Sunday, December 19, 2010

techno tinkering

What's going on at the Linuxville chateau, dead quite, then lights on at odd hours, alternating outcries of eureka and oh darn. You see, the whole fun of computing is to see what you can do with it without wiping out your data or net access. Really helps if you have more than one computer. And if you have more than one PC then it gets a bit tricky when some of your data is uniquely on each one of them or different versions of one file is on either of them. A central data store like a NAS or network attached storage would be nice.

In another setup, a through-back to the mainframe era, is the LTSP server. I don't know why I like this setup but one central server with some dumb terminals is economical for a home computer. The LTSP server can be powerful yet small, serving applications and providing data storage for a slew of work stations around the house. Perhaps the work stations called thin clients are diskless or perhaps they are just less endowed PCs, even older PCs that tap the server's resources. Some have even called these "chubby clients"or smart terminals. This goes to show you that personal computers are not always the best use of PC technology.

The real thing is how much it takes to setup and live with this arrangement. It can't be any worse than what music buffs do. I have seen home entertainment systems manned by home-brew media engineers. I am always so envious. My server can be the latest and my less endowed terminals can be older stuff. Hey, that's STEAMPUNK if I ever saw it! The terminals can't utilise the latest software in their own right but as terminals they can blaze with eye-candy streamed from the server.

Why me? I work with my GIMP setup a certain way on my laptop, changing it as I use it. Then I roam to my desktop, open GIMP and it's not the same. If I had GIMP on a LTSP server, it would be one copy and I could access it, the same GIMP, from either laptop or desktop. I have just killed redundancy, the need to sync data on two computers and created a consistent work environment. I know you can buy already set-up NAS and servers, but we don't always have money to throw at problems and besides home-brewing is fun. Schools don't have the time to teach you all this cool stuff. If you are a techie you must tinker, the same is true with artist, you must make your own tools.

So with that, excuse the yellow tape and no, it's not a crime scene. The flashing lights say "tinkering session in progress!"

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