I used to work there as well fairly recently. It was kind of amazing how much traffic we were able to handle.
There's other network file systems out there... like AFS.
Guy #1, yelling: "SENSITIVE INFORMATION"
Guy #2: "What is this I don't even"
*Guy #2 is thrown into a white room, and is prodded with large sticks for hours on end*
Just end your sarcasm tags before being sarcastic. This won't conform to W3C standards, however.
Scientist: "Dots! More dots!"
Scientist: "Okay, stop dots."
Right. But what of politics and whatnot, preventing people from changing the infrastructure?
Also, when I say someone could fuck up the infrastructure, I mean the people who are architecting the infrastructure in the first place, not any environmental issues like any malicious attempts at penetrating the network, or whatever.
Also, I must stress how important it is to use some semblance of configuration management; it's almost necessary when you're managing at least 100 servers.
Bah. I'm a Linux sysadmin, but it still sucks the life out of you to maintain them. Someone can still royally fuck up the infrastructure and make maintenance a living hell. But it is more of a joy to work with *nix systems than Windows systems, I'll give you that.
From the perspective of popular OSS projects:
Are you simply easing them into what a modern Linux desktop distro looks like, or do you want to teach them some stuff about the command line?
If it's the latter, why not just construct a Xen box and roll out a bunch of VM's that students can use remotely? Either that, or if you can subsidize the monthly costs somehow with a lab fee or whatever, you could always roll out a ton of EC2 instances or Linode slices for them to play on.
Of course, you'd have to worry about security, and it's not exactly the least complex solution, but you'd also force them to work in a command line.
God, you've no idea how annoyed I am of hearing people who end up jumping into a field they don't like.
Typical conversation between me and various people in college (or who've just graduated from college):
me: "What'd you major in?"
me: "Awesome! What sort of stuff interests you about X anyway?"
person: "Oh, I'm just doing X because I can make a ton of money with it."
me: "Oh... okay."
One thing I should add: it can be a little tedious to figure out what command line switches are required for whatever program you're wanting to install, especially since the whole system can install everything, including
For example, it took me a good week or two of scripting out all of the installation stuff so that it prompts the operator for only two pieces of information: 1.) computer use type (student lab computer, laptop, etc.), and 2.) owner's username. This only takes about a minute to fill out, and streamlines the hell out of the process. Compare this to a naive Acronis image that hasn't been sysprepped, which requires about 15 minutes per computer to rename the computer, make sure that the owner has admin rights, etc. If the computer has been sysprepped, this should be reduced down to about 2 minutes, though if you're in a heterogeneous computing environment, you'll have problems down the road where you're forced to update a ton of images for however many permutations you've bothered to save to an image.
I wish I could've done this earlier; I really really enjoyed CS, but the program I was in at a private university was more about software engineering than CS theory. I still enjoyed coding, however.
When I went to the local public university (University of Washington), my GPA wasn't up to snuff. I LOVED computer science, but this interest was not enough to actually get me into the department.
C'est la vie.
Thankfully, I also liked the other majors I ended up graduating with, which were math and philosophy. But I think I would've loved being in the CS dept. a lot more than either of those two combined...
Yep. Before I left, we were in the talks of replacing it with WDS, since we were in the process of migrating everything to Windows 7. The general area where unattended fails is when it comes to partitioning the disk.
Someone else suggested to use OPSI; I haven't had a chance to test it out before I left, so I don't know how well it works with deploying Windows 7 nor with any sort of server OS.
I used unattended on a FreeBSD box at one of my old jobs, since we had like five or so different models of computers. It works sort of like RIS, except it's easier to extend the system since it's all written in Perl and it's all open source. We dumped the contents of an XP disc on the server, then slipstreamed driver packs into the disc directory structure; this catches almost everything but the most obscure hardware out there. Unattended allowed us to run post-install scripts, so we threw in a bunch of other software packages that would install after the OS was done installing, like Office 2007, Adobe suite, etc.
This was substantially better than a disk image; we took care of all of the drivers in one fell swoop, so the only thing we used as a differentiator between computers was how the person used the computer (if it's a student lab computer, we loaded a bunch of stuff like Geometer's Sketchpad, InDesign, etc. If it was a faculty's laptop, we'd load software to operate stuff in the classroom.) We save space on the server, and we save time when it comes to putting together another "image" for a different use case.
But as others said above, I wouldn't virtualize the workstation, even if it eases up on the IT dept. a little bit; just be smart about what deployment method you use. I wouldn't recommend using unattended if you had only about three different models; it's likely substantially easier to just use CloneZilla.
Oh, and use a centralized software deployment system such as WPKG. Your disk images will go stale after a while, in which case you'll have to make sure that you can manage the packages installed on clients somehow.
The less time planning, the more time programming.