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How to set up a Puppy Linux Cybercafe
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raffy

Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 4765
Location: Manila

PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar 2009, 03:18    Post subject: freeNAS  

I have just tested freeNAS and it immediately allowed remote control with GUI (user admin password freenas).
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ecomoney


Joined: 25 Nov 2005
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Location: Lincolnshire, England

PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar 2009, 12:31    Post subject:  

Thanks for the heads up Raffy, I think we really need something that will be able to load share the internet connection, check useage stats, web filter, firewall and stop p2p traffic too as part of the solution. Though I think they both have their place at the cybercafe (see below), I really would just like one machine and a "single point of failure". This would mean they would only have to make sure one (hardened linux) p.c. was working the entire time.

FreeNAS seems a very interesting project though, and Im glad you brought it to my attention for another project. For recycling p.c.'s at our "workshop" I would love to do away with cd's altogether. A freeNAS box would allow us to boot puppy and install to the hard disk (using files on the FreeNAS server). I think the people at the cybercafe may well want something like this there, for wealthier travellers who have virused/broken laptops. Im sure with a bit of training they would be able to do the same there. For home setups, it seems an excellent use for an old laptop with a broken screen, which can be got on ebay for a song, and will use very little power while left on overnight bittorrenting.

Im still getting nowhere with the Smoothwall through lack of a network hub. This is the rough schematic of the cybercafe as it stands (excuse the poor ASCII graphics). Obviously there are a lot more p.c.'s in the real thing.


[MODEM]
|
|
[NET. HUB]
/ | | \
/ | | \
PC PC PC PC


I want eventually to place a smoothwall box here, with tftp booting enabled.

[MODEM]
|
|
[SMOOTHWALL]
|
|
[NET. HUB]
/ | | \
/ | | \
PC PC PC PC


It should then just be a matter of setting each PC to netboot in the bios and off we go. I think will need crossover cables between the smoothwall and the hub(downstream) and modem (upstream).

The problem I have in testing is that I dont have access to a network hub back here. What I need to know is if I can just test the tftp function of the smoothwall by using a much simpler setup...



[SMOOTHWALL]
|
|
|
PC

I think I will need a crossover cable (thanks Raffy!) between the two. I have in the past, when short of a crossover cable, cut into a normal cable and swapped the Orange and Blue (I think) crossed pairs over, and wrapped everything back up with copious amounts of insulation tape. Im not suggesting this for the cafe....but it has got me out of a scrape or two.

Will this work to get the testbed up and running? And when I take the smoothwall box to the cafe for a demo will it function in the same way through a hub?

This is the only solution I can think of for now.

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Aitch


Joined: 04 Apr 2007
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Location: Chatham, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar 2009, 14:43    Post subject:  

Rob

AFAIK crossover cables are only needed PC to PC with no network DHCP to sort out connection assignments, therefore straight links will do for modem/smoothwall/router connections

btw, I have picked up 24 way 100Mb Lan Routers for £10 inc. on ebay

You may find this useful:-

http://blog.lxpages.com/linux_network.html


Aitch Smile
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Dougal


Joined: 19 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar 2009, 17:05    Post subject:  

There's something I don't understand about your planned setup (though I might just not understand the netbooting properly):
You plan to have the machines boot when the users want them, running in ram with no save file, right?
So what about the basic settings? You can't really expect them to go through the xorgwizard etc. every time they boot...
Or will you have some basic. ro, save file on each machine just with the basic configuration (or maybe a remastered initrd.gz -- but then you'll need one for each machine...)?

Did I miss something?

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raffy

Joined: 25 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar 2009, 17:53    Post subject: yes  

Amen to that, with little changes:
Aitch wrote:
.. crossover cables are only needed PC to PC with no network HUB, therefore [the usual] straight links will do for modem/smoothwall/router connections..

As to Dougal's question, parameters can be passed in the TFTP server (in pxelinux.cfg) re the keyboard and even the screen resolution. I guess for the mouse, too, but I have not yet tinkered with that - note that 4.1.2 pauses to confirm the mouse selection.

Any particular parameters would help ecomoney's setup? What about the mouse choice, can the display of mouse alternatives be suppressed?

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dinky


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PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar 2009, 18:24    Post subject:  

Firstly, great idea. Secondly, I haven't read all of this thread, so some of this might already have been said. I've often thought about something similar with Puppy linux, however I hadn't considered the netboot method. That's got lots of potential. Here's another option:

Rather than using the netboot method, you remove the hard drives, and in their place use a solid state flash drive, one that's locked and can't be written too. This could be as simple as a usb card reader, with a locked sd card plugged into it behind the glass. It can be read, but not written to. Each card is configured specifically to that particular pc, so that on bootup no questions are asked, and they are automatically connected to the internet. This could be done as a remaster, or by creating a save file. Remember that the sd card is locked after installtion, so it's not possible to write to the save file anymore.

A very simple solution, here are the benefits:
- very easy to do. Potentially anyone who knows a little about puppy linux could implement it, and no extra code needs to be written.
- leaves plenty of room to create remasters specific to your needs. For instance, perhaps the pinboard only contains a web browser and word processing program, nothing else.
- Simple documentation could explain the need to power off the pc after use, or more code can be written so that logging out would destroy a users session, and all their data.

Here are the disadvantages:
- requires someone to be onsite to upgrade the sdcards for new versions, bug fixes, etc.
- may require some coding to implement advanced features, depending on what's needed.

The biggest issue is new sd cards to upgrade, however, there's plenty of ways to deal with this. One option would be for you to custom create new sd cards each time you need to upgrade puppy linux. This would create some waste (old sd cards, which could then be recycled, reused, etc), but is very easy to implement. All that would be required would be for staff at the cybercafe to remove the old cards, and pop in the new ones, making sure they stayed locked. You would simply have to create them, then mail them in. The cafe could even post back their original cards if they wanted to reuse them, but sd cards are so cheap these days, there's probably not much point.

Totally different tack to where your heading, which will also work eventually. Just a thought, no offence taken if you don't use it. Good luck, I think you're on the right track.

~dinky
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ecomoney


Joined: 25 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar 2009, 12:43    Post subject:  

Quote:
You can't really expect them to go through the xorgwizard etc. every time they boot...


Why? Isnt that puppy linux's design? Isnt puppy linux supposed to friendly to "linux newbs" Twisted Evil Rolling Eyes

You have totally hit the nail on the head Dougal. One of the purposes of this cybercafe project is to provide feedback to the puppy linux project, as well as is puppy linux's mission is to provide a simple to setup and setup linux system for "linux newbs".

I totally agree , the xorgwizard isnt anywhere near friendly enough for non-linux-techies, and it needs some serious revision if puppy is going to fulfil its origional mission statement. The question is...why hasnt this usability flaw been corrected by now?

I have booted hundreds of different computers with puppy linux, and each time I set up the xorgwizard I have thought "Why do I have to continually just press [ENTER] on all of the xorgwizard screens. The xorgwizard, with nearly no exception, just picks up the defaults and works......so why present the end user with all this complicated extra information about "X", graphics drivers and mouse types etc.
Puppy linux has NEVER failed to autodetect the correct mouse, and why this has been put back into 4 series Dingo is a mystery.

Its my belief, from my own observations, Puppy Linux would be a more a more successful operating system if these options (xserver, resolution, mouse type) were presented as an "advanced setup" configuration, that was presented as a choice, on a time delay, before the xserver started for example.....after the initial bootup, the screen should clear of bootup messages and display.

Code:
Puppy linux will now attempt to automatically configure its graphics. Press [ESC] (escape) now in the top left of your keyboard to interrupt autoconfiguration and enter the graphical settings manually. You will need to do this if puppy linux has failed to start automatically in the past on this computer setup.

Auto-configuring in [5].....[4].....[3].......[2]......[1]......




In the background, the xorgwizard would prepare the xorg.conf with default settings i.e. with the xorg graphics server, and the default detected mouse type. The screen resolution is most often often autodetected from the monitor, especially the type of monitor (LCD or CRT). If the screen resolution for lcd is not autodetected, then 1024x768 should be requested.

Pressing escape will run the current text-based xorgwizard.

After the xorgserver starts, puppy linux should display a graphical startup screen, where the screen resolution can be adjusted with a mouse and a slider, and a location entered (perhaps using a graphic of a world map?). This sets the "locale" as well as the keyboard layout. This would be of particular use in the cybercafe, as people from all nationalities come and are used to different keyboard layouts.

I realise this strategy may not be popular with more traditional puppy developers, who understand the various video modes and xservers and prefer access to low-level controls. It will be VERY popular with normal "linux newb" computer users around the world however....a linux distribution that, in the vast majority of cases....."Just works....No hassles".

It would take a very far-sighted developer, who take Barry's origional mission statement seriously, to put their own preferences to one side....and actually produce this much needed feature that will make Linux as an OS much more popular Wink

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Aitch


Joined: 04 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar 2009, 16:36    Post subject:  

Rob, I sort of agree
However too many *nixes just go for broke & fire up the highest res it can, which often fails
800x600 is a safe, if large starter for virtually any box, IMHO
After it starts, then adjustment screen could popup asking if you want to tune it
Real problem is too many variables in hardware

Aitch Smile

PS I put out a shout for tester to help you with networking stuff, he says by w/e maybe, OK?
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raffy

Joined: 25 May 2005
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar 2009, 19:11    Post subject: smoothwall  

Good points, Robert (ecomoney). Am sure help in coding is coming. Smile

Having seen dinky's (exploratory) comments above,I suddenly wondered if you really need a smoothwall PC for firewall when you can have an able router with integrated firewall (already low-cost nowadays). All you have to do is configure the router for that. It is a service enterprise, and the users deserve the maximum connection speed, which can be helped by avoiding bottlenecks upstream.

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dinky


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PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar 2009, 22:27    Post subject:  

Casting my vote for a simpler start up like ecomoney suggested. Please!!!!! If I could code it, and use it for my own distros, I would. I fully agree, Puppy Linux needs to be taken further. It's just not there yet.

~dinky
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Lobster
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Mar 2009, 02:06    Post subject:  

It is easy to say - autoc-onfig res - but not so easy to implement because of the variety of cards and monitors. It would therefore add to Puppys size, maybe requiring other programming languages (if using another distros code). It may become possible with Woof in the future.
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Billwho?


Joined: 06 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Mar 2009, 03:57    Post subject:  

Auto config my not be a good idea unless it it set for 600x800. I never use the default choice when booting up a new Puppy, I always use one or two steps down so I can actually see the screen.
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ecomoney


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PostPosted: Fri 13 Mar 2009, 07:07    Post subject:  

Im not saying any of this will be easy! Making a Linux aimed at new users is always going to be a challenge.

Ive been using Puppy Linux since version 1.06 (November, 2005) and Ive setup hundreds of computers using it, of all kinds of ages and specifications. I would estimate that only 0.5% of these computers have been unable to get 1024x768 resolution working. Most of these were very early on, because of very old (50htz?) monitors that were unable to support it. I would imaging very few of these early monitors still survive.

Yes, there will be exceptions, the 0.5% of computers that wont work with the default settings...and would need to be setup manually.

Compare this option to the 99.5% of new linux users are put off continuing to use (and eventually come to appreciate) Linux by the text based setup screens, which will to them be the first time they interact with a Linux system. It does nothing to dispel the myths from Microsoft that Linux is over complex and difficult to use.

Using this system 99.5% will still be much better catered for, and the 0.5% of people that this system affects will only be marginally worse off (having to press escape during setup).

I started a thread (as yet unresponded to) a while back about a possible design for a "newb-friendly" setup wizard here

http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=283550#283550

Could we keep discussions about that organised there please.


NAS Box
----------

Im starting to have second thoughts about the smoothwall....at least to begin with.

Would the FreeNas simply attach to the existing network, gain an i.p. via autoDHCP, and then be able to boot the other boxes on the network by changing their bios settings? Perhaps it might make a good stopgap introduction to introducing a puppy based setup at the cybercafe. They will be dual-running windows/puppy for a while when they first start.

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Dougal


Joined: 19 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Mar 2009, 07:08    Post subject:  

ecomoney wrote:
I totally agree , the xorgwizard isnt anywhere near friendly enough for non-linux-techies, and it needs some serious revision if puppy is going to fulfil its origional mission statement. The question is...why hasnt this usability flaw been corrected by now?

That's actually not what I meant: when you go to a normal" cybercafe, they just log you in a display manager -- you don't need to actually set up the box!
It's reasonable to make it boot every time, if there are long stretches of time the machine isn't used, but it must be preconfigured, so the user can just go ahead and use it.

Quote:
I have booted hundreds of different computers with puppy linux, and each time I set up the xorgwizard I have thought "Why do I have to continually just press [ENTER] on all of the xorgwizard screens. The xorgwizard, with nearly no exception, just picks up the defaults and works......so why present the end user with all this complicated extra information about "X", graphics drivers and mouse types etc.
Puppy linux has NEVER failed to autodetect the correct mouse, and why this has been put back into 4 series Dingo is a mystery.

I've actually made a version of the xorgwizard that can be run in "auto" mode, but I don't think that kind of thing should be the default: the attitude with Puppy has always been to not do things the user didn't ask for. It's just like not connecting to the net if the user hasn't configured the interface -- it is trivial to do, but we intentionally don't do it. (my idea is to have a boot option for selecting auto, with the possibility of specifying a x-server and/or a resolution to use.)

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Aitch


Joined: 04 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Mar 2009, 10:17    Post subject:  

Hi Rob,

Quote:

Would the FreeNas simply attach to the existing network, gain an i.p. via autoDHCP, and then be able to boot the other boxes on the network by changing their bios settings?


Freenas will attach to the network, OK but the other depends on PXE & setup,

however, I've done a bit more research, & see these links
H. Peter Anvins' original Syslinux/PXELinux came from wayback machine, as it has better info

http://web.archive.org/web/20070809051748/syslinux.zytor.com/faq.php

The others have PXE info

http://syslinux.zytor.com/wiki/index.php/PXELINUX

http://www.kano.org.uk/projects/pxe/

RTFM Education has info about Ultimate Deployment Appliance, as an alternate to PXE that can run from a VMWare image

http://www.rtfm-ed.co.uk/?page_id=366

from this forum

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=38442

benshead wrote:
Answering a bit of my own question:

Since the HP t5xxx thin clients can PXE boot, my first try will be using the Ultimate Deployment Appliance www.rtfm-ed.co.uk/?page_id=366 to image mine when it comes. UDA is a VMWare virtual machine that allows you to boot clients on a network from ISOs stored on a server.

From UDA's description:
"the operator powers on the physical or virtual machine and press [F12] to trigger a PXE boot. The operator then selects a build from a menu, and then an unattended/scripted installation is triggered by either using either Windows unattended files or Linux kickstart files depending on your OS. UDA also supports using CD-ROM boot utilities such as BartPE delivered via PXE. In short UDA allows you kiss goodbye your manual CD-ROM based installations - and say hello to remote builds via ILO/RAC/IP-KVM cards or from your virtual machine console window."


and physdiskwrite from the Monowall site for you/anyone looking to write CFdisks from a Windoze box [also on Freenas site] for syslinux/other useage

http://m0n0.ch/wall/physdiskwrite.php

Hope that helps

Aitch Smile
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