Do your discoveries, interests, or work revolve around cloud computing, low-resource computing, server-centric computing, thin clients, or virtualization? If so, chances are good you've heard of the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP). Started in 1999, LTSP was the driving force in delivering network booting X/GUI (graphical user interface) and applications in the Linux space. As a solution to lower cost barriers compared to deploying multiple PCs throughout an organization, LTSP rapidly gained traction. Today, LTSP is used worldwide in education, health care, manufacturing, retail, and more. Providing the efficiency of delivering applications and storing data on a server(s), LTSP drastically cuts IT support requirements, while lowering or eliminating burdensome software license fees dues to it's open source nature.
Limitations to the adoption of thin client environments in the past are strongly linked to user experience and multimedia. With exponential growth in web-based multimedia technologies like java, ajax, and flash, client-side resource demands have increased. The need for additional computing resource places a tax on network bandwidth and server resources. Recent advancements in LTSP 5, specifically Local Applications (Local Apps), have mitigated multimedia and bandwidth challenges.
Local Apps allow system administrators to configure LTSP in a way which shares resource demand between thin clients, and servers. Running an application utilizing thin client resources reduces network bandwidth as well as load on the server. Multimedia runs notably better on thin clients in an LTSP 5 deployment utilizing Local Apps. With Local Apps, users are delivered a performance experience which mirrors that of a full desktop PC. In return, thin clients become a transparent device to the users in an organization. When using Ubuntu, the free Linux based operating system from Canonical Ltd., users can enjoy the latest 3D desktop effects known as compiz.
If you experimented or implemented LTSP in the past and were concerned with multimedia performance, it's time to give LTSP 5 a try. Local Apps make a world of difference in performance. We recommend downloading the Ubuntu 9.10 Alternate Install CD, and following instructions to install an LTSP environment.
LTSP in today's world is deployed on dedicated or virtual servers, providing a cohesive thin client environment. LTSP has the ability to be integrated with key features in organizational networks like network attached storage, and centralized authentication, (e.g. OpenLDAP, eDirectory and Active Directory). LTSP is the most flexible solution when it comes to terminal services functionality in Linux environments.