Ok so far my week of half term is going great. After implimenting a completely new network in the summer holiday I've got a chance for some refinement. New builds on all the desktops to refine a few niggles the initial builds had especially the build for the first set of desktops which was missing Encarta amoung other things (I assumed at the time encarta 2006 would be GPO installable but it wasn't).
Anyway I have 2 days left and I'd like to add some polish. At the moment students all share 1 mandatory profile and teaching staff share another. They're start menus are in this profile but obviously not every suite has the same software bundle and some individual machines have 1 offs like CNC machines or scanners etc. Currenly I have all the programs in the star tmenus and they are just non functional if the machine doesn't have the app. I'd like to make this alot tidier and I assume redirected start menus is the way to go. I'm just wondering which way is best. I'd like to A have them relavent to the machine, B easily updateable when apps are loaded or removed, C which is optional really easily updatable IE adding boardgames to kids start menus at lunch but getting rid of them when the bell rings.
So local start menus on the machines with the apropriate shortcuts for that room maybe copied there by a logon script to allow updates. Or server side start menus in which case how do I make them room / machine specific. What do you do?
Next up home folder load balancing across servers. I have 2 DCs which are also the file servers. Currently I have years 1, 3, 4 on one and 2,4,6,U6 on the other as a quick and dirty load balance. The home folders are replicated between the servers after school by a robocopy script as teir 1 of the backup strategy. I'm wondering about using a DFS replicated with both servers and a potential 3rd dedicated fileseerver that may come online soon for the home folders. Does the DFS loadbalancing work well? Will replication be too much of a load? is there a better way on vanilla 2k3?
I've looked at some books but they really are all aimed at corporate networks were everyone has a roaming profile. THe challenges ina school and the scale of the users per machine I think changes the goalposts dramatically.
I do the following to control what Students see on their start menus/desktops;
1 - Students share a mandatory profile with only the standard shortcuts in the Start Menu (XP applets only)
2 - Software shortcuts are stored in the 'All Users' profile
3 - Group policy prevents students from seeing the content of the 'All Users' profile
4 - A logon script copies shortcuts from the All Users Start Menu to the Student's local Start Menu, thus making them visible for the Student for that logon session. The copy function uses a Regular Expression based filter to prevent the copying of certain shortcuts (eg Read Me, uninstall etc)
5 - When the student logs off, the local cached copy of their profile is deleted automatically courtesy of another Group Policy setting.
The method means I don't need to worry about what software is where.
I don't like software load balancing at all and DFS is just software load balancing. I think your quick and dirty method is better but if funds allow, I would install a dedicated file server and use one of these
I would install 3 disks in a raid 5 for half your data and 3 disks in a raid 5 for the other with a hot spare for each. I would then configure an additional disk on a separate controller as the main page file.
You will also need a server to connect the DAS to.
Encarta 2005 is GPO deployable, I would be incredibly surprised if the new version isn't. You have to do an administrative install first but once that is done you can deploy it via GP and run the content from a network share.
I knew when I bought the DCs the chances of money for a third server was gonna be long way away or not at all so each one has 1 Drive for OS and 2 x 3 drive arrays that share a hot spare 1 is used for packages RIS whatever and the other array is home folders.
As regards to GPO and encarta I tried to package it several times but it insists on running its own dotnet framework installer and the installer refuses to run silently it always wants to interact wiht the console session and the install fails.I wasted a day or so on it back in June before deciding it could just go on before I ripreped the image to the server. Problem solved.
djm968: THats a whole thread / forum of its own. We were meant to be getting loads of money for a proper infrastructure and proper level of supporting personael with our new school build. BUt money is running short and guess where its being cut from at a rate of thousands per week. Yep. Curriculum IT. Of course they still "need" the same number of PCs per suite and the same number of suites. They'll just happily cut support and software.
Anyway back to the point. I think I'll leave the home folders as they are then. Maybe just impliment replication of them rather than the robocopy schedule if I can work out how. I haven't messed with replication other than AD in 2k3 yet. Start menu wise I'm more than pleased with the login time at the moment so I can afforde to lose a few seconds. I think I'll try something in between AJs suggestion and redirected and see if I can get games at lunch no games the rest of the time thing running. ONce the groundwork is in place thats the kind of thing I can "tinker" with ona daily basis till I'm happy.