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[seul-edu] Mac/Linux Xterminals

As most of you know, I'm going to try to convert a bunch of donated Mac
Quadra 650s into Linux systems for a local parochial school.  I don't
know just how much RAM or what size hard drives these machines have, so
I suspect they may be best used as Xterminals with the apps served off a
bigger Linux box on the school net.

I've decided to try to use Rich Kaszeta's article from The Linux Gazette
in April of 1998 as a guideline; although he talks of using 3- and 486s,
he's talking about a minimal Debian install which is what I'll have to
put on the Macs anyway.

As I work on this I'll post updates here after each session detailing
what I've done and what problems I've had.  If anyone is interested in
correcting whatever mistakes I make, please do so and I'll happily take
your advice.

I met last night for about two hours with one of the parents from the
school, who is perhaps the most active member of the (self-proclaimed)
"annoying parents technology committee."  We had talked on the phone
about what I'd like to do.  The school has no plans for using the Macs
productively, so I think just about anything I can get them to do will
be perceived as a benefit.  He is in the Computer Science department at
Penn State as a Graduate Assistant (I think).  He has a good deal of
theoretical knowledge about computer technologies and design (mostly the
interesting high-end stuff), but little experience in putting together
this kind of system.  He has an NT server running at the school along
with Windows clients, but professes to not care particularly for
Microsoft.  It was just the easiest way to get a computer lab going for
him.  He wondered if we could use the Macs as Xterminals and the NT
system as their application server.  I mentioned that making NT act as
an Xclient required somewhat heroic measures, while Linux (or any Unix)
does that as a matter of everyday operations.  We'll probably look at
putting up a Linux box with enough resources to handle ~10-15 Xterms.

Since he'd never seen Linux, I used my system to gather some info on
m68k Linux and Xterms through Netscape Navigator.  While I was doing
this I was complaining a bit about Netscape.  He asked me what kind of
connection I had to the internet, and I said it was a 56K modem.  That
seemed to surprise him a little, as (he said) my connection seemed to
him noticeably faster than his via NT.  I didn't belabor the point,
figuring that his discovering that for himself was better than me
preaching about Linux's benefits.

We went over what we would be doing at the next session, then talked
about various computer topics for a while.  I finally had to break the
session off so I could spend some time with my wife and have some supper
before going to bed (it was 10:40 PM, and since I have to get up at 5 AM
I like to be in bed by 11).  At our next session I expect to start the
installation of Linux on the Quadra.

Doug Loss                 The difference between the right word and
Data Network Coordinator  the almost right word is the difference
Bloomsburg University     between lightning and a lightning bug.
dloss@bloomu.edu                Mark Twain