Linux terminal server project

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ABSTRACT

Linux terminal server project (LTSP) technology is gaining popularity in educational institutes as it allows the students of educational institutes to access the network computers without purchasing or upgrading expensive desktop machines. If the educational institution does not have enough computers, new thin client machines (diskless) are less expensive than the standard computers. Further, if the educational institution does have enough computers, the life of obsolescent computers can be extended by converting them into thin clients, these aided CPU's may be a relatively slow yet can deliver excellent performance as a thin client. In addition the possibility of getting more performance by spending less money by getting one high-end server and turning their existing computers into thin clients, an educational institution may also gain more control over how their students or users are using computing resources by switching to a thin client configuration. I will use LTSP on Fedora10 to develop this project.

INTRODUCTION

One of the key technologies included in modern GNU/Linux operating systems is the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) which allows us to boot thin clients from server. For educational environments, LTSP lowers hardware costs by enabling the use of older or less powerful machines as thin clients, as well as reduced administration overhead by having only to install and maintain the software on the server. When a workstation fails, it can simply be replaced without data loss or re-installation of the operating system.

Thin client computing has been around for a long time in the UNIX world. Although the implementation has evolved quite a bit, the concept has remained the same:

The thin client only takes care of the basic functions like display, keyboard, mouse and sound.

The server does the heavy weightlifting. All the applications run on the server, and they simply display on the thin client.

Linux is, by definition and right out of the box, a network operating system. It is also nearly infinitely configurable, meaning that you can tailor a network to meet your precise needs. That is a tremendous strength, but it can also be very daunting when compared to systems that are more limited in possibilities - as the philosopher James Burnham said, where there is no alternative, there is no problem (Collings and Kurt, 2002).

The historical impact of Linux goes beyond its role as a challenge to all versions of Unix as well as Microsoft Windows, particularly on servers. Linux's success has also inspired countless other free software or open source projects, including Samba, GNOME, and a mind-boggling collection of innovative projects that you can browse at numerous sites like Source Forge .As both a platform for other developers and a development model, Linux gave a tremendous boost to the GNU project, and has also become a popular platform for Java development. In short, Linux is a central participant in the most exciting and productive free software movement ever seen (Weber, 2003).

Linux's greatest strength is its powerful and robust networking capabilities. The good news is that everything about Linux's networking setup is open to inspection and completely configurable. Nothing is hidden from the user, and no parameters are forced on you. The challenge is to get the most out of this setup. Basic networking principles don't differ much between Windows and Linux, and indeed the principles aren't unfamiliar (McCarty, 2004).

NEED FOR THE RESEARCH

With ever-increasing demands on university budgets, expensive technology is often last on the list. LTSP can help offer what the students increasingly require from computer technology, within their means and resources. GNU/Linux is and always will be free to acquire, use and modify, including the underlying LTSP structure that holds it all together. When a network is built on Open Source software, the users are free to seek support for computers from whomever they wish. GNU/Linux with LTSP can also help the user to save hardware costs, by allowing to redeploy older machines as thin clients, using LTSP technology.

Anyone can set up a Linux Terminal Server on a good machine with Red Hat, Fedora or Ubuntu versions and connect it to a private LAN with a bunch of clients. Given sufficient resources on the server, this is a very cost effective solution for a home, classroom, computer lab, and offices of small to medium size. A large organization will have to choose between a very expensive hot server or a cluster of lesser machines sharing the load. The latter is almost certainly less expensive to purchase, but may require somewhat more maintenance (Pogson 2007).

PROBLEM WITH EXISTING SYSTEM

I have found the following problems in existing network system.

  • The existing network system is too much expensive.
  • It is difficult to provide security the current network system.
  • Management is difficult in existing system.
  • Maintenance is very costly of the each node of the network.
  • High Licensing charges.

PROPOSED SYSTEM

After doing a deep study of existing network system, its working and weakness, it is essential to introduce a system that can remove the deficiencies. The proposed system will fulfill the network setup requirements of institutes. The proposed system will improve the performance of network because it will be cost effective, speedy work, improved security and easy manageable. It will also enable fast configuration & access on server and client efficiently. First conceptual models of network setup then a logical model of proposed network setup and finally I will create the required network environment.

OBJECTIVES OF THE PROPOSED SYSTEM

The objective of purposed system is to provide flexible, easy and user friendly environment that satisfies the user's requirements. The main goal of this project will be to design and implement a system that will enable the administrator to control all systems from the server. It will lower hardware costs by enabling the use of older or less powerful machines as thin clients, as well as it will reduce administration overhead charges. This system will need only to install and maintain the software on the server.

Review of Literature

Kirch and Terry (2000) stated that wireless networks more common, setting up network connections is more diverse than in the days when most computers were at fixed locations and addresses. But, whether you are connecting to your own local area network

(LAN) or a public wireless network, Fedora and RHEL include tools to set up the kind of network connections you want. In certain areas the client-server nomenclature can be confusing, though. While you cannot have a graphical desktop without a server, you can have World Wide Web access without a Web server, file transfer protocol (FTP) access without running an FTP server, and Internet e-mail capabilities without ever starting a mail server. You may well want to use these servers, all of which are included in Red Hat Linux, but then again you may not. And whenever a server is connected to other machines outside your physical control, there are security implications - you want users to have easy access to the things they need, but you don't want to open up the system you're administering to the whole wide world.

Collings and Kurt (2002) defined that Linux is, by definition and right out of the box, a network operating system. It is also nearly infinitely configurable, meaning that you can tailor a network to meet your precise needs. That is a tremendous strength, but it can also be very daunting when compared to systems that are more limited in possibilities - as the philosopher James Burnham said, where there is no alternative, there is no problem.

Key (2002) stated that the ability to network is the primary function of Linux. Installing network may include basic configuration of network services, access rights, client services, internet services and remote cervices. If you know the features of the most of the available services, you should be able to prevent major security risk and perform a basic configuration of these services. In fact, you should know that you could make a career out of performing each of these tasks individually.

Kretchmar (2003) stated that the first tool that most administrators reach for when debugging a network problem is the ping program. It can tell you if a machine is alive on the network, and it can print statistics on the network conditions from your machine to another. Though the ping program is relatively simple, it has a few subtleties that are often overlooked.

Red Hat (2003) stated that under Red Hat Linux, all network communications occur between configured software interfaces and physical networking devices connected to the system.

McCarty (2004) explained that Linux's greatest strength is its powerful and robust networking capabilities. The good news is that everything about Linux's networking setup is open to inspection and completely configurable. Nothing is hidden from the user, and no parameters are forced on you. The challenge is to get the most out of this setup. Basic networking principles don't differ much between Windows and Linux, and indeed the principles aren't unfamiliar.

Petersen (2004) described that if you are on a network, you may need to obtain certain information to configure your interface. Most networks now support dynamic configuration using the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). In this case, you need only check the DHCP entry in most network configuration tools. However, if your network does not support DHCP, you will have to provide detailed information about your connection. Such connections are known as static connections, whereas DCHP connections are dynamic. In a static connection, you need to manually enter your connection information such as your IP address and DNS servers, whereas in a dynamic connection, this information is automatically provided to your system by a DHCP server when you connect to the network. A DHCP client on each host will obtain the information from a DHCP server serving that network.

Garrels (2007) stated that when it comes to networking, Linux is your operating system of choice, not only because networking is tightly integrated with the OS itself and a wide variety of free tools and applications are available, but for the robustness under heavy loads that can only be achieved after years of debugging and testing in an Open Source project.

Schroder (2008) concluded that computer networking is all about making computers talk to each other. It is simple to say, but complex to implement. A network, whether it is a LAN or WAN, can be thought of as having two parts: computers, and everything that goes between the computers.

Bowling (2009) describe that many of you think you have a secure environment. You follow best practices. You check your logs regularly. Then, something gets through and although it may not wreak havoc, you wonder how it happened. A lot of shops practice passive security by putting security measures in place and assuming they work based on logs, dashboards or other output. This practice is inadequate for today's security landscape. Administrators must take an active approach to security to combat threats effectively. Active security can be as simple as verifying a password policy or as complex as running a full-blown penetration test. Whatever approach you choose, it always is a good idea to test the locks periodically with a security assessment to make sure they work. The locks are items such as the operating systems, network, applications and most important, security policies that exist in your environment. With regular security assessments, you can gain confidence that your security measures are keeping the bad guys out.

Childers (2009) OpenSimulator, or OpenSim for short, is a free (as in speech) implementation of a virtual world platform, utilizing the Second Life protocols. From its FAQ: "OpenSim is a platform for operating a virtual world and supports multiple independent regions connecting to a single centralized grid. This is somewhat similar to the Web, where people can run their own Web servers, tied together through the Internet. It can also be used to create a private grid, analogous to a private intranet." In other words, OpenSim can be like a 3-D Apache server, enabling collaboration, entertainment and business without having to utilize a centralized service.

Negus and Eric (2009) explained that Fedora and RHEL include tools to set up the kind of network connections you want to allow you to interactively manage your network connections, Fedora includes Network Manager. Network Manager is described here for choosing and connecting to a wireless LAN, because it includes an easy-to-use desktop applet that detects available wireless LANs and lets you choose the one you want to connect to. In the home or in a small business, Fedora and RHEL can help you connect to other Linux, Windows, and Macintosh computers so that you can share your computing equipment (files, printers, and devices). Add a connection to the Internet and routing among multiple LANs, and Fedora or RHEL can serve as a focal point for network computing in a larger enterprise. For times when you need more manual configuration for your LAN connections, this chapter describes how to use the Network Configuration window.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Linux's greatest strength is its powerful and robust networking capabilities. The good news is that everything about Linux's networking setup is open to inspection and completely configurable. Nothing is hidden from the user, and no parameters are forced on you. The challenge is to get the most out of this setup. Basic networking principles don't differ much between Windows and Linux, and indeed the principles aren't unfamiliar (McCarty, 2004).

PLAN OF WORK

    LTSP is a collection of software that turns a normal GNU/Linux installation into a terminal server. This allows low-powered, low-cost thin-clients to be used as terminals to the thin-client server. LTSP is unique from other thin-client systems in that it is considered by many as the easiest to maintain. Other thin-client systems require each client to have software that boots the system to a point to be able to connect to the terminal server. This could be a full-blown operating system, or a minimal OS that simply provides an interface to connect to the server. Systems such as this generally require more maintenance and administration, as the local software that boots the thin-clients may become corrupt or contain bugs that require attention. LTSP, on the other hand, requires no client-side software. It requires only a PXE capable network interface, which many thin-clients and PCs have built-in already. This means that you need absolutely no physical storage media (hard disk, compact-flash, etc.) for your thin-client to boot to LTSP. This significantly reduces the amount of administration required to keep your network running. The process of booting a thin-client to an LTSP server is as follows:

  • Thin-clients boot via a protocol called PXE (Pre-eXecution Environment)
  • PXE requests an IP address from a local DHCP server
  • The DHCP server passes additional parameters to the thin-client and downloads a Linux initramfs file system image via TFTP into a RAM disk on the client itself.
  • The thin-client then boots the downloaded Linux initramfs image, detects hardware, and connects to the LTSP server's X session (normally handled by LDM).

HARDWARE / SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS SOFTWARE REQUIREMENT FOR SERVER MACHINE

  • Red Hat Linux (fedora 10)(With required packages)
  • LTSP

HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS

To use the developed system it is recommend that user must have a system with the following minimum specification:

Clients

  • Pentium III Processor 550 MHz
  • Network Interface card.
  • Main Memory Minimum 128 MB or higher.
  • Color Monitor.
  • CD Rom

Server

  • 3 GHz processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 160 GB of Hard disk
  • CD-RW

REFERENCES

  • Bowling, J. 2009. Testing the lock Validating Security in a Linux Environment, Linux Journal; U.S.A. 1 (177):66
  • Collings, T and W. Kurt. 2002. Red Hat® Linux® Networking and System Administration, Hungry Minds, Inc.909 Third Avenue New York, NY 10022 U.S.A. Pages: 943
  • Childers, B. 2009. Run Your Own Virtual Reality with OpenSim, Linux Journal; U.S.A. 1 (179):76
  • Garrels, M. 2007. Introduction to Linux (Second Edition), Fultus Corporation, 2007, U.S.A. Pages: 686
  • Key, T. 2002. Linux+ Certification Bible(2002), John Wiley & Sons New York, NY 10022. U.S.A. Pages: 456
  • Kirch, O. and D. Terry. 2000. Linux Network Administrator's Guide, O'Reilly & Associates, U.S.A. Pages: 330
  • Kretchmar, J. 2003. Open Source Network Administration, EarsonEducation,Inc. PublishingasPrenticeHallProfessionalTechnicalReference,UpperSaddleRiver, NJ07458 U.S.A. Pages: 793
  • McCarty, B. 2004. Learning Red Hat Enterprise Linux & Fedora, 4th Edition, Installation instructions and help with package updating for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora, Published by O'Reilly Media, Inc., 1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472. U.S.A. Page: 352
  • Negus, C. and F. Eric. 2009. Fedora10 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Bible, Wiley Publishing, Inc.10475 Crosspoint Boulevard Indianapolis, IN 46256 U.S.A. Pages: 1952
  • Petersen, R. L. 2004. Red Hat: The Complete Reference Enterprise Linux & Fedora Edition, McGraw-Hill/Osborne 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor Emeryville, California 94608, U.S.A. Pages: 1323
  • Pogson, R. (2007). Magic on your LAN, Linux Terminal Server and thin clients, Free Software Magazine, Free Software Foundation; U.K. 1 (13):39
  • Red Hat, 2003. Red Hat Linux Reference Guide, Red Hat, Inc.1801 Varsity Drive Raleigh NC 27606-2072, U.S.A. Pages: 580
  • Schroder, C. 2008. Linux Networking Cookbook, O'Reilly Media, Inc., 1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472, U.S.A. Pages: 834
  • Weber, A. 2003. Linux in a Nutshell, 4th Edition, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., 1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472, U.S.A. Pages: 634

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