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Re: [school-discuss] Converting 600 old laptops into K12LTSP thin clients for 1:1 ratio at a middle school

Hi Dan,

How many seats are you aiming for? Do you need to resurrect all 600 laptops? If they are 5-6 years old you might be lucky to get 450 of them working. However if If the machines don't need to travel home, then your computer cart idea will also work w/ similar vintage desktop machines that can be had for a modest cost....

Something to consider is that laptops degrade much faster than desktop machines & the wear&tear/duty-cycle on student laptops is 2x that of teachers (who are also hard on gear). The hardware problems in older laptops only multiply as these machines age.

If I were in your shoes I'd take a look at the cost overhead of trying to revive and maintain a fleet of older laptops vs. dropping in a fleet of 5-6 year-old desktops. Burn-tested Dell GX-1's can be had for $65 (w/ 550 MHz CPU, 128 MB RAM, 10 GB HDD), Dell GX-100's can be had for $95. Generally speaking, many laptop makes are harder to open & maintain than the best enterprise desktop boxes.

There'll be a cost of sorting thru this large pile of laptops, diagnosing what's wrong, whether to cannibalize, the resulting buckets of parts to test & salvage & the eventual technical headaches & repair issues of continuing to maintain a degrading fleet of laptops, etc. Dell Optiplex series (GX-1, etc), OTOH, are very easy to get into, repair, etc - much easier than a laptop, and so fleet degradation & cannibalization is much easier to handle. W/ the GX-1's we could match salvaged working HDDs to salvaged CPUs & have working machines in less than 10 minutes b/c the machines were identical otherwise....

As for the choice of having machines independent of K12LTSP that can travel home w/ students - if the machines are fairly homogenous then rapid cloning can be an option, royalty free, using Linux utilities. I've cloned large batches of systems (Windows & Linux) via network using the Linux System Rescue disk.


Daniel Howard <dhhoward@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

I've know of a school that has over 600 older laptops (either Win98 or
Win2k) for a 1:1 grant-funded study in 2000 that now only has 50
functional units, assumedly due to viruses, upgrading OS w/o adding more
memory, lack of support, etc. We want to consider converting these into
K12LTSP thin clients using our laptop cart idea, but I wanted to make
sure we were considering all options.

We could probably load Linux OS directly onto each laptop and keep them
as stand-alone units so the kids could take them home as the original
model proposed, but the support issue (number of PCs to support) along
with the need to plug them in to power daily in the classrooms and
either plug network in or log on wirelessly makes that less desirable.
I'd rather see the kids stay after school for a few hours to do homework
on them when necessary and reduce the number of PCs to support by a
factor of 50 by turning them all into thin clients that stay at the school.

Are there any other ideas out there for what to do to revive 600 drunken


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