Author Topic: KDE on Diskless MD??  (Read 2260 times)

aikidoka

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KDE on Diskless MD??
« on: September 10, 2007, 02:00:34 am »
Hi everyone!

First of all I'd like to say thanks to everyone posting here, I've been following this forum and reading the posts now for several weeks (not constantly though ;) ) and have had many insights and ideas and this has increased my general interest for linux based systems, which I up until now haven't really fully tried out. And of course thanks to the developers for creating LinuxMCE, which seems to be a great system at it early stages with great potential. Keep up the good work.

Now to the background of the question:
Since I've always wanted to build a client-server structure for my home with a centralized storage for my media as well as adding some smart home components to it, you can all guess how extremely interested  I became when I first came across LinuxMCE. It seems to fit all my wishes in just one package :).
But in order for it to be perfect for me (of course all the usual driver and compatibility problems apart) I would like to use the media directors as full thin-clients, i.e. with access to a full desktop environment (kde or anything else) as for use as a regular computer, with applications such as OpenOffice and others that would be running in the core. For that it would be great if the MD was diskless and for some MDs maybe had two video outputs, one for the TV and the other for a TFT for doing the regular desktop work, with the possibility to switch between the regular MCE UI and the desktop window, as in the core.
Now, is this possible at the moment or will it ever be? And in that case do any of you know what the minimum system requirements would be? (no specific hw, just a comparitive guess) Can it be made with a MD with MCE installed on a hdd?

Thanks in advance and I hope I've posted this on the right place  :)


djrobx

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Re: KDE on Diskless MD??
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2007, 02:10:04 am »
The "diskless MDs" are fully independent Linux installations.   The only real distinction is that they boot from PXE and do all of their file I/O over the network.  Once booted you can ssh to them, install packages, etc. 

It's nothing like Microsoft's "thin client" solution that they use for Media Center Extenders, which based on Remote Desktop. 

darrenmason

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Re: KDE on Diskless MD??
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2007, 02:18:15 am »
If I understood what you were asking correctly ....
Then I think the answer is No, it does not work like you are asking (and probably will not).
IE: The MediaDirectors run everything locally using their own resources (CPU, Video, RAM  etc).
The system is a distributed system, it is not client/server. There is a messaging system that operates client/server using a centralised broker on the core (DCERouter) but this is for communications between devices.
Now the bit that confuses this a bit is that the storage for the Media Directors is centralised and typically a media director will not have a local hard drive, but will instead network book, mount a network drive as if it was local and then run the OS on top of that. This includes mounting the media directories so that effectively the media looks like it is local to the MD but in fact (along with the rest of the OS) it lives on the core machine.

The other part of your question asking about switching between the desktop OS and MCE. I believe that this is possible, but it is not how I run it so I will let others confirm. Keep in mind though that everything is still running on the local machine using local resources (not thin client).

I think linuxMCE will still probably meet your objectives - just the Media Directors need to be higher spec'd machines than you hoped for.

HTH
Darren

Just noticed djrobx post beat me to it - at least we were saying the same thing :)
« Last Edit: September 10, 2007, 02:19:54 am by darrenmason »

dopey

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Re: KDE on Diskless MD??
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2007, 02:51:12 am »
Although LinuxMCE isn't built around having apps run on the core and then displayed on the thin client, this is definitely possible (original concept of X). By default everything is run on the MD with the core acting as its hard drive. KDE is one of the default suites that's installed on all MD's.

X does have built in functionality to allow you to run apps remotely. Personally, I think VNC would be a better, faster option though. It would take some extra setup and a lot of reading on X, ssh, and VNC; but you could do it.

Hagen

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Re: KDE on Diskless MD??
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2007, 12:32:47 pm »
I am not entirely certain I understand excactly what you want, but...
To me it sounds like you want to run LMCE on the TV at teh same time as the desktop aps on a seperate monitor.
That woun't work now, will be interresting to see what happens when LMCE and KDE can work seamlessly as is being worked on by the KDE team now.
You can switch to desktop from LMCE, but I haven't tried multiple video outputs.

Now there is nothing wrong with putting a hard drive with an operating system on a MD, you can even use windows (or any other OS).
Then you can either dual boot with a local Kubuntu/LMCE install or PXE boot from the core.
You only need 8/20 GB HD for the OS, all your files could still be on the core

djrobx

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Re: KDE on Diskless MD??
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2007, 06:20:24 pm »
Darren, the way I took his question, he just wants to be able to run KDE desktop and OpenOffice like you can on the core/hybrid.  If that's the question, then it's do-able. 

Setting it up to use a multi-headed display output is also not supported out of the box, but should be do-able because, again, it's just an independent Linux system with its data files being stored on the core's hard drive.

Another possibility is using the system as a completely standard computer.  I'm not sure the functionality is working in LMCE, but Pluto had it at one point. There was a Reboot to Windows button on the Orbiter that temporarily disabled the PXE boot.  That would cause the system to fall back to booting its own local hard drive.

 



Hagen

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Re: KDE on Diskless MD??
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2007, 06:51:33 pm »
There was a Reboot to Windows button on the Orbiter that temporarily disabled the PXE boot.  That would cause the system to fall back to booting its own local hard drive.
The button is still there, but again it requires a HDD on the MD.

Zaerc

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Re: KDE on Diskless MD??
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2007, 08:52:36 pm »
I think all of that is possible with LinuxMCE, some things out of the box, others wil require some nifty setting up and a few might even require hacking LMCE a bit. 

KDE is already available on the (diskless) media directors but stuff like the dual screen setup will probably be pretty hard to figure out.  Making a "true thin-client setup" is likely to be more trouble then it's worth.  And the needed hardware depends on what you want to do and how you are going to set things up (as always).
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aikidoka

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Re: KDE on Diskless MD??
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2007, 11:13:17 pm »
WOW! :o I'm really shocked by the amount of answer you've all posted! Thanks to everyone, GREAT FORUM once again!

Now first I'd like to clear out any confusion I might have started with the not so clear description, the intention was/is:
first of all to use the MD either as a MCE on a TV or as a desktop environment on the TFT, but have both connected continuously to the MD (although using both at same time seems like a pretty cool idea, I think the setting up wouldn't be worth it and I guess it could get nasty with simultaneous multiple inputs such as keybord/remote) ,
the question because: since I don't have much experience with LINUX I don't really know if (or how if yes) something like this works out of the box, but since I was thinking on UNIX based systems (as for instance in universities) where all clients share the services on one server (here OpenOffice as an example), I thought that it should work without bigger difficulties on LINUX too since its a X system.
The reason for doing this was/is to reduce the cost of the installation having diskless less powerful MDs with the possibility of use as thin-clients (thinking of UNIX systems, I have no idea how it works on Microsofts Media Center Extenders and don't really want to either since I want to get away from MS) and so skip the need of having other PC's to do regular work, and reduce headaches with keeping all systems upgraded and configured and so on. That way I would only need to install the software once on the core and have it available for the whole family (and guests) on all "Media Directed" TV's or desktops.

Now just to see if I got your answers right (please correct if I'm wrong ;D):
The MDs are running as fully independent OSs using the cores HDD, but is NOT running as an X-window on the core (being only displayed on the MD).
This being so, in order to use client-server architecture I would need to (somehow) start a new (parallel) connection to the core (using either X or VNC as mentioned by dopey) while in the KDE environment of the MD and from there start the desired applications. And as I see it's all do-able due to the X-background of LINUX without the need of any extra HW on the MD side and only depending on the core (the number of, and requirements of the applications that will run simultaneously will determine the core HW). This does not work out of the box and I would need to configure the connection on every MD every time a new MD is installed on the network (not that critical since I won't be installing a new MD every week  ;), although an automated way would be nicer - maybe with some script that creates the connection during boot that only needs to be copied?!).
The other possibility would be to install the desired apps on the MDs since they are fully independent OSs, but then I would need to adapt the HW on the MD to the SW requirements and would still have multiple installations of the same SW, and the SW would be bound to each individual MD.

If I got everything right, I guess I have to start on the reading on server side computing with X and/or VNC  on LINUX and so on.

Well, once again thanks everyone, and LinuxMCE is still my main project for the moment. First I'll do some catching up on the reading (I've noticed that asterisk is not so simple either  :-\ ) and then some smaller testings before I really start on the whole network. In the meanwhile I can get some more ideas ;D for a good overall solution with a nice complete system