Linux Terminal Server Project

Reduce costs and improve productivity with easy-to-install diskless workstations.
What You Need to Make It Work

System requirements for an LTSP network vary depending on the number of concurrent diskless workstations accessing the server and the applications they will be running. The two most important things to consider here are the server's available memory and the speed of the network. Even though a 10Mb network can handle a large number of diskless workstations running console-based applications, a faster (100Mb) network is required if the workstations are to run remote X sessions and productivity applications like StarOffice. The minimum server configuration for an LTSP network is a Pentium-class computer with at least 64MB RAM and a 2GB hard drive. On the workstation side, a 486 or K5 computer with 16MB RAM and a 1MB video card (for X) can get the work done.

The whole LTSP network operation depends on the good condition of network cards, hubs and cabling to run properly and smoothly. Please be sure to check them prior to any installation.

The Software

LTSP tools currently run on the following Linux distributions:

  • Red Hat 6.0, 6.1, 6.2 and 7.0

  • Mandrake 7.2

  • SuSE 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 7.1 and 7.2-beta

  • Debian 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2

  • Caldera eDesktop 2.3, 2.4 and eServer 2.3

All the software and documentation needed to run an LTSP network can be obtained from the download section of their web site, The necessary precompiled packages come in both RPM and TGZ formats. Remember to read the documentation before attempting to install the software and scripts.

Quick Installation Guide (Extracted from the LTSP Installation Guide)

The Quick Installation requires that your installation meets the following criteria:

  • You are installing on a Red Hat 6.0, 6.1, 6.2 or 7.0-based system or a Mandrake 7.2-based system.

  • The server will have an IP address of

  • The workstations will have addresses in the range of through

  • Applications will run on the server, displaying output on the workstations.

  • You are using DHCP.

Download the LTSP RPM packages from the LTSP download site,

  • lts_core-2.xx-xx.i386.rpm—the Core LTSP package, which contains the root filesystem, configuration utilities and documentation for the workstations.

  • lts_kernel_xxxx-2.xx-xx.i386.rpm—precompiled kernels for diskless booting. Choose the appropriate kernel for the network card of the diskless workstation.

  • lts_xxxx-2.xx-xx.i386.rpm—precompiled X servers. Choose the appropriate X server for the video card of the diskless workstation.

Install the rpm -i lts_core-2.xx-xx.i386.rpm, rpm -i lts_kernel_xxxx-2.xx-xx.i386.rpm and rpm -i lts_xxxx-2.xx-xx.i386.rpm packages.

Verify that dhcpd is installed on the server. Run the following command:

rpm -qa | grep dhcp

It should report a line like:

If it doesn't, then you need to load the DHCP RPM from the Red Hat installation CD.

Once the installation of the above packages is complete, you need to move to the /tftpboot/lts/templates directory. Several files there will configure the system files on your server. Each one of these files is responsible for one system file. Take a look at those files, and make sure you agree with what they are going to do. They can potentially make your system vulnerable to intrusion. You may wish to make changes to the system files manually. If you want to do it automatically, then run the ltsp_initialize command:

cd /tftpboot/lts/templates

Copy the /etc/dhcpd.conf.example file to /etc/dhcpd.conf. Modify the dhcpd.conf file to include the MAC address of the network card in the workstation. Then, add the following line to the /etc/hosts file:    ws001
You should next edit the /tftpboot/lts/ltsroot/etc/lts.conf file to make sure the entries are correct for the workstation. Then reboot the server and turn on the workstation. You should get a graphical login prompt on the workstation. You can log in using any user ID available on the server.

As you can see, installation of an LTSP network is straightforward, and it can be up and running in a few minutes. Don't forget to follow the instructions carefully, and if you have any difficulties, read the troubleshooting section of the documentation. The project's mailing list is also a good source for solving problems, finding out about new software developments and learning from other users' experiences.



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an inspriring article

vinod kumar's picture

An excellent article which has helped to set a similar environment , making use of redundant machines, to help a small school.

Re: Linux Terminal Server Project

Anonymous's picture

The last day Jorge told me about your article...
I read the article and thinks is excellent.

Re: Linux Terminal Server Project

Anonymous's picture

I've started to investigate the LTSP, and I'm very impressed with it.

I work in corporate IT, but do volunteer work setting up IT infrastructure for community organisations. I often have access to older PC's - now I've got a(nother) use for them - setting up diskless workstations for these community organisations.