Author Topic: Linux terminal server  (Read 1170 times)

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Linux terminal server
« on: July 04, 2008, 11:10:26 am »
We have a teaching lab of about a dozen machines. We run a variety of courses, most using Linux, others using WinXP via VMware.

We are considering virtualising the lab to use remote servers accessed via RDP from the main Uni IT suites - this gives us a variety of options with regards to machine configuration and allows (hopefully) a transparent load balancing for the logins.

Does anyone have any experience in getting linux equivalents to Windows Terminal Server to run, ie xrdp or similar?

It would be good to hear your experiences.

..d
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

tiermat

  • According to Jane, I'm a Unisex SpaceAdmin
Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2008, 11:13:19 am »
From experience the easiest and best way to do this is via LTSP, www.ltsp.org

Download the iso, boot the server from the iso and allow it to install.  Job done.  No faffing about with X config etc.  It's a mature product, is GPL'ed and is widely used in education (both here and in the US, esp. as the K12ltsp variant)
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2008, 02:03:53 pm »
Wrong end of the stick.

We have IT suites that have standard desk top machines. I cannot turn those into thin clients directly (and live).

The desktop workstations will remain as they are. I want to deploy via something like terminal services (RDP) a linux desktop to these XP machines from a remote server bank.

..d
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

bikenerd

Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2008, 02:07:22 pm »
No experience doing it but VNC on Linux can support multiple users each with a desktop.  Edit: clients on Windows will then be able to access the Linux server.
You'll have to Google VNC and choose the right one for you as there are about n different versions, some free, some not.  They're all based on the same code and protocols, though.

tiermat

  • According to Jane, I'm a Unisex SpaceAdmin
Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2008, 02:09:46 pm »
Sorry, I understand now, there are really two options, either dual boot the PCs (again would probably get you hung, drawn and quatered then kicked down the street!) OR use freeNX, this operates over SSH so would keep the security bods happy and is as easy as anything to install/configure.  I use it at home to allow me gui access to the two boxes that live outside....
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2008, 02:19:04 pm »
Err X windows works fine for this. No need for any special software at the Liniux end just an Xserver on your Windows PCs.

Xming is free and there are some nice screenshots of what you can do on that page too.

I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

tiermat

  • According to Jane, I'm a Unisex SpaceAdmin
Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2008, 02:21:40 pm »
Yes it does, BUT it is insecure and, from experience, a PITA to setup.  Hence my prefernce for freeNX
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2008, 02:25:42 pm »
Why is it insecure ? Just run it over SSH.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

tiermat

  • According to Jane, I'm a Unisex SpaceAdmin
Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2008, 02:28:28 pm »
Which is what freeNX does, but all you need to do is install one rpm, install the client on the PC and away you go.

Compare this to setting up X, which involves (at some point from my experience) sacraficing a chicken, running round the carpark with your underpants on your head, install Cygwin/X on the client and it still not necessarily doing what you want it to do as you have mised editing one crucial file which means you get no display at the client end and cryptic messages at the server end.
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2008, 02:30:14 pm »
Hence my link to Xming which makes it all a lot easier.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

tiermat

  • According to Jane, I'm a Unisex SpaceAdmin
Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2008, 02:37:04 pm »
And the one other thing I have against X across the network is that it is "fat", i.e. uses up a lot of bandwidth, however freeNX, VNC etc can use compression across the wire to allow for less bandwidth usage.

I am not knocking using X over a network (although my previous posts my indicate otherwise) and indeed there are times when it is desirable. LTSP use X over the network, but TBH I have found that you are best using something like VNC or NX to allow rdp-like access as that is what they are designed to do and need very little on the client.  Configuring X for the client can be a PITA, even using xming as dependencies need to be met and you are basically making each and every client on the network a server, thus opening more security holes....
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2008, 02:50:21 pm »
I second the vote for NX.
We ship it pre-installed on all our clusters, and people find it very useful.

Have a look at the Nomachine site as well as considering FreeNX.
NoMachine NX - Terminal Server, Desktop Virtualization and Access Management Software

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2008, 03:16:19 pm »
Err X windows works fine for this. No need for any special software at the Liniux end just an Xserver on your Windows PCs.

Xming is free and there are some nice screenshots of what you can do on that page too.



It may require some specific tunnelling. It also doesn't do nifty things like using the local machine resources (printer, USB stick with data on etc) which will be important.

I will look at whether a straight X-server is sufficient. There may be security issues that I have to look into - ideally I'd like a tunnelled X over SSH.

..d

"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: Linux terminal server
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2008, 03:30:22 pm »
I second the vote for NX.
We ship it pre-installed on all our clusters, and people find it very useful.

Have a look at the Nomachine site as well as considering FreeNX.
NoMachine NX - Terminal Server, Desktop Virtualization and Access Management Software

That looks interesting. I will want n many people to be able to log into the same box (but not the same session) Imagine a class of 20-30 UGs. You tell them to start the client and log into the server thisclass.lifesci.myuni.ac.uk, and they do and a desktop appears for them to work in.

Meanwhile another class log in to thatclass.lifesci.... and a different desktop running on a different machine (virtual or physical) appears for them.

The idea is that each lab class can have a dedicated machine set up and tested by the person running the class - avoiding dependency and OS differences.

I'll play with freenx and see if it can do what I need. RDP would be ideal as that is already installed but NX looks like a reasonable option.

(BTW the 'install things on the client PC' is a bit of a stumbling block, but not insurmountable.)

..d
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes