Philippine government pushes Linux thin client

The Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) of the Philippines has developed an open-source “thin-client” solution for users who want to extend the serviceable life of old computers instead of buying new — and, often, more expensive — PCs.

The solution uses Bayanihan Linux as the operating system for terminal servers. Now on its third version, Bayanihan Linux is meant to promote open-source computing in the government as an alternative to the more costly proprietary software.

ASTI has deployed the solution, called the Bayanihan Linux Terminal Server Project, in three public schools in Metro Manila and at the Department of Computer Science of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

The project envisions the use of open-source client-server computing in public and private organizations. The intent is to enable users to maximize computing resources by converting old computers into “thin-client” computers to save on costs.

A thin-client server system consists of multiple diskless (no hard drive, CD-ROM and floppy drive) client computers connected to a server using a local area network (LAN) card. The server performs all application processing and data file storage based on user requests from clients.

The server can connect as thin clients old machines that run on Pentium 486 processors with only 32MB of memory, said Jocel Layno, who heads ASTI’s Computer Engineering Division.

“It is a cost-effective solution for maintaining many PCs because the user invests mostly on the server. We recommend using SCSI hard disks that have multi-threading capabilities,” Layno noted in an interview.

With the use of Bluetooth, ASTI plans to put wireless capabilities later on into Bayanihan Linux, which is based on Red Hat. The institute is also working on a module, also open-source, that will be added to the solution. This module will act as a management tool for thin clients that can perform tasks like monitoring and disk allocation.

This thin-client solution is among the many cost-effective solutions ASTI has developed for the government as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In line with its open-source advocacy, it also conducts introductory courses on Linux and other open-source technology.

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