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Linux Central computer + terminals in office instead of individual PCs, questions/suggestions?

Discussion in 'Software' started by Luciel, 25 Oct 2017.

  1. Luciel

    Luciel Needs more rust

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    Hi all,

    At work we're considering getting rid of individual machines with individual OSs, etc for security and funcionality.

    Now, today we tried something very interesting which was the following:

    - One central machine (let's call it Server) with Ubuntu Mate installed.
    - Then, the terminal (i.e. one of the worker's machines) would connect to its desktop through local SSH tunneling and then running mate-session (equivalent of X11 tunneling basically).

    This works nicely, problem is, the moment you have a couple of machines connecting to their desktop, there appears to be a serious network bottleneck. This is a shame because we're loving the concept of user account management, software management and ease of backup.

    The problem I see is that network bottleneck is, I guess, to be expected, as the server is streaming, essentially, the whole user desktop and interaction.

    In an ideal world what would happen is that the terminal would connect to the server and the server would not stream the desktop itself but rather allow the terminal access to the necesary files and let the processing and computing be done by the terminal. This in my mind would allow a lot more terminals before network bottleneck but I do not know if anything like this exists.

    Any ideas? Are we going about this the wrong way?

    We would need 12 terminals to be able to connect at the same time and work as if they were their own desktops. The equivalent of something like citrix but on a LAN level. Hardware isn't an issue, we can invest as needed, it's more about knowing what we need. We would also like to stick to Linux.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    What you're describing is a thin client setup. They were all the rage a few years ago, but since the move to graphical user interfaces they've dropped out of favour for the precise reason you've found: network congestion.

    What you'll be after is the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP). It requires no configuration (or even local storage) on the client side: just set LTSP up on your server(s) and set the clients to boot from PXE.

    Another alternative would be to have client devices boot into a live environment from a TFTP and mount /home as a network share, which gives you the benefits of centralised software management but lets the machines themselves do the heavy lifting instead of relying on the server. It'd be a bugger to keep the image up-to-date that way, though.
     
  3. Luciel

    Luciel Needs more rust

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    Hi Gareth,

    Cheers for the reply! We will look in to this tomorrow, none of us at the office have ever had experience with this kind of infrastructure and yet, we're all equally curious
     
  4. Zoon

    Zoon Hunting Wabbits since the 80s

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    I would’ve thought, assuming Linux everywhere, that you could set up something like freeIPA and mount /home/ to your server as suggested above, and use landscape for remote patch management. In most cases on Linux you can just have apt-get update running as a nightly CRON to keep this updated.

    With /home mapped centrally everyone’s prefs for local apps should roam (you might just need to make sure every app is set for that when you install it).

    Unlike Windows, if someone rings up wanting a new program you can ssh to the box with a user that has sudo privileges and just install it.

    I get that playing with x redirection or LTSP would be great fun but really a bit overkill for your needs. There’s plenty of learning above too!
     
  5. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

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    If this is the case would some sort of file sharing NAS or SAN be what you require? Perhaps some sort of version controlled repository to allow file locking is what you need. Its kind of hard to know what would be best without knowing what you are actually doing. Is it a database, file processing, I/O related, etc?
     
  6. Luciel

    Luciel Needs more rust

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    Hi Everyone,

    For anyone searching and finding this (i.e. posterity), here's what we wanted to achieve:

    - One central local server for the office
    - All desktops would login with their accounts and their /home folders would be stored in the server as opposed to locally on the desktop.

    Here's what we ended up doing:

    - We used Zentyal.
    - Users login to their accounts through LDAP (the linux equivalent of Active Directory), from their desktops (it looks just like logging in to a local account, but in the background it actually checks this credentials on the server, not locally).
    - Once they log in, their pc mounts their server home folder automatically. This way all processing is done locally but their settings and files are stored in the server, so there's some "lag" when logging in, but once logged in, it's not much different to a conventional desktop.

    Thanks again everyone for their input :)
     

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