LTSP Server Spec - Suggestions


Ex IT worker (left industry 10 years ago) here, running a small office of around 15 users - probably only 10 in use at any one time. Simple requirements: word processing, occasional spreadsheet, web browsing. That's about it.

Not much money in the pot and desktop machines are starting to creak with age. Want to get rid of windows xp desktops and replace with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS environment. Been testing LTSP terminal server and it seems to work a treat, so I am planning to bite the bullet and roll in out and make my users use linux.

Thing is, my background in builds has always been desktop and enthusiast systems. All servers I've previously build have been for Samba, web proxy, uw-imap, apache and the like. In other words, never really built a server that's had to do much work. I really don't have any idea what sort of spec would be sensible for an LTSP server running 10 or so users at the same time, because I have an inclination it might actually have to have power.

Any thoughts or ideas? I'm a relic of the days when you could assess a processor's power by reference to its clock speed, so I'm rapidly losing touch with the market. I have a preference to AMD merely because that's what I'm used to, but I'm not binding myself to that. Would such a system ideally require server class hardware (i.e. xeon / opteron processors, ecc memory, etc)?

Any help would be appreciated. I'm feeling lost and a little dim.
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  1. I wouldn't say that you have to have server-class hardware specifically for the use you are intending. However, the biggest thing you of course will have to pay attention to with the hardware is Linux support in your case.

    It's a little bit different of a recommendation, but have you considered doing a VDI solution? The difference between a standard terminal server and a VDI solution is each user could have their own virtual computer where they can easily save what they need, install the programs they need, and it's always how they want it. You can have individual virtual machine configurations to meet the needs of individual people.

    You can actually do this for free like with Linux. Use the free version of ESXi HyperVisor, and create individual virtual desktop environments using Linux VMs. The maximum RAM you can use on the free version of ESXi is 32 GB so keep this in mind for scaling, but if your users are only doing really basic stuff, and you aren't worried about high performance graphics performance, then you shouldn't have any problems I don't think.
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