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Tiny Core kiwi-ltsp thin client

May 31st, 2014 by

Couple of days back went to a school here to demonstrate what openSUSE Education Li-f-e with KIWI-LTSP can bring to their lab. We have created a product based on Li-f-e called My sCool Server. It brings together all the goodies that a modern operating system must have and all the softwares required by the state board curriculum in one seamless package.

However my excitement evaporated quickly after knowing that their “well equipped” computer lab was mostly made up of state of the art P4s!! kiwi-ltsp can work sort of OK with about 256M RAM, 512M is recommended. Once the user logs in, the processor and RAM on the client is not very important as all the processing happens on the server. This got me working on finding a way to bring the snappiness of this next generation OS running on i3 server performing exactly same on P4s with may be as little RAM as 128M.

Enter Tiny Core Linux, one awesome distribution in a very tiny bundle. So tiny in fact that the whole OS that PXE boots and gives full desktop X session via ssh or rdesktop is just 27M in size. Compare that to 26M size of just the initrd of standard openSUSE, 49M kiwi-ltsp’s initrd and 180M kiwi-ltsp’s system image. And incredibly it works very well on P4 PC with 128M RAM.

So if you have some old hardware get some new Li-f-e, set up kiwi-ltsp and after that install kiwi-ltsp-tinycore-tc package. Once the package is installed you would see tinycore-thinclient available in PXE boot menu.

Edit /srv/tftpboot/images/tc/nfsrw/home/tc/client.conf according to your need. Change RUN_COMMAND=mate-session on Li-f-e GNOME Classic edition, GNOME seems to have this annoying bug that locks the screen and does not allow unlocking if GDM was not used as display manager. You can remove/comment RSESSION=ssh line to use rdesktop. Use the xrdp package from server:ltsp repository, and of course enable/start the service(chkconfig xrdp on && rcxrdp start). Change the line in /etc/xrdp/startwm.sh that starts Xsession appending the session you want it to start by default for example: /etc/X11/xdm/Xsession mate-session, without that the DEFAULT_WM from /etc/sysconfig/windowmanager is used.

If you are not using openSUSE or cannot use rpm package, get the files from here, adapt the setup script to suite your need.

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