Category Archives: Linux

Revitalizing Old Hardware Using Gnu\Linux and LTSP

revitalizing old hardware using Gnu\Linux and LTSP

rom-o-matic cds

over my head but interesting LOL

thin client

can’t afford a computer lab?
doesn’t have 1:1 student ratio
need to use old and obsolete hardware

linux is a kernal basically some device drivers to run your computer
finland linux torvalds wrote it
richard stallman created free software –
gpl gnu public license (virus of licenses – anything that is a derivative of this code has t be shared
reverse copyright

community of professional programmers contributing out of love, arrogance, helpfulness. financial motivation

the number 1337 – means ?


If you have a computer running linux you have access to all linux software – software repository

no licensing fees
no copyright infringement
better use of ram
no hidden TSR (terminate and stay resident)
strong control over user network and program permissions

os is more than just the desktop

linux terminal server project
1 fairly new computer then a group of older computers
server with nics
network interface cards
thin clients
fat clients
1 card getting connection to internet
one connection to the other computers

on average need at least 1 gb ram for each 10 thin clients
min requirements for thin clients
pentium II with 48 mg ram and 2 mg display card

attendee said he likes slackware – that it runs on old machines efficiently
slackware users install slackware once and then no changes
not a good system for beginners

aww the presenter has his mom running ubuntu 🙂

Linux is secure
permissions are read write or execute priveleges

setting up ltsp
older computers go into bios
boot menu
boot from server?
some don’t have that option
thin client – no hard drive to speak up – server actually running the programs
fat clients can be configured to run some programs
edubuntu easiest to get running
k12 linux as well 0 install on a usb drive and try it out
can run windows terminal sessions
can use with active directory
samba shares
can use with windows shares


I finally did something I have been wanting to do for some time.  A friend brought me his old computer that was no longer working correctly.  It was extremely slow to respond and he had lost the Windows disk so he couldn’t re-install.

Last night I downloaded Ubuntu  and burned it to a cd.  This afternoon I hooked his old computer up to my monitor, turned it on, and put the cd in the cd drive.  All it took was one click and it started loading the files it would need.  When it was done it gave the message to remove the cd and reboot.

When I rebooted it gave me the choice to boot into Windows or Ubuntu and that was all there was to it.

It gave me the choice when I was first installing to install Ubuntu with Windows or remove Windows completely.  This time I was kind of a chicken but next time I think I will just throw Windows off a cliff.

My kids still have a few issues with Ubuntu and things like flash and I haven’t had time to see if things will work better on thsi version than on the older version that is on the old laptop.  I have literally been up and running in Ubuntu for about ten minutes! The only issue I have so far has to do with screen resolution and I will try to get that resolved later.  I’m just tickled that it worked and was so simple!

More later – I have company coming!

Random Weekend Tips

These are not my own ideas – they’re bits and pieces of things I read this week that I have found useful. I’m so thankful for folks who freely share their knowledge on their blogs. This post is more a reminder to myself about the things I have found and need to put to work.
Gmail – I love it and use it all the time. I read a post this weekend though that made me slap my forehead. I send email to myself On links that I want to check out later or if I’m on the PC and find something that pertains to the mac or linux, I email it to my Gmail account so I can refer to it when I’m on the machine it relates to. I often forget about the post or forget which post it is and I have used the search function in Gmail to find it later but semantic keywords or tags in my subject line to make the process easier and quicker. I will from now on! The article I was reading suggested using the Google toolbar for the Gmail it option. I have resisted this one little Google option thus far but I may have to give it another look.
FireFox – I have used FireFox for several years. The only time I use IE is when I need to check for updates on a PC. I constantly have multiple tags open and in the morning, after I have made my latte and I’m ready to spend a few moments reading and waking up before the rest of the family starts to appear, I open my usual morning reads. Gmail, my work email account, google homepage, and DIGG, and sometimes the local paper. I have a brand new folder on my bookmarks toolbar named MorningReads that contains the bookmarks to those items. When I click on the folder it lists them with one extra item on the bottom – Open All in Tabs. I can now click that one item and all my usual links open in tabs across my browser window. As I excitedly tell my kids about this little trick they roll their eyes and tell me I’m such a geek. They think that they are insulting me but I can’t help it if the idea of clicking once instead of four times makes me grin!

Google Notebook – I have been using it for several weeks and have fallen in love with it. You can install an extension so that you can right click on any webpage and a contextual menu item called Note-it is now a choice. “Noting it” saves it to your Google Notebook. It can be an entire webpage, a picture, a quote, a URL or anything else you can right click on. I have been saving items to one big notebook, knowing there had to be a better way to organize but not knowing quite how. This weekend I learned that you can drag-and-drop anything anywhere in the notebook. I spent the last hour creating new notebooks, adding section headers, and dragging things around to organize them. You also have the choice of keeping your notebook private or sharing it publicly. You can export items directly to Google docs and spreadsheets, you can print a notebook, and you can add a note and just type or paste a note directly into the application – great for research, organizing a project, or collaboration. If you have a Gmail account you automatically have access to this application and if you don’t have Gmail it’s worth it just to have access to all the Google apps. I still use a main notebook to capture and then open my notebook and move things around to make them easier to find. I also have the Google Notebook widget on my personalized Google homepage so everything is right there and visible which just seems to work best for me.  There is a great information and tutorial Powerpoint to download here. (warning clicking starts the download)
New Online ApplicationMindomo. Online mindmapping. You have to sign up for an account but it’s free. I’d like to see Google add something like this to it’s suite of apps (along with a presentation piece which I’ve already mentioned on this blog). I made a little practice map and it was very straight-forward and simple to follow.

Holiday Season Starts and Learning GIMP

I managed to do some Christmas shopping this weekend. The stores were crowded, too warm, and made me remember why I wish I would get an earlier start on my shopping. We went to the Christmas parade and watched the high school bands and Santa. My daughter played in one of the bands and we picked her and her friend up afterwards and took them to ring bells for the Salvation Army. Kinsey was at a debate meet and brought home two medals. I am proud of him and I am so glad that he had the opportunity to do something he enjoys and excels at and got recognition for it. Everyone needs that from time to time. The tree is up and I made a pot full of homemade soup. All in all a nice peaceful weekend. No great excitement but there is something to say for a chance to refuel every now and then.

I ran across some tutorials for GIMP which I have been trying hard to love. I have a lot of experience with PaintShop Pro and found it difficult to make the switch. I found some tutorials that walked you through the creation of a graphic step-by-step. I learn best by doing so those are my preferred kind of tutorial. I have a long way to go before I reach the level of proficiency I need for web graphics but at least I made some progress. The graphic wasn’t anything useful – just a cloth textured background and a circle that appears glassy and raised. Still it allowed me to get familiar with a few tools and it wasn’t totally ugly.

If I hadn’t had the time to refuel I wouldn’t have gotten focused enough to find the appropriate tutorial and complete it. Completing the tutorial gave me some confidence and a little excitement which will motivate me to learn more. GIMP seems to be a powerful piece of software but it lacks the community that has existed in the past for PaintShop Pro. There were groups and literally hundreds of tutorials and plenty of folks willing to share their expertise. There was something for every level from complete beginner to expert. I would like to see more of that sort of thing with GIMP. There is a community of Open Source users but they seem to be limited to people who are fairly comfortable with computers and who have that need to learn new software and the time to do it. I have seen a few books on using GIMP but walk in to any bookstore that carries computer books and you will usually find several choices for PaintShop Pro and PhotoShop and often several for different versions.

What makes one software package attract writers and usergroups while another that is just as good and often cheaper (in the case of GIMP free!) remains in the shadows by comparison? It took me a long time to get started and I know partly because I don’t like change. I wanted GIMP to act like PaintShop Pro and everytime I sat down to work with it I would end up frustrated. It wasn’t the software’s fault – it was my inability a adjust to the difference. What changed was that I found instructions that struck a familiar chord and provided a kind of “rosetta stone” that helped unlock my mental block.

In learning about GIMP I also learned something about my own learning style. Maybe when I understand GIMP a little better I can put that piece of information to good use and create some tutorials of my own.

Open Office for Macs!

I am taking a little time to do some reading. The laundry is piling up and the dishes need to be washed but it will all be there tomorrow so here goes.

There was an article about Open Office soon running natively on Macs. I’m looking forward to it. I have always liked Open Office because it is something students can put on their home computers when they can’t afford the big expensive office suite and save their work so that it is compatible with said office suite. I should mention that teachers can put it on their home computers as well. There are no site licensing issues to worry about.

I have been able to use it on laptops running Linux and ported to OSX but now I won’t have to worry about porting it. It’s a shame more software isn’t this versatile.

I still have the other office suite running on computers at home and at work but I find myself using it less and less. It’s a habit I am working hard to break. If I am going to promote it I need to learn it well enough to teach it.

There is resistance to using it widespread and I don’t know if it is a matter of people being afraid of trying something new or an attitude of thinking that it must not be as good if it doesn’t cost anything, or a combination of both.

A quote from a DIGG comment “you would think schools would ask for programs to be made in other OS’s.” I would think software companies would want to make their programs in other operating systems. Oh wait – Open Office already does that – hmmm….


I promised an update on using linux and while I haven’t had as much time to play as I would like I have to say that I have had no problems. While at the hospital with Dale this time I was not able to get internet access but the few times I could get to the Health Science Library I took my trusty jump drive and would quickly save entire webpages I wanted to read on to it and then back in the room I would transfer them to the laptop. I saved them to a folder on my desktop and could right click on a file, tell it to open it with Firefox and take my time reading. I kept an Open Office document open to make notes and a few times used Abiword the same way. I wrote my post on Blogging as Staff Development that way and saved it to my jump drive. When I got back to the Library to upload it I found I had a little problem with compatibility but I ended up opening it in wordpad, saving it as an RTF file and then just had to delete a little leftover formatting code before I could copy and paste it into my blog to upload. If I had stuck with Open Office I wouldn’t have had that many steps – it would have opened it Word no problem. I will remember in the future to either use Open Office or save the original in RTF – lesson learned. All in all I was pretty pleased. I spent a little time trying to learn Scribus which is a desktop publishing program much like Adobe PageMaker (which I have not used) and found that the tutorial I had saved to my laptop was for an earlier version so I need to go looking for more up-to-date tutorials. I played with GIMP a little too but time was limited and if you have ever been in the hospital you know that there are a lot of interruptions – don’t go there planning to rest – sheesh.

One thing about reading and writing offline, I found that I took more time and thought out what I wanted to say and edited myself several times before I felt my post was complete. I usually tend to write stream of conciousness style and then look back and make sure there are no glaring errors LOL. Sitting there propped up on my “chair/bed” (ugh – those things work but end up being uncomfortable both as a chair and a bed) while Dale napped, I found I enjoyed thinking, reading what I had written, thinking some more, making changes and just walking through the process instead of running as fast as my fingers will type.

I think both ways are fun and I want to remember to make that point when I teach others about blogging. The versatility of blogging lets you determine how involved you get according to the time you have or want to put into it.

I’d like to take a class in the basics of Linux just because I would like to understand how things work behind the scenes a little but for now I’m just doing the normal things the average person does on a computer – surf the web, compose and read email, write, and oh let’s not forget play little time wasting games! There is one called Anagramrama that my daughter is addicted to. It gives you a word and times you as you try to make as many words as you can out of it before the time runs out. It displays your words in blanks below with blanks shown for the possible words and when the time runs out displays all the words you could have made. I still fall back on mahjong and the old standby – solitaire which has a ton of variations on the linux version.

My daughter wanted to check it all out before we left for the hospital and she loves it. When I opened it up at the hospital for the first time I saw that she had created a picture and saved it. I found that changing your desktop wallpaper is easy and now I have a black background with neon looking letters that say “I love You Mom, Jessica”

On a side note, I am watching the news about all the fires in Arizona. Years ago when Dale worked on the pipeline we traveled through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon and it breaks my heart watching these areas that are burning. It was some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. I wanted to live there in a little cabin and just paint and sit on my porch and look at the scenery, maybe sell my paintings in a little studio in Sedona.