Do the students go home for lunch? The article just stated they have laptops for students at the school who don't participate in the 1 to 1 program.
I would assume it's very similar to the school district where I work. Our district is all-Mac, with our school in particular having a voluntary 1 to 1 program, with 8 mobile laptop carts of 30 MacBooks each that serve the whole campus for students in each class who don't participate in the 1 to 1 program.
There are no problems with students using the laptops at school, during lunch, break, or even after school so long as the laptops don't leave the campus. When they get home, they're perfectly welcome to use whatever computers they want, be it a Windows or Linux PC. The students just bring in their classwork on a USB thumb drive, or, do their work on Google Apps for Education which we administer on our domain. With the Google docs they can do their work at school or home and have easy access if they don't want to bother with a USB stick.
Only about 1/3 of the school participates in the 1 to 1 program, and the other 2/3 are doing just fine. There is no pressure on any student to participate in the 1 to 1 program except out of convenience.
I work at an all-Mac school district, with my school having 300 Macs alone. We have 8 laptop carts with 30 MacBooks each, 2 computer labs with roughly 20 iMacs each, 1 laptop or workstation for each staff and faculty, and we're piloting a 1:1 laptop program with about 30 students enrolled in the program. Here is a list of what I use to get the job done:
1 Server with OS X Server (preferably 10.6.)
1 24 port gigabit switch
NetRestore (you don't need this if you have 10.6 Server.)
Apple Remote Desktop Software
It's straight forward, there are lots of very easy to follow guides online. You can pick this up even if you know nothing about Macs at all. Basically you set up your server for NetBoot. Your clients will boot off the server, then block copy an image to their HDD. You can do this via NetRestore Helper which makes a simple-to-use GUI, or, if you have 10.6 Server, all of NetRestore's functionality is now apart of 10.6's NetBoot utility. You can also do it via CLI.
You can use shell scripts to automate tasks. They can be set to run before the computer is imaged (partitioning the HDD, for example) or after it has been imaged (setting the sharing name, joining a domain, setting up printers, or installing additional software.)
Apple Remote Desktop will allow you remotely manage each computer. You can do asset management, updates, software installs, etc. Coupled with ARD Server on the Server itself, you can automate these tasks. Similar to Active Directory.
If your organization has invested in LANDesk and/or Altiris, both will take advantage of an OS X Server and streamline the process. You'll be able to do all the aforementioned via both LANDesk and Altiris; they basically just relay commands to the OS X Server. Both integrate the process pretty well. I don't know about Norton Ghost.
If you're using Multicast IP and have a gigabit switch, you can image batches of 20 computers (or more, depending on the switch) in 30 minute intervals. This varies depending on how big your images are, of course. Target Disk Mode via FireWire is a great way to image 1 off machines or to get data off failing hardware. Prep time for such a set up is about 2 hours (power, ethernet, setup, etc.)
Also, remember that's it's UNIX. You can do everything I just mentioned via command line if you're a keyboard junkie.
Here're some indispensable links to help you get started:
Keep in mind that the hardware is more expensive, but I've found the support to be a lot easier than Windows. Cost savings is in the support of the machines. There are also no client access license fees if bound to OS X Server directly instead of ActiveDirectory.
Nilbom is Moblin spelled backwards!
Parts 1 and 2 of the BeOS Demo.
Incredible multitasking capabilities, journaled file system, enhanced thread management; all designed from the ground up to take advantage of multi-CPU computers.
The demo is absolutely incredible. Remember, this is on mid '90s era technology. Dual Pentium with a few hundred megabytes of RAM. No discrete video card.
A successful [software] tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author. -- S. C. Johnson