Gentoo Wiki




  1. LTSP Client
  2. LTSP Server
  3. LTSP Desktop
  4. LTSP Configuration
  5. GNU Modular Network Management System


Terminal Clients (X server)

These machines don't do anything other than grab a network address, provide an X server to talk to the Desktop machine, and perhaps allow local drive access. Be wary that you don't troubleshoot the wrong machine when dealing with a problem. Although these machines get dhcp and some other services from the server, once X has started, any inconvenience is more than likely a problem with the desktop system. Problems with actual local devices are at this level. The only reason to touch this box as a user is to connect to the X client. The only reason to touch this box as an admin is to find MAC address, address hardware issues, and occasionally to troubleshoot.

NIC information needed for Etherboot

In order for LTSP to work, your clients must be able to boot off of the network. While some network cards support this OoB and have a simple boot priority list in the BIOS to manage it, most don't. You might want to figure that out first.

You'll need to take a look at your clients and grab their MAC addresses. In most cases the MAC address is printed on the network card, but it's often quicker to boot up with a LiveCD (such as Gentoo or Knoppix) or a tomsrtbt floppy rather than open the case.

Code: the linux way
 /sbin/ifconfig eth0

Sample Output:

eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:03:47:2D:A1:EB
inet addr: Bcast: Mask:
RX packets:3134377 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:2717865 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:253491227 (241.7 Mb) TX bytes:1727367591 (1647.3 Mb)

If you already have dos/windows on the box, you may be able to do this:

Code: the dumb way
 ipconfig -a
 ipconfig /all

We'll continue assuming that your network card is not capable of networking booting.

The next thing you need to know is what make and model you network card is. It's pretty likely that this information is on the card, but it's also likely that you could find this out by Googling the first three pairs of numbers in the MAC address, 00:03:47 in this case, or asking the terminal itself.

Code: More NIC info
 /sbin/lspci | grep -i net
0000:01:08.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB PRO/100 VE (LOM) Ethernet Controller (rev 81)

Assuming that you have the appropriate information, visit, then configure and download your ROM of choice. Depending on how you configure the boot ROM, I believe you could even achieve LTSP without DHCP.

If you would prefer to use your own server for rom-o-matic, you can get all of the files you need here:

Acheiving Etherbootability


This is only for the case in which you actually have a PXE boot ROM in your network card.

  1. Follow the machine specific instructions for entering the BIOS of your machine.
    • Usually something like <DEL>, <ESC>, <F1>, <N>, or <TAB>.
  2. Then you must change the boot order to include the network card.
  1. Enter the BIOS and adjust the machine to boot offboard devices first.
  2. After the POST tests complete you should see a screen that tells you to press a key combination to enter the PXE configuration.
    • Usually something like <CTRL>+<F10> or <CTRL>+<S>.
  3. Do so and enable the boot support.

etherboot zdsk

Code: etherboot disk
 cat /path/to/eb-5.2.6-eepro100.zdsk > /dev/fd0

NOTE: On many newer systems the path to the floppy device is /dev/floppy/0.

Set the BIOS of the thin-client-to-be to boot from the floppy drive by default and insert disk. If a lot of stuff scrolls down the screen it's probably due to a bad disk. If it sleeps, it's the wrong ROM for that card.

etherboot zlilo

If you create a GRUB floppy, you can copy several zlilo ROMs onto it in order to test your configuration. Once you figure out which clients use which ROM you should install grub to the hard drive if there is one.

Here's an example of GRUB configured with a few common ROMs

File: ./grub/grub.conf
default 0
fallback 1
timeout 3

title Network Boot (Intel)
    root (fd0)
    kernel /eb-5.2.6-eepro100.zlilo

title Network Boot (3Com)
    root (fd0)
    kernel /eb-5.2.6-3c90x.zlilo

title Network Boot (3Com)
    root (fd0)
    kernel /eb-5.2.6-3c509.zlilo
Code: GRUB on a floppy
 fdformat /dev/fd0
 mkfs -t ext2 /dev/fd0
 grub-install /dev/fd0
 mount /dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy
 cp eb-*.zlilo /mnt/floppy

PXE grub

This article is still a Stub. You can help Gentoo-Wiki by expanding it.

You can build grub with PXE support and have it boot to the network directly.

echo "sys-boot/grub netboot" >> /etc/portage/package.use
emerge grub

And I haven't the slightest what to do next...

AF: Useful reference, not an expansion persay, but useful link:


Boot up your LTSP client and you should get as far as

Loading ROM Image...

If it's actually the correct image for your network card, you'll get a little further

Searching for server (DHCP)...

TIP: Wireless Thin-Clients

Supported Wireless Cards

This article is still a Stub. You can help Gentoo-Wiki by expanding it.

Supposedly LTSP has some wireless card support, I'm unawares as to how it works

Wireless Etherboot

This method suggests using a minimal installation with appropriate drivers/modules installed to 'jumpstart' another the thinclient. eb-Linux

Ethernet --> Wireless Bridging

If you want to make a terminal hassle-free wireless station, I suggest the ASUS WL-330. It had a few bugs at first, but the firmware updates fix that. You would need to boot the internal network card, but use the MAC address on the WL-330 (or clone the MAC).

Updated information on Ethernet --> Wireless bridging can be found here.

Order of Operations

Next comes the setup of the server. At each step while you setup the server, you will be able to test it with your client. After the serve is setup, you could concievably make any destop system on your network your desktop system.

See Also

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Last modified: Mon, 07 Aug 2006 11:33:00 +0000 Hits: 16,302