It's taken several months, but we now have a suite of 17 thin clients and 16 further clients in two of the classrooms - reception and year 1. This brings our total PC count to 68, making our child to PC ratio slightly better than 4/1 (3.76/1 to be exact.)
An outstanding job has been crafted in the library. Not only have we managed to house 17 thin clients in the moderate 47 square meters but also the original library's books. Careful thought was given to furniture's design, largely contributing to it's success. We drafted a design which was further refined by the bespoke furniture company. We even saved money by doing some of the simpler woodwork ourselves beforehand, allowing us to get a feel for the ergonomics of the desk and book space. A suspended ceiling was fitted in each of the four sections and lights were dropped evenly into the ceiling grid. Trunking was run around the room to accommodate the electrical sockets and CAT5 cabling.
A 9u data cabinet was mounted on the wall to house the patch panel and two switches. One of the switches extends the school's LAN through to years 1,2 & 3 as well as reception and nursery. The other switch is used for the LTSP, feeding the 17 thin clients in the Library as well as 8 more machines in year 1.
The server is a rather modest AMD64 x2 6200 with 2GB RAM. It has 2 x 10,000 rpm SATA hard drives, however it currently only uses one of these due to an issue with RAID and Ubuntu. We are running Edubuntu 6.10 as an O/S, purely because I felt the support was more thorough.
Upon installing Edubuntu we were faced with a few minor issues:
1) When using Adobe Flash, the server failed to port the sound over to the thin client. This is a known bug and now has a widely recognized workaround.
2) Both hardware and software RAID proved difficult to setup and I decided against it given the short timescale in which to implement and test the system.
3) Dual core support was not enabled, so Edubuntu was only running on one core. There is a simple workaround for this and that is to just change the Kernel. However, I'm not going to do this until I need to, just for the purpose of speed testing LTSP using a single core. Perhaps when the server's load starts getting maxed out I'll enable this. Currently I have only the 32bit version of Ubuntu installed as I forsaw more issues being created if I was to use a 64bit O/S. In fairness it's early days for 64bit programs.
4) GCompriss failed to work in an LTSP environment, again this is a known issue and has a workaround.
We currently use Windows Server 2003 in school acting as a domain controller and file server for all the Windows workstations. So far this has proved really reliable and we are currently working on giving each child their own user name and password, as well as a share of it's storage space. Currently each year group has their own login but this is becoming increasingly difficult to manage for the administrator.
The aim is to use SAMBA on Edubuntu to get the two servers talking, thereby having the same login credentials throughout the school. Currently users have to be setup on the LTSP server separately, in the long term this has the potential to cause a major headache for the Administrator, having to maintain user details on both servers.
I've mentioned before in a previous post about our inability to use ActivPrimary in a linux environment. As yet the software has not been ported to the O/S however, Promethean are working on this, but very slowly. Their main competitor, SMART already have drivers and software in place and have done for a while, I believe that Promethean are just playing catch up. We have been in communication with Promethean and they are going to let our school test the software and drivers they're currently working on.
As a workaround to this problem, we've successfully setup a Windows 2003 server running terminal services. The server is again very modest (P4 3.2ghz, 1GB ram) but at the moment this is a temporary workaround, so investment in a more powerful dedicated terminal server seemed unnecessary. Using RDP in Edubuntu, the thin clients connect to the terminal server and you suddenly have a Windows XP environment running in Edubuntu. The login credentials and share permissions are again determined by the domain controller for the TS environment. It's very impressive seeing all this in action.
The school also invested in a 42u floor standing server cabinet which will house all the schools server equipment in one secure place. We also needed a Windows XP machine to run a Promethean ActivBoard in the library. This was setup in a rackmount server case also sitting in the cabinet. This cabinet has the potential to house all the servers required for each of the classrooms.