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Several noob administration issues

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Ricky JanzenSeveral noob administration issues
by on Jan 2, 2009 at 8:25:57 pm

I'm fairly familiar with Macs, but not with the inner workings of administrating multiple systems. Recently, I got put in charge of our Mac lab at the university I work at (since I'm the only one here with any real Mac experience). I have Remote Desktop on my laptop which helps (until IT screws up all the IP addresses by reconfiguring the entire network).

However, I'm running into a few issues. First, how do I make exactly the same configurations on multiple systems (accounts, desktop, dock, screen saver, permissions, mouse buttons, etc)? Doing this manually for each system (and swapping in and out of the Student accounts just to turn on and off dock access) is getting annoying.

Second, permissions seem to be getting reset for the Student account (ie it seems the first 80% of applications will be turned on instead of the various selections I wanted and the one Utility I selected is off). Any reason this would happen?

Third, one system started up to Safari on the Student account, even though most every permission should be disabled for this account (perhaps related to the above issue?). I turned on System Prefs for Student, went in and turned off Safari in the Startup Items section, then disabled System Prefs for Student again, but this isn't the first time something like this has happened--what keeps allowing these settings to change?

Fourth, what settings do I need to disable to prevent students from changing the homepage or even which network to connect to (we have an open network just for internet access and a pw protected one for printing and other functions--these need to stay on the pw protected one, but periodically get changed back to the open one somehow--guessing a student clicks it over)?

Finally, how do I do a complete format/rebuild of a system when I no longer have the original system discs (75% of the lab is with older eMacs that were purchased before I was put in charge)?

If it helps, I have 3 types of systems running in the lab. 2.4GHz Intel iMacs with 10.4, 2.66GHz iMacs with 10.5, and some older eMacs with 10.4 running at various speeds. All of them are running wireless (can't say I'm a huge fan of that decision, since they seem to have more connection issues now).

Thanks for any help on any of these issues. Also, the more of this I can take care of through Remote Desktop, the better (ie with Unix commands even--whatever way I don't have to manually log through each account)...


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Zane BarkerRe: Several noob administration issues
by on Jan 3, 2009 at 4:21:46 am

[Ricky Janzen] "Finally, how do I do a complete format/rebuild of a system when I no longer have the original system discs (75% of the lab is with older eMacs that were purchased before I was put in charge)? "

You purchase new ones.

[Ricky Janzen] "If it helps, I have 3 types of systems running in the lab. 2.4GHz Intel iMacs with 10.4, 2.66GHz iMacs with 10.5, and some older eMacs with 10.4 running at various speeds."

First make it easy on yourself and get ALL the computers running the same OS. Preferably 10.5

To make things easier on your self create a MASTER image that you can then simply clone onto all the machines. If you move all the machines to 10.5 you can have one as 10.5 is a universal binary and will one version will allow you to boot from both a Intel Mac and a PPC Mac. If you keep some on 10.4 you will need a 10.4 Intel version and a 10.4 PPC version.

Several of your issues that you listed above come from the students changing things on the machines when they use them. Now you cant stop them from changing all of them but you can make it easy on your self to set them all back. Look into a program called Deep Freeze. http://www.faronics.com/html/dfmac.asp

With Deep Freeze when ever the computer is restarted the machine reverts to the way it was when Deep Freeze was enabled. So set the master image to restart at a designated time (at night when nobody is there is the best) and it clears every thing out and reverts to your settings. Keep in mind that it will also delete any files that were saved so remind all students to save there files onto a flash drive or external drive, and take it with them.

Another thing about having a mister image is that if a computer goes down, you fix it or replace it and just image the new machine and it is then exactly like all the others in one step.

And keep in mind that you will have to disable Deep Freeze before any updates are run on the machines because once they are restarted the machine is back to the way it was before.

Also probably the most important thing is have two separate user accounts on the master image that you put on to all the machines. One account that is an administrator and one account that is NOT. The one that is not is the ONLY account that you give the students access to. This prevents them from being able to change any thing important.

Hope this helps.

There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!



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Ricky JanzenRe: Several noob administration issues
by on Jan 5, 2009 at 5:38:40 pm

Thanks. Deep Freeze looks like it will solve a lot of my problems. I already have a student only account (and routinely clean the desktops of extra files, so they already know not to save personal items to the computers), but perhaps I didn't have everything locked and there's a few things (in Safari, namely) that I don't think I can lock.

Last question, how exactly do I make a master image and can this be stored and cloned from my Remote Desktop server computer?

Thanks,
Ricky



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Zane BarkerRe: Several noob administration issues
by on Jan 5, 2009 at 5:51:57 pm

[Ricky Janzen] "Last question, how exactly do I make a master image and can this be stored and cloned from my Remote Desktop server computer? "

You cannot image a computer remotely.

What I would do is take an external drive and partition it into two partitions. Install just a basic OS onto one of the partitions and then on the other partition you create your master image by installing a OS, your apps and get all your settings in there, then freeze it.

Now what you will do is boot from your basic OS partition and use disk utility to image your master into the internal drive of the machine. Depending on how many machines you have you may want to have several of these external drives so you can be imaging more them one machine at a time.




There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!



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Ricky JanzenRe: Several noob administration issues
by on Jan 5, 2009 at 8:33:02 pm

I'm assuming the cloning would reset all the computer names to the same thing as well, or would it somehow retain the current name?

Also, I have two programs (ProTools and Finale) that have machine-specific registration codes. I'm guessing I'd have to deauthorize the software before re-imaging and then reauthorize it on each machine? Easy enough with Finale if I remember to do it, but ProTools can be a bear to configure.

I'm thinking it wouldn't be an issue with Deep Freeze on each computer (unless I misunderstand how it works), but it may cause me some real problems with an initial standardization cloning and in the event of needing to completely reclone them in the future, right?



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