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Sunday, May 6, 2012

I need some ideas on managing 10-14 desktops and laptops for a Makerspace/Hackerspace

At the Dallas Makerspace we just received 4 relatively new Dell laptops as donations from a local tech company. They will likely be donating another 6 or so laptops at a later date. My plan is to put Ubuntu 12.04 on them and them sitting on a shelf connected to chargers, so that members/guests can grab any free laptop, start it up and browse the web or work on projects.

I am also setting up a server at our space for users to store their files, which will be accessible via SFTP/SCP, FTP, Samba, and HTTP. For authentication I am currently writing an "account system" that will handle single sign on for our website, tie into our badge system and hopefully also be used for the file server and other systems (probably using RADIUS with a MySQL backend).

My first thought is to only have a guest account, that way every time someone logs in they have a fresh user account without anyone else's potentially weird settings (or auto-start script that logs passwords!). However, some activities require specific permissions (for instance, access to /dev/ttyUSB0 for programming an Arduino), so I'm not sure how to support that with the guest account (udev rules?). I would like to limit root/sudo access as much as possible.

I wasn't able to find anything with a few quick google searches, but is there something similar to Window's "Roaming Profiles"? That way users could have their settings follow them between sessions and computers.

I will also need to make sure that the systems are updated, though I'm sure that can be accomplished with unattended-upgrades (possibly tweak it to run at or just after boot).

Luckily I am not the only one who has to manage these systems, as we do have a group of people who have volunteered to help, I would like to keep support time down since we all have full time jobs.

TL;DR How should I manage 10 laptops running Ubuntu shared between almost 90 people?

submitted by aceat64
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