[K12OSN] OT, slightly: loading OS remotely, running locally

Todd O'Bryan toddobryan at mac.com
Fri May 12 10:02:56 UTC 2006

I have a lab of 30 relatively recent P4's with 512MB of RAM, decent  
hard drives, etc.

In terms of running fast, they're great. In terms of maintenance,  
they're a nightmare. Having to re-install software on all of them or  
re-image the lab when I discover a permissions problem I've mis-set  
(and on Windows, that's way too common) is a huge pain.

So, I was thinking, what if I had a central server that wasn't  
responsible for *running* all the programs on the local machines, but  
did serve the OS to them through PXE and hosted a common filesystem  
(including /home and /usr). Updates would occur once, students would  
be able to access their files from anywhere in the lab, and I could  
still boot Windows from the hard drive if I needed to.

(I've also thought about setting up an image and having it auto- 
update itself using rsync or something from a central repository as a  
way of automating system updates, but that seems slightly dicier.)

Anyway, has anyone done anything (or heard of anyone doing anything)  


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