In November 1999, two IT consultants turned an innovative solution into monumental success. Seeking to solve the ever growing problem related to the cost of deploying desktop PCs in organizations, the open source Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) made its debut. LTSP allows IT administrators to seamlessly deploy a desktop environment and applications to users without visiting the desk hardware. The era of the network booting thin client was born. With years of continued development and user growth, LTSP continues to be a cost effective and efficient solution, while reducing maintenance and support costs in the IT department.
Who is using the Linux Terminal Sever Project (LTSP)?
164 individuals comprised of CEOs, presidents, vice presidents, directors, system administrators and technical support agents responded to the survey; 124 completed. Over 75% of the respondents worked with their current organization (varying in size) for over 5 years. These organizations are rooted in different industries including education, health care, IT services, public sector, and even a spiritual healing clinic. The number of computing devices in these organizations varied greatly from 5 or less, to well over 5000. LTSP is widespread and used by many who benefit from a managed and secure client-server architecture.
How are they using LTSP?
A majority of respondents have used LTSP for multiple years. Approximately 22% of those people are running the latest supported release under Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. Ubuntu, an open source operating system sponsored by Canonical Ltd. has been rapidly gaining market share and more recently finding its way onto devices as OEM software. Ubuntu was an early adopter and developer of LTSP 5 and has included LTSP with their distribution since Ubuntu 2006 releases.
Among those utilizing LTSP, most deliver a Linux-based desktop and applications to end users. A notable 40% utilize the Linux Terminal Server Project to deliver a Windows based desktop and/or applications. LTSP’s primary benefit is providing a secure and stateless boot environment for thin clients on a LAN (local area network) with no storage media on the client side. Administrators of LTSP deployments have the flexibility to choose what environment they deliver to the end-user.
According to survey respondents, LTSP provides a wealth of benefits. The most popular in the survey was the ability to recycle desktop PCs or use new green thin clients (silent, low power devices with extended shelf life). Participants also noted that the centralized computing environment coupled with the ability to create a customized environment have had a positive impact on their organization.
From the 124 people who completed the survey, we recorded over 3,900 LTSP servers delivering a desktop environment to over 60,000 seats. Based on previous data gathering, these numbers just scratch the surface of LTSP installations. LTSP has spread far and wide around the world for over a decade.
What are LTSP Users Saying?
A notable 89% of survey respondents said that their current and future IT plan / strategy incorporates using LTSP. 7.6% we’re undecided, and a minuscule 3.4% said that they wouldn’t use LTSP in the future. In supporting the growth of the LTSP community and the features offered, 36.4% of respondents said that their organization has contributed to the technical side of the project by means of bug reports/fixes, testing, and writing new code.
Quotes from Detailed Responses
“My goal with LTSP was to lower TCO, decrease electrical costs, increase PC and Thin Client lifetimes, and to provide a more central configuration source. I have achieved these goals”
“Overall, our use of LTSP has been one of the most successful facets of our IT strategy”
“LTSP has allowed me to move our company from dumb terminals running shell scripts to a full and functional desktop environment with VoIP, soft phones and Internet access for all employees, saving us thousands of dollars.”
“We have been using LTSP so long that it is a staple in our organization. When I came on board over 10 years ago, they were rolling out the first recycled desktop on low-cost server implementations. Since that time, we have taken the project to new thin clients and more robust servers from a support and cost to support basis”
“At one point the server had been running continuously for over 450 days without a shutdown or reboot. If not for having to shut down the entire network so the local electrical utility could perform maintenance on the building’s electrical service, the LTSP server’s uptime would be approaching 2 years.”
“We have used LTSP for a number of years in our library. The first hardware started as recycled Pentium 1 machines. Over the years those have been fazed out for thin clients”
Detroit High School Opens It’s Desktops. May 2005. Kevin Quiggle. http://www.linux.com/archive/feed/45028
Local Applications Revive Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP). December, 2009. Alex Colcernian. http://www.disklessworkstations.com/b/local-applications-revive-linux-terminal-server-project-ltsp
[PDF] Open Source Software : Perspectives for Development. November, 2003. Paul Darvis. http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2004/03/24/000090341_20040324142743/Rendered/PDF/276800Open0Sou1re0nov0200301public1.pdf
[Video] HOWTO: Install LTSP server in Ubuntu Linux (Ubuntu 8.04). September 2009. Jordan Erickson. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yD0QV_Cm2w
[Slides] Ubuntu and Linux Terminal Server Project. 2008. Sameer Verma. http://www.slideshare.net/sverma/ubuntu-and-linux-terminal-server-project
Worldwide Open Source Software 2009 – 2013 Forecast. July 2009. Michael Fauscette. http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=219260&sessionId=EE5717659EAB7E3BCC6A6F93D88BD40B