Well Linux has Firefox for surfing the web, OpenOffice for doing up documents, and you have something like Konqueror for copying files from one drive to another. I think there's a Linux alternative for most kinds of program nowadays, and if worst comes to worst you can always use wine.Also we had several applications that only ran under windows.
I'm not sure if LTSP would be what I'm looking for. If I understand it correctly, you'd have one server computer that's basically running 30 computers at once... I mean fair enough if you have a super computer that you pulled out of NASA's skip, but would it not be very slow and very hard on memory? I mean you could have OpenOffice open 30 times at once? (That's assuming of course that I understand correctly)I did look into using LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) but it didn't support local devices (i.e. plugging in a usb thumb drive to save your work). I understand that LTSP now has that support.
If all they're doing is surfing the web and typing up documents, I don't think there's much I need to show them.You biggest hurdles to deploying Linux at the desktop will be the applications and faculty. Can you guarantee that you will never need to deploy a windows based app? The faculty I had to support knew their specific areas of IT and little else. Which is not a problem as what they knew was very deep stuff. They just didn't want to invest time in learning something new. Also you are bound to get alot of questions about training the students on the new OS. Yes you will have to train them as you can't let them figure it out on there own.