30 18:30:36 GMT 2008

Hi Jake

Nope, latency isn't your problem nowadays as a number of MESH projects are
broadcasting this distance - your problem is the bandwidth that's actually
useable - ie the further you get away from the originating base station, the
less bandwidth you get.  Rather like travelling around using your mobile

As an example, and apologies as this is a really weak memory retrival
operation, there were a couple of guys who set up a cellphone base station
using Astericx at the Black something or other event in the States.  With an
8w transmitter they managed to get up to 2 miles without any problem.

  -----Original Message-----
  From: ubuntu-uk-bounces at lists.ubuntu.com
[mailto:ubuntu-uk-bounces at lists.ubuntu.com]On Behalf Of Jake Bunce
  Sent: 29 October 2008 22:41
  To: British Ubuntu Talk
  Subject: Re: [ubuntu-uk] SolarNetOne solar-powered LTSP installation

  Looks good, but I imagine the network latency would be too high to run any
VoIP services from 2 miles over an unlicenced radio frequency....


  2008/10/29 Ian Pascoe <softy.lofty.ilp at btinternet.com>

    Unashamedly cribbed from another list - very interesting application of
LTSP and Ubuntu!



    From the overview:

    The SolarNetOne ICT terminal network was conceived and designed to solve
the challenging problem of how to provide Internet access and services to
rural and developing areas where there is no existing power or
communications infrastructure. This problem is solved by combining several
powerful technologies: Photovoltaic solar electrical systems, GNU/Linux,
802.11a/b/g packet radio, commonly known as "wifi," Power over Ethernet, and
the MIT X11 windowing system. It has been described as an "ISP in a box,"
for reasons detailed below.


    The SolarNetOne system incorporates a powerful server in a small form
factor that acts as the core of the communications system. It provides mid
to long range wireless internet coverage up to a 2 mile radius through its
integrated high power 802.11a/b/g wireless access point and high gain
omni-directional antenna. This configuration can be used to provide full
internet access, including Voice over IP telephone service, to the immediate
coverage area, which can be extended to longer ranges through the use of
wireless repeater devices. Also integrated into the server is the capability
for full end-to-end internet communications by means of its HTTP (web), SMTP
(email), DNS (domain name system), and SSH (secure shell) server software.

    Additional internet services can easily be added to the network by use
of the APT (advanced package tool) repositories of GNU/Linux software
available worldwide. This is an integral part of the underlying Ubuntu
operating system. APT automates the often difficult task of installing and
updating software, making system administration tasks of installation and
maintenance easy, particularly when critical updates effecting network
security are concerned. The server itself can also be used as a network
console for administration or day-to-day operator use through its integrated
monitor, keyboard, and mouse.


    Another key feature of the SolarNetOne system is its network attached
terminals, which provide traditional desktop services one would normally
associate with using a computer, with several powerful, attractive, and
popular desktop environments to choose from. It comes pre-installed with web
browsing, email, office, multimedia, software development and web
development applications, as well as a choice of over 15000 other
applications to suit most any computing need that are free for download
through the APT system. The terminals themselves connect to the system's
Ethernet hub, which provides both network connection and electrical power to
the terminals and their LCD monitors over a single CAT6 Ethernet wire. This
eliminates wire clutter and the need for extra power wiring costs. They
operate as "thin clients" with the majority of the workload being handled by
the server's higher capacity processors, enabling superior performance per
over than a standalone PC architecture and significantly lower maintenance
workload than a similar solution of several personal computers.

    Also available is full sound support through integrated audio jacks, 104
key keyboard, laser scroll mouse and the ability to plug USB memory sticks
into the terminals, allowing users to take their data with them round out
the terminal's ability to provide a complete and rich user experience.
SolarNetOne comes standard with 5 terminals, and can expand to as many as 48
terminals per server node. As an option in areas where allowed by law, an
ATA phone adapter provides Voice over IP telephone service through a
standard telephone handset.


    The entire SolarNetOne system is powered by 12VDC electrical current
supplied through the system's elegant solar power generation and storage
subsystem. Using an array of photovoltaic solar panels, an advanced charge
controller, ample battery storage, and a design focusing on safety, the
power subsystem provides for all of the electrical needs associated with
24/7 server operation and 8 hours per day of terminal access. Integrated
circuit breakers on every segment of the power sub-system provide the safest
possible implementation. In addition to its excellent performance, the use
of solar power means no fuel costs, no polluting emissions, and a long
lifespan of up to 20 years of use at listed power ratings with proper


    The SolarNetOne system comes pre-installed with a wide variety of user
applications. For the user, these include:

     Mozilla Firefox suite for web browsing and email
     Evolution for email and calendering
     OpenOffice? for office applications
     GIMP and InkScape? for bitmap and vector graphics, respectively
     Xmms, Xine, and Mplayer for multimedia playback
     X-chat and Gaim for chat/instant messaging
     Xaos fractal explorer
     Bluefish html editor
     and, a wide variety of games, and a choice of Enlightenment 17, Gnome,
and Fluxbox desktops environments.

    Security and feature updates to these packages are available, as well as
access to over 15000 other pre-compiled software packages in the Ubuntu
repositories available via the integrated APT packaging system. Ubuntu comes
GUI tools like the Synaptic Package Manager to add or remove applications,
as well as the underlying apt-get, apt-cache, and apt-file command line
tools, which Synaptic makes use of. The system also includes python, perl,
and shell interpreters, as well as gcc and its family of compilers,
libraries, debuggers and linkers for C and C++ development.


    The SolarNetOne integrated communications system provides modern,
efficient, powerful and easily maintainable internet services and access
infrastructure specifically designed to overcome the challenges inherent in
off-grid and remote location scenarios. By combining several cutting edge
technologies, the SolarNetOne system stands head and shoulders above other
methods of addressing the aforementioned problems of providing internet
services and connectivity in some of the most challenging circumstances.
Designed for safety, longevity, elegance, and ecological friendliness, the
SolarNetOne system can effectively solve the problems facing anyone seeking
to deploy internet communications to developing areas for many years to
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