Hyper-Geeking and field tests

21 11 2004


Wow, what a day.
Yesterday I buckled down and finally reconfigured the CONGO servers to support the new workstations I’ve been accumulating to replace my iOpeners. It took a couple hours of noodling with LTSP configurations and SSH keys, but in the end I now have a cluster of 4 flatscreen workstations, all booting completely off a central Athlon 2.8gig Shuttle box.
The new workstations are Gateway Profile 1.5 machines. These are all-in-one K6-2/400 workstations with fantastic 1024×768 LCD screens. They are SUCH an improvement over the iOpeners in so many ways, but htey do have one drawback. They’re -heavy-. The iOpeners are maybe 4lbs each, and I can carry 6 of them in one carrying case without too much effort. The Gateways are closer to 13lbs each, and are larger, so they don’t fit into any of the road cases I have. That’s a challenge I’m postponing, but will have to address it at some point.

Part of the motivation for getting this stuff going was Tim’s birthday party last night. I had agreed to bring some machines over to his house so we could have some LAN gaming going on. The Gateways are a lot better than the iOpeners for this sort of thing as well, since they have very good, fast screens. The trick was to get the games installed on the server before I had to pack up the cluster and head out. I got everything running about an hour and a half before I needed to leave, so that didn’t leave much time. We ended up with 4 working Gateway Profile terminals, all booting properly off the network. Yay!
I rummaged through the Linux Gametome to get ideas, as well as asked some friends online about I should install. Of the 15 or so packages I finally ended up putting in place, a couple turned out to be real winners:

  • Tenes Empanadas Graciela is a Risk clone running under GNOME. The turn based system was a little time consuming, but the game looks to be quite good. Need more playing
  • Nethack is always the perennial favorite, even though it really -isn’t- multiplayer, it got some use.
  • By far, the favorite for the evening was Xpilot, which ran beautifully on the workstations. Ben did a great job figuring out the tweaks and fiddles to make the game runnable and we had a grand time chasing each other around.

The machines all behaved very well, and it was a great test of the new terminals. We had 4 running off the new Shuttle server, and everything just plain worked. Yay!

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