May 17, 2022
This project seems to have run its course. I have not
returned to the school to work on the Thin Clients that I set up and
managed, and I haven't heard anything from the teachers, staff or
students about them. I wonder what has happened to those
I have, however, continued to use the method that I developed for
this project at home, at work, and on the go. I have done this by
using a bootable flash drive like this one, shown by itself and plugged into a Thin
Client. A feature of this method is that the system--which I
call ZombieSlack (formerly "SuperDrive")--can be installed and booted
from a flash drive just as readily as from the hard drive of desktop
computer, laptop or Thin Client. (The Thin Client in the picture
had a defective solid state drive, so I configured it to boot from a
I use the ZombieSlack flash drive--which I call a ZombieDrive--at
home with my desktop computer, and I use it to boot my laptop when I go
to the library--which is where I am now writing this.
I also used ZombieSlack, installed on a desktop computer, at my
recent job where I worked as a finance assistant. See Linux in the Finance Office.
And, in recent weeks, I have returned to the development of
September 16, 2018
It's been a wild ride. I have gotten a big kick out of
this project. The project is now in decline however. At its
peak I had thirty Thin Clients under my management, all running
specially configured Slackware 14.1. Now however that number has
dwindled to seventeen.
The reason for the reduction has mainly been the availability of
ChromeBooks. The beneficiaries of this project are mostly
teachers (and their students), and the school district they belong to
has recently made a big investment in ChromeBooks. I wouldn't say
that the ChromeBooks are any better than my upgraded Thin Clients, but
they do take up less space, reduce cable clutter, and they are shiny
Still, I have satisified users. Both teachers and students
benefit from the reliability of my product, the custom configuration,
the special kid-features, and the availability of easy printing.
(The ChromeBooks can print, but only through the cumbersome Google
Cloud Printing interface.)
Although the number of Thin Clients under my management is declining,
there is hope for other, related work. The specially configured
Slackware 14.1 can be installed to other kinds of PCs as well, not just
to Thin Clients. I have one such machine under my management in a
Also my methods are evolving. My specially configured
Slackware 14.1 was initially a homegrown, one-shot creation. I
made the master flash drive from which I installed by
modifying Slackware 14.1 that I had first installed to the flash
drive. This was a dicey and hazardous way to proceed. I
had no reliable recipe for how to re-create my master flash drive from
That has since changed. Due to advancements in my method, I
can now re-create a master flash drive from scratch by starting with a
new, un-modified, installation of Slackware. In fact, I have done
this, and I have made a master flash drive that uses a newer version of
my method (I call it SuperDrive) and the latest Slackware 14.2.
Armed with my new master flash drive I hope to make updates to the
seventeen Thin Clients under my management.
January 15, 2017
It has been eleven months since I started this (Fix Thin
Clients) project and ten months since I last posted to this website
about it. The project is bearing fruit. I have deployed thirty
upgraded computers in five classrooms plus the library.
(Twenty-seven of these are Thin Clients and the remaining three are
traditional desktop PCs which use the same O.S. and
The method that I am using has evolved. Initially I was
reluctant to let go of Windows. I thought that the users might
want dual-boot systems so they could run either Windows or Linux.
I found that dual-booting Windows and Linux wasn't working
well. I was (and still am) using Grub2. I found that I
could dual boot, but after a few times switching back and forth Grub2
would break and the familiar message (something like) "you have shut
down your computer incorrectly" would appear. I considered
getting a bootloader specifically for Windows, but decided instead to
stick with Grub2 and abandon Windows. This turned out to be a
good choice. It freed me to install Slackware directly to each
Thin Client's internal, 16.1 GB, solid-state drive (SSD). And
I've received zero complaints about the missing Windows O.S.
March 21, 2016
I'm working on a project. I'm fixing some computers by
installing Linux to them. They are old and gradually becoming
obsolete, but with Linux they will become more useful. So that is
what I'm doing. They seem to be good computers, they have 19 inch
LCD monitors and USB speakers. There are about four dozen of
these Thin Clients.
The task is interesting to me, because I like Linux (Slackware), and
I like tinkering with computers. Also it is challenging for
several reasons. First of all, these are not normal desktop
computers. We call them "Thin Clients", although I'm not sure if
that name is technically correct. Each has no hard drive, four
USB ports, 2 GB RAM and a 1.6 GHz processor. To make things more
exciting, I don't have the BIOS password.
Fortunately, I discovered that I can boot Linux from a Slackware USB
bootstick on a majority of the machines. From that beginning I
took a leap and installed Grub 2.0 on one of them. It gave me the
ability to choose which operating system to boot: either Windows
(currently installed), or Slackware 14.1 (on a Samsung USB 3.0 16 GB
My work since then has been twofold: One, I've been learning
Grub 2.0 and designing a custom configuration file for it. Two, I've
been configuring the Slackware 14.1 system to tailor it for the users'
I've taken some pictures and one movie in a room where I have
prepared a Thin Client to run Slackware from the Samsung USB 3.0 flash
drive as I described. You can click at the left on "pictures" to
Since there is no caption for the movie, let me tell you about
To make this movie I plugged the master flash drive into a USB port
of this "Thin Client" and booted. Slackware on the flash drive
sprang to life. I used the Google-Chrome browser to navigate to
the Youtube video that is displayed.