Linked by Nik Tripp on Mon 2nd Mar 2009 21:40 UTC
SuSE, openSUSE IT solutions companies have been generating lots of buzz regarding thin clients basically since the early 1990s, but have yet to really penetrate into many suitable environments. These relatively cheap computer appliances carry broad promises like energy efficiency, space efficiency, and centralized maintenance and data storage. These claims could sound like the computer industry equivalent of snake oil. Kiwi-LTSP, a combination of KIWI imaging technology and Linux Terminal Server Project, is one open source solution for thin client servers.
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Kebabbert
Member since:
2007-07-27

If you really prefer diskless PCs, I would just use this superior setup instead. This is easily the best solution on the market right now, for diskless PCs. Highest performance. Cheapest. By far the safest solution.






HARDWARE:
- OpenSolaris server (which includes ZFS, iSCSI and CIFS).
- PCs without hard drive



SETUP:
Setup a ZFS raid which is the safest file system ever, because it handles SILENT file corruption:
http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=1317400
ZFS needs no hardware raid cards (which sucks because they have their problems) and just needs a few cheap SATA drives. With 7 SATA drives you reach 440MB/sec. And you can add one SSD drive as a ZFS cache, giving you crazy IOPS. One SUN 7000 storageserver gives close to 250.000 IOPS in extreme cases, because of the SSD drive.

CIFS and Vista gives 90MB/sec on 1Gbps NIC. Thus, you get good performance with CIFS.

Create a ZFS filesystem and format it with NTFS and install windows XP on it + MS Office. Snapshot the filesystem. Now, make one clone of the Windows filesystem for each user, this takes one second. The Master filesystem is untouched.

Each PC connects to the server and boots his snapshotted cloned Windows XP over the network via iSCSI. No hard drive needed.

If a user messes his Windows partition up, just clone a new copy from the Master filesystem. And off you go in one second. ZFS snapshot each users partition and you have a backup.

Buy another OpenSolaris server, and you have a redudant fail safe system.




This is extremely cheap. All software is for free. You only need a server. And some diskless PCs. More info:
http://blogs.sun.com/constantin/entry/x4500_solaris_zfs_iscsi_perfe...

Edited 2009-03-04 10:28 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Each PC connects to the server and boots his snapshotted cloned Windows XP over the network via iSCSI. No hard drive needed.


We looked into doing something similar when we first embarked on our thin-client setups. However, we gave up on the idea of network booting Windows stations, as you still need a full install of Windows for each computer (or each class of hardware anyway). And all the management tools still required Windows. And all the licensing costs involved. We stopped looking at Windows solutions very early on, as we could not afford the licensing or hardware costs to run Windows XP.

We do use FreeBSD + ZFS for our backups server, though, for all the data safety and snapshotty goodness that ZFS provides. Rsync + ZFS snapshots makes for an amazing backup system for Unix. We backup 85 Linux and FreeBSD servers every night to our FreeBSD box, take a snapshot of it, and transfer the snapshot off-site during the day to another FreeBSD box. So far, we have 6 months of daily backups for all those servers, with the individual files easily accessible via the shell. ZFS just makes life so much simpler. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

Kebabbert Member since:
2007-07-27

"We looked into doing something similar when we first embarked on our thin-client setups. However, we gave up on the idea of network booting Windows stations, as you still need a full install of Windows for each computer (or each class of hardware anyway). And all the management tools still required Windows. And all the licensing costs involved. We stopped looking at Windows solutions very early on, as we could not afford the licensing or hardware costs to run Windows XP."

With the OpenSolaris CIFS and iSCSI setup it is easy to setup diskless PCs. You just install Windows (or Linux or whatever OS) onto one ZFS filesystem. Then you snapshot it. Now you can clone the Windows XP installation in one second using ZFS. For each user you just clone it. Each user will boot and read from the Master Windows installation using iSCSI and CIFS, and write to his own ZFS filesystem. Which you can also snapshot and backup etc.

With ZFS the user can also rollback and look into earlier snapshots to recover files. And if the user screws his installation up, you just clone the master Windows XP/Linux/Whatever installation again in one second and he is off to go.

This must be superior than your current solution. CIFS is dead simple. And iSCSI too. Here is more information about this setup I been describing:
http://prefetch.net/blog/index.php/2008/12/31/a-completely-local-di...

Edited 2009-03-04 20:44 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2