PDA

View Full Version : How do I provide a standardised desktop?



Tony
10-10-2008, 12:33 PM
I've become involved with SeniorNet, which is a series of clubs that aims to provide computer education for older people. I'm teaching, rather than learning, and trying to help my local club improve their administration.

We run a whole series of short courses, with both Win XP and Vista, and Office 2003 and 2007, etc etc. Each course does different things with files and the general environment, so there is an ongoing problem of providing a "clean" environment for each course. We have two classrooms, with several networked PCs in each room.

So what I am looking for is a process whereby a standardised setup can be provided for each course, with the appropriate file/desktop/browser etc configuration.

At the moment we have dual-boot, but that is all. One way would be to do a drive-image thing for each course, but that seems to be a bit of an overkill.

Does anyone have any ideas about how we might best achieve this? I'm not too worried if the initial setup needs some technical expertise, but the deployment for each course needs to be do-able by someone with only basic skills, as it would probably be the instructors who would be doing it, and they are often only a few pages ahead in the manual from the students.

Any ideas would be warmly welcomed, and if there is anyone in the Auckland area (especially West Auckland) who has particular skills in this area and would be willing to help a good cause, that would be even better.

TIA.

DeSade
10-10-2008, 12:40 PM
I would be using VMWare and creating a image for each course that can be replaced clean after each usage.

Erayd
10-10-2008, 12:52 PM
Or even easier, just install Deep Freeze (http://www.faronics.com/html/Deepfreeze.asp) on all the PCs - that way as soon as they log off, the things reboot and nuke all the changes that were made suring the session.

beama
10-10-2008, 01:02 PM
google these

Hdguard
Deepfreeze


basicly using either of these, the machine will return to orignal config on reboot even if critical system files are deleted.

if you need more info on Hdguard goto www.eye4you.com.au (http://www.eye4you.com.au)
not sure who distrubutes deepfreeze but a google search should reveal.

Tony
10-10-2008, 01:05 PM
Or even easier, just install Deep Freeze (http://www.faronics.com/html/Deepfreeze.asp) on all the PCs - that way as soon as they log off, the things reboot and nuke all the changes that were made suring the session.That looks like a definite maybe - do you have personal experience of the product?

DeSade
10-10-2008, 01:05 PM
Damn that software looks great.

wratterus
10-10-2008, 01:07 PM
Windows SteadyState (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/sharedaccess/default.mspx) too, similar to the other programs that have been mentioned. Free as a bird.

Tony
10-10-2008, 01:09 PM
I would be using VMWare and creating a image for each course that can be replaced clean after each usage.That's a possibility - I'm not sure about the deployment by non-skilled users, though. Not that I'm a very experienced VMWare user myself, so I may be exaggerating the issue.

Tony
10-10-2008, 01:15 PM
Windows SteadyState (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/sharedaccess/default.mspx) too, similar to the other programs that have been mentioned. Free as a bird.The price is certainly right - I'd never heard of it.

I haven't done the hard yards yet in terms of detailed analysis of our requirements, but my gut feel is that what we will need is a whole bunch of specifically configured environments - different for each course - which sounds like a VMware thing rather than the "revert to a standard setup" thing that seems to be what the other suggestions are doing.

Or am I missing something?

wratterus
10-10-2008, 01:16 PM
No, you'd be right to a certain extent, although the environment still needs to be set up in the first place.

VMWare maybe the better option, its just getting it all set up in the first place.

SS is really good actually, great for internet cafes and that kind of thing.

Tony
10-10-2008, 01:32 PM
VMWare maybe the better option, its just getting it all set up in the first place.I don't mind a bit of effort up front, as long as the deployment for each course is simple and foolproof.

We are talking about approx 12 different courses, most of which run for a couple of hours a time over several sessions, so there would be quite a lot of deployment going on, by different instructors of greatly differing skills and experience (and age).

beama
10-10-2008, 01:38 PM
I have experance with both. both are great at protecting your pc against wandering mice and delete keys.
Dont like the Microsoft one as it had high resource usage

both hdguard and deepfreeze have remote management

we use both on our site

another peice of software that you might want to investigate is "abtutor". it allows for remote control, demos to to broadcast over a classroom set of pc's, control of interent access and other functions on a per pc basis or just monitor each pc activity. You can can have a complete classroom (per pc) screen activity displayed on your pc

Tony
10-10-2008, 01:44 PM
Its not "wandering mice and delete keys" I'm worried about so much as the fact that a particular class may be required to create or have access to particular files, may want to reconfigure a browser, save a bookmark etc., all of which needs to be cleaned up before the next set of users (which may be the same or a completely different course) sits in front of the PC - and they may need a quite different environment.

beama
10-10-2008, 01:50 PM
Its not "wandering mice and delete keys" I'm worried about so much as the fact that a particular class may be required to create or have access to particular files, may want to reconfigure a browser, save a bookmark etc., all of which needs to be cleaned up before the next set of users (which may be the same or a completely different course) sits in front of the PC - and they may need a quite different environment.

it'll do that easy both deepfreeze and hdguard.
are these pc on a network if so there ae ways to setup user permissions as weell

SolMiester
10-10-2008, 02:02 PM
While VMware sounds like a go for you, i think price will scare you off.....

There is a program called Moka5, which is part of VMware, but for the desktop environment.
Have a look....http://www.mokafive.com/

Chilling_Silence
11-10-2008, 09:06 AM
Why not use VirtualPC then, thats free, and allows you to save or not save a state on shutdown...?

Tony
11-10-2008, 09:27 AM
Why not use VirtualPC then, thats free, and allows you to save or not save a state on shutdown...?Yes, that also looks promising - especially the price :). I have VMware on my home PC, and I remember now that I looked at VirtualPC at the time when I bought VMware, and decided I didn't like it, though I now can't remember why. Definitely worth checking out again.

sal
11-10-2008, 09:35 AM
I'd give SteadyState/DeepFreeze/Hdguard a go first (possibly in that order) to see how that type of solution works and if it's not working out give Virtual PC/Virtualbox/VMware a go (again, possibly in that order). It's just the virtualised environments would be guests thus requiring that extra performance from your machines.

Tony
11-10-2008, 11:17 AM
It's just the virtualised environments would be guests thus requiring that extra performance from your machines.I don't think performance is going to be an issue. We are talking about courses in computer basics, simple word-processing, using the internet - stuff like that. The nearest we are likely to get to actually exercising the machines is a scanner/digital camera/Picasa course, and even that is pretty simple stuff.

Before I go anywhere serious with this I will have to convince a committee of older people, none of whom are hugely computer-literate, that this is a good idea and worth doing, and even help them understand what it is all about. I'll be doing a lot of playing and testing at home before I go there!

linw
11-10-2008, 11:24 AM
I would seriously investigate a system that combined Steadystate with removable data storage (USB sticks - they are cheap, now). The files to be worked on are on the USB drive and the progs on the PC. This would be similar to how we used to set up classrooms except we used server storage for changeable data.

It costs nothing but a bit of time to investigate this approach.

Good luck.

PS I had never heard of Steadystate before, either. Thanks, guys, for the headsup.

gary67
11-10-2008, 02:21 PM
Why not use VirtualPC then, thats free, and allows you to save or not save a state on shutdown...?

Just looked this up and it says only for XP pro :( I only have XP home

Tony
11-10-2008, 02:39 PM
Just looked this up and it says only for XP pro :( I only have XP homeMaybe that's why I didn't go with it at the time, as I only had XP Home. However I now have Vista Business, so it might be time to have another look.

SolMiester
13-10-2008, 10:15 AM
Moka5......!, VMware PC on a USB stick!!!

beama
13-10-2008, 05:10 PM
Maybe that's why I didn't go with it at the time, as I only had XP Home. However I now have Vista Business, so it might be time to have another look.

It will run on xphome M$ just dont support it in the xphome environment that's all.
I ran a 98 on M$ virtual machine on xp home for a while. 98 runs really well with 512 ram :lol:

gary67
13-10-2008, 06:02 PM
It will run on xphome M$ just dont support it in the xphome environment that's all.
I ran a 98 on M$ virtual machine on xp home for a while. 98 runs really well with 512 ram :lol:

Thanks was looking for some one to clarify that

beama
13-10-2008, 06:21 PM
gary you'll probably know this but be careful there are no guarantees and there is always a reason for M$ not supporting a product. test it on machine that you can afford the os to be trashed just in case.

gary67
13-10-2008, 06:57 PM
Yeah I'm building up a spare just for this sort of thing, not intending to trash this machine as too much work rebuilding it every time

JonB
17-10-2008, 07:14 PM
Hi all, I was very interested in this thread as I also am involved with a SeniorNet group and know well how much misery can be caused by inexperienced idle fingers on a keyboard or mouse! I have installed a trial of Deep Freeze, mapped My Documents to an "unfrozen" or "Thawed" disk and any data files created can be sent to a folder there......Brilliant! I now have a question for the Technology Experts in PF1. If Deep Freeze is set and running on C: drive where all the system files, program files etc are running does this now make an Anti-virus and Firewall obsolete or does one have to "Thaw" the drive periodically to keep that software updated?

JonB

Agent_24
18-10-2008, 09:27 PM
Yeah they say VirtualPC is only good on XP Pro but I've used it on XP Home and it seemed to work OK

beama
19-10-2008, 08:40 AM
Hi all, I was very interested in this thread as I also am involved with a SeniorNet group and know well how much misery can be caused by inexperienced idle fingers on a keyboard or mouse! I have installed a trial of Deep Freeze, mapped My Documents to an "unfrozen" or "Thawed" disk and any data files created can be sent to a folder there......Brilliant! I now have a question for the Technology Experts in PF1. If Deep Freeze is set and running on C: drive where all the system files, program files etc are running does this now make an Anti-virus and Firewall obsolete or does one have to "Thaw" the drive periodically to keep that software updated?

JonB
it does where I work ( 600 clients,we use Hdguard) and there is a but,watch out for the unprotected area of the pc it is open to infection.

If you run anti virus and worried about update it just means that each time the machine is switched off and on it repeats the update yes it causes more network traffic and maybe increase internet traffic but this can be over come by downloading the signature files and pointing the updater at a network share.
Firewalls I would hope you use a Proxy/firewall setup negating the need of individual pc firewalls

JonB
19-10-2008, 02:08 PM
beama, thanks for that.
I have only trialled this at home so far and use Avast anti-virus. As Avast seems to update just about each time I boot my computer I don't see a problem there! I chose to try Deep Freeze as it seemed the simplest option for a non-technical person, deploying it on a SeniorNet network of seven or eight machines running a mix of Win98, XP and Vista would be a whole new learning thing for me. We also have a mix of individual anti-virus software running (each machine has its own) to demonstrate the various options to members, but settling for one (Avast) on the whole network would be preferable.

JonB