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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Install Ubuntu On 30 Laptops and Keep Them In Sync?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-gonna-pay-a-lot-for-this-muffler dept.

Software 202

New submitter spadadot writes "I am setting up a new event in France (Open du Web), where between 15 and 30 laptops running Ubuntu Linux will be available. They came with Windows preinstalled and it must stay for other purposes. I'd like to take care of only one of them (resize the hard drive, install Ubuntu, add additional software and apply custom settings) and effortlessly replicate everything to the others including hard drive resizing (unattended installation). After replicating, what should I do if I need to install new software or change some settings without manually repeating the same task on each one of them? Should I look into FAI, iPXE, Clonezilla, OCS Inventory NG? Other configuration management software? I would also like to reset the laptops to the original environment after the event."

cancel ×

202 comments

Puppet (4, Informative)

BHearsum (325814) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164907)

http://puppetlabs.com/ [puppetlabs.com]

Re:Puppet (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164985)

http://puppetlabs.com/ [puppetlabs.com]

LOL this is the weekly ask /. where the questioner describes the perfect application for Puppet and then asks what to use.

My only other addition is install and set up torque and dish.

Torque is a decent queuing system. Everybody queue up a job to do "something" as quickly as possible, but strictly one at a time.

The DISH distributed shell lets you run a single command line (which could be a script...) on all machines right now. Simultaneously or whatever.

Re:Puppet (-1, Flamebait)

noh8rz2 (2538714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165091)

winXP could do this 10 years ago! maybe you should check out options to ubunto.

Re:Puppet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39166303)

winXP could do this 10 years ago! maybe you should check out options to ubunto.

So? most OSes could do this 10 years ago too (including Debian derivatives). If there are reasons to check alternatives to an OS, this isn't one.

And it's Ubuntu , with a final u, try to spell correctly asshole.

Re:Puppet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165163)

Puppet has always seemed like a lazy way to badly administer lots of systems.

Learn to use the different toolsets appropriate to the different systems you administer. If you can't do that, you do not know enough about those systems and have no business administering them in a professional environment. You should probably either train up or hire someone else.

Re:Puppet (2, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165813)

This is the argument of a stuck-up admin who runs a handful of machines.

Stick a zero or two on the number of machines you manage and see how your tune changes.

Re:Puppet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165891)

Bad admin and bad reading comprehension - well done, par for the course.

To repeat:

Learn to use the different toolsets appropriate to the different systems you administer.

No-one's arguing that some form of automation is required when you have lots of systems. But there is no environment with so many different architectures that puppet is more appropriate than a solution tailored for each individual platform.

puppet is used by admins who don't really know much about their individual platforms and get away with a subpar solution because no-one else in the department knows any better.

If you have a counterargument, prefereably with a scenario where puppet is the only viable solution, please present it.

Re:Puppet (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39166079)

The OP is asking for a solution. If you disagree with this offered advice please offer a specific counter-solution.

Re:Puppet (1)

allo (1728082) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166243)

for example installation via PXE with preseed, administration via debian packages built around config-package-dev.
Works good for us for ~200 machines composed of workstations and computing cluster nodes.

Re:Puppet (2)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166337)

You forgot to reply as an AC.

Re:Puppet (5, Interesting)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165217)

Puppet would be the perfect tool for the job, but there may be a reason he can't use Puppet.

If that's the case, set up your own repo. Mirror Ubuntu's repo, and configure all of the systems to only connect to your repo. Set them to automatically update nightly, and bob's your uncle. If you want to push something to the computers, then push it to your repo and they will update during the overnight push

Re:Puppet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165533)

And keep one laptop, or a VM of it, where you can trigger the update, see if the VM still boots afterwards... if it doesn't boot, don't deploy the changes network-wide! Although that means you need a second repo for test purposes.

Re:Puppet (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165787)

@OP: Erm, why not just VM the Linux environment? No need to change drive geometry, a vm image can be deployed effortlessly to all the machines, and the clean up will be a snap. Is there some reason you need to install a native linux slice on each machine?

Re:Puppet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39166585)

Performance? Windows security problems?

Re:Puppet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39166147)

If you don't have enough hard disk space for the full blown mirror, use the apt proxy: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AptProxy

Re:Puppet (1)

a5an0 (1351957) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165237)

Puppet is usually the right answer :)

Re:Puppet (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165625)

Except 30 nodes is going to cost several thousand dollars for the licensing. It'd be cheaper to hire the local neighborhood kid to sit there for an afternoon and do them individually. For that you could buy and image a new set of drives. Would 32-gig USB thumb drives be big enough for your install, allowing you to usb boot the machines? Or perhaps create a custom Live-CD, which has the advantage that you simply reboot the machine if the user dorks it up?

Re:Puppet (2)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165821)

Say what? [puppetlabs.com]

Re:Puppet (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166377)

Either I'm missing something obvious, or it's free for 10-nodes and you start paying quite a bit for anything beyond that.
http://puppetlabs.com/puppet/how-to-buy/ [puppetlabs.com]

Node Packs
10 FREE
25 $1,995
100 $6,995
250 $16,995
500 $29,995
1,000 $55,995
More than 1,000 Contact sales@puppetlabs.com

Re:Puppet (1)

Spliffster (755587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166507)

I use puppetmaster on more than 10 machines. I guess these prices are for the "enterprise* Version which offers VMWare management, GUI and many more features. All unneeded for me.

Cheers,
-S

PS: try # apt-get install puppetmaster

Re:Puppet (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165795)

If you've got a month to learn puppet and master it, and a test bed of one each of the different designated configurations of the laptops, puppet can be very useful. If the laptops need to be _identical_ in configuration, you want a nightly imaging tool such as is used in public computer labs, not a highly context sensitive configuration management tool. This is especially true if people will be manipulating the configurations locally: the ability to ruin a configuration managed file service or website deployment with mis-installed, locally built packages is truly amazing, especially with developers using the perl "CPAN" or python or Maven based auto-component installation tools.

Laptop configurations are unfortunately extremely sensitive to driver mismatches and configuration mismatches. Ubuntu is actually a good distribution for such a use, it's one of the best integrated Linux releases for laptops. But for distributed laptops in a development environment, regular re-imaging is vital to preserve a consistent environment. Local users with developer or administrative privileges _will_ skew them from the centrally configured layout, enough to break it, and they _won't_ know how to resolve the puppet problems.

Frist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164909)

Yes.

There is an open source solution (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164917)

It's called take a fucking CS course at your community college or ask on the Ubuntu forums full of dimbulbs who think "ls -a" is a lifehack.

Re:There is an open source solution (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164947)

Me thinks you know a lot less than you intimate with that comment... It's always the 'C' players who don't want to share -- as if knowing some fact is any indication of talent or the ability to create value.

Re:There is an open source solution (1, Funny)

fatbuckel (1714764) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164993)

Five points for being a cockstain.

Re:There is an open source solution (4, Insightful)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165069)

It's called take a fucking CS course at your community college or ask on the Ubuntu forums full of dimbulbs who think "ls -a" is a lifehack.

Why would you take a CS course for an Admin problem? I think you don't know the first thing about computers.

Re:There is an open source solution (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165137)

An academic background in CIS can be very handy for dealing with "Admin problems". Having something resembling a clue helps in any field or endeavor.

It helps to be more than just a trained monkey.

Re:There is an open source solution (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165249)

It helps to be more than just a trained monkey.

s/trained/cheese eating surrender/

IT admin does not = business admin (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165485)

a it admin is a tech person not a business person and CS is not IT.

Re:There is an open source solution (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166081)

i did 'apt-get install clue', but my users still won't learn...sigh...

Re:There is an open source solution (1)

Mullen (14656) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165243)

You must be a software developer.

Having a CS or CIS degree in IT is extremely handy.

CS in IT is handy for not knowing what you are doi (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165515)

CS in IT is handy for not knowing what you are doing but having a lot therey.

Now CS my help you be a developer but some times it's so high level it does not help.

But for IT tech / admin work? A tech school will help you a lot more.

Configuration management + install server (5, Informative)

halfnerd (553515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164945)

Puppet [puppetlabs.com] combined with either Foreman [theforeman.org] or Cobbler [fedorahosted.org]

It is important to keep data n'sync (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164961)

If you don't keep your data n'sync, then it's going bye, bye, bye [youtube.com] .

Yeah, too much coffee makes me a real smart-ass.

the basics (2)

bleedingsamurai (2539410) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164963)

Take a look at debian-installer and preseed, rather simular to kickstart for anaconda based installers, or sysprep for Windows. You can probably push the images out over the network via FTP or NFS.

Then you will want to look at making a local apt mirror or cache depending on your needs, to manage updates and such.

This is at a minimum. NIS or LDAP might also be required if you intend to grow the network.http://linux.slashdot.org/story/12/02/26/1730239/ask-slashdot-how-do-you-install-ubuntu-on-30-laptops-and-keep-them-in-sync#

Re:the basics (1)

allo (1728082) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166253)

debians kickstart support is just a script converting the kickstart.cfg to preseed commands.

Live CD/DVD? (4, Interesting)

Keruo (771880) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164965)

Place the stuff you need on a livecd and give usb sticks to the users if they need storage, remove the hdds entirely during the event, then place hdd back afterwards to reset situation?
Samba/nfs share for storage could work also.

Other solution would be to use G4L to ghost all the laptop hard drives, first to backup them, then to image it with your preinstalled linux stuff.
Then repeat after event to restore original system image, but that would take ~10 days to do, both ways, and you'd need ~5-10Tb space to hold copies of the laptop images.(depending on the size of the original hdds)

XenClient (1)

WonkoDSane (951775) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164971)

XenClient and Synchronizer are pretty awesome, if your hardware fits the bill.

There are better sites for this question (4, Informative)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164989)

One of the Stack Exchange sites would give you better answers, or at least a set of answers without "frist psot". Take a look at http://serverfault.com/ [serverfault.com] or even http://askubuntu.com/ [askubuntu.com] .

Re:There are better sites for this question (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165241)

This isn't rocket science and a ton of sysadmins read slashdot (still). There's 2 parts to this: deployment (foreman or cobbler to handle the pxe and kickstart configs) and then configuration management (stuff like puppet, chef or cfenine).

use Clonezilla to make a image (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165007)

use Clonezilla to make a image and just deploy the image to all systems. To make going back easier make a image of the windows install or pull the hdd and just use different HDD's for the event.

Are they going to be fixed in place? (4, Informative)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165021)

If so, you may want to consider yanking the drives and iSCSI booting them. I know at least with Fedora and RHEL/CentOS you can do this, I presume Ubuntu can as well. Set root-path in dhcp in accordance with rfc4173 and boot iPXE. From there take any PXE-capable deployment mechanism and you can proceed without removing or resizing the partitions.

If only 30 and you lack the experience in this area, you may elect to hand tweak an autoinstall situation. I'm not sure if you need to be particularly picky about 'cloning'. In MS it's almost mandatory as so much of the value of an install is in third-party applications. In the ubuntu case all the packages you want are likely already in the distro and debian-installer is really all you need.

All this said, Live usb key is probably the easiest thing. Stock Ubuntu probably suffices...

ltsp with fat clients (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165027)

Use ltsp https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuLTSP
Supports fat clients (all aplications run at each laptop).
You only need to install ubuntu in one laptop and let all others boot from the first one with ipxe.
All laptops (apart from the first) are left unchanged.
Very good implementation (solving some minor issues that may arise) used at many greek schools:
https://launchpad.net/sch-scripts (all documentation is in greek)

FAI (3, Informative)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165065)

Debian (and thus Ubuntu) comes with a Fully Automated Installer (shortened as FAI). Take a look at synaptic, and at its manual.

Re:FAI (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165171)

The whole thing seems like a rather silly question for a platform that already has a very mature automated installer.

Re:FAI (1)

bagofbeans (567926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165475)

'spect you're right, but reading down, yours was the first condescending answer that also offered no help.

In the engineering fields I'm experienced in, I find newbie questions produce alternative answers from other people that I've not come across before...

Re:FAI (1)

allo (1728082) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165977)

fai is a really bad pile of shellscripts. try to use preseed, its much more useful.

Simplest solution (4, Informative)

RedLeg (22564) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165105)

Remove the HDs

Boot from a CD (live CD distro), allow user-owned USB drives for persistent storage.

Optionally, customize the live CD to your needs, installing and removing packages to suit the task.

Red

Re:Simplest solution (1)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165381)

Remove the HDs Boot from a CD (live CD distro), allow user-owned USB drives for persistent storage. Optionally, customize the live CD to your needs, installing and removing packages to suit the task. Red

Honestly, for the situation OP's in (obviously a relative noob to true sysadmin if he has to ask) this is the easiest and best solution. Only issues he might have are dhcp and dns, given we know nothing about his network environment. This and similar posts should be modded up. Ye ole Keep It Simple Stupid Rule applies here for sure! Oh, and be explicit as LiveCD also applies to DVD, i.e., a DVD has more space (dual layer at 8.5 GB) and can hold a larger live image.

Re:Simplest solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165617)

Laptop...ever used the CD-ROM drive on a laptop? Noisy buggers.... Also high risk of damage to the disk.

CFEngine? (2)

mattgick (775280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165125)

http://cfengine.com/ [cfengine.com] The community edition is open source and available from the Ubuntu repository.

How to (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165143)

Step 1: Ignore StackOverflow, Ubuntu forums, or other sites that will give more accurate info. Instead ask on a site with people of questionable talent and experience with what you're using.
Step 2: Implement poorly researched solution and fck up the entire project

Re:How to (2)

dugjohnson (920519) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165299)

Hey, I just gave a solution and I've never done this exact thing before, so, uh....wait a minute....never mind.

Ask Canonical (2, Insightful)

Quantum_Infinity (2038086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165147)

Ask Canonical. If they can't give a good solution, they deserve to fail.

Re:Ask Canonical (1)

kcbnac (854015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166467)

They'll say Landscape. http://www.canonical.com/enterprise-services/ubuntu-advantage/landscape [canonical.com]

$105/year Desktop
$320/year Server

For 'bulk' (more than 5) contact them for "special" pricing.

I wish they didn't do this, I'd love to try it and use it myself, locally hosted.

But I'm NOT paying them for the feature.

They proclaim the wonders of Open Source and Ubuntu - then go and drop in closed-source crap that there is no replacement for. Hack something yourself, or pay them stupid amounts of money to use what came preinstalled.

RE: Laptop Management (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165167)

I recently was in the same bind, with a bunch of desktops instead. I was given the task of backup and restoration of 50 desktops in a Computer Science student lab at the uni I work for. I decided to go the route of a Clonezilla server for backup and restoration. All the machines are Dell Optiplex 755's stock, with Windows 7 and Linux Mint Debian Edition dual boot. They all have 120 gb harddrives. I used an unused 1u server and bought 4 2tb Seagate harddrives off Newegg. The lab is wired with cat 6 and is a gigabit network. On average with the server setup it takes about 10 minutes to image all the machines and about 5 or so to restore them all. The server can do this by taking advantage of multicasting. It's easy to setup and the best thing is it only images the used parts of the harddrives. This means in my case each machine's image with both OS is only around 15-20 gigs. Hope this helps.

more info on your setup (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165575)

On the sever what is taking up 4 TB2 hdd's? I hope it is in some kind of raid setup.

15-20 gigs seems small for a dual boot OS I take it is basic install lacking lot's of added software on each os.

Are there more then 1 image say with differnt software loads?

How often are the images updated?

Re:more info on your setup (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165743)

WHy do you hope they are in a RAID setup? RAID is for speed. Speed in access or speed in recovery, nothing more.

Re:more info on your setup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39166111)

Really? So RAID has nothing to do with redundancy?

Re:more info on your setup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39166423)

Yeah, SAID is the new RAID (speedy array on inexpensive disks for all you noobs).

Re:more info on your setup (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166403)

" RAID is for speed. Speed in access or speed in recovery, nothing more."

Actually, RAID [wikipedia.org] does quite a bit more than for which you credit it.

Re:more info on your setup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39166475)

RAID is for speed.

I..wat? Certain RAID configurations may improve read IOPs at the expense of write IOPs, but no one in their right mind actually says "RAID is for speed". RAID1 (Or RAID10) for example, doesn't do much for speed.

In answer to the original question: PXE, Debian pre-seeding and either Chef or Puppet.

Re: Laptop Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39166473)

Thank you for a realistic reply. All too often when you have a problem and Google about it, there is highly suspicious info, or 'experts' mouthing off at the 'noob'... along the lines of a post somewhere in this article's comments where the tip was to complete a 4yr CS degree (overnight of course) complete with expletives. I was taught that there is no such thing as a dumb question.

Clonezilla is my advice (1)

KowboyKrash (2020632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165183)

I would make a clean clonezilla image of one pre–setup for the restore after your project. Then after configuring one to your specifications make another image. Then clone the ubuntu image to the un touched ones. When the project is over re image them all to the original imag. If you use a samba server and image via network you should me able to the images in one batch maybe a days work.

Repeat what you did 29 more times... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165215)

.. just kidding :-)

cloud computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165221)

Synergizer your company with cloud computing. Put your company ahead of the curve with LTE-based CRM cloud workshop. It's all about maximizing profits.

FOG Project for Imaging (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165235)

Although primarily aimed at doing Windows imaging, you can also use it for Linux only or side by side rollouts. That said, I'm going to be looking at some of the other links posted in this thread myself.

FOG Project [fogproject.org]

FOG is a Linux-based, free and open source computer imaging solution for Windows XP, Vista and 7 that ties together a few open-source tools with a php-based web interface. FOG doesn't use any boot disks, or CDs; everything is done via TFTP and PXE. Also with fog many drivers are built into the kernel, so you don't really need to worry about drivers (unless there isn't a linux kernel driver for it). FOG also supports putting an image that came from a computer with a 80GB partition onto a machine with a 40GB hard drive as long as the data is less than 40GB.

HEX

Re:FOG Project for Imaging (1)

gutoandreollo (1816754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166545)

Disclaimer: I've managed a large machine deployment with FOG, and developed quite a workflow and even some patches based on that. IF (that is a big IF there) all your machines are equal;, and mostly if the Windows Install is the same (as in stock windows install), FOG would be a really good choice for that.. The easiest think would then be capturing one of the windows installs, reformatting it as you see fit, and then capturing that installation, and deploying it to all the stations.. with multicast deployment, cloning 29 machines takes as long as cloning a pair of them. Don't forget to TEST. After you capture your windows machine, redeploy it to the same hardware to double-check your process!! If it fails, capture another machine and keep redeploying on the same one until you're absolutely sure it works. You have even better changes if your windows install is still factory sealed (never been booted). I've had huge success with dell machines, where I could simply reinstall a machine with factory windows as needed (full AD join), and then back to linux in under half an hour. Also, with a FOG server, you can always add other boot options to the already configured PXE environment (LTSP or ThinStation, for instance).

Easy (1)

Mullen (14656) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165271)

PXE + Kickstart (Ubuntu Equivalent) + CFengine + mrepo + Handfull of simple scripts = Cloned machines environment.

I have this setup at work and new users pick their Red Hat choice (They are given a short list) and kickstart, some scripts and CFengine takes care of the rest. Need to make a changes to 300+ Linux Desktops? Update CFengine and wait until it's hourly run happens and you're done. Need to force certain packages on? Update CFengine and wait until it's hourly run happens and you're done.

Why not VMs? (4, Informative)

dugjohnson (920519) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165285)

I run VMs (different versions of Linux and Windows) on top of a Windows host all the time. Ubuntu won't have much of a performance hit. You can run them using VMPlayer (I did that for months until I finally upgraded to VMWorkstation) and installing is a two step...install VMPlayer, then copy the VM. Just an idea.

Re:Why not VMs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39166039)

SECOND!

Re:Why not VMs? (2)

Arterion (941661) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166339)

Exactly! I may not understand the problem, but if they have working copies of XP, why not set up a VM for VMWare Player, install it on the clients, then copy the VM over.

Seems like a hell of a lot easier than trying to automate changes to hard drive partitions. (Which is an interesting thing to do, though.)

I dare declare the correct answer to be.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165307)

clonezilla, or some sort of cloning solution for this one-off event in France. All other answers I declare incorrect -- puppet, chef, cfengine will just get your configs done. He'll still be configuring puppet, chef or cfengine when the event starts.

Use the right tool for the right situation.

Parallel SSH (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165317)

One no nonsense way is with parallel SSH.

Re:Parallel SSH (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166415)

Why not rsync [about.com] ?

How did you guys get Ubuntu... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165371)

to even work decently? 11.10 is a NIGHTMARE on my PC.

I had to downgrade, once again, to the LTS release.

Re:How did you guys get Ubuntu... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165631)

You're such a troll.. Ubuntu is awesome. They moved the close button to the opposite side -- so they can be special. And they have the really cool bar on the left site of the screen. It uses Unity.. no one uses Unity because they aren't special like Ubuntu. It's super-optimized for tablets.. even though no one uses it on tablets. And instead of a drop down menu, they're going to add a text field.. because everyone loves clicking on a button with their mouse, then switching to the keyboard to type in what they want. People LOVE typing.

VirtualBox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165383)

Would VirtualBox work for what you need? Then you could tame windows on the 30 machines anyway you like.

Obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165391)

An obvious job for AD Group Policy.

for a non windows OS? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165739)

and that still does cover the imagining part

Preseed + Config Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165499)

I would recommend a nice preseed and config manangement solution. Booting via PXE, starting the installer and using a preseed file is quite well documented and easy to do. After that I would recomment Chef for config managent. I may seem young and harder to learn, but actually after you start using it, it gets quite a lot simpler than puppet, cfengine or others.
Keeping all of them updated is quite a hard task. APT is great at doing so, but it not that easy to do it in a coodinated manner. If you just activate unattended upgrades you never know when it is going to happen and updateing firefox and thunderbird is quite cheesy. So maybe in your case it would be best to not do any updates for the time of this conference.

Partimage and just SSH (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165529)

If you only have 30 machines for one event, puppet/cfengine is overboard. Just set up a passwordless SSH key for root (remember NOT to put the private key on the laptops), and just use a simple script to send the same commands to every laptop.

For cloning, use partimage, clonezilla, or ghost. BUT, if you need to keep the windows partitions (each one is likely licensed differently), only copy the Linux partition and boot sector, not the whole disk.

Re:Partimage and just SSH (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165691)

If you only have 30 machines for one event, puppet/cfengine is overboard. Just set up a passwordless SSH key for root (remember NOT to put the private key on the laptops), and just use a simple script to send the same commands to every laptop.

You forgot error recovery and logging. So PC #25 was rebooting while your script ran... does that make the script fail, perhaps silently? Does that mean all the PCs except #25 are OK, or #25-(end of list) fail? How do you know to rerun the script later? How many times do you have to run it by hand to "make sure" it ran on all machines? You can add logging and some sort of retry mechanism... Just remember that those who try not to use puppet, end up rewriting puppet, just takes a long time and painful bugs. apt-get install puppetmaster on the main and apt-get install puppet on the remotes is just too easy to bother writing a clone of puppet out of shell scripts.

Puppet is much like AFS or LDAP or well, practically any service, the first time you set it up you're all "WTF?" and the second time its no big deal. Google for some tutorials, screencasts... Doing a really halfway job writing it yourself is terrifyingly harder than just using puppet.

Re:Partimage and just SSH (3, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165909)

> Just set up a passwordless SSH key for root

No. If you worked for me and I caught you doing this, I would first write you up for a direct security violation, and if I caught you doing it again I would fire you. Passphrase free keys leave your deployed network vulnerable to anyone who can steal the key from the hacked server, backup, or anyone who manages to walk off with that key by other means. Doing this is as bad, if not worse, than putting a post-it note with the rude password on your desktop monitor.

Setting up an ssh-agent to passphrase wrap such a remote root access key is a basic step. Restricting remote access to the designated management server is another basic step in protecting such a network from root key theft. Throwing such unprotected keys around is unfortunately, a very common practice among systems people who believe that "if they're inside our network, we have much bigger problems". Since these machines are laptops, they will be walking into and out of the network, and it's reasonable to assume that the network will be attacked from a machine inside. Basic security practices, such as system updates, password expiration, and access key handling should all get some attention to protect the network.

Ubuntu on 30 machines - dual boot to be retained? (1)

AndyCater (726464) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165535)

Wubi

Virtualbox and a standard virtual image

Pack an ubuntu mirror - if network access is slow, it will help.

As others have suggested, LTSP will work if you set the machines to boot from the network.

Silly Linux fanboy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165643)

Suck it up, Install Server 2008 on one and make it an AD domain controller. Problem solved.

Ltsp (1)

goldgin (1218596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165745)

It's called LTSP. Linux Terminal Server Project. Just make sure you build fat clients.

Virtualise (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165825)

What if you install a virtual machine once, and then copy it over to the other machines?

Also, if everything else fails (my apologies for saying this but somehow you don't give out a vibe that you are on top of the situation) is it the question for people to be able to use laptops, but not being able to mess around on them? Then I guess your final -and easy- option is to just open accounts for them in the existing OSes, and tell them to act civilized. Is that an option?

Re:Virtualise (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165869)

open accounts for them in the existing OSes

Sorry, I just saw that it has to be Ubuntu- how about wubi [ubuntu.com] ? It is a windows-based Ubuntu installer, it installs an Ubuntu system without partitioning that stands as a cluster of files in the host windows, it is not virtualised (both systems don't run at the same time) and if you carefully set up the boot loaders on the other machines, you only need to copy over one (huge) file -the "image"- into the other machines. In addition, you will have to remove the option of booting to Windows, and then go in via a bootable USB and fix it in the aftermath. Then you remove wubi and the computers are as they were.

System Center Configuration Manager 2012 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165867)

Package management in Ubuntu... oh fun. Why not use System Center Configuration Manager 2012 to manage all of your Linux/Unix devices?

tax haven (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39165911)

ubuntu is headquartered in a tax haven!

Acronis True Image (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39166179)

Just create and Image from acronis, or norton ghost and multi cast it out or image one by one

Simple is better (1)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166283)

I ran a small, 25 seat lab with Ubuntu. I installed Webmin on each workstation and took advantage of the cluster features. Combine that with ClusterSSH for other tasks and the lab was remarkably easy to manage. This isn't suitable for a largish network but worked well for me.

dd (1)

nullspoon (2478444) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166315)

It kinda depends on how you want to do post-install management, but for duplicating a computer, you could always use the dd command in ubuntu. The catch is all of your duplicate drives must be exactly the same size or larger than your source drive or you will have file system boundary issues. Dd should do the trick though as it will create a bit-for-bit duplicate of anything. That includes filesystems. One problem might be thoughthat all of your windoes boxes will be using the same copy/license of windows.

if the laptops are all alike (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166471)

I'd used a network backup server in a virtual machine previously and first backed up the default image. What was nice about the backup server was it had an iso image of a boot disk you'd use to boot and backup a machine so no worries what OS was on there. After the initial backup, do you disk partitioning, installation of Ubuntu and then create a Ubuntu repository image and set that new client to use that repository for updates. Now back that disk up and use it as your base image for all your laptops.

Now your clients can stay updated based on what you setup in the update repository and you have default images to restore should you want a stock system again or you want to add more clients.

If you're talking about managing the data on the clients then use LTSP on the clients and use the same repository server to manage the LTSP clients.

"pba backup" is the backup server I used back when I did this.

LoB

clusterssh (1)

bstamour (1053588) | more than 2 years ago | (#39166581)

If you have ssh access to the laptops then use clusterssh. It's a simple program that takes your keystrokes and sends them to all of the machines you're connected to. So doing an

# aptitude update
# aptitude safe-upgrade

on 30 machines is no harder than doing it to one.

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