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Old 03-11-2010, 11:31 AM   #1
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Best Linux systems arrangement for kids computer lab

I'm helping out at a local boys and girls club and tasked with setting up their computer lab. They have some older IBM ThinkCenters towers with winXp home and a few Toshiba Satellite A10 with winXp Pro. So, doing a windows network was kinda out of the question cause I kept running into user account issues and permissions. I met with the director and we discussed exactly what the kids are using the computers for mostly which is internet, a little word processing/spreadsheets (ms office etc), pdf viewer, email, and they'd need to be able to print. I told him about cloud computing and we're excited to get something like that in the works because now with google docs the kids can do everything they essentially need to all on the internet. One of my main points to the director was that the kids don't download and install anything on the computers anymore with cloud computing so the systems should not ever get into the condition they are currently in which is they all need a format and restore currently.

The lab will have 10-30 computers. They all have a Netgear Wireless card which they use to connect to a router. I would like to use maybe the LiveCD of gOS gadgets, but I need some configurations to stick. I found a persistent install of gOS on USB but I don't want to spend 300 dollars ($10 dollars per USB drive for 30 computers) for thumbdrives for all the machines when they have harddrives. Also, I'd like to install gOS on the harddrive but pull configurations and user settings from a central location because these kids could tamper with the USB stick or open the CD-rom drive. I've considered doing a host/client NFS setup and I've read a bit on it to where I'd just boot the clients off the network but I'm not sure how that works with the wireless cards and setting up an Ad-hoc network in linux. Though, it would be nice not to have to install linux on each machine and just have terminal clients. Is there a way to run liveCD versions on each computer but store hardware device information and user settings in a central location so no matter which computer the kid logs into his/her desktop gadgets are in the same place and the hardware (mainly the Netgear wireless card) is configured to get online. I also want to install Google Chrome Browser on all the machines so I need some way to save some configurations while not allowing the kids to download and install anything.

What are my options for arranging the machines to easily protect/monitor their web activities (which is a pain in windows without 3rd party software), save hardware/user settings, and restrict downloading and installing software? Am I on the right path?

I'm going to do a demonstration on my laptop with gOS in a few days for the director. I'm going to use the persistent USB drive install and just boot to the USB and show him the interface, web browsing, document creating,etc as that is close to how I envision this setup working.

Thanks for any suggestions and opinions.
Old 03-11-2010, 12:36 PM   #2
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Last edited by smoker; 03-11-2010 at 12:39 PM.
Old 03-12-2010, 11:22 AM   #3
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That's what I was looking for. I'll give those a full read. I'll post back once I'm done.
Old 03-12-2010, 11:54 AM   #4
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Either one of those looks promising and I'm comfortable with setting up the main server or the terminal servers, but I'm not sure what to do setting up a thin client or diskless client. I read in the documentation that if the diskless clients happen to have HD then increasing the swap size can really help performance or is this basically the same as a thin client? I've also in the past had a computer that had a network boot enabled device and shortly after POST it would ask, however, these IBM thinkcentres do not. Do I need to flash/upgrade their bios to allow network boot if the option isn't available in their current bios?
Old 03-12-2010, 12:44 PM   #5
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Here's some info on the subject:

Converting PC's into thin clients - a rundown of a suddenly crowded niche
Old 03-12-2010, 05:50 PM   #6
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I might suggest Xpud.
Old 03-14-2010, 10:21 AM   #7
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thanks jefro. Xpud looks pretty cool that's along the lines of what I'm wanting to deploy. I'm going to mess with it later today.
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