Currently, around 300 linux-based net.point PCs are located throughout Freiburg University’s campus, available to students and employees for internet, e-mail, secure shell and other internet services. These net.point PCs have different internet homepages set up, depending on their intended use, including information centers, library research, or universal Linux-PCs.
The first version of net.point became available in 1996. Today, these net.points are commercial quality PCs with AMD or Intel CPU, between 1 to 4 GHz speed, RAM-space between .5 and 4 GBytes, ethernet, graphic cards, 17 to 24 inch screens with 1024x768 or better solutions, keyboards and 3-button or rad mouse. The ethernet card is PXE compatible. A hard drive is not needed, but can be incorporated if necessary.
After starting, the net.point will boot a University IT Services “diskless Linux System” net.point server via PXE or DHCP. Thereby around 120 Mbytes of programs and data is transferred. The system starts with a previously configured X11-server, windowmanager Ice WM and Firefox Browser, in around 1 to 2 minutes over a 100 Mbit/s network.
Publically available net.points have an internal Firewall within Freiburg University due to child security purposes. Registered University employees and students can change these Firewall settings by logging in with their User IDs (Uni-Account). Furthermore, after logging in, you can also choose to use other windows systems, such as KDE, GNOME, FVWM2 or XFCE besides IceWM.
The particular advantages of net.points in comparison to stand-alone PCs are:
- Less installation complexity: as net.points are booted diskless over network, no local installation is necessary. For every new net.point, simply one line is added in the configuration file of the server. There is also the option to incorporate individual internet start sites or special configurations concerning the hardware arrangements.
- Easy Maintenance: If problems do arise, simply hit the reset button to restart the net.point.
- Security: The server exports NFS as ‘read-only’ in the ‘Linux Tree.’ If local configurations cause problems, individual net.points can easily be reset to initial states through a powercycle.
Selectivity for permanent or temporary Homedirectory
When you login to a netpoint, you can choose if you want to connect to your personal Homedirectory of your Uni-Account on the fileserver, where data is automatically saved in regular intervals. Access is encrypted through NFS4. All installments, e.g. Browser Bookmarks or Windowmanager configurations, are stored in your personal Homedirectory. All data, edited with applications such as OpenOffice, gimp or other programs available on the net.point can be accessed from any other net.point or from the Login server.
Altenatively, you can choose to login in without connecting to your permanent Homedirectory. A local RAM disk will be used instead. In this case, no data of your active net.point-session is stored. This would make sense if you would like to search the internet without risking any previously stored data in your homedirectory or if you would like to try out one of the 3,000 programs offered in the net.point-Linux-System without leaving any traces on your permanent Homedirectory.
Walter, Martin Tel. 203-4651