[ubuntu-uk] Exwick Community Centre in Exeter - pictures

Rob Beard rob at esdelle.co.uk
Mon Feb 9 16:12:03 GMT 2009

Sean Miller wrote:
> Hi Rob,
> Can you just post a little about the infrastructure you've put in place?
> Is this thin client?
> Sean
Yep no problem.

Basically (a shortened version), the system is using Ubuntu 8.04.2 with 
the LTSP server packages installed and a few extra applications from 
Edubuntu (educational software mainly).  The server itself is a Dell 
PowerEdge R300 with an Intel Xeon 2.66GHz Quad Core CPU, 4GB Ram and 2 x 
250GB hard drives attached to a RAID controller running as a mirror.

The server has two Gigabit NICs built in, one (eth1) is attached to a HP 
8-port Gigabit switch which in turn connects to the LTSP clients, the 
other port (eth0) is attached to an IPCop box which has the Update 
Accelerator and Advanced Proxy addons installed (Update Accelerator 
caches updates for Windows & Linux so if we run an install day it will 
save bandwidth plus any updates the server gets are cached too and 
Advanced Proxy provides content filtering, IIRC using SquidGuard).

The client machines are fairly old Dell Optiplex GX110 machines with P3 
1GHz CPUs and 256MB Ram.  They have had their CD drives left in but hard 
drives removed.  The clients boot over the network via PXE.  Originally 
we were going to use some old AMD K6/2 450 machines which were donated 
by a school but due to the amount of time they were sat in my garage 
they started to rust, plus they were AT cases and didn't have any USB 
ports so it would have added extra costs for PCI USB cards and Compact 
Flash to IDE adaptors to boot them up with.

The clients work in the same was as a standard thin client (albeit 
desktop size machines rather than something that can be mounted on the 
monitor).  We purchased brand new 19" Widescreen monitors for the 
clients and Trevor who runs the community centre managed to get some 
keyboards and mice.

All in all it works really well.  The monitors are detected and the 
clients boot at the correct widescreen resolution, sound works out of 
the box (something which was a real chore to get working in the old LTSP 
version 3 packages a couple of years back) and Flash also works (I used 
the Flash 10 plugin direct from Adobe).  One or two apps don't seem to 
like working on thin clients (Tuxtyping won't let the user quit and 
Audacity crashes) but I'm sure the fussy apps could possibly run as 
local applications (not tried this yet).

I estimate the whole cost was about £3000 for 6 clients, that covered 
the server (which was close to £2000 IIRC), monitors (which were about 
£100 a pop) and materials for the cabinets.  The kit was purchased about 
a year ago so I presume it would be a bit cheaper (considering monitors 
are nearer to about £70 each now).  If I did it again I would also build 
a server from components too.  I originally spec'd up a server for about 
£600 which was around the same spec as the Dell server but one of the 
other guys helping on the project wanted us to get a Dell server with 
the 3 years next day business support, raid controller and Remote Access 
Card which pushed the cost up quite a bit.  I did work out that a quad 
core server with two 250GB hard drives and 4GB ram would be closer to 
about £400 to £500 nowadays, possibly even cheaper.  In fact I dare say 
a quad core server with 4GB Ram might have been a bit overkill for 6 

I think that covers it, if you want to know anything else just let me know.


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