The Linux Terminal Server Project
The LTSP adds thin-client support to a Linux server
Originally begun to investigate the possibility of extending the useful life of legacy IT equipment, the Linux Terminal Server Project is now a comprehensive collection of tools for running driveless thin clients with a Linux server. Certainly in its current version 5, if not before, it has blossomed into an useful – and free – terminal/server solution.
The Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) actually sprang from an attempt to find out whether everyday office operations really need a high-performance PC, with fancy fittings and multi-gigabyte hard disks, or whether less pretentious hardware can do the job, while providing a healthy saving. The people behind the project don't regard LTSP as a distribution, but as a specification and a collection of tools and scripts to bestow a full range of desktop functions on driveless thin clients. The success of the project is indicated by its wide popularity. Installation packages now exist for the commonest Linux derivatives, and it can also be obtained as a component of complete distributions, such as the Fedora-based K12Ltsp and the Debian derivatives SkoleLinux, EduLinux and Edubuntu, to name just a few.
All applications run on the server, while input and output are in turn handled by the terminals. A computer in the lowest price class, or an outmoded desktop with a bootable network card, can happily run LTSP – disk drives can be disposed of, because everything else is provided directly by the LTSP server. However, some suppliers do stock LTSP-certified thin clients.
LTSP 5 is the latest stage in the development of the project, and is at the same time the future of LTSP. Since 2005 the LTSP team has been working closely with the Ubuntu community, and is using Ubuntu as a basis for its future versions. The code has been completely rewritten so that LTSP can be simply integrated into any distribution. So far, there are implementations for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse and Gentoo. The motivation behind the redesign is to create a framework that allows simple and cost-effective thin client functions to be installed in every existing distribution, without interfering with its structures. Schools and internet cafés are prominent users of this cost-effective terminal/server solution.