Integrated client/server solution

Class Reunion

© Lead Image © Author, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © Author, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 225/2019
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Intranets with multiple servers and services require careful configuration. With Karoshi Linux, even complex structures can be set up in no time at all.

Educational institutions often require complex IT infrastructures that cover all areas of school life. These not only include learning and educational software for the students, but also subject-specific applications and administration. In order to reconcile all requirements and areas (e.g., to be able to use existing proprietary software), cross-platform interfaces must be implemented.

Above all, the software must be easy to use, because often the school network is not managed by IT administrators, but by teachers with limited IT knowledge, who were given responsibility almost incidentally. The UK-based Linux Schools project [1] is tackling this problem with an all-in-one solution named Karoshi [2], which has proven its value in British schools for almost two decades now.

Requirements

The current Karoshi v12.0 server is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. This is also true of the associated client, which, however, has only reached version 6. Both images are available exclusively for 64-bit systems. The hardware requirements for a test environment are just 512MB RAM and about 10GB free disk space. The client ISO image weighs in at about 3.6GB, while the server only needs about 1.7GB. Both images are hybrid images that also work on USB sticks.

However, production use requires more powerful hardware. The developers recommend a minimum of one dual-core CPU, 4GB RAM (maximum: 64GB), and 10GB mass storage, plus 500MB capacity per student or user. Since Karoshi also supports other subordinate central computers in addition to the main server, the capacities can be spread among the different machines depending on the application scenario. The installation requires wired Internet access; the graphical installer does not offer a setup dialog for a WiFi network.

Ready to Rumble

After transferring the ISO to a DVD or USB stick, you can boot Karoshi Linux for the install. The live system loads a lean Xfce desktop in which the Ubuntu Ubiquity installer launches automatically. It transfers the system to the computer in a few steps.

After rebooting, you first need to agree to the free AGPL license. The dialog for the initial installation of the server services then starts automatically. From here on, you need working network access.

First you have to decide whether the system you are installing will be the primary server or an additional machine. The routine lets you restore an existing domain controller from another server or to reconstruct from a backup archive. If you decide on a new setup, the dialog asks you what the server's purpose will be. The three alternatives here are Education, Business, and Home. The Karoshi server can thus also be used on your home network or in a small business; the installation routine automatically adapts the server services to match.

In the next step, the installation wizard queries the physical network interface and configures the netmask and DNS server based on the existing IP addresses for the interface. If there are several interfaces in the system, make sure that you select the correct interface. Karoshi also recognizes WiFi interfaces, but does not provide setup for them.

The wizard also prompts you for the IP address of the Gateway interface in the network access dialog (i.e., your gateway to the active intranet).

The installation routine then restarts the system and sets up a Samba server in a largely automated process. Only the data necessary for the domain and the matching authentication passwords need to be entered. Thanks to the Samba domain, the Karoshi server also acts as a central computer in heterogeneous environments where some clients run Windows.

Web Administration

In the last step of the initial setup, you enter a username and a password for the server's administrative web interface. You can now configure it via a completely web-based interface. The routine sets up a matching icon on the desktop.

When first enabled, the web interface launches a wizard that helps you configure various settings. However, you might want to skip the wizard, since the web interface covers the wizard's feature set completely anyway, and a system update makes more sense as the first step.

In the main window, select System in the Update Web Management group. Then press the Check for updates button in the window's right pane. Karoshi now displays a protocol view in which the individual scripts are retrieved.

After completion, a list with the available updates is displayed at the same location (Figure 1). Click Apply all Patches in the top right corner, and the system will set up the updates. Then restart the system and enable web administration by pressing the Web Management button on the desktop.

Figure 1: Karoshi server updates are best handled with the web interface.

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