Some days not a lot happens and that is good. Today I put the finishing touches on a lab my grade 9 students set up. Last year they started with a variety of ATX boxes. I replaced 10 with thin clients. This year I had the grade 9s learn lots of hardware/software stuff and they assembled a new lab with almost twice as many machines most supposedly IBM Netvistas from 2002. Today I tweaked all the BIOS to Wake-on-LAN and straightened out a few mis-labelled machines (the labels faded over the summer somehow…). Then I patched them all. Some are Debian Lenny GNU/Linux and some are Squeeze. They both seem to work well. Squeeze had a ton of patches over the summer. I changed about 75% of the files on drives.
I then wrote a few scripts so I or my eventual replacement can do anything to any one or all of them. The kids thought it was cute that I could stop their off-task activities on the terminal server with ssh. Now I can turn on and off their machines or kill their GUI on the clients. Since there are a lot of students in that class, access to a PC is at a premium and my esteem as manager of those scarce resources is very high.
I still have one machine that occasionally will not start its X server. I checked. It seems identical in every feature to its neighbours. I hate random errors, don’t you? I will add a couple of more machines tomorrow so there will be enough even if this one dies. The lab is small and I have kids sitting shoulder to shoulder. I may even stick in the 15-year-old box to show the kids how good they have it (and to annoy some hecklers). It actually works pretty well as a thin client. It runs RedHat of its generation in 16MB. Yep. It still works. I will reserve it for the latecomer.