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Educational Software Thread, Python - Is it safe? in Technical; Hi, A teacher has requested to have Python installed on the machines. I noticed there is a CLI etc, can ...
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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Python - Is it safe?

    Hi,

    A teacher has requested to have Python installed on the machines. I noticed there is a CLI etc, can they do any real damage to the machines with Python installed?

    Thanks

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    Steve21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-GM View Post
    Hi,

    A teacher has requested to have Python installed on the machines. I noticed there is a CLI etc, can they do any real damage to the machines with Python installed?

    Thanks
    If you let them run it with permissions yes... It's full coding environment, so take your pick as to what they write and access and break

    Steve

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve21 View Post
    If you let them run it with permissions yes... It's full coding environment, so take your pick as to what they write and access and break

    Steve
    Our machines are locked down via GPO and not local admins or anything. Hopefully we should be ok?

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    Steve21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-GM View Post
    Our machines are locked down via GPO and not local admins or anything. Hopefully we should be ok?
    Well it's no different to giving them CMD etc. If they type in python a format command, you're either letting them run it, or not. If not it's pointless installing python? One of our teachers wants Python for the new term, and we're looking at getting it working within a VM, no way we're giving it live on main network

    Steve

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    JJonas's Avatar
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    Anybody got a guide for setting up a Python VM or a Python VM they would like to share?
    @Steve21 What OS are you using for your Python VM?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJonas View Post
    Anybody got a guide for setting up a Python VM or a Python VM they would like to share?
    @Steve21 What OS are you using for your Python VM?
    Looking to go Ubuntu, just because it's free and I know my way around it a bit (And Ubuntu comes preinstalled with Python 2.7! If you don't want the hassle of installing it)

    It's the age old, any windows = need 2nd license. etc

    Steve

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    jinnantonnixx's Avatar
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    If you're worried, you could take the easy option and run the lessons through an online python interpreter.
    The kids could copy and paste to/from the interpreter to save their work.

    Here's one run by Google:
    Interactive Shell

    or this one
    http://pyeval.appspot.com/index.html
    Last edited by jinnantonnixx; 12th February 2013 at 12:31 PM.

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    FN-GM (12th February 2013)

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    It's not something we are looking at here (yet) however it's probably on the horizon, with me and the NM both Linux fanbois we will almost undoubtedly go the route of using ubuntu VMs possibly locked down so that changes made to the VM are reset on reboot (There is a commercial name for this type of system, something like deep freeze?) Anyhoo... The VMs wouldn't need access to the network or to the net, all you would need to do is map a windows share (Let's say V:\) to something like "\home\Python" and that way kids can shuttle stuff back and forward. I would imagine that there would be a way to map the virtual \home\python to a path like "H:\Username\PythonFolder" so that the kid's can save all their python stuff to their windows profile and have it auto-map when they launch a VM.

    But that's getting off the track, long and short is to install ubuntu VMs on each physical machine, set the VMs up to revert ALL changes on reboot, isolate them from the network (Disable/remove the networking services on the ubuntu install or disable and lock settings in the VM software) and sort out a solution for transferring files between network and VM (Usb sticks would technically work since most VM host softwares can take ownership of USB devices at the click of a button or, like I said, mapped virtual drives).

    If you really want it on the cheap lookup VirtualBox, cross platform, free VM solution.

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    Steven_Cleaver's Avatar
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    Thinking of using
    1. Sun Virtual box,
    2. setup Windows 7 on these.
    3. Setup programming language and configure how required,
    4. snapshot so have backup on machine.
    5. Export a machine and import onto other PC.
    6. Might create an image so can just re-image with everything back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-GM View Post
    can they do any real damage to the machines with Python installed?
    Not really, although there's a chance someone will write something (probably accidently) that will spew data all over the network at some point. If you're installing Python, I recommend the Python Image Library, PIL - it's so easy to use, and it's great being able to write a small script that outputs an image that can be viewed / printed. ReportLab is also a handy library to have around - again, very easy to use, and produces PDF documents.

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    shell access to a firewalled linux would be your best bet IMO. We used to run php courses this way. The firewall should stop any damage being done (any damage is going to be from network attacks) and you can run always alias or link nice to make sure they don't crash the machine.

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    I've been asked for this as well, for now I've just dumped the exes on a network share and put shortcuts in the staff start menu so the teacher can play.

    My understanding is that it's harmless, as our users aren't administrators..... Surely it's impossible to do any harm without elevating up? If our users do ever need that kind of access I'd maybe give them mstsc access to a vm.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrCheese View Post

    My understanding is that it's harmless, as our users aren't administrators..... Surely it's impossible to do any harm without elevating up? If our users do ever need that kind of access I'd maybe give them mstsc access to a vm.....
    It depends how secure the rest of you network is, and some schools seem to concentrate on 'gpo=security' and forget the rest of the network. Theres plenty of bruteforce python scripts around, and some kids will happily fire them at your SIMS etc servers.

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