Just Picking Brains : 40 machines to set up in a school

Hi everyone

I’m a teacher in middle school and here is the situation

In a week we’re going to receive 40 computers from some local factory mainly dells with 3rd and 4th gen i3 and i5.

Here is the present plan : Configure 39 of them with a minimal install of ubuntu 18.04 and dump 3x10tb in the last one with Freenas with one share for each class.

Our school is quite small 300 kids and security is not a real issue I mean even if someone wants to have a go at the server the worst they could do is steal 4th grade poems.

I’m just looking if anyone has any input / good ideas / things not to mess up when it comes to managing this type of set up.
Every thought’s welcome

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I’d say do worry a bit about security, have a decent server backup system in place (it’s probably easier to restore than reinstall). It’s not is someone has a go and steals 4th grade poems (why would anyone want to) but more about someone putting something inappropriate on the server.

My 2 pence (UK equiv of 2 cents, soon to be worth less than that though)

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I don’t have any direct experience with this but I know there are several BDL regulars that are involved in education. Hopefully they can weigh in on the subject. I believe @argrubbs, @kc2bez and @DreadfulTrack71 might be able to help.

That type of security I do indeed care about. Might be a good idea to have a second FreeNas machine to back the first one on.

Several questions:

You familiar with PXE booting? If this was my project I would set up the machines to boot from and image on the server. That way you only really have one image (computer) to maintain. The student machines boots from the image and Bob’s your uncle. Use the FreeNas box to set up shared storage.

Shouldn’t need much to make this work since the PC’s will be doing most the leg work with local memory, CPU and GPU’s.

Otherwise I would learn Ansible and how to maintain all those PC’s from one place. Ansible playbooks could be use to admin all the computers for updates and what not.

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I have not used this but this project looks very promising for what you want to do. There are similar solutions for other operating systems but this one is cross platform. Please keep us posted, I would like to know if you decide to use this how well it works. If you have any further questions please feel free to reach out.


Hi no I’m not familiar with pxe booting but I’m gonna look into it . Thanks

Thanks for the link it looks promising and easy I’m gonna play around with it a bit and see if how it runs. I’ll keep you posted.

That looks very interesting.

@Maeglin please keep us updated if you go this route.

I will just finished downloading Centos mini ISO I’m going to test FOG right away on a virtual lab and if it checks out I will give it a go bare metal but the machines won’t be available for another fortnight. But I’ll keep you all in the loop

FOG looks pretty cool/

Hi guys

Just a little update, after quite a while because of delivery delay and too short days all the 40 computers are now up and running.

In the end we went with 38 machines running ubuntu 18.04 + 2 servers one running ubuntu server 18.04 with pihole nextcloud and a bunch of samba share and one running centOS with OnlyOffice documentserver and some DNF shares for the school’s admins.

At the end I went with Veyon and not FOG to manage all the machine mainly because Veyon is really straightforward and easy to maintain.
Everything works great and the whole park has been up for a forthnight now without any hickups.


That is fantastic. Thanks for the update. I need to check out Veyon, it sounds like good stuff.

As far as my experience with it goes, it’s great, it’s straight forward to use and easy to maintain. The only thing I haven’t figure out yet is how to pass a CLI command to every machine at once.

Can in you Ansible for the CLI commands needed?

It is really easy to set up.


I’m not really familiar with Ansible but I will look into it do you have any pointers?

thanks for the ansible advice I’ve been diving in it for 5d now it works great.

You bet.

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