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Thin Client Solutions For Libraries?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the squish-up dept.

Hardware 502

phatlipmojo writes "I'm a librarian in the process of opening a brand new small public library from the ground up (literally; we don't even have a building yet). The library director and I are considering our options for public computing terminals. Having experienced the frustration of dealing with Dell machines running Windows XP on a daily basis, we're trying to consider other options, and we've been talking about maybe using thin clients. Have any of you used or worked in a library (or similar environment) that uses thin client stations for public computing? What are your impressions? What are the perks and what are the drawbacks?""I'm hoping that using thin clients could save us daily time troubleshooting bluescreens^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H computer glitches, allow us a greater degree of uniformity on the public terminals, save us the trouble and expense of putting Anti-virus software, Fortres, and Deep Freeze (or other such utilities) on each machine, and make our machines more difficult for black hat types to mess up on purpose. I'm also hoping we'll be able to offer web access (IE and Mozilla, hopefully. IE at a minimum), Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. And have floppy drives. Plus, it would really comfort me not to pump several hundred dollars per machine into a monopolist's coffers for an OS we're just going to debilitate anyway.

We're in the odd (for a public library) position of money not really being a significant factor in the decision. So, for those thin-client-lovers among you if cost weren't a factor, would you still prefer them to full-fledged PCs?

The other factor here is the tech skills required, because our IT department is me. As librarians go, I'm pretty tech-savvy, but as Slashdotters go, I'm pretty much a luser. So homebrew Linux solutions are really out (plus, vendor support is important for selling ideas like this to the municipal government), but systems requiring basic-to-intermediate networking and troubleshooting skills are in, and I'm not afraid of non-Windows OSes."

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Not a luser! (5, Insightful)

Hanzie (16075) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945322)

..I'm pretty much a luser...

Mmmmm. That word 'luser'. I don't think it means what you think it means....

You're a public librarian. Thank god for you and your kind.

hanzie.

Re:Not a luser! (4, Informative)

cliffy2000 (185461) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945344)

To quote Wikipedia: "In hackish, the word luser takes on a broader meaning, referring to any normal user (i.e. not a guru), especially one who is also a loser (luser and loser are pronouced the same)"
So she's okay.

Re:Not a luser! (2, Informative)

willabr (684561) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945536)

Here is one I've used Check it out.
http://meadvillelibrary.org/os/pala-ltsp/han dout.h tml
http://meadvillelibrary.org/os/pala-ltsp/pres entat ion/

HELP!! I HAVE VIRII ON MY LUNIX BOXEN!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945595)

ZOMBIE HITLER WALKS THE FACE OF THE EARTH

LUSTING FOR THE SWEET TASTE OF JEW FLESH!!

WHO CAN STOP THIS UNDEAD MADMAN??

writes "I'm a librarian in the process of opening a brand new small public library from the ground up (literally; we don't even have a building yet). The library director and I are considering our options for public computing terminals. Having experienced the frustration of dealing with Dell machines running Windows XP on a daily basis, we're trying to consider other options, and we've been talking about maybe using thin clients. Have any of you used or worked in a library (or similar environment) that uses thin client stations for public computing? What are your impressions? What are the perkswrites "I'm a librarian in the process of opening a brand new small public library from the ground up (literally; we don't even have a building yet). The library director and I are considering our options for public computing terminals. Having experienced the frustration of dealing with Dell machines running Windows XP on a daily basis, we're trying to consider other options, and we've been talking about maybe using thin clients. Have any of you used or worked in a library (or similar environment) that uses thin client stations for public computing? What are your impressions? What are the perks

Poll Troll Toll (1)

PollTroll (764214) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945323)

What's better...

Thin [calcgames.org]
Client [calcgames.org]
Solutions [calcgames.org]
Sex with a mare [calcgames.org]

Re:Poll Troll Toll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945493)

Havent seen these in a while!

Welcome back!

Someone wrote a distro.... (1)

thewldisntenuff (778302) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945332)

That was actually designed for a public library system...I remember reading an article about it somewhere (/. or other), but it contained almost everything needed (network tools, OO, browser, etc)...

Anyone know what I'm talkin about? I've googled to no avail........

From an old Newsforge article- (5, Informative)

thewldisntenuff (778302) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945374)

As Auger recently wrote in an article for Library Journal: "Our two Linux luminaries, Michael Ricksecker (network specialist) and Luis Salazar (network engineer), created a kernel and resulting user desktop that closely mimic not only the look and feel of a Windows desktop and browser but lack the unnecessary bells and whistles that come with a standard Windows installation."

Using LFS as a starting point, Luis and Mike were able to build a minimal Linux kernel that included only the functionality required by the "kiosk style" machines. They added the Gnome desktop environment, the Mozilla browser, and OpenOffice.org to complete the picture. They call the new distribution "Lumix."

Anywho, give that a try --

Article From Newsforge-
http://www.newsforge.com/os/04/05/03/1520209.shtml [newsforge.com]

LumixTech (link from article doesn't work...give this a try or google it)
http://www.lumixtech.com/ [lumixtech.com]

Good luck with your new library!

-thewldisntenuff

Limux? (1)

klokop (614549) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945485)

LiMux, I thought that was the name the city of Munich gave to their Linux migration plan. As in a word composed of the other words. What do you call a word like that? Or is Munch using the system called Limux, and did I get me stories mixed up?

Re:From an old Newsforge article- (4, Informative)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945516)

KDE now provides a "Kiosk mode" that is designed to make this kind of locked-down desktop easy to achieve on any distribution with KDE. Here's a recent article on the subject, [kde.org] and here's the project homepage [kde.org] , and here's the KDE guide for sysadmins, which has lots of information useful to KDE server admins. [kde.org]

LTSP for Public Libraries (4, Informative)

js7a (579872) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945335)

LTSP for Libraries HOWTO [meadvillelibrary.org]

success story [slashdot.org]

corrected link (5, Informative)

js7a (579872) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945354)

success story here [techtarget.com] , sorry

Re:LTSP for Public Libraries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945594)

It seemes a little bit dated though. Nowadays you can use KDE in kiosk mode.

Perhaps use Internet Cafe Software (3, Interesting)

Ba3r (720309) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945338)

There are quite a few internet cafe packages out there, and there might even be one on sourceforge; combined with linux, I could not think of a better solution for a library, especially when the payment system is used administrate (and ensure that all patrons of your library have equal access).

Sounds like a great project, good luck!

Re:Perhaps use Internet Cafe Software (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945419)


there might even be one on sourceforge


OpenKiosk [sourceforge.net]


Quotes from the webpage:
"OpenKiosk is an open-source multi-platform kiosk system designed for use in libraries, ..."
"With this delivery, OpenKiosk 1.0 is finally drawing to its completion..."

thin client impressions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945356)

Thin clients have a smaller form-factor, which could be useful in a library already stacked high with books. OTOH, you pay more to have all that computing power stuffed into a smaller case.

Re:thin client impressions (1)

acebone (94535) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945436)

Eh ? Didn't think that thin clients had 'all that computing power' ?

Re:thin client impressions (3, Informative)

stoborrobots (577882) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945437)

You do realize that a thin client is not a slimline desktop, don't you?

A thin client is one with little or no computing power... Just a screen, keyboard and mouse, give or take...

A slimline desktop is one where you "pay more to have all that computing power stuffed into a smaller case."

OTOH, maybe IHBT.

Re:thin client impressions (2, Interesting)

JVert (578547) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945492)

The world has trolled you.
Renember when we used to call thin clients "dumb terminals"?

Then they seemed to be uncool.

Now they call them "smart displays". Still uncool mostly.

Re:thin client impressions (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945551)

Finally, someone who understands what a thin client is!

Somewhere or other, I recall seeing a really thin client, basically it was an X11 terminal stripped down to almost no features, but it ran VNC. The idea was you'd set up a humongous VNC system with multiple users running on a server, and you'd hook up dozens of client VNC terminals to it. I have no idea how it works, I don't even remember where I saw it. Maybe someone will remember the details, or perhaps the VNC site has something available.

linux.. (5, Insightful)

DZign (200479) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945384)

Some people already referenced to distros you can use.. so I don't have to do that anymore.

But as I have some personal experience with this here's my post :-)

Back in the day when I was studying at university a friend and I both worked a few hours a week in the uni library. They had the same problems you're describing, only on win95 then..
The computers available could be used to surf and telnet to the library system to search books.
Almost every week windows had to be re-installed,
usually because someone messed up some settings, or there was a virus on it, .. (thank god spyware didn't exist back then, I don't want to imagine how bad it would be now :-))

In the end we just installed linux. The login screen clearly said 'log in as 'guest' with password 'guest' and would then boot X with 2 nice large icons: Netscape and a telnet window to the library catalog. Nothing else was possible.

For the next 6 months the year lasted, we didn't have to do any maintenance anymore on these systems..

(bonus for us: we used it as email server too to get personal email out of the uni-system and having a box to telnet from was nice to.. hmm.. experiment a bit)

I Assume You Are Intending To Use an ILS? (4, Insightful)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945391)

If so, go here [koha.org] for the Koha Integrated Library System - an open-source ILS used by several libraries in New Zealand and elsewhere.

Also go here [oss4lib.org] for the Open Source For Libraries Web site which has links to numerous open source library systems and tools. Including a story on how Arizona State University West moved entirely to Linux as the underlying OS for their library.

Between those two sources, you should find plenty to check out.

Personally... (3, Interesting)

Tuxedo Jack (648130) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945393)

I would use Knoppix.

That's got everything you need on it - it's a full, live-on-CD version of Linux, and it's completely free. Boot off it, glue the CD-drives shut, and you're good. You'd need small hard drives for it, naturally, and quite a bit of memory (~512MB should do fine), but that'd do _very_ nicely for a workstation - KDE, OpenOffice, Mozilla, and a bunch of other things that make a workstation a workstation.

Re:Personally... (1)

blackpaw (240313) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945619)

Did you even read the frigging title of the article, let alone the article itself ?

They want low cost, low maintenance library terminals and are wondering if linux terminal servers are the way to go.

They do not want a office workstation.

Sun Rays (4, Informative)

trisweb (690296) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945396)

I know you said that money is less important, but Sun Rays still might be out of your league. I have no idea what they go for.

Sun Rays are the epitomy of the thin client. I mean, they really are thin. Only like 2 inches thin. They run off a Solaris central server, and have no hard disk or much of a CPU. I use them all the time in my CS lab at UC Berkeley.

I'm commenting more on the general aspect of the thin client than these specifically, because I think something else might suit your needs better. So let me just say that in a lab of 30 sunrays, they always seemed slow. But then you (probably) don't have freshmen writing C programs with memory leaks and infinite loops that clog the pipes. If you had a moderate number running off a decent server, I'm sure they'd be fine for just about anything you do. Solaris is a pretty standard UNIX environment; you can offer Gnome and KDE and such, and all the applications you described, and they'll work fine as long as people don't expect 3D games.

But I'd consider alternatives. It all depends on how many systems you want to offer. If it were 5-10 systems, I'd just get cheap PCs and install RedHat or other linux, or an old version of Windows. Then keep a disk image handy so you can wipe them whenever you want. But if you need a lot of workstations, then a thin client might be more economical. Work it out and see.

Sun Rays-Does this "client" make me look fat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945423)

Well Sun Rays and other thin clients. Personally I would go with thin clients(1) and servers because basically this is a one person show. And if they're one of the librarians that's additional work.

(1) Don't forget some of the small form factor PC's you've seen here.

Re:Sun Rays (5, Informative)

WebCrapper (667046) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945497)

I recently did a study on Sun Rays and think I can share some data...

For 40 Sun Thin Clients with 1 Server: $74,935 (for Library use, you can probably add up to 60 Thin Clients on one server due to usage)

For 40 Dells (with required antivirus and Ghost):$76,307.28 (with small business discount)

Upside of thin clients is - no work locally, its all on the server. Good technical support (they answered our test call within 2 minutes) will help out with any issues you can't take care of.

If you want an 8 page report on the pro's and cons between the average windows workstations and thin clients (as well as 3 PC manufacturers compared to Sun's Thin clients), feel free to email me.

Not always sluggish (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945513)

I used them at work some of the time, and so long as the server isn't completely slammed they are usually pretty responsive.

Unfortunately mozilla, flash, staroffice etc... can end up being quite a resource hog.

Re:Sun Rays (5, Interesting)

WebCrapper (667046) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945523)

I did a report on your average computer vs the Sun Rays:

Dell: P4 2.8GHz, 512 memory, 20G HD (5400 rpm), 24x CD, Win 2k, Ultrasharp 19inch Flat panel that is height adjustable, standard keyboard, wheel mouse, bottom line external speakers, DVI-VGA video adapter, mouse pad, no floppy, no consumer anti-virus software, no Microsoft Office offered.

Cost: $1,797 per unit

Required Software: 40 licenses each of Norton Anti-Virus ($3,219.65) and Ghost (1,207.63), Corp Editions.

Full cost: $76,307.28 for first initial order

Support: A test call to their support line prompted advertisements for spyware removal programs, antivirus programs, network hardware to up sell customers as well as the standard "Your call is important to us." The call lasted 17 minutes before giving up the test call.

Sun Thin Clients:
Configuration Details: The SUN thin clients are, effectively, modern dumb terminals. There is no local processing, everything is done on the server side. A representative would need to insert their smart card, used as a username and password, into the thin client and their session would be brought up immediately, right where they left off before. This enables "hot desking", which means a representative can get up from one terminal, walk across the building and sit down at another terminal and begin working where they left off - zero configuration. The thin client works off of a central server, called a SUN Fire, that can house anywhere from 1 to 80 clients, depending on server type and load. These are normally very fast machines that have their memory maxed out.

The Server runs the only copy of Solaris, so there is only 1 upgrade point and since it
runs Solaris, it is impervious to roughly 99.9% of the viruses that attack computers. A major benefit is that the SUN Fire server requires, roughly, one System Administrator for 2000 thin clients.

The Sun Ray 1G Thin Clients do have audio in and out jacks, giving representatives to listen to music over the network. This would require a CD collection somewhere, a network storage server dedicated to music, etc.

Cost: $359 per unit + SUN Fire server ($12,995 - $29,490) + 19 inch monitors ($1,100 each)

Required Software: None. The SUN Fire server has licenses for 20 to 40 users using Solaris with Gnome, a Windows like operating system as well as other software package like StarOffice (a Unix/Linux version of MicroSoft Office) and GAIM, a Unix/Linux version of AOL Instant Messenger.

Required Hardware: The Sun Thin Clients require a monitor. While Sun offers 19inch LCD displays for $1,100 each, the Thin Clients do support any monitor that supports Display Identification Standard (DDC) ver. 1.2 or 2.1. There is more documentation on monitor needs on Sun's website. Other 19-inch monitors that appear to support the standard are priced at $800 to $1,100. I have also noticed that the Sun Monitor appears to support higher frequency ranges (60-80Hz) vs the low end competition. This can help reduce eyestrain for those that can see monitors flickering at anything below 70Hz, such as myself. The Sun monitors also support 1920x1200 with 24 bit color (2d rendering, no 3d).

Full cost: $74,935 for first initial order

Support: A test call to their support line was greeted with a simplistic menu. After the menu prompt was picked, a "Southern type" SUN technician greeted the caller after a short wait. Total call time to live rep: 2 minutes.

Since the library isn't going to actually use them like we would, you can probably run around 60 per server since it would just be a browser and maybe a terminal window.

Basically, after spending about a week on the issue of workstations for a call center environment, we found that the Sun Ray Thin Clients came out on top and we'll be deploying them ASAP. Hope this helps.

15", 17" versions too (4, Interesting)

daBass (56811) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945586)

Don't forget Sun has Sun Ray clients with either a 15" LCD or 17" CRT in an all in one design too at $1049 and $659(!) respectively. That's a big savings on 40 of these and for a library more than adequate

The smart card is not a requirement either. You can simply log in (as guest if you like), you just don't get your hot desking. This brings the possibilty of giving regular users a real account with some space for documents as well and it keeps their settings. Guest logins are trivial to revert to "standard state" every time they are logged off too.

You don't get IE but that only disables a small amount of websites that due to their stupid reliance on IE don't deserve your custom anyway.

Sun Ray Server Software 3.0 Beta for Linux (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945602)

Note that the Sun Ray Server Software 3.0 Beta [sun.com] is also supported on Linux.

Re:Sun Rays (5, Informative)

W. Justice Black (11445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945622)

ObDisclaimer: I work for the Linux Server Group at Sun.

I have also worked rather intimately with a few thin client technologies over the years, including SunRay, X Terminals (NCD, e.g.), and WinTerminals with WinFrame (NT 3.5) or MetaFrame (NT4/2k). I run a few SunRay servers today, and have run a 75-user cluster of Win/MetaFrame machines in the past. All of these solutions have their plusses (in fact, terminal services is the one Windows technology I like)...

There are, however, bits of your specific set of issues that point me at the SunRay for you:

  1. Bandwidth to the clients are not an issue, so no need for the bandwidth saving that ICA gives you (ICA is really quite good over dial-up, e.g.), so that leaves:
  2. Windows compatibility. Since you don't seem to care about running Windows apps, all solutions are on more-or-less even footing.

If you've got some coin and are willing to spend a little on systems, I'd recommend the SunRay because:

  1. Sessions tied to smart cards. Folks can log in, and wander anywhere in the library with their session tied to (e.g.) their library card. For folks doing combination book/internet research, this is awesome. Folks that haven't tried yet are really missing out.
  2. Soon, you won't be tied to Solaris/SPARC anymore. Sun has announced a port of the SunRay software to Linux, so you may well be able to reuse your existing server hardware. In fact, the beta is available for download here [sun.com] .

It never ceases to amaze me how many PC techs I know complain about crawling under desks or removing 25 lbs of personal effects to fetch a system so they can swap a dead drive or similar. When I tell them that thin client technology can guarantee them never having to crawl under a desk again (barring wiring or serious catastrophe), they definitely stop worrying about nonexistant 3D performance. Thin-client is an awesome way to go--you might not spend that much less on the machines, but maintenance and client upgrade costs go to zero.

The downside is no Windows (excepting via e.g. VMWare, Wine, etc.). OTOH, even on Windows Terminal Services you have programs that aren't really written to be run by multiple users on the same machine (even Office gave us fits at times with entries in HKLM instead of HKCU). It's gotten better over the years, though...

Short version: Even if you don't go SunRay, save yourself a lot of headache and go with a thin client.

Money Not a Factor - Use Citrix (4, Informative)

azadism (578262) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945397)

If you have the money for Citrix, they provide a great thin-client on option where with the hardware you can put Linux on the client and have put straight into Citrix. 99.99% of the users will never know the difference.

Re:Money Not a Factor - Use Citrix (-1, Offtopic)

Asshat Canada (804093) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945441)

Get tha fuckin puck down, eh? No high stickin! T. Horton would have a shit-fit with that sorta crap, eh? Jeeze. My Touque's all in a fuckin twist now, eh, ya lame ass hoser fuck! Go Canucks! Ahhhh ferget it...buncha bums. It's like the fuckin Greek army on furlough! Campbell's an asswad! BC still lays a beatin' on Albortia! Take care, Eh?

Re:Money Not a Factor - Use Citrix (0, Offtopic)

Asshat Canada (804093) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945482)

Ohhhh! A friggin Klein-slave moddin a coaster down, Eh? Well, I got a 10-knuckle sammich for a fruit like yerself! Holy Jeeze! A fuck-over like dat comes along but once in a long while! Suck a nut, Eh?

Re:Money Not a Factor - Use Citrix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945584)

They say not to feed the trolls, but remind me so much of the comedy routines on 22 minutes.

Seattle (1)

CodeYoddler (674760) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945400)

In the huge Seattle library they use thin-clients, they have hundreds of them, they seem to work just great and people from all walks of life use them

RE: Thin Client Solutions For Libraries? (1)

zynthaxx (725359) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945403)

I don't know what kind of server equipment you've got, but since you'll be running IE then I guess you've got some kind of Terminal Server or Citrix solution. Take a look at http://www.linpro.no/english [linpro.no] , and ask them about their product Multiframe. It might be just what you're looking for: Not very expensive, Linux-based, very light footprint, very simple to administer.

EZLINK (2, Funny)

IronMagnus (777535) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945411)

...just use the EZLink internet terminals from Pantheon.. if Adam west endorses it.. it must be good!!! :(

SunRays (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945413)

Sun's SunRays [sun.com] always seemed fairly interesting. And I've seen them used by a crew who run the dataroom for a national security conference (with glowing praise).

Consider Windows Terminal Server (1, Informative)

eraser.cpp (711313) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945416)

I've setup a classroom before with LTSP, and although it was impressive it had many shortcomings. For a non-linux veteran it could also introduce security vulnerabilities. I suggest you instead take a look at Windows terminal server, the CALs are sometimes even included in a site license.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/evalu at ion/casestudies/CaseStudy.aspx?CaseStudyID=13563

Re:Consider Windows Terminal Server (1)

beakburke (550627) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945483)

How is LTSP less secure than WinTS?

Re:Consider Windows Terminal Server (1)

eraser.cpp (711313) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945530)

I said that somebody inexperienced with linux (as the poster says s/he is) could easily produce an insecure setup. This is of course true for any system, but properly delegating privileges in LTSP is much harder.

How about a nice friendly Mac? (2, Insightful)

furball (2853) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945417)

It works.

If you've attended the Apple stores they have Macs sitting around for people to interact with and even though a good deal of the interaction is unsupervised, nothing destructive happens with the box and life is relatively good.

Re:How about a nice friendly Mac? (1)

Foo2rama (755806) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945442)

they refreash the hd's everynight. They have custom scripts for it.

Re:How about a nice friendly Mac? (3, Interesting)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945527)


they refreash the hd's everynight. They have custom scripts for it.
...which is exactly the type of thing that would be perfect for a library! If you want to get really cheap, x86 running Linux can do just the same, but isnt' as user friendly. (No, sorry, it isn't. Linux has come a long way but nothing X11 beats OS X.) Even if a machine was tampered with durring the day, at 9PM while and janitors are vacuuming away the terminals (Macs or otherwise) can be humming along restoring themselves (and in the process keeping the janitors from looking up porn). Mac IE renders mostly everything just fine but ActiveX sites are completely useless (but let's face it, most sites that use ActiveX won't be nessesary for library research...at least not any I can think of). Firefox and Safari are both very well done browsers as well, I haven't come across a page yet that either of them can't handle, although Safari has some quirks with full-page Flash sites...

Re:How about a nice friendly Mac? (4, Informative)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945529)

And maybe use NetBoot [apple.com] for centralized administration, which should make it easy to reset the clients to a default state.

Re:How about a nice friendly Mac? (2, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945600)

Um, the guy said that "IE was a minimum", that's IE for Windows not for MacOS - they are totally different and IE for Mac can't render all the pages IE for Windows can.

Let's assume the poster is serious about their requirements. If you're just going to ignore hard customer specifications like "must run IE" then feel free to post but it will be ignored by the people actually doing the work (ie, them).

If you read the whole post it seems the only two systems that'd do what (s)he needs are:

1) Windows Terminal Services

2) Some form of Linux/LTSP with a copy of Wine/CrossOver Office Server edition to run IE and MS Office. CodeWeavers sell a version of Wine specifically kitted out to run thin clients, because it's massively more efficient than Citrix/RDP-type solutions.

It rules out anything based on "pure" open source because of the IE/MSOffice requirement, probably anything Linux based is ruled out on the grounds of staff availability and familiarity, and I'm afraid Mac is definitely ruled out. Sorry.

Thinstation (5, Informative)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945422)

Thinstation [sf.net] is a 'distro' that i'm currently using at work (a hospital). It can be used to connect to Citrix, RDP, VNC, Unix, Telnet/SSH, or (with the help of fluxbox/icewm) as a lightweight standalone linux workstation (with an optional FireFox package). The people on the mailinglist are VERY helpful as well, so you don't need to worry about support when you've a problem.

I can really recommend it as a thinclient solution.

Hmmm... (5, Funny)

Combuchan (123208) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945424)

phatlipmojo writes "I'm a librarian ..."

Funny. When I was a kid librarians were named Ann, Phyllis, or Doris.

Re:Hmmm... (1, Funny)

Nakkel (748351) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945463)

I think hes a big fat monk^H^H^H^Hape.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Nakkel (748351) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945540)

-1 Flamebait, hmh... Perhaps this would have been better in the parent, The Librarian [wikipedia.org]

You illiterate clods :P

Thin Client Resources (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945427)

There are plenty of resources for thin client computing in a library environment.

I would start by checking out the case studies that are listed at citrix.com. One immediately comes to mind: http://www.citrix.com/site/aboutCitrix/caseStudies /caseStudy.asp?storyID=13818 [citrix.com]

Incidentally, the man in question here runs a little site by the name of http://www.thethin.net/ [thethin.net] . It is hands down, the number one resource for thin client solutions on the web. Join the list and listen in for a while, I guarantee you'll learn more about terminal server and thin clients during the first week on this list than you will learn in any classroom.

Good luck to you!

Here they use Sun terminals (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945431)

At my university (http://www.kuleuven.be/ [kuleuven.be] ) the library uses Sun terminals. Searching for books can be done online from your dorm or from one of the netscape browsers running on the Sun thingies.

The Sun computers look very sharp, are very small and are all accompanied by a LCD display. They run some sort of Linux-Unix like OS.

There is also StarOffice installed on all computers so you can type something and mail it to yourself

The books themselves have RFID tags on them (or something like that, the building knows when you take a book) and you have to enter/leave by using your University ID card

Re:Here they use Sun terminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945449)

The website of this library:

http://www.wbib.kuleuven.ac.be/?l=2/ [kuleuven.ac.be]

It's the library of the sience and engineering section of the http://www.kuleuven.ac.be/ [kuleuven.ac.be]

IE requirement? (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945443)

I'm also hoping we'll be able to offer web access (IE and Mozilla, hopefully. IE at a minimum)

How much would the administration be willing to budge on the IE requirement?

KIOSK Howto (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945450)

I am not sure if this will help you at all. There is a Kiosk HOWTO [tldp.org] that might give you some ideas. A lot of it is very old. It however explains how to use only one program, a browser. I am sure you could link function keys to different programs.

Also links to robust keyboards and mice.

If you decide NOT to go for thin clients, see that the hardware is able to reboot from scratch, so when you do a remote instalation (or upgrade) you do not have to go to each and every PC to press a key to get the machine booted.

CLP used Sun Rays. (1)

solios (53048) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945454)

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh used to have a couple of labs of Sun Ray 100s. Bit on the pricy side, but they kicked ass when they were in service.

Unfortunately, CLP canned 'em and replaced them with Windows boxes. Most likely cheaper than a Sun support contract. :-|

Sick thing is that due to tax / tax code reasons, they couldn't donate the hardware to anyone else. It got tossed into the dumpster. :(

Seriously (1)

kwelch007 (197081) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945459)

I've helped install large networks of thin-clients (over 500 seats.) Given, it was years ago with some of the first IBM thin-clients and NT 4.0 terminal service.

People at public terminals mostly want web access. If such apps as Word Processors, Spreadsheets, etc., are required for your application, I suggest OpenOffice...it works great!

Managing viruses, etc, is only possible when when end-users do not have "root" or "administrator" access to the physical machine that they are using (including the "Terminal" server.)

Re:Seriously (1)

kwelch007 (197081) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945509)

Forgive me...that was a rash response, but not incorrect.

My mother is a high-school librarian, and I have become commonly frustrated by her financial and technological position in that role (she asks my advice on many tech' decisions.)

Look. An X86 with an ethernet connection pretty much satifies 99% of "public" desires for "Internet Access".

For the purposes of satisfying those (99%) requirements without risking security, run Phlax off of the CD and make users use Mozilla. For those wishing for "Office" support, try a Phlax (or similar) distribution that has OpenOffice.

It is safest if run off of a non-writable media (such as CD.)

ComputerBank have done this in an Aus Library (4, Interesting)

tpgp (48001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945460)

The great mob of volunteers down at Computerbank [computerbank.org.au] (a charitable organisation that refurbishes used PCs to run linux and be donated to community groups & individuals) have implemented a thin client system running linux at the Footscray Library in Melbourne, Australia.

Done for virtually no money- and plenty of the users prefer the interface to the more complicated windows systems running along side it!

Read their white paper [computerbank.org.au] and (if in Melbourne) go down to the Footscray Library (56 Paisley St, Footscray) and check it out!

Real answers... (4, Informative)

wcdw (179126) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945475)

Lots of people talking about 'how-to', but nobody really answering your question. Typical slashdot...

The advantages of thin clients in this type of environment are many. It's almost impossible for a user to screw up what is effectively nothing but a terminal.

Downsides would include the need for a more expensive server on the back-end, as all the horsepower now has to reside in one place. Also, when the server dies, _everybody_ dies.

And if you use commodity hardware for the thin client, it can be harder to lock things down on the client end. General rule of thumb is NO drives of any kind with the client configured to boot across the network.

Many people have suggested the SunRay, and it's hard to argue with that - it's one of the first thin clients that's really usable (IMHO).

http://www.theboyz.biz/ [theboyz.biz] Computer parts & more!

eMacs (4, Insightful)

panurge (573432) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945476)

If you have the room. Their downsides (very heavy single box solution) become virtues when the general public is concerned. They are hard to move, hard to steal, and - this is very important - can withstand abuse like an LCD can't. The keyboards are robust, you canuse ordinary cheap USB mice, the screen is bright and clear.
The design, with all the vents at the back, makes it hard for kids to try dropping paperclips and so on inside.

The only thing missing is the floppy drive, and I'd question whether that really is "missing". There are several workrounds if someone really needs floppy access.

SunRays are a good idea in more controlled environments but, at the end of the day, you still need physical terminals for the users. Terminals designed for use in uncontrolled environments tend to be expensive and not particularly state of the art as far as display type goes. I still think that most people still underestimate how well the eMac is designed for its environment.

Re:eMacs (2, Interesting)

bobo the hobo (302407) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945532)

I helped set up an emac lab in my school's library. They're pretty good, OSX is great for restricting things down to being able to configure open-firmware to not boot from CDs without a password. Only real problems were kids stealing and breaking mice.

Here's how to do it. (3, Informative)

kinki (578041) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945478)

1) get a server, Raid1, 1G+ memory, gigabit ethernet. ie. the usual stuff.

2) install mandrake linux official 10.0 on it

3) install ltsp 4.1 http://www.ltsp.org/ [ltsp.org] on top of it

4) get a load of old PC hardware (everything up from pentium goes, all you need is a non s3-grahic card and one spare pci-bus)

5) rid the PCs with all moving parts (leave the fans though...)

6) get pxe-booting network cards for the clients (100mbit is fine, via-rhine for example)

7) fire up.

if you want to do it with new hardware, just buy some via epia+case combos =)

Mail me for more details - I can also do the actual job if being paid =)

Be sure to give PXES a look (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945562)

PXES is a great way to boot the thin clients. Be sure to check it out:
http://pxes.sf.net

I've got several old laptops that have been reborn as thin clients thanks to PXES.

Multi-user Linux for Libraries (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945480)


There's been a few stories about Multihead Linux recently. Here's an implementation built specifically for libraries:

http://userful.com/products/library [userful.com]

Unlike the common 'backstreet ruby' approach, the userful stuff can handle 8-10 heads at a time, with full acceleration.

For your purposes, it's already been integrated into a library situation...

XP embedded. (0, Flamebait)

JVert (578547) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945484)

XP embedded would be a good choice.
These guys can help you out: http://www.visionbank.com/eng/index.html [visionbank.com]

But, whatever, sounds like you want everyone to congratulate you for wanting to use linux.

Grey market solutions (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945489)

There are a couple of thin and thick (fat?) client combination solutions that may technically violate the Windows XP EULA, if you're interested. The easy one is Thinsoft's [thinsoftinc.com] BeTwin -- which allows you to run up to five stations off a PC if you've got enough video cards and USB keyboards and mice. That bit arguably doesn't violate the EULA. As a bonus it gives you one concurrent terminal services session that you can connect a thin client (or any RDP client) to. That does violate the EULA. If that doesn't scare you away, but BeTwin's pricing does (or you want to run Service Pack 2, which BeTwin isn't yet compatible with), you can modify SP2 to allow a single concurrent session without needing any extra software, just a dll from a specific SP2 beta. For information on this, join "Pass-TS" on (ironically) MSN Groups. This would allow you to buy half the number of PCs then the same number of thin clients. Won't help you with the blue screens (can't remember the last time one of our Dells blue-screened, most of the few problems involve simply not booting at all -- usually a dead CPU fan.), but can be a major cost saver. If you're willing to challenge the validity of a Windows EULA.

A more legal way to get to a similar end result is to install Win 2k3 on the PCs -- it comes with a legitimate extra terminal services session or two and educational pricing is pretty decent if you qualify -- certainly less than the cost difference between a fat client and a thin client.

Anyway, this is how I'd do it. No one single server managing a room of thin clients, but a series of mid-range PCs each managing 2-5 other stations.

Re:Grey market solutions (1)

JVert (578547) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945510)

Let me give a shout out to my homies at Thinsoft.
I dont recomend them.

We had a server go down running that was running BeTwin, we wanted to fix the problem remotely using one of the backup machines. But Thinsoft wouldn't authorize the backup computer. I dont mean the software, we called them up and they said no. I think we actually ended up purchasing another license. But we were done with them and moved on to 2003 servers.

Re:Grey market solutions (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945547)

It's all going to be pretty academic until they fix "BeTwin and WinConnect Server XP software currently do not support Windows XP Service Pack 2 [thinsoftinc.com] ". But their BeTwin product is very impressive. I can have two copies of Diablo II running at the same time using it. Chugs a little, but it's even possible for one session to be a server and the other to connect to it for multiplayer gaming. Microsoft should steal the idea and bundle it with SP3.

Great (1)

marcovje (205102) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945496)


Our faculty library still uses vt220's. They are never down, and there are always enough fere.

PC's are too often either down, messed up, or used for non-library purposes.

I work in a thin client environment (1)

kavachameleon (637997) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945498)

I work in a lab using several thin clients (I believe they're WYSE brand). They work very well, except for when floppies are needed. Since the clients don't have them, there's a media machine connected to the network with its floppy drive mounted as a network drive. A lot of users don't understand this. Also, I've got to say... we tried using SuSE on it, and a lot of users flat out refused to use it. We're at a college, so we've got to provide something people will use, and so we went back to Windows 2000 and provided some thick clients running SuSE for those few that liked it. We're pretty happy, overall. It at least makes administration/security easier. The biggest godsend is the amount of noise in the lab is incredibly lessened compared to thick clients.

Re:I work in a thin client environment (1)

kavachameleon (637997) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945514)

I found the clients we use: Wyse 1200le [wyse.com]

Tarantella (3, Interesting)

canadiangoose (606308) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945506)

I'm not a big fan of Windows, but there might be a good, cheap Windows solution that fits your needs. Remember SCO before they turned evil? They are still in business, but they have changed their name to Tarantella, and they sell this excellent product called 'Secure Global Desktop' (Yes, the name sucks) that works with all sorts of thin clients, from old Windows machines, to Linux, to new Wyse terminals. It requires a copy of Windows 2000 installed as a terminal server, but it's really, REALLY easy to use, and it's about half the price of Citrix. It's easy to add servers at any time to improve performance or uptime, and it's flexible enough that you could probably run the entire library system off of it, not just the public terminals.

I have to connections to Tarantella in any way, and I dislike Windows, but I must admit that this is a very good option.

K-12 Linux Terminal Server Project (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945508)

http://k12ltsp.org/

K-12 Linux Terminal Server Project
Perfect for what you're looking for and already in use in various schools and libraries.

requirements are contradictory and a bit confusing (5, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945520)


I'm also hoping we'll be able to offer web access (IE and Mozilla, hopefully. IE at a minimum), Word, Excel, and Powerpoint....

it would really comfort me not to pump several hundred dollars per machine into a monopolist's coffers for an OS we're just going to debilitate anyway


So you don't want Windows, but you want IE, Word, Excel and Powerpoint? I think MacOS has the office programs, but unless you want to run the ancient IE5, you're SOL.

I'd personally try to push you away from supporting a lot of apps outside of just plain-jane internet access. Supporting the apps is going to be a pain in the ass, and people are going to be taking up lots of time writing term papers, etc when others just want to check their email.

I really think you need to step back and look at what you really _need_ the system to do. From the details you've provided it doesn't seem like you really have a good grasp about what you want to provide, what your maintenance requirements are, etc.

Thin client is a nice buzz-word, but it doesn't have a huge amount of meaning. Does each client have a HD, or only minimal boot-roms? What about if the central server goes down, any thin-client won't be able to restart.

Hire someone that actually can help you with these problems and analyze the requirements, do research, etc. Slashdot can provide you with very raw information, but it really sounds like you need someone with more tech experience to analyze your situation.

NT Terminal Server (1)

jtroutman (121577) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945524)

(quit moaning Linux folks, it works)

I built a system around Windows NT Terminal server using Compaq i1000's (if I remember correctly, it's been several years) as the client box. These were great because they have such a tiny footprint and the necessary software can be installed without having a harddrive. Also no CD-ROM or floppy drive, so no installing malware.

With NT's "policy and profile" capability I was able to completely lock the boxes down, including things like what URL's the browser could go to and what icons were displayed. The NT interface is something most people are already comfortable with as it's pretty much the same as 98. A copy on Ebay with 25 licenses goes for about $200.

Re:NT Terminal Server (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945612)

no CD-ROM or
floppy drive
He specifically said he wanted floppy drives...

Some drawbacks (1)

MasterB(G)ates (718264) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945525)

"What are the perks and what are the drawbacks"

The author did ask for some drawbacks as well as success stories. One most obvious is that thin clients have no computational power. So if your network goes down the terminals are rendered useless.

Re:Some drawbacks (1)

nion (19898) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945546)

One most obvious is that thin clients have no computational power. So if your network goes down the terminals are rendered useless.

Well, yes...but if the *main* use of the terminals is internet access - if the network goes down the terminals are rendered useless regardless.

Re:Some drawbacks (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945618)

I think you've made a couple of elementary /. errors by

(a) attempting to answer his question, and

(b) not mentioning Linux.

refer to recent slashdot story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945528)

There was a story recently (perhaps 1 or 2 months ago) where a computer lab in Africa(?) was using a single Linux machine with 4 keyboards, 4 mic, and 4 monitors. This makes life fairly easy because although you do not truly have a thin client, you do have 1/4 as many computers to maintain. Put a nice fast processor in the machine and have something like 2 GB of RAM, and it should be hard for one user to bog it down much and cause problems for the others. The floppy drive requirement is a little tough, but it seems you could handle this with perhaps USB floppy drives so that you can have as many as you want/need. Unfortunately, limiting access to only the "right" floppy when 4 floppies are plugged into one machine might be a tad bit tricky. (By the way, floppy drives *are* rapidly getting obsolete!)

By the way, in an environment like that, I'd be very VERY tempted to put the computer(s) inside a locked cabinet and run the cabling out to where the users can get at it.

By the way, how many terminals are we talking about here? 5? 10? 25? That piece of information could be helpful because it might influence the solution that you decide to go with.

A totally different solution is to just have a whole bunch of PCs but use some sort of software to, in effect, re-image them every time someone logs out. That's basically what they do at some of the labs at utexas.edu, and it is a little weird, but it seems to work quite well. No matter WHAT the user does to screw up the computer, it's all wiped out shortly after they leave, viruses and all.

Best of all worlds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945531)


I created a bootable CD that boots Windows from the CD. No hard drive required. Every time the computer boots, the operating system is "reinstalled". Once the system is up, everything is -lightning- fast.

Best part of it, if someone messes with the system, reboot. Catch a virus, reboot. Installs a keylogger, reboot.

Everyone get's the GUI and applications they're familiar with, with all of the applications you want them to have (I have Office and a couple other things installed usually) and absolutely -no- maintainance. It's Windows they way it should be, period. You don't have to explain how to use it, and no one has to log in.

I don't want any money (it's owned by Microsoft after all, they want your money, not me). If you're interested in more details you can email me, I could use a hand documenting the system (how to set it up the first time, make changes, whatnot). I suppose the documentation would be GPL'ed, but it'd be a GPL document about how to set up a Microsoft Operating System, which I find a tad weird.

I've been using this for around 2 years, and have switched all of my PC's over to it (booting off HD, or Flash-ATA. CD's for someone else). Most of the computers I support are set up with this as well (I'm typing this from my wife's computer, which is running off this setup).

If you send me an email, I can try to explain what I'm doing. robluce1@yahoo.com

Nope (1)

tahii (758556) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945534)

I work for a public library in New Zealand. We have just deployed thin clients for all the staff, and one for public internet access. We are using HP Compaw thin clients, running on Win2k Pro server The thin client for internet access works a treat, although you have to be careful with security settings if you are running them on the same network as the staff computers/library servers/district council stuff is on (which we are). For the staff, they all have access to Word, Excel, IE, and PowerPoint. Letting anyone use Powerpoint on thin clients is a bad idea. Runs like Uncle Jack on a curry: damn shitty. Perfectly fine for everything else however, and for the public to browse the library catelogue on. Being able to administer profiles from one location is also a big, big advantage.

Small Library Issue.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945538)

One issue I have encountered here in Douglasville, GA, (in the West Metro Atlanta Area)(and yes, the same state that was going to forbid discussions using the word evolution...)is that the County Library System was able to get several computers for public use donated to it by the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation.
Unfortunately EVERY SINGLE BOX was required to only use MS OS, MS Office and other MS Products to the COMPLETE EXCLUSION of any other software product - like even netscape... otherwise, the County would have to return the boxes to the Foundation......

If your going to be running Windows software: (1)

TheLoneCabbage (323135) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945553)


Go try server based computing based on Jetro
The Jetro CockpIT Universal Connector can make your life much easier providing you with 100% remote managed services with zero client side maintenance.

The nice part is that you can select ANY client device you want.

Go check: http://www.jp-inc.com

[note: I am employed by this company, but it is one of the greatest products I've ever worked on]

If you're looking for thin clients... (2, Funny)

shfted! (600189) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945557)

If you're looking for thin clients at the library, I'd suggest keeping lending lots of books on diet and exercise.

Why not do what these guys are doing? (1)

Jafar00 (673457) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945559)

Beauregard Parish Public Library are using their own version of Redhat Enterprise Linux with great success.
You may like to contact them about their solution.
http://www.http://www.whiteboxlinux.org/

No magic bullet. (1)

nosfucious (157958) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945563)

Thin client is no magic bullet, but it has been useful to me and my department. Unless there was a good reason, I wouldn't use it on a local LAN, but where speed of access was a factor (screen updates versus full file transfer via WAN/VPN).

Example: One country connects to specific line of business applications hosted application at our Data Center. That application, whilst customised, still yanks a bucket load of data each query. Keeping the application local to the LAN yeilds 10^2 or 10^3 better performance. Also, the server is locked down to the wazoo and it runs all the time barring patches and deployments.

We keep the server running, local IT keeps the clients running and programmers do thier best to break everything.

Example2: A different line of business application is available around Europe, but this time hosted on a web server. Data entry clerks have access to two web sites and ONLY the web browser 1, the web mail portal and 2, the line of business application. 4th generation hand me down machines that run only the bare minimum to get the job done. (Technically zero client here, not thin client).

My advice: Don't use Dell. IBMs are great for having working drivers and they update them regularly. XP has it useability flaws and licence issues, but is stable enough for daily use if you've the correct drivers, vetted the application software and disable the ability for users to install %FavouriteAppAndSpyware%. Remember to nail down NTFS even more than the default.

Learn aboult policies under XP. One more source of stress, but many, many useful stress reducers too. Can really tighten the desktop and (re)deploy applications just by policy.

If you really want to save $$$'s:
- BSD/Linux with Samba server +
- web-apps based on LAMP,
- Star/Open Office on client,
- Keep the point and drool interface for the client PC's (XP), if that's what your users want.

The big licensing $$$ come from the server licence and CAL's and Office. And if you use Terminal Services, you now need a Terminal Services CAL for each device under 2003 ALSO.

morphix derivative - (2, Interesting)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945564)

There is a morphix derivative that is a pure kiosk style Firefox. Currently I am trying to remaster it a bit, not doing so well, but that is me and how little time I have put into it, and thae fact that I want it locked down hard. Oh - here [sourceforge.net] look toward the bottom for the firefox iso.

Sera

LTSP (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945568)

LTSP is a very nice thin client solution that really works well. There are a couple of turn key isos out there that installs just like any dist, no messing around. Try k12ltsp.org or skolelinux.

There are also a couple of apps you put into your XP machine to lock it down wich works very well.

Third you could get yourself a Tandberg Safaty card wich restores the harddrive completely on reboot. No matter how much someone messes the computer up it will be just as before after reboot.

I did k12ltsp and have had zero problems over a year now.

some options (1)

MoreDruid (584251) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945573)

A lot of people here go full linux, but you were asking for a thin client solution so I'm posting some options here:
IBM's thin clients [ibm.com]
nomachine (they give a nice .edu & .org discount) [nomachine.com]
and Athena (which offers both Windows & linux flavors) [acropolis.nl]

Some of these boxes also have pcmcia support, if you want to go wireless (some also have this integrated). As a backend solution, you have several options like Windows Terminal Server, Citrix, Linux and Sun.

LTSP, with support! (2, Informative)

Delusional (574271) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945577)

Check out disklessworkstations.com [disklessworkstations.com] . It's run by the guy(s) who developed LTSP; they have several years of experience now setting up and maintaining thin-client setups.

There is no justification for ever installing full-blown PCs in this kind of environment. (No, I don't work for or with these guys, I just have way more experience than I ever wanted administering extensive networks of independent PCs in environments where the cumulative equivalent of VT's Big Mac was brought to bear on tasks that cumulatively required roughly a dual P4). Web browsing, word processing and the like require almost no processing power. Unless your users are creating/editing/transcoding audio or video, compiling elaborate programs, or doing deep data searches on local data, the computing power is wasted.

Not to mention the time wasted on cleaning up after clueless users (in a properly configured thin client environment users are only users, not manipulators, of the core operating environment), keeping up with the latest patches, x number of software/OS "up"grades instead of one (and the requisite hardware upgrades - two, three years down the road, instead of replacing a library full of obsolete machines, you replace one, and keep your clients),... I could go on, but /. comments aren't supposed to be books, so I'll stop.

High Level overview (1)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945578)

Get yourself a PC which has a CD-Rom + Network access and just boot something like knoppix with a browser so if it gets "hacked" you just reboot to the default setting

Rus

I don't know about library usage but.... (1)

snero3 (610114) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945580)

I do work for a road service company and we put terminals in garages across the country. I would say the average mechanic is a lot hard on hardware than the average library user.

We use Maxterm [maxspeed.com.au] Which runs Linux which then launches a critrix client to connect to our critrix farm. This will do everything you asked of it plus is very robust. The terminals don't have HD (just flash memory) so no hacks are permanent. I hope this helps

Pilotlinux (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945588)

Hi,
Take a look at Pilotlinux: http://www.pilotlinux.nl/pilotlinux/ [pilotlinux.nl] .
PilotLinux is a thin client LiveCD. It's Knoppix/Morphix based and supports RDP, VNC and X. Citrix support is being added.

Not all expenses are software (2, Interesting)

ikeleib (125180) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945593)

Don't forget to pick hardware that won't require lots of care. My suggestion is to get one of those VIA fanless jobbers and net boot it. That way, there's no fans do die, no hard drive to die, and no noise to disturbe library patrons.

ltsp (1)

zozzi (576178) | more than 10 years ago | (#9945611)

Use ltsp [ltsp.org] . It's the only thing you'll need. First decide if you want a Windows solution or a Linux one. If you want to go to Linux, configure the thin clients to boot to X (trivial!). Otherwise configure it to run rdesktop in full screen mode to connect to a Windows Terminal Server (also very easy to do). Runs perfectly well here.

Thinstation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9945613)

May I also suggest thinstation.sf.net. With pre-built kernel images and all you need are old PCs with ether, as little as 16MB ram, a working video card, display, keyboard and mouse.

Works with Linux running X with your choice of WM or Windows 2k/2k3 Terminal Server.
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