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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Help! Think I'm out of my depth!!! in Technical; Hi, I wonder if any of you knowledgable people can help me!! I am a TA with some network experience ...
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    Help! Think I'm out of my depth!!!

    Hi,
    I wonder if any of you knowledgable people can help me!! I am a TA with some network experience that seems to have been upgraded to technician 2/quote getter/and how to make this budget work person!!
    We are currently looking at moving to CC4 (not my idea or preference!) and have been told that some (ie 34 of the current 70) computers are not up to spec for this. We do not have the money to buy 34 new PC's along with a New server, licensing, supoort, and blah blah blah from RM. I am thinking of sugesting running a hybrid thin/fat client network with the current PC's within spec spread out among the thin client stations. This will enable us to reuse (i hope) some of the older machines with some spend on specialised thin client terminals.
    My only problem is we are a special school and run alot of programs/resources that seem to need alot of coaxing/handling/general maintence on the cc3 network.

    Does anyone have experience of running this kind of network in a special school? Would you recommend it?

    Thanks for any help.

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    Mr.Ben's Avatar
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    Hi Meadow Girl, I'm a Special School with 120 laptop/desktop clients here:

    First off, can you upgrade the machines (how old are they?)

    You will have problems with a few bits of SEN software (they really don't like Vista), but I argued to replace them.

    What's your budget like? It may well be cheaper to go 'Vanilla' and do it yourself - RM was expensive in comparison when I looked into it!

    If your thinking about using terminal services then there is a cost to it!

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    Hi Mr Ben,
    no way to upgrade, very old RM desktop's and Dell's inherited from when we amalgamated. Yes an amalgamated new build--- don't asked about the issues we have had since the building has been (half) finished--lol and the two different systems we inherited (the school i was at had a lovely easy to run one-- the other, bigger, school used RM so guess what we moved too- yuck!!).

    We downgrade all new PC's to XP at the moment and our 1 day a week EIS technician says our new RM ONEs should be fine with the upgrade to windows 7 the new server may require-- (RM skipped Vista-- luckily)

    We spent a large portion of our budget last year on our RM ones and RM's to go with our whiteboards, so i am afraid until we get a major budget shift or a new person controlling it we are stuck with the RM solutions. Budget this year is about £43000-- i have been told.

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    Mr.Ben's Avatar
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    £43k?, no offence but that should be plenty to purchase 35 machines and have lots left over! - And there is your (rather large) argument against an RM network. RM one's may look nice, but If your after quantity bog standard desktops are the way to go!

    35 desktops at £350 + 35 flat screens (with hard optical glass) at £170 = £18,200 - unless you have lots of other things to do with the same budget (I would understand it if 10 whiteboards had to be replaced!)

    Does the £43k include SIMS support, your 1 day a week technician?

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    maark's Avatar
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    If the machines are that old you would be better to replace them - 34 x £300 = approx £10,000 and delay upgrade to cc4 for a year. The upgrade will probably cost you that much in licences, servers, install etc. Vanilla solution would be cheaper but depends whether you have expertise to set it up and manage it.

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Hi meadowgirl and welcome to edugeek - I've PMed you with some information that may help.

  7. Thanks to elsiegee40 from:

    meadowgirl (19th May 2010)

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    We have to include things like touchscreens, specialised external access devices, and all those kinda of things that would be specific and general use. That £43000 includes all consumables, tech support, technical service contracts, SIMS, Bsquared and this year CASPA support, as well as some general admin things. Also under the ICT heading are the generalised switches and sensory systems used throughout the school-- so £43000 doesn't actually cover much. And we haven't even looked into VLE's or website upgrades yet-- which are both becoming required.

    I totally agree with you, i would rather work with a vanilla system, and our eis tech agrees but until the powers that be realise that RM are a restrictive bunch that are just not really good enough -- all i can say is -- I am only a TA, i can give the advice but those who are above think they know better so i just sit and bide my time, until something blows up!!! lol

    And im sorry to say Maark, I dont think we can delay e upgrade much longer-- the system was not bought to handle as many users as we have, they didn't think ahead wen they bought the server to how many pupils would be on the site in a few years--- crap planning really.

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    @meadowgirl

    I understand we were all set to go RM here until the quote came in... the vanilla installers were a quarter of the price which meant we could afford more "other things" (I came in just after the install)

    Every school should be getting more than one quote for this level of expenditure
    Last edited by elsiegee40; 19th May 2010 at 12:28 PM.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    If you are looking to re-use old computers and have the resources or budget to set up a dedicated Terminal Server then you might want to take a look at Thinstation: :: Thinstation - a light, full-featured Linux thin client OS ::.

    Basically takes old, dying, hardware and turns them in to Thin Clients. All the speed and power is on the server side so it really doen't matter how old and slow the computers are.

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    Dell do a all in one touchscreen/desktop for around £600

    Dell Inspiron One 19 Touch touchscreen all-in-one

    Ignore the 65%, I've seen them and they are more than adequate for our need!

    I think the powers that be should actuallt think about how many touchscreens you need - what's the breakdown of pupils like in your school? we have around 20 of 150 that need a touchscreen, the rest of the students can use keyboards!

    Your more than welcome to come and have a look here if you need an example - along with some of the SLT there who can see for themselves that RM is overly expensive!

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    We are a PSC school, Profound Severe and Complex Needs with outgoing MLD children top heavy in the upper years (we have a 16-19 unit too!!). I would say around 30% need touchscreens-(used mostly in ASD, PMLD, and early years classes) but have a feeling that may increase. Most have poor mouse control and nearly 75% need BigKeys or some form of other access device, ie switches, joysticks, etc. We have interactive whiteboards in most classes, but those with visual impairments use a plasma screen instead, better contrast etc, these are also touchscreens, so we don't need to buy those.

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    Quote Originally Posted by meadowgirl View Post
    We are a PSC school, Profound Severe and Complex Needs with outgoing MLD children top heavy in the upper years (we have a 16-19 unit too!!). I would say around 30% need touchscreens-(used mostly in ASD, PMLD, and early years classes) but have a feeling that may increase. Most have poor mouse control and nearly 75% need BigKeys or some form of other access device, ie switches, joysticks, etc. We have interactive whiteboards in most classes, but those with visual impairments use a plasma screen instead, better contrast etc, these are also touchscreens, so we don't need to buy those.
    Sounds as if you are very similar to us, however we are also a technology college, so I am quite unique being a Network Manager (although I have classroom duties for 40% of my time)

    Early years do require touchscreens, but I would argue that most (if not all) of our ASD students are capable of using a mouse, with most even logging themselves in individually as well. The few that are not have touchscreens/whiteboards available.

    I cannot comment on the visual impairment side of things as we have very few students with the condition, we have almost done away with switches as touchscreens seemed to replace them. The MLD group at the top should be able to access devices without much hassle.

    The switches were removed in reception in my first year (so the students never got used to them), and each year I've been able to move this up. A lot of the switch software came on floppy disk and most of it didn't work in XP, let alone vista.

    It's difficult to judge to be honest, a lot depends on your students. I buy maybe 5 big key devices/ big tracks per year.

    The VLE/Single Sign On thing is an LA target, so don't worry about that too much, they are funding a project called Merlin here in the South West for all schools. Still, Single Sign on is a blue skies dream.

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