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[K12OSN] Just about ready to make a purchase



I am finally ready to purchase the new server for our school and new thin clients. 
Below is what we'll be starting with, making the switch on labs and media centers first,
next year adding teachers.

-Dell PowerEdge 6800
-Quad 3Ghz/800Mhz/4mb Cache Dual Core Intel Xeon 7130 Processors
-16MB 400Mhz DDR2 RAM (8x2GB to start, will handle 64GB total)
-Embedded PERC4e/Di RAID Controller
-6 300GB 10K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI hard drives configured in RAID 10 (3 striped 300GB
mirrors for a total of 900GB storage, machine will handle 10 SCSI drives and a 2 drive
media bay for future expansion, from my research this will give me the fastest possible
read/write speeds while maintaining full hot swap redundancy)
-2 Intel Pro 1000MT Dual port adapters for a total of four gigabit NICS teamed as one
with ALB
-64 Bit XUbuntu with LTSP 4.2 (I am thinking XUbuntu will give me some extra speed by
not hogging as much resources as a Gnome or KDE based distro, 64-bit so that it can
handle over 4GB of RAM, LTSP 4.2 since that is still the most scalable and stable
version, and Ubuntu based distros seem to have a much larger software repository now
that they have the full Debian repository included)

I hope this will handle 90 workstations with heavy use.  I plan on purchasing 90 of the
DevonIT 6020P thin clients.  They seem to be the fastest clients I can find in the sub
$150 price range.  Also in talking to DevonIT they are very familiar with LTSP and say
they fully support it on their clients.  Also I have seen posts on this list that say
they have worked 100% out of the box.  I will be purchasing 17" flat screens with USB
keyboards and optical mice.

Each lab will be fed by 10/100 switches with a gigabit uplink directly to the main
gigibit switch that the server will be plugged into.  Each lab/media center will never
exceed 30 workstations.

Total we will be spending around $40,000 for everything.  I plan on the teacher machines
being some sort of fat client derivative using full local XUbuntu clients and pulling
/home and login information from the server.  There will be about 60 teacher machines. 
I hope this server will be able to run everything from a single location.  If I do need
to get more horsepower I plan on adding specific application servers to offload tasks. 
Say if KStars drags things down too much I will add in a KStars Application server.  

I had looked at using SMB/LDAP along with multiple less powerful load balanced LTSP
servers, but from my testing the NFS shared /home and the remote users in LDAP had a
significant effect in speeds.  Machine bootup and general navigation seemed delayed. 
This is why I am looking at keeping storage and user accounts local on a single server.

We will also implement weekly 45 minute training sessions for teachers/staff.  First
these sessions will be about familiarizing them with XUbuntu,OpenOffice, and Firefox in
general.  Then we will move towards application suggestions for specific tasks and then
walk them through how to accomplish the tasks.

Also I plan on having a teacher machine in each lab (4 total to start).  I plan on
making this teacher machine in the same fashion as future teacher machines will be. 
Full featured fat clients with NFS mounted /home and pulling login info from the server.
 This will allow easy addition of a scanner or other peripherals.  And it will provide a
means to read CDROMS when needed or plug in a digital camera or media reader etc.  Any
suggestions on the fastest method for distributing login information would be great.  I
know LDAP which leans me towards it, but I also see NIS mentioned a lot for running
local apps and such.  I wonder if this would be better to use since it would allow the
possibility of local apps when/if desired.

Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.  This switch is making me nervous.  I
really don't want to spend $40,000 and have everything be slow, I want the users to
think these are stand alone 3Ghz machines.  But compared to the $135,000 they were going
to spend on iMacs and MS Office, I think it is worth the risk. And I can't wait to be
able to increase our software offerings by ten fold or more.  If all goes well this will
be a showcase of how well FOSS can benefit a school and will be a model for our area. 
If this doesn't go well...it better go well.

Exciting.....Scary.....Worth it :-)

Jim Kronebusch
Cotter Tech Department
453-5188


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