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OK, here's the scenario -
I run a hostel in Northern Ireland. We're getting upgraded from 56k to broadband in 4 months, and that's enough reason for me to *hopefully* make this change now:
I want to have one PC in my private office, with remote consoles in the following locations:
--sitting room for MP3 music playing so I can finally stop having my CD's stolen, as I'll just remove them from the room.
--2 consoles in the hallway for guest Internet access.
--pottery out back (20 yards) primarily for music.
--upstairs for the kids' access.
My ideal would be to find 5 terminal(?) boxes that have a monitor, keys, mouse, sound, and network connection to them that have no CPU, RAM, or hard drive of their own, and run off the office PC remotely via a network hub. I can create users with the appropriate permissions for sound only, browsing only, kids access, and my normal user access. I'll then post login info for the browsing user and music user at the appropriate locations, so guests can only get access to those things.
My reasoning for wanting only a monitor, mouse, keys and brainless little box at each location is for 3 reasons:
--I couldn't be bothered to update 6 systems when I believe I can do this from 1.
--I don't want to find space or money for the additional towers in each location.
--I don't want guests having access to the physical box, so they can't be powering them off and on, kicking holes in them, or spilling tea into them.
So here's the questions -
Who has done anything like this? Is there a different approach I should be taking? If I'm on the right track, then: Who makes terminals to my description? Considering that I'll be running 3 browsers, 3 music sessions, a word processor and GIMP simultaneously (i'll continue gaming on PS2/XBox), will I need to build a dual-CPU system, or will a single 2.xGhz Athlon with a couple gig of RAM do?
And the linux specific questions -
Is there a distro other than Gentoo or Mandrake that I should consider here? (those are the two I currently use). I know that the music is going to generate a ton of hard drive work as it plays multiple tracks simultaneously, so I'm thinking I'll store the MP3s on a separate hard drive. Should I (instead) use my current P400 as a music server, to free up CPU cycles on the main server? If I did that, could I still control/route the music terminals through the main PC and maintain the lower processor/RAM load, or would I have to permanently route the music-intensive terminals to the music server?
I hope this plan perks some interest with a few of you, as it has certainly done so with me. I'm just glad I got out of the $indows trap last year, or I'd be trying to develop a stable multi-user muti-tasking secure user-restricted always-on load-intensive solution on crapXP!!!
I stumbled across this guide today and thought you may find it useful, after reading your post the other day. It describes itself thus:
" This is a build guide for a custom MP3 box, which has no harddrive, floppy, or video card and boots from the network. It also fetches the songs from the network. It is intended as template, quick reference, and a template to building a custom MP3 box. Frequently asked questions related to MP3 box building, its usage, problems, and references are given. "
thanks for the links guys. looks like i've got some work ahead of me in the thin-client learning arena. $350 looks like the average cost of thin clients, but they do a lot more than i need... i don't need the serial/parallel and usb capabilities offered on all these boards. anyway, i'll keep researching.
Secondly, you might wanna look at some of the little mini systems available now some are based on cyrix cpu's,some arent.No fan,but they do have a hard drive and network if you want,HD optional,they run about $110 each these days.Mostly used for medium sized upscale embedded projects.Basically a system all in one on a motherboard and very small.Food for thought.
Also setting up main unit as an xserver for 5-6 clients shouldnt be a problem,having several sound streams going simultaneously over your ethernet may cause some issues though with load I would think.Youve got my attention,interesting project.
Also,most thin clients dont have sound....your gonna have to custom that.The mini system route sounds like the way to go there the more I think about it.
Another way would possibly be multiple sound cards....dunno know if thats even possible.I know 2 can be done,but like 5...hmmm,interesting.
in response to local HD's: i want the clients to boot off of and load programs from the server, so i am not wanting them to have local HD's. they will need to have local sound (on 3 of them) but i'm finding some new thin clients that have sound and all, so that's ok.
in response to the used thin clients: great call. i'll be checking that out!
thanks you guys for the input. keep it coming! the broadband is hitting in 6 weeks (the city actually ADVANCED the availability date!) so i'll be working on this project ASAP.
p.s. ltsp.org is a great resource. thanks TheOther1 !