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Using PC-Rdist* at Wellesley and Amherst Colleges

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Title: Using PC-Rdist* at Wellesley and Amherst Colleges


1
Using PC-Rdist at Wellesley and Amherst Colleges
  • Windows 98
  • Susan Hafer Richman
  • Project Manager
  • Information Services
  • Wellesley College
  • Windows 2000
  • Nicholas Dahlman
  • Microcomputer Specialist
  • Desktop Computing Services
  • Amherst College

PC Remote Distribute software by Pyzzo Software
(www.pyzzo.com)
2
PC-Rdist at Wellesley College
  • Where we were, where we are, where were going

3
Some history
  • 1985 MicroLab with IBM PCs and ATT 6300s (no
    hard drives), room locked if no student
    consultant on duty
  • Mid-90s more labs, some open 24 hours, filled
    with Gateway2000 PCs problem PCs stayed down for
    a long time.
  • 1997 Ghost images on CD used as needed to
    refresh public PC hard drives
  • 1998 began using ImageCast and PC-Rdist
  • 1999 upgraded PC-Rdist to version 2

4
Our Network Environment
  • Class B network flat?
  • NT domain using TCP/IP
  • Typically using GUEST account in Windows will
    soon have domain accounts for all
  • Public computers are Macs (refreshed with
    Assimilator) and Windows 98SE Gateway2000 PCs
    (refreshed with PC-Rdist)
  • PC-Rdist running from Windows 2000 Server

5
Whats in our tool box?
  • PC-Rdist incremental refreshing over the
    network
  • ImageCast blast the hard drive with image on
    CDs
  • Visual DialogScript old version of a Windows
    scripting language

6
PC-Rdist in a nutshell
  • Master images for lab computers are on a server
    on the campus network
  • Run PC-Rdist, which figures out what files and
    registry items are different from what the server
    says should be on the computer
  • Delete and add items, then restart the computer
    takes less than 5 minutes
  • Can run at startup, as part of log in/out
    scripts, or use outside scheduler

7
PC-Rdist setup our old way
  • Built a base lab image with OS and all standard
    software, using ImageCast made lab IC image on
    CD for worst case
  • Built alternate images as layers on top of lab
    for specialized hardware and software, using
    PC-Rdist
  • Some locations our students manually refreshed,
    others used VirusScan 4.0.3 Scheduler

8
What we did this summer
  • Base image only Windows and IE, one for each
    hardware platform
  • Separate images for each program and for
    scanners, printers for each lab
  • Windows Scheduled Tasks for some labs, set to run
    between midnight and 7am
  • Visual DialogScript

based on information from Steve Tapp from Kent
State at SIGUCCS 2000
9
What we have now
  • PC-Rdist 2.0.5 and ImageCast 4.5.1
  • 231 PCs in the database (80 in labs, 42 in dorms,
    97 in classrooms, 12 in libraries), all running
    Windows 98 SE
  • 1 person doing most of the tweaking on the server
  • Student consultants follow up automated refreshes
    or do manual refreshes

10
AutoRefreshing Our planning
  • Create list for each weekday keep refreshes
    10-15 minutes apart
  • From this list, create Windows Scheduled Task
    files for each computers image
  • Do only a few PCs in each lab each night

11
AutoRefreshing Prep work
  • Windows Scheduled Tasks runs script
  • Script displays Notepad 10-minute warning
  • Prep checks for \\tricky2k\auto\local.bat and
    copies to c\windows
  • Deletes RunServices key
  • Creates RunOnce key for local.bat ltnamegt
  • Reboots

12
AutoRefreshing Finishing up
  • Runs c\windows\local.bat
  • Sets name of sender for later e-mail
  • Looks for \\tricky2k\x1\pcrdist.exe. No
    creates c\noserver.txt and exits. Yes runs
    PCRDist
  • PCRDist runs, and sends e-mail to conference

13
Follow-up Procedures
  • PC-Rdist automatically e-mails conference
  • 830 M-F Students check PCs scheduled for refresh
    in the wee hours
  • Weekly manual update of spreadsheet to check for
    delinquent PCs
  • Occasionally need to do manual refresh

14
Whats coming.
  • Windows 2000?

15
PC-Rdist and Windows 2000 A Case Study
  • Maintaining and Improving Computers at Amherst
    College

Nicholas Dahlman, Microcomputer Specialist
http//www.amherst.edu/nadahlman/pc-rdist
16
The Situation March 2001
  • 57 PCs in 3 labs running Windows 95
  • Base image applied with Ghost via network
  • PC-Rdist 1.52 stored locally on hard drive
  • On first reboot, PC-Rdist names computer
    readies for network
  • Computers manually remade every morning by
    student workers from Mac server (!)

17
Our Network Environment Summer 2001
  • Newly subnetted network
  • Mixed-mode NT domain using TCP/IP personal
    secure network storage login scripts
  • Public computers are Macs (refreshed with
    RevRdist) and Windows 2000 Dell PCs (refreshed
    with PC-Rdist)
  • PC-Rdist running from Windows 2000 Server

18
Summer 2001 To-Do List
  • Layering
  • One base image on different hardware
  • Different labs get different software
  • Better User Experience
  • New, clean desktop for every user
  • Ability to install own software
  • Tie in with network resources
  • Easy-to-keep
  • Manual or automated maintenance
  • Ability to remake, check on computers remotely

19
Ghost 7 and Sysprep
  • Upgrade to Symantec Ghost 7
  • Compatible with NTFS, Windows 2000 (mostly)
  • Can create, retrieve images over network
  • Cannot create new W2k SIDs
  • Microsoft Sysprep 1.1 (free)
  • Allows you to duplicate a hard drive after
    configuring Windows installing apps
  • Runs Mini-setup (for differing hardware)
  • Plain-text Answer File allows you to specify
    answers to Setup questions
  • Bear to set up very easy when set up properly

20
PC-Rdist 2 demo
  • PC-Rdist server structure
  • The GUI
  • Setting files to ignore, delete, etc.
  • Creating an application layer

21
PC-Rdist and Windows 2000 The Permissions Problem
  • Levels of permissions Guest, User, Power User,
    Administrator, SYSTEM
  • Administrators cant access all files and entire
    registry only SYSTEM can.
  • PC-Rdist runs with permissions of user who
    started it.
  • Therefore, just running PC-Rdist yourself wont
    work!

22
PC-Rdist and Windows 2000 The AT Solution
  • AT command-line Scheduled Tasks
  • Administrator-scheduled AT tasks run with SYSTEM
    permissions
  • AT can schedule computers remotely!
  • Batch files add versatility ease

23
Command-line scheduling demo
  • What the AT command looks like
  • Looking at scheduled tasks
  • Clearing schedule
  • Scheduling a remake
  • Scheduling a lab

24
Windows 2000 Interface
  • Users log onto domain (as themselves or guest),
    get Default User profile, Power User permissions
  • My Documents linked to secure network storage
  • Screen saver automatically logs users off after
    specified time
  • Batch scheduling command reschedules itself if
    user is logged on

Logoff screen saver from Windows 2000 Resource
Kit
UserOn batch command courtesy JSI Inc.s Tip
1752
25
Results
  • Very few crashes
  • Labs with very different settings, apps
  • Increased use of network resources fewer floppy
    disks!
  • Bored student lab supervisors
  • Expanded to library, departmental labs,
    classrooms (8 labs, 110 computers so far)

26
PC-Rdist QA
http//www.amherst.edu/nadahlman/pc-rdist
www.pyzzo.com
Susan Hafer Richman Wellesley College srichman_at_wel
lesley.edu
Nicholas Dahlman Amherst College nadahlman_at_amherst
.edu
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