[K12OSN] teaching kids sys admin with VM's

James P. Kinney III jkinney at localnetsolutions.com
Fri Jan 18 02:11:09 UTC 2008

I can see many, MANY issues with this setup. Not the least of which is
kids with root access AT ALL on a networked machine.

An idea is to skip the installation part and provide vmware-player
images for them to admin. This way you can lock down the configs (until
they figure out how to change things) and can provide scenarios for them
to look at/tweak/setup/fix, etc. Vmware-player is free and lighter
weight than full VMWare desktop. 

Server side is a challenge as each thin client will need RAM, plus the
server itself AND now each VM. With the player, you pre-set the RAM
size. However, if you use full VMWare, the students can change the RAM
size for a VM. That has the great potential for bringing down your
server hard and fast.

As for teaching an installation, the RedHat derivatives have the ability
to record an installation process as a flash movie file (or maybe that
was doing it over vnc - I forget). That is a GREAT documentation tool!!

Since you have old PII's you could use those with old hard drives and
let them install there. A net install is fast but a CD install is
typical. When done, just unplug the hard drive again :)

On Thu, 2008-01-17 at 08:48 -0800, Robert Arkiletian wrote:
> Wondering if I could run k12ltsp 5EL for a full class of 30 kids. But
> in addition to the ltsp environment, each kid also have a vmware VM so
> I can teach them to install/configure a Linux OS.
> My students like Linux but many of them are not comfortable installing
> it at home. One of the main barriers is that they have no experience
> installing/configuring an OS. They never get a chance to be root in my
> class. I could also teach them how to setup their own apache web
> server.
> Problem: what are the sys req of such a box?
> Could this handle it:
> dual  -  quad core Xeons/Opterons (8 cores total)
> 16GB ram (approx 512MB per person)
> 4 15k rpm scsi in a raid
> Any pitfalls people see?
> For one I am wary of kids installing games in their VM's. I can't
> restrict what they do in their own VM's.
> I am also worried their VM's may break my ltsp setup. Could that happen?
> Also that they would start services on eth1 (outside network). Maybe I
> can restrict this, not sure. Wondering if this idea would be better on
> it's own box on the internal network. If so then how would they access
> it, vnc, nx?
> ideas, comments welcome.
> -- 
> Robert Arkiletian
> Eric Hamber Secondary, Vancouver, Canada
> Fl_TeacherTool http://www3.telus.net/public/robark/Fl_TeacherTool/
> C++ GUI tutorial http://www3.telus.net/public/robark/
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James P. Kinney III          
CEO & Director of Engineering 
Local Net Solutions,LLC        

GPG ID: 829C6CA7 James P. Kinney III (M.S. Physics)
<jkinney at localnetsolutions.com>
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