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Setting Up Your Own Diskless Workstations with LTSP

The Whys and Wherefores of LTSP

  • October 2, 2002
  • By Alexander Prohorenko

It is no news flash that local computer networks are very prevalent and widely used nowdays. The most common solution, is the ubiquitous PC-as-workstations model. But once you start adding in the costs for servers plus all of the headaches of the client-server model into the mix, some organizations may be wondering if this is truly the best solution.

One alternative, particularly for companies where employees work in few sessions, could be diskless workstations (X-terminals).

Right away, the advantages of this model are clear. IT departments can economize on hard drives and on RAM. They will also not need the most powerful CPUs for each PC, since all applications will be executed on server. Beyond that, any user will be able to use his or her own configured window environment without any regard for the actual workstation on which they will be working.

There are, of course, shortcomings, too. Diskless workstation networks have rather tough requirements for bandwidth (at least 100Mbps to start), workstations might be sub-par (though a nicely recycled video card will do wonders for performance), and there will be the need to spend money on a pretty high-end network server.

There are a few popular software solutions for organization of diskless workstations in the Linux environment, but from my point of view, a good choice is the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP).

Readers of this article won't be getting a complete documentation of LTSP, but hopefully you will be able to take away enough of the basics to get you interested.

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