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Old 05-03-2006, 01:05 PM   #1
Registered: Mar 2006
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Linux Terminal Services

A church received a donation of thin clients (neoware), and a server machine with Windows 2003 installed on it.

Unfortunately, the Win 2003 did not come with Microsoft licenses for the thin clients to be able to access it.

Is there a linux alternative to Windows' 2003?

Basically, we want the thin clients to be able to get online, run Openoffice, GIMP, etc.

The thin clients have no cdrom, no floppy, no hard drive. They have Windows CE installed on them.

Old 05-03-2006, 06:38 PM   #2
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Linux is built to serve multiple users. Assuming that your network is secure, XDCMP should be able to handle your requirements (from memory, the security issue with XDMCP is that it transmits login passwords in the clear).

I don't know anything about windows ce, but you would need some sort of x-server running.

I hope that this helps and please post back the outcome!
Old 05-03-2006, 07:23 PM   #3
Registered: May 2004
Posts: 34

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Hello FW12.

Wow, that is what I call a great question. Is a real problem and I'm really looking forward to get a solution for it. Actually, here is my plan:

1. Customize a lightweight Linux distribution that connects through XDMCP automatically.
2. Install any Linux distribution on the W2K3 machine that fits your needs.
3. Perform a PXE installation on the thin clients.

Actually, this is the theory but I haven't tried to do it before. Righ now I'm working on it using virtual machines and I will contact you as soon as I make it work.
Old 05-03-2006, 11:23 PM   #4
Registered: Dec 2005
Location: Lawrenceville GA
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You should check out the Linux Terminal Server Project which has created just what you are looking for. The Neoware clients, according to a cached article I found on Google, support the PXE the boot protocol. When this is enabled, they will download a Linux image from the LTSP server and then run Linux instead of Windows CE. All the apps run by the thin client will on the LTSP server with the thin client running a local X server.
Old 05-04-2006, 01:20 PM   #5
Registered: Mar 2006
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Thank you all for your responses.

I'll check out XDCMP, as well as LTSP.

avatarfx, please keep us informed about your progress with the virtual machines setup.

I'm also reading up on VNC. VNC is described as a way to "control" a machine from another machine. But I'm curious to know if it also lets you get online, run apps, etc on the remote machine. If so, the configuration seems very straight forward. If anybody has used VNC, please explain what it does.

Old 05-04-2006, 04:24 PM   #6
Registered: May 2004
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Hey fw12.

Regarding the VNC, I would really suggest to look for XDMCP instead because VNC generates more network traffic than XDMCP (VNC is multiplatform, it sends every screen as a mapped image while XDMCP just send the X server calls and they're rendered locally).

I keep working on this. By the way, do you know how much HDD & Memory space do you have on the thin clients? I'm trying to customize DSL (Damn Small Linux) for the thin clients but it would be useful if I know how much space can you use. For the server, I'm actually trying my Fedora Core 5 box but actually almost any distro would do the job.

Talk to you soon.
Old 05-04-2006, 08:11 PM   #7
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The only RPD server software that I know of that runs on Linux is thinstuff. It is not free, but seeing how you are doing this for a church, they might give you a discount.

If all else fails, you could use LTSP and set up old computers as clients. I have tried out LTSP a few years ago and liked it. The hardware that I ran it on was crappy, but it seemed to work well.


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