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Internet cafe infrastructure

Discussion in 'IT & Internet' started by gogul2k, Jul 27, 2008.

  1. gogul2k

    gogul2k UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 117 Likes: 18

    I've been approached by an investor who wishes me to help him get an internet cafe set up, but I am just thinking about the best way to get the infrastructure in place since I don't really have experience with this.

    Network administration is something I know enough about to get by, although I lack industry experience so I'm not quite an expert.

    The number of workstations we plan to have available for use is about 20 to begin with.

    Best option I think is to have a terminal server in place which would power the software for the terminal workstations ... not sure if I can do that with a Windows based netowrk though, or if I have to purchase a client access license for each computer in use. I do know that it apparently doesn't seem to be a problem for schools and colleges.

    Otherwise, plan B is to get a Linux based terminal network in place, since it would be sufficient for general internet access, word processing, etc and the desktop environment shouldn't really be a learning curve (I'm thinking most likely of running the KDE desktop environment, although other ones like GNOME and XFCE aren't too complex either for general use IMO).

    However I need to work out where best to get the equipment from and how much it's likely to cost ... I'm capable of building each workstation myself, though haven't figured out if it's cheaper to build a minimal desktop PC that can run from the network or just buy some workstations specifically designed for this purpose.

    Getting internet cafe software setup on a couple of computers for a test run has crossed my mind, although no idea what software would be best suited for this ... I've seen a few different types, but the problem with choice is deciding on the better option. Saying that, we don't have specific requirements for the software yet, basically we want to have a time lock for each workstation in use that each customer would pay for before use.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Very much appreciate any help on this.

  2. consultant

    consultant UKBF Regular Moderator

    Posts: 3,999 Likes: 498
    I looked a this a year or two ago. I couldnt find anything suitable open source.

    If you search, there is some mangement software, which includes a billing platform, but it is only for windows and costs a few hundred quid.

    Not sure about clients only. On the very few ocaissions I have visited an internet cafe, they have all been full blown computers, but you can get these for sub £200.

    If you want to go down a client route, I have seen some very good 'appliance' type hardware that is better value, but limited in spec
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  3. gogul2k

    gogul2k UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 117 Likes: 18
    Thank you for your advice consultant :]

    I've been looking into the Linux Terminal Server Project (www[dot]ltsp[dot]org) though not been able to investigate it too much yet.

    I would be interested to know more information about the management software and the client appliances. Depending on the software to be run, I haven't yet passed judgment on the best specification until I've worked out the exact software that will be running.
  4. innovengine

    innovengine UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 61 Likes: 5
    IMO get someone who has done it before - work with them as use them to learn from.

    This reduces the risk, but no doubt the money you'll make personally.

    It is, however, the sound thing to do in business terms.

    Have you been into other Cafes to see what they do, to research and ask them for assistance? What about a partnership?
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  5. Excel Expert

    Excel Expert UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 727 Likes: 110
    This was an area I looked at about two years ago.

    One major area of income that we identified was the gaming market. People want to play against their mates in the same room rather than playing over the internet. So two areas I was going to build in our infrastructure was;

    1. The ability for people to bring in their own PCs (gamers love to play on their own heavily tweaked systems).
    2. The ability to connect consoles over the LAN.

    Might be an area worth looking at before you set up your infrastructure
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  6. gogul2k

    gogul2k UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 117 Likes: 18
    I have been into other Cafes indeed, I plan to make a note of some particular types of software I've seen in use and do a little [SIZE=-1]reconnaissance[/SIZE] to work out the hardware infrastructure deployed. Bringing in someone who has experience with it is good advice, however not too likely I don't think since I don't know anyone besides the competition ... I will definitely bring it up with my investor that we should consider a partnership with someone else though.

    BTW love the Particle One website, totally know what you mean when it comes to communication between businesses and programmers, graphic designers, and SEO experts. It's help me rethink something on a separate topic.

    VERY nice idea! I will bring it up, although I'm not so sure how realistic that would taking space into consideration (we're basically converting a basement).

    P.S. I found something interesting called ZybaCafe which looks potentially useful (Google it if anyone is interested).
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2008
  7. innovengine

    innovengine UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 61 Likes: 5
    Well thank you.

    Flattery will get you everywhere.

    PM me in the week to let me know how you get on and I'll see if I can be of more help when I'm more awake :)
  8. Dwebs-Ltd

    Dwebs-Ltd UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 2,069 Likes: 263
    Try http://www.cyberleader.net/cafe/ excellent piece of software.

    Put some XP boxes in place setup the software and you are on a winner

    Recommend you get some low end Dell boxes if you want to do gaming you will need some higher end kit.

    We did a plan for a potential client based around a load of low end xp boxes with cyber leader setup plus locking down the boxes with GPO etc. They didn't go for it in the end but we did all the software testing etc. More down to cost than anything else they wanted everything for nothing.

    Edit... whatever solution you go with you need decent logging so you need to match user against internet access if you don't do it your in major trouble.
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  9. gogul2k

    gogul2k UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 117 Likes: 18
    I should probably mention, I'm actually working with a competitor :p

    Thank you Chris, that does look quite interesting :]

    Right now I am leaning mostly either towards that, or a Windows/Linux based terminal server option.

    Good night all and thank you for your advice, very helpful ^_^

    P.S. I can't even post URL's in quotation boxes yet? /lame
  10. Dwebs-Ltd

    Dwebs-Ltd UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 2,069 Likes: 263
    Cheap client boxes is the better option plus with cybercafe you could allow games to run on the boxes under the allowed application section.

    Have a word with dell if you buy quite a few machines you will get decent discount or you could lease them.

    Also think about a centrally managed AV i.e. trend micro client / server security suite so you know all PC's are protected you can also lock down the firewalls and if you get a decent switch like a cisco 2960 you could make a vlan for each machine so they can't interact with each other but can communicate with the central cyber cafe software.

    Also dump a draytek router on the ADSL line if you are having one they will take quite heavy load plus you can do some basic keyword filtering.

    You could also force all machines to go through an ISA box so you have full logging and control over internet access in realtime.
  11. brownie

    brownie UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 1,399 Likes: 191
    Regarding Terminal Services, if in application mode (Which yours will be) you will require a CAL for each workstation.

    Personally I wouldn't bother with Terminal Services.

    I'd run Windows clients with Steady State ( http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/sharedaccess/default.mspx ) with them all configured to go through a proxy. IMO ISA is a bit overkill for 20 clients, for this size setup you could use Squid for proxying and Dans Guardian for filtering. For a very robust web filtering solution you could also look into Websense Express http://www.websense.com/smb/
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  12. PureIT

    PureIT UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 165 Likes: 20
    I have also seem that there is a VM appliance for internet cafes - which you can download for free on the VMWARE website.
    I would definately put in wireless AP as well for those who want to use their own laptops.
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  13. gogul2k

    gogul2k UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 117 Likes: 18
    Thank you for your additional support =]

    I will note the advice given and compile a possible action plan.

  14. noidea

    noidea UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 1,978 Likes: 142

    Even though Linux is increasing popular the main reason why Windows still rule is because Linux is rather alien to the "average" PC User who will be the majority of your clients (unless of course you focused on gaming where most would be above average).

    Go in to a cyber cafe people expect Windows 2000+ and Internet Explorer. A lot of people would also expect Microsoft Office. There is no reason why you shouldn't install firefox and open office as alternatives. There is also no reason why alongside the windows PC's that you couldn't have a mac or linux PC.

    People want to surf the internet... not spend hours of their time and expense in learning how to get on to the internet.
  15. Lanarkshire IT Services

    Lanarkshire IT Services UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 235 Likes: 41
    hi there

    i can design you a physical / logical network diagram if you like. this will show you equipment layout, equipment type, cabling, ip addressing etc

  16. PureIT

    PureIT UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 165 Likes: 20
    I would be interested to see your recommended diagram, equipment etc as this is something that I am interested in also
  17. Lanarkshire IT Services

    Lanarkshire IT Services UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 235 Likes: 41
    hi there

    OK send me as much info as possible including things like:

    number of servers
    number of clients
    cabling type
    connection type
    networking equipment present / required

    basically as much info as possible based on whats there or required

  18. PureIT

    PureIT UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 165 Likes: 20
    1 x server
    5 x clients
    1 x printer
    RJ45 Cabling
    ADSL2 Connection
    2 x 100mb Hubs (8 port)

    What I need is an idea of what OS's to use and what internet cafe software to use

    Also is it worth putting in a WAP?

  19. gogul2k

    gogul2k UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 117 Likes: 18
    Thank you, kind of you to offer =]

    But I've got it covered ;)

    How much experience of using Linux do you have?

    Minus the fact I don't plan to have it run Linux based machines, I'm not convinced.

    I get what you're saying, but key files can be modified, themes can be downloaded (or created if I can't find them). It can be as Windows, Mac or even Star Trek like as I want it to be. Or if they don't appeal, there's still the dancing elephants ;)