Why did I do this?
I am by nature someone who does not like to throw things out. In order to avoid recycling some very old computers for parts I looked into using something call the Linux Terminal Server Project (http://ltsp.org/). The basics of how this works in non-technical terms are that you can take one brand new high speed machine, install LTSP on it and let multiple “clients” boot over a network to this machine. The clients do not need high speed processing power because they use the processor of the LTSP server. Essentially it is like hooking up multiple monitors, keyboards and mice to one machine and letting multiple people do different things at their station.
The version of LTSP I am using is the Ubuntu version (www.ubuntu.com). I chose this version because Ubuntu is something that I am familiar with and I am comfortable with the administration of this platform.
My setup is less than ideal and rather small scale. I took a Dell GX520 with a Pentium D processor, 2 GIG of RAM and a SATA drive and used this as the server. I have 17 total clients that are setup to connect to this machine as a client. These machines are mostly in science labs and are used for doing research with Firefox (www.mozilla.com) and creating presentations in Open Office (www.openoffice.org). The feedback that I receive from most of the students and staff is very positive. These ancient machines now work like they are brand new and no longer take 10-15 minutes to boot into Windows.