LTSP | LTSP 4.2 or LTSP 505 Jul 2008
Having agonised about the correct version of LTSP to install, chosen the wrong one, and upgraded, I thought it would be worthwhile to type up my thoughts on the subject. There are two versions of LTSP currently available:
If you visit the LTSP website, then you can’t help but notice that all the information is on LTSP4.2. If you do some Googling about LTSP5, you will quickly determine that LTSP5 is full of problems, at an early stage of development and best avoided.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. You are just about to make a mistake.
In fact LTSP5 is the current version and has been since 2006. Indeed, if you try and seek any help in respect of version 4.2, and you will invariably get the response - “LTSP4.2 is obsolete, unmaintained and you are an idiot to have installed it”.
Okay I exaggerate, but not by much! If you do install 4.2, at some point you are going to want to update the client. Well that requires LBE (read the Wiki for details) - then you will hit the problem that LBE is broken and will not install. You’ll ask for help and the response you will receive is pretty much as above.
Good luck sorting that little problem out, for myself I upgraded to LTSP5 (see LTSP5 Upgrade) and I have never looked back. The client is up-to-date and configurable, the local devices work, sound works, and little fluffy bunny rabbits nibble the grass while the sun shines.
In short all his just fine and dandy in the world of LTSP5. Always assuming it’s been packaged for your distro, it has for Debian and Ubuntu, for the rest you’ll need to make your own enquiries.
What you can expect from LTSP4.2
A working reliable system. Sound (see LTSP4.2 Sound). Local Devices that appear on the desktop when you plug them in. Works particularly well for older clients (Pentium II with 32mb RAM).
Expect to fight any PC built in the last two or three years. Expect to have battles getting sound working on your clients (usually solvable, usually you have wounds to lick afterwards). I am told that USB keys don’t work quite as well, although I never found any problem in this area. Indeed I managed to get USB keys working better under LTSP4.2 than I have subsequently managed to do in LTSP5.
What you can expect from LTSP5
A system that pretty much works as you expect. Sound was simple to configure and works well. Scanning took a little bit of working out - see LTSP Scanning. Local devices work just fine (with the exception of some incorrectly partitioned devices). The client system works very well, although I am still learning exactly how it all hangs together. Newer PCs work perfectly, and all but the oldest PCs seem fine. The ones I did have to get rid of were no great loss; but if you feel differently then I understand it is technically possible to install LTSP4.2 and LTSP5 on the same server, and get the benefits of each. You’ll need to search the LTSP Mailing List to find out how.
I understand that it is even conceivable to deliver a full-blown desktop client system - although you need LDAP on your network to enable client logon. Again, search the LTSP Mailing List for details.