[PLUG] A Small K-8 LAN - Bascom?

Aaron Burt aaron at bavariati.org
Sat Sep 4 17:53:02 PDT 2004

On Sat, Sep 04, 2004 at 03:46:03PM -0700, AthlonRob wrote:
> I inherited a network at a small K8 private school (5 classrooms, 5
> teachers) and have run in to some issues.  At the moment, I'm on orders,
> so am only really available to talk to individuals over the phone after
> normal business hours.


> Their network consists of approximately 50 Windows 98 computers and a
> server.  They just upgraded from 56K dialup to DSL yesterday.  All the
> systems plug in to a single 10BaseT hub.

That's gotta be one big mutha' of a hub.

> The systems then access the Internet through an old server running
> 'Bascom'.  nmap identified it as Linux-based.  It's running 2.4.20 or
> so.  I haven't yet booted with a rescue CD to attempt to identify the
> underlying distribution.

"BASCOM Global Internet Services, Inc. is a software development
 company specializing in curriculum-based Internet management and
 Internet infrastructure solutions. BASCOM has made its technology
 available to K-12 schools, community-based organizations, and libraries
 using an approach that permits simple, affordable, and low-maintenance

> It isn't working.  Packets are filtered through the box, utilizing some
> bridge/firewall software I'm not familiar with.  Currently web access
> absolutely crawls - the box is, simply put, lagging.

If this is something you've been charged with fixing, I'd recommend you
start out by replacing it with IPCop.  Quickly installs to HDD from CD,
a basic red/green setup will get folks going and you can fine-tune it
from a web browser on the green (inside) network.

The IPCop box will tide you over 'til you make your way-cool Super Custom
Extra-Nifty firewall.  You can even install DansGuardian on it to
protect the kiddies from Nasty Stuff.

> On another note, due to the age of so many of the systems and there
> inherent issues (I did help clean up a virus about two years ago on
> their LAN), I wonder if utilizing K12LTSP might be a worthwhile
> endeavor.  They don't currently have either the budget or the iron to
> run K12LTSP on a single system, serving out to the whole LAN, so I
> wonder if a more distributed solution might be in order...

Would be a good thing to try as a pilot project, at least.  At Free Geek
Collaborative Technologies, we run a nice li'l LTSP box for our office
and love it.  You need about a GHz (or dual-500s) and 1+ GB RAM to get
decent performance with 10s of terminals, but that's not a hard spec to
meet.  That's like, what, $200 at Fry's?

Let me know if you wanna swing by some time and checkiddout.  You're
right, it'd be good to have at least a couple of servers so you're not
totally dead in the water when a server dies.

> I'd love to replace MS Office on those systems with OpenOffice or
> similar, but OO is *so* sluggish on modern systems I know these systems
> wouldn't be able to handle it.  They're all 32-64MB of RAM, Pentium or
> Pentium II systems, none over 300MHz that I've seen.

Perfect terminals, then.  Ours are 200MHz.  I'm surprised you haven't
started losing them to disk failure, though.

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