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DICE virtual image with teaching software for students - trial

Project ID: 
239
Current stage: 
Manager: 
Unit: 
What: 

Description: Produce a virtualised image with all teaching software - or as much as would be feasible given the awkwardness of some of our teaching software - for students to install on their personal laptops and home PCs.

This project will concentrate on producing a useable image that can be used to gauge interest. The image distribution need not be scalable at this stage. Should there be sufficient interest, a follow-on project would produce a scalable image distribution system.

There is more than one possible approach to this exercise.

  1. Produce an image based roughly on a DIY-DICE install. Updated, say, twice a semester.
  2. Produce an image based on stock SL6 but using DICE repos for additional software. Updated, say, twice a semester - but could allow remote updates from DICE repos using yum. Advantage is that this is closer to stock SL6 and hence easier and more understandable for students to tinker with.

Whatever approach was used we would have to be careful to avoid providing a solution which might later lead us into providing support for individual images. Support should be limited to the production of replacement images.

Deliverables: a DICE-like virtual machine image which could be used for simpler student work, runnable on personal machines and on IS lab machines.

Why: 

Customer: Informatics students, although other DICE users might use it too

Case statement: We expect soon to have to move all our student labs to a more remote location for a year. We also expect to be catering for significantly more students than at present - more than our student labs could handle if we aimed to provide each student with the opportunity of sufficient time sitting physically in front of a machine. It may well be the case that even when our student labs moved back from their remote location, we would not have the resources to provide enough machines for such an aim. We therefore want to try to reduce demand on the student lab machines by moving some simpler work to VMs which could run elsewhere.

When: 

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How: 

Wiki: VirtuallyDICEModes

Plan:
Try these two approaches and find out which seems easier and quicker:

  1. Start with DIY DICE
    Install a DIY DICE machine, including teaching software.
    Local Account
    Provide a generic local user account.
    De-LCFG
    Stop the machine from being managed by LCFG.
    Networking
    Remove any fixed IP address from the machine, make it networkable with minimal alteration or hassle on an average new VMware installation, bearing in mind that multiple copies of it will be running simultaneously.
    AFS for backups
    Enable the local user to sign in to DICE and access AFS directories from the VM, for backup purposes.
  2. Start with SL
    Start with a standard Scientific Linux installation.
    Kerberos
    Get Kerberos installed and working with DICE
    AFS
    Get OpenAFS installed and working with DICE
    Teaching Software - Generic
    Get some idea of which teaching software is available on SL anyway and how easy it would be to install and cofigure that appropriately.
    Teaching Software - Local
    Find out which teaching software is not from SL repositories but could be distributed locally, for instance from a student-accessible yum repository.
    Teaching Software - Awkward
    Find out which software would be likely to be awkward to distribute/install/configure as above and why - e.g. legal issues, technical problems, resource problems.
Other: 

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Milestones

Proposed date Achieved date Name Description