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LTSP, short for Linux Terminal Server Project, is a set of tools that provides an easy way to turn computer workstations into thin clients. Applications typically run on the server and accept input and display their output on the thin client display. LTSP is available as a set of packages that can be installed on any Linux system.

For detailed information on how to setup LTSP clients and servers, see the already excellent resources on the LTSP Wiki.

Please note that there is an official guide.



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




Don't be afraid to edit this wiki. Feel free to completely edit entire sections! This is supposed to be a 'best practices' guide and you are just the person to make it better!

This 4.1-piece guide (the .1 being this intro page) will explain howto serve ltsp X servers to terminals from an existing server and use a regular desktop machine as the X client. It will also cover local access of drives.

I recently cut this into four sections to make it easier to read, search through, and edit. I attempt to do this in an order that may seem a little out of order, but I have a reason: This guide is also for troubleshooting. I'll be covering common errors throughout the guide as they would occur were you to skip a step. Hopefully, that will make it easier to understand the process and to end up with a working setup quicker.

Before this guide gets going, I'd also like to point to two excellent resources of LTSP documentation which I just found yesterday (I guess google didn't think they were worth indexing???). Once you get to the actual configuration, these two sites are honeypots:


K12LTSP Wiki

If you're lazy and want to get it up and running quick and trust executing scripts written by others you can try the following from the gentoo forums:

Saltine's LTSP Installation Script.


In a nutshell, this is how LTSP works:

There are four main components working together: The LTSP server which houses the bare-bones root filesystem for the thin clients, the DHCP server which listens to BOOTP and DHCP requests from clients booting off the network and specifies what files to load, the network cards on the thin clients that boot over the network, and the thin clients themselves.

More specifically, this is how a thin client would boot off of an LTSP server:

Order of Operations

The reason that I discuss how to set up the terminal first is because it is the least complicated and once it is set up, you can use it to test the progress you are making on the server, desktop ends.





name = ws000.lts.domain.tld
ip =


name = server.domain.tld
ip =


name = desktop.domain.tld
ip =

What is still lacking

One vital piece of this model which is terribly missing is a management tool. Yes, there are many scripted hacks on these three wikis, but LTSP won't survive in the business world with scripted hacks - a simple interface management tool is needed.

Thus, I'd like to start a movement for a php/mysql tool which manages the services and clients based on MAC address - otherwise administration becomes a real hassle once you have a few machines that have non-standard components like monitors and such...

If anyone has talent to donate to this, please contact me Coolaj86

See Also


Alternative thin-client projects

PXES Universal Linux Thin Client

Compatible with LTSP. You can even mix PXES and LTSP.
The configuration is made with an easy to use graphical tool which guides you through the required steps (See pxesconfig).
After booting the thin client will be capable of accessing any Unix/Linux XDM (X Display Manager) server presenting the graphical login screen or any Microsoft Terminal Server through RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol), Citrix ICA server, VNC server or NoMachine NX or FreeNX server.
This approach doesn't use NFS (Network File System) making it ideal to access Microsoft Terminal Server with no need of deploying a Unix/Linux NFS server or accessing services over low speed connections present in WAN (Wide Area Networks) or Internet VPN (Virtual Private Network) environments.

Other projects

Choosing the Right Thin Clients for your System i iSeries


MueKow is just an idea for right now, but it's a great idea. You would use a distro of choice and build LTSP into it rather than having a LTSP distribution. This would allow for maximum configurabilitiy and ease of use. It would be as simple as chrooting into the small-footprint system and running the necessary commands to emerge things... could probably mount /dev/vg0/usr in /opt/muekow/usr/local and get away without installing big packages like GCC or portage.


Ubuntu Breezy w/LTSP:


"Rather than shipping 100% of the bits that are executed on the client, an alternative is to ship only the 5% that make LTSP special, and use the distros packages for the rest."

"At this point, the plan is to integrate LTSP into the next release of Ubuntu (After Hoary Hedgehog). Most of the work that goes into the Ubuntu/LTSP integration will also help us integrate LTSP into the other distributions."

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Last modified: Sat, 13 Oct 2007 21:18:00 +0000 Hits: 21,512