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

AthlonRob AthlonRob at axpr.net
Sat Sep 4 18:15:03 PDT 2004

On Sun, 2004-09-05 at 00:52 +0000, Aaron Burt wrote:
> 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.
> ???

AF Reserves.  I'm busy during the work day and can't get on the phone
during Bascom's tech support hours (they close at 3PM our time).  I
should have explained that better.  :-)

> > 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.

Yeah, it is.

> > 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.
> http://www.bascom.com/about/aboutbascom.shtml
> "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
>  deployment."

Yup.  Of course, that doesn't actually tell us what it does so much.

I think I'll contact the teachers and find out if they even know the
software is there.  If not, it's gone...

> > 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.

I haven't had any experience with IPCop, so will probably utilize a nice
Slackware install with my iptables script and squid/squidguard or
DansGuardian to filter stuff out.  Either that or I'll talk them in to
spending $50 on a cheapo DSL router.

> > 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?

A gig of RAM alone will run you close to $200.  The cheapest CPUs Fry's
have are all over $50.  $10 for a HSF.  $30 for a case (online, Fry's
doesn't have cheap cases), etc, etc... I'm currently building fairly
barebones systems for about $350 in hardware.  Unfortunately I also must
pay the Microsoft tax on these systems.  :-(

> 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 wonder how best to implement something like that with multiple
servers.  I should play around with it a bit...

> > 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.

Exactly; they're great terminals.  They're not good for much else,
though.  :-)

I'm surprised we haven't had a ton of disk failures, as well.  Happily
surprised.  Most of the systems were expensive workstations in their
day, though.

Rob                                |  If not safe,
   Jabber: athlonrob at axpr.net   |    one can never be free.

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