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How do you do....it? Thread, VM's for running software in Technical; It looks like we're going to have to allow various bits of software (Basic, Python etc) to run on our ...
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    Sheridan's Avatar
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    VM's for running software

    It looks like we're going to have to allow various bits of software (Basic, Python etc) to run on our ICT suite PCs. The only practical and safe and usable way I can see of doing this after much testing is to bung it all onto a VM and let the students run the VM locally. If it gets broken then we copy the VM back over. We would disable the network card on the VM's so it would work well as a local machine.

    Has anyone else done this? any pitfalls or advice? Its a bit of a fudge solution, but to allow Smallbasic etc to work, we'd have to allow .exe's to run from the students work area, which would be a rather bad idea in our environment. I suggested using 'sacrifical' laptops which could be re-imaged but they want to use a full suite.

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    EvLPhenom's Avatar
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    We have recently done this. Not sure how much it is used by our IT department yet as they are doing the theory parts I think. We used a base Windows XP image with nothing installed. Just the latest updates available at the time. Like you we have set the machines to local only.

    We installed all of the software the IT Dept wanted and used Virtual Box to create a virtual environment for the students to create and test programming code and exes.

    During testing it seemed like the best way to do this with minimal impact on the network and chaning of policies to accomadate what needed to be done.

    The only thing I wanted out of this was to be able to load up the virtual envionment without the students having access to the Virtual Box console. To do this i found you could create a shortcut that would load up just the machine. Done this using the following when you create shortcut - "C:\Program Files (x86)\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe" startvm Programming

    Just thought this may be useful for you.

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    Sheridan (15th October 2012)

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    apeo's Avatar
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    You'd probably do well to create a base snapshot, and maybe even create immutable disks.

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    Sheridan's Avatar
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    Good ideas - I might give Virtual Box a go as well (just been using the standard MS one)

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    Quote Originally Posted by apeo View Post
    You'd probably do well to create a base snapshot, and maybe even create immutable disks.
    If you want to go with that approach, you could look at DeepFreeze.

    Deep Freeze | Faronics

    And if you're in one of those peculiar schools where money is an object:
    http://alternativeto.net/software/de...s&license=free
    Last edited by jinnantonnixx; 12th October 2012 at 12:52 PM.

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    Sheridan's Avatar
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    Virtual Box looks like a better solution, especially using the shortcut suggested by EvLPhenom - only thing is, how do you stop students changing the settings of the virtual machine?

    I want a VM with no network card/usb/dvd rom etc but when the VM is running they can change the settings?

    Edit: Looks like VBox will not work for us. Created a VM in a shared local folder and made sure all users have permission to the file. When running the shortcut to start it up (using either VM name or GUID) as anything other than the user who created it they get an error logged saying it 'could not find a registered machine'

    So I guess Virtual Box only works on a user by user basis as the machine is registered to the user who created it. Bit daft really especially as I start the VM with the full path to the .vbox file so you'd think that would work.

    Back to the drawing board!
    Last edited by Sheridan; 15th October 2012 at 11:24 AM.

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    EvLPhenom's Avatar
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    @Sheridan

    You can lock down the settings via insturctions here

    We have set it up so that there is no easy access to the menu bar when the VM is running and have also disable the VBManager from running using the noSelector option on that page.

    As for the "could not find a registered machine" message I had a similar problem. To resolve this I created two system variables to point to where the software is installed and one to where the vm is stored. On our setup I have installed the VM to the local machine. The System Variable on our machines reads -

    VBOX_INSTALL_PATH = c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\
    VBOX_USER_HOME = c:\vir-pc

    On c:\vir-pc folder I have given the group Authenticated Users read, write and modify permissions.

    I have also created a group on the local machines called VBOXUSERS, this allows authenticated users to access vm's created by other users. I found this here

    Hope this helps.

  9. Thanks to EvLPhenom from:

    Sheridan (18th October 2012)

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    Theblacksheep's Avatar
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    We do this with VMware View, automatic creation and duplication of VMs for specific purposes such as this and tests.

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    Sheridan (18th October 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheridan View Post
    only thing is, how do you stop students changing the settings of the virtual machine?
    The latest version of VMware Workstation (v9.0) allows you to create locked down VMs.

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    Sheridan (18th October 2012)

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    Sheridan's Avatar
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    Cheers all for the suggestions - never thought of VMWare for this - I'll have a go of that and try locking down the VirtualBox one as well

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    XenDesktop is another alternative... as is VDI in Server 2013. The 2013 solution is particularly easy to set up! (We created a POC using a powerful desktop running all the roles configured using the quickstart wizard and it took about 10 minutes!)

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    Sheridan's Avatar
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    We finally used Virtual PC 2007 - it was the quickest simplest way to get this moving. And setting the options to 'Administrators only' and adding a shortcut has locked down the configuration.

    Obviously we will also have to setup a way to replace the image every so often after the kids have messed around with it, but thats a simple script!

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