Summary

To support older, low memory diskless clients, network based swap service is needed to make booting and running possible. Ubuntu LTSP supports nbd (Network Block Device) swapping through the nbd-server and nbd-client packages. Currently these packages need manual setup to work with LTSP. We need to modify these packages to eliminate this manual intervention. Work is also needed to integrate LTSP changes on nbd-server into upstream.

Rationale

There are a lot of older machines out there, and one of the huge selling points of any thin client GNU/Linux solution will be to use existing hardware that's unable to be used with other operating systems. Developing countries, schools, non-profits, and cost-conscious companies will all be interested in taking advantage of hardware they already own. Beyond the usage of LTSP, this implementation can indeed be used in other context as well, it might be helpful for netbooted computing clusters or even just to make Ubuntu work on another low memory machine in your local network.

Current Ubuntu LTSP needs a minimum of 48MB to boot. To support lower specced thin clients a form of swapspace is required. Our minimum workstation memory configuration that we want to be able to support should be 32 Megabytes, as a lot of school machines from the late 1990's are configured with this amount of ram. Being able to support this level of machine would make Edubuntu a viable classroom alternative.

Use Cases

William has an old lab with a bunch of old Pentium 120's with 32 megabytes of memory. He's been informed that to upgrade his current operating system that he bought in 1998, to the current one will be both expensive and painful, as it will require him to replace all of his lab machines. However, he hears about Edubuntu on Slashdot, and downloads a CD, and within an hour, he's got it installed on a spare file server. He shows his boss the shiny new lab with great educational software without having to upgrade a single workstation's memory, or buy a software license.

Hans is working on an embedded thin client kiosk solution to be used in homeless shelters in a developing country. Money's tight, being a startup, and the kiosk portal's a web based solution, but he needs something to power the minimal kiosk machine, thanks to the fully automatic swap server his 32MB embedded clients will work right away with Ubuntu LTSP.

Wilma's husband has a home network with several PCs. To give Wilma an opportunity to have her own PC, he assembled a machine from his spare parts with a harddisk that is just able to carry Xubuntu on the disk. Instead of loosing valuable diskspace on this machine, Wilma's husband just installed nbd-server on his powerful machine and nbd-client on his wifes PC now the low profile machine will just use swap space on the powerful one.

Design

Server:

Client:

Implementation

Ideas / Possible goals for Edgy + 1

Comments

Updates

nbdswapd: ALL: keepalive

to the file /etc/hosts.allow -- ScottBalneaves


CategorySpec CategoryEdubuntuSpec

FullyAutomaticSwapServer (last edited 2009-07-24 03:05:53 by acesuares)