tmcd35 (31st January 2009)
This is a spin-off from another thread where the question was asked. I've just about finished our migration from Winsuite to using Group Policies, so I'll share some of my experiences. Firstly, I freely admit that I am not clever like most of you guys. I'm 60 and am more interested in how much my pension is worth than learning how to create complicate scripts. But I do admire your expertise and I hope that you will be able to expand on my comments and educate me a bit more.
I have to say that Winsuite has been a good friend to us and does pretty much what it says on the tin. My main reason for ditching it was that we have at long last got rid of Windows 98 and now seemed as good a time as any. The fact that NDI say they won't be introducing a Vista version was an extra spur.
I was luck in that the curriculum server has hot-swap SCSI bays, so the first thing I did was create a cloned disk. I have been severley limited in the amount of time I had available with staff wanting to be able to access the system from their XP machines. I was able to work on the cloned disk when they had all gone home and then revert back to the original when I was done.
I boned up a bit about Active Directories and GPOs and got some invaluable help from the local High School. We configured the system to lookas much like theirs as possible. The student usernames are the same, so they will keep them when they move up. A small thing but it impressed SMT.
I got a print out of the High School's student group policies and used these as a starting point. Once I'd got to grips with GPMC it was pretty logical. I'm still playing around and have thought up a great wheeze for April 1st to wind up the staff.
Setting up accounts has been a bit of a pain. The High School technician wrote a script to set them up but for some reason it wasn't 100% successful. It took me a bit of trial and error to work out how to manually set up the required permissions and create the Home Folders but I can do it in my sleep now. I've been looking at bulk creators and have installed Active Directory Manager which looks like it will do the job but I think I will need to come back for some help on setting it up.
Planning is the key. We elected to go for three OUs. Supervisor, Staff and Student. We may add to that but for the time being it works.
During the day, I spent most of my time fitting out the ICT suites. We doubled up on the number of computers so there was some work in making the room. I went mad with an 80mm hole saw. Wrecked three power drills and nearly broke my wrist a few times. The saw went blunt very quickly and was burning it's way through rather than cutting. The smell of burning wood and drill was terrible. I've run the cables. power supplies and extension sockets in guttering under the benches, so there's virtually no cabling visible. Looks good but the PAT tester is going to have a fit!
I finished one ICT suite off completely before starting on the second. When it was done, I setup and imaged a machine and then installed Winsuite back on to it. This meant that the ICT suite could be used again whilst I tackled the second one. I then fitted the new drive in, and imaged the computers. I took the first suite off-line whilst every class had an induction session, making sure they had their usernames and passwords and that they worked. DON'T PUT HYPHENS INTO USERNAMES and a big thank you to the person who pointed out that using the minus key on the numeric pad doesn't work
I sent a list of usernames and passwords to all of the class teachers, suggesting that they get the kids to put them in their planners before the ICT lesson. The three classes that did this got onto the computers 15 minutes quicker than the others.
When they had all been through the mill, I re-imaged the first suite. I thought this would be better than uninstalling Winsuite because you never know what will get left behind. Now ICT lessons are back to normal. I've kept the old drive just in case something goes pear-shaped and I can always revert back to Winsuite. Hopefully, that won't be necessary. I've also made a clone of the new working system, so if I cock anything up, I can always go back. Sort of a manual system restore.
I think I should have hidden the Home Folder shares. I think I'll do this manually for staff but leave the students as it.
I've used Group Policies to redirect Home Folders. So now, the local and server folders synchronise when the user logs off. I have recommended that students always try and use the same computer whenever possible but I'm still not sure about the synchronisation but I don't seem to be able to turn it off. Nothing I have tried so far seems to work.
This has been a lot of hard work and I have put in loads of extra unpaid hours. However, I stuck my head into the staff briefing last week (I usually try and keep well clear) and got a standing ovation and I'm about due for my Management Appraisal. Think I'll ask for a pay rise. If not, perhaps I can take my newly acquired Server 2003 skills elsewhere!
My next task is to try and come up with an automated printer setup script. Not sure where to start though?
tmcd35 (31st January 2009)
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