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Hardware Thread, Laptop Trolley and a server? in Technical; Hi guys, Great site you have here! I work or a range of Primary schools in Oldham/Manchester/Rochdale as an ICT ...
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    Laptop Trolley and a server?

    Hi guys,

    Great site you have here! I work or a range of Primary schools in Oldham/Manchester/Rochdale as an ICT Technician and have found this site really useful over the past few weeks.

    I would like to ask a question.

    The fantastic head at one of my schools (no....I'm not being sarcastic :P ) has an Apple iCart which works pretty well with regards to allowing the kids to get on the internet wirelessly, access espresso, use MS Office and Print to the Airport USB printer server. The laptops are 12.1" Apple iBooks running OSX 10.3.3 (I think)

    With this years ICT budget he plans on getting more laptops and has bought another Laptop Trolley (got it from another school cheap) which he would like me to stock up with Laptops. PC's this time! We want the kids to be able to use dual platform.

    Now I could just buy 15 PC laptops, with a Wireless Access Point and a printer for this cart too which would work but.....

    The biggest issue I see is administration. When the Apple iCart was setup 18 months ago I had to install all the software and configure permissions and user accounts individually on each machine which was a right pain and took ages!

    So I was thinking about a better solution. Maybe having some kind of server that can be used to authenticate users (like y1, y5, y6 etc) so that permissions are assigned to them centrally. Would like it to act as a file and application server too, so that alot of the software that would usually require CD's can be imaged to the server and the kids can save their work to it.

    I know this can be done with Windows XP/2003, but what about the macs? Can things like group policies be applied to OSX? I would rather use a Windows Server then mac because I am more confident in using it. Wouldn't mind trying a linux solution, but I'd need time to learn since I know nothing about it! (Want to learn it in my spare time at some stage!)

    Also what about speed? This is probably my biggest concern. Remember that all this needs to take place over (so called!) 54Mbps wireless which I am not sure is up to the job. I wouldn't use any roaming profiles and the server would just store kids work (which will be mainly word, excel documents).

    Any ideas on a reliable solution that allows easy administration? I am only in the school half-a-day a week so it needs to be as trouble-free as possible once setup.

    Thank You

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    So I was thinking about a better solution. Maybe having some kind of server that can be used to authenticate users (like y1, y5, y6 etc) so that permissions are assigned to them centrally. Would like it to act as a file and application server too, so that alot of the software that would usually require CD's can be imaged to the server and the kids can save their work to it.
    Yes you can, but you need both a Win 2003 server and a Mac server.

    I know this can be done with Windows XP/2003, but what about the macs? Can things like group policies be applied to OSX? I would rather use a Windows Server then mac because I am more confident in using it. Wouldn't mind trying a linux solution, but I'd need time to learn since I know nothing about it! (Want to learn it in my spare time at some stage!)
    You setup user accounts\areas on the Windows server and the Mac GPO type stuff on the Mac server. They can be confiugered to log on users via the Windows setup and pick up policies on the Mac server.

    Also what about speed? This is probably my biggest concern. Remember that all this needs to take place over (so called!) 54Mbps wireless which I am not sure is up to the job. I wouldn't use any roaming profiles and the server would just store kids work (which will be mainly word, excel documents).
    I would not recommend reunning any network soley over wireless just yet. The speeds are just not upto it yet.

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    How do Mac OSX policies work? If its nothing too wierd (a la AD GPO's) I suspect a Linux server running Samba + NIS/LDAP would be sufficent on its own.

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    Thanks for the replies. As a small Primary School (145 on roll) I don't think the head could afford both a Mac and Windows Server.

    I personally am not a fan of Laptop trolley suites, but we don't have the space for a proper IT suite.
    Linux is interesting....... 8)

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    Likewise if you didn't care about implementing OS X policies a Linux server would definately work ok.

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    Ok, a bit of Googling reveals:

    http://images.apple.com/server/pdfs/...tory_v10.4.pdf

    IF you implement the required bits of the schema running on an OpenLDAP server on Linux, it should be fine.

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    You don't need fully blown servers... a home-brew P4 Wintel server and a Mac mini with Tiger Server is all you need.

    Not actually got 'round to doing this yet... soon...

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    Thanks for the help guys.

    I don't think that the linux solution is quite viable for me at the moment since I really do not know enough about it and doubt I would have the time to learn it well enough to be able to recommend it to the school within 2 weeks, but the idea does appeal to me. When I looked into linux a few months ago it did seem quite difficult to learn (?) but distros like Edubuntu with Karoshi do look good. Wonder if it would support OSX clients ?

    So a Mac Mini (with Server OS ) and a decent AMD/INTEL PC (With Server OS) should be all I need?

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    Just for a bit of background for people I will explain the differences of how Macs are locked down compared to Machines in an AD environment.

    When XP machines are locked down it is effectively changes that are made to the registry as the computer starts, as users log in or as scripts are run.

    With Mac OS X it is different. There is no registry. Instead there are .plist files in various locations. When a computer starts and when someone logs in it copies changes to the user's ~/library/ files ... the same way that there is a "default user" on XP there are areas for default settings on OSX.

    It can get very complicated but the individual .plist files are the equivalent of hives within the registry.

    I have yet to come across a book even close to explaining the best ways of doing stuff with the individual files yet ... you only get that infor after doing Apple courses or by trial and effort.

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    Oh, then next week will be fun.

    I have 2 Mac servers, a x serve and 40 imacs to setup and lockdown. I'd like to get it going with AD soon too. Ideally having the mac user with their windows home directory and another mac one mapped when they login. That way I can keep all the photoshop files on the cheap sata xserve than on my expensive fibre channel drives

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    Thanks to all those that have replied so far.

    I have decided that (for now) to go with:

    1 x low cost Windows Server
    15 x laptops

    I can make the laptops clients of the domain server so they can be locked down and redirect My Documents/Desktop/Start Menu to the server. I am keeping this really simple so just having one account for the students to use, where the have their own folder in My Documents (by year group). I am concous of the slow wireless connection which I why I don't want to go with individual accounts for each child.

    I will get the iMacs to mount the same share where the PC's store all work on the server so they should be able to save/open from the same location. Hopefully I can keep this share mounted on the desktop. The iMacs are already quite well secured from kids messing about on them.

    I know its not the best solution but its one that I think should work. The Windows server can always be changed to a linux one at some stage when I get better at linux, or we could look at a Mac Mini with OSX Server on it in the next financial year.

    Now.... any recommendations for decent laptops with quite a long battery life? :P Looking to spend under £500 on each and was thinking that Centrino would be the way to go?

    Thanks

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    Re: Laptop Trolley and a server?

    Centrinos are the way to go. Looked at getting a class set of these for one place I do consultancy work - http://www.cclonline.com/product-inf...ufacturer_id=0 and they can get a laptop cabinet as well, so should have been able to do a nice deal on them. Best thing is contact Lyndsey Higgins - 01274 471203 and she will help you out, she's also a MS licencing specialist so any Licencing q's, shes your lady!

    My advice with them also, is steer clear of the Celerons as they are just like teeth pulling, and also get 512MB ram, I got a set of laptops at my place with just 256 in them and they are deathly slow So 512 is a must really. I don't know what age the kids are but certainly the younger they are the more "click happy" they are and a 256mb celeron will soon get fed up with them!

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