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episode #3: The Linux Terminal Server Project

| Laud Bentil | | 54 | 750

00:00:00

The problem most systems administrators face with setting up home, office, or organizational infrastructure is security. If you are the one paying for this kind of setup, then it becomes an even bigger headache. What you probably want is a cost effective, more secure Linux Terminal Server which greatly improves value over traditional computing systems.

linuxserverterminalltspthin-client


Tell Us About Yourself

I’m Laud, I became a developer because as a child, I was always curious about how things worked. I spent most of my time reading books and trying to put things together. But I was met with the frustration of constantly struggling to get access to physical hardware. That put me off a bit. I came across computers which opened a world of new possibilities to me because all I needed most of the time was software. This ushered me into the world of software and programming in general. A lot happened along the way, I got a bachelor’s degree in physics from KNUST, spent a lot of time trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. I got into web development and got fully involved since 2013 and did a number of projects at hackathons. I took my experiences to the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology to build my passion and push forward a startup. Afterwards, I try to contribute my skill to the local community and Linux Accra is one of the areas where I am doing that: taking up projects that help the community.

What’s a Server?

It’s a powerful computer, that in traditional sense, can host your website, serve responses to your requests. A server could sit anywhere and people could communicate with it over a network. But what the Linux Terminal Server Project does is that it adds a thin-client support to linux service. You could have a less powerful computer connect to the server and have access to the server’s resources. You could be in a home or office and have all your computers connected to a central computer that has specific resources that your other computers do not have. Usually in an office environment, each computer will have a full setup for each computer, so almost all the computers might be on the same level. In this instance, the thin-client is actually less powerful, with less system resource. But when it’s connected to the server, it becomes as powerful as the server is. That is basically a simple overview of the LTSP. In our implementation, the raspberry pi is the thin-client.

Applications and Benefits

The first obvious one is the cost. You don’t have to buy a bunch of really powerful computers to set up your office if your already have less powerful computers. You could spend all that money on a very powerful Server and spend very little on adding thin-clients to the server. So it allows you to repurpose very old computers at a very low cost.

With that also comes other advantages like security. Since you have a lot of control over the network, you could set custom applications to run on your thin-clients. You need to mostly worry about making the server more robust, but also the thought of viruses on a Linux based thin-client is virtually non-existent given how effective LTSP has proven to be.

You can also benefit from it being open source because you needn’t pay for licensing. There is also great community support and the fact that you can also contribute a feature or a bug fix is amazing.

It also requires low maintenance. The thin-clients are somewhat expendable. It is easier to maintain a single good computer that a lot of them.

There are lots of interesting use cases in our part of the world.

This could be a low cost network-computing solution for almost an kind of institutions that we can think of. We could have these setups in schools or project groups. You invest in a good computer, and get thin-clients setup to use your server’s powerful resources.

I’m working on something along those lines.

Due to a few issues about business and the proprietary nature of the setup Laud is doing, I cannot release full details on what he’s doing with this project without getting us in trouble. But he’s helping setup a lot of these cost-effective solutions for certain companies in Ghana. 

 

What Does the Future Look Like For This?

The truth is a lot of other countries have moved ahead with this. With us in the emerging markets, there is a different situation on the ground. The way we would implement them will differ a little. The infrastructure will also largely depend on what works for us. It goes without saying that the future is very interesting. There are a lot of talented guys that I’ve encountered, and you’ve encountered. AND YOU ESPECIALLY ARE VERY TALENTED. (Thank you Laud, you rock!) As we, collaborate and motivate each other, we’ll be able to boost the ecosystem, not only to let it survive, but to flourish. But I’m exceptionally very hopeful. 

For exclusive content, play the audio.

The LTSP is cheap and cost-effective. It greatly improves value over traditional computing systems.
It also makes it really hard, especially, Linux based systems for viruses to break out.

The Linux Terminal Server Project by Laud Bentil

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