Can anyone share their experiences with using the K2000 in an education lab environment?

Some background on our environment: We have a little over 200 lab machines. Currently, they are all identical Dell Optiplex 990 computers. We have used Ghost, Deep Freeze, and Group Policy up until now to maintain a steady state on the lab computers. Using Ghost, I am able to multicast image all of the lab computers across three buildings in about 3 or 4 hours. We looked to switch because Symantec has made it painfully obvious that Ghost is dead, and my little bit of experience with Altiris is that it was difficult to use and maintain.

The K2000 does not have multicast. KACE tells us that multicast is currently not on the roadmap. The reported maximum using K-image is about 20 concurrent machines imaging at a time. KACE tells us that the Native Image Toolkit (KNIT) increases that number a little bit. KACE also tells us that we may be able to increase that using Remote Site Appliances for the other buildings (since they are on a separate subnet).

Some questions:

1. KACE support mentioned not formatting the hard drive before imaging and just synchronizing the changed files from one image revision to the next (essentially an rsynch). Does anyone have experience with doing that and are there any caveats to be aware of?

2. Is there any way to create a hidden partition on the local hard drive that has a copy of the K-image or KNIT image so that the server is not getting hit every time a machine reboots?

3. How do you control the machine booting from PXE? Do you manually start a PXE boot from each machine, use the Dell Client Configuration Toolkit (CCTK) to change the boot order, or other?
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We have a site with about 1500 machines, we're an institution with a 1:1 program and have year 6-12.

Here's some info which you might find useful.

1) We have not used this 'not formatting' option. The reason for this is because as a 1:1 institute we need to wipe all their games etc, however the 'Remove Local Files Not in Image' option for deployment could probably solve this, its not something we want to risk. Ie, for kids who have installed seperate partitions etc we'll want to clear them too.

2) I dont really understand what you mean with this question? Are you hoping to install a recovery partition on the machines? If so, yes, this is doable. You can download the files etc for a System Image and install them to a USB, it would be trivial to hack it up and put it into a hidden partition. If you're doing this then you could copy the source WIM that the KNIT uses from your PETEMP folder on the K2 into your hidden partition and use the imagex command that they use to look locally instead of on the server.

3) We manually sit at a machine and do the old F12 to net boot trick. However in the K2 you are able to wake on lan machines, or even set their next boot to be the network. You can set individual boot actions for machines.

Personally we use WDS here at the moment for our deployment. We drop a 37 Gb image in about an hour to as many machines as we want. We successfully imaged 135 Toshiba M930's in 5 hours, go to wo, only a few weeks ago.

The K2 is really starting to catchup with the KNIT and other updates, though they still feel like hacks to get things working. I can really see them getting stronger and stronger. Depending on your image size and number of apps in your soe, whether you have a different one for staff and students, different ones for each lab, this could be exactly what you need.

Again, from our side of things, its a single image for everyone no matter who they are. WDS works for us. If you've got 4 labs and 10 images, then scripted installs might work much better for you then anything.

Hope this helped and wasnt too long! PM me if you'd like more info.
Answered 03/07/2012 by: Roonerspism
Second Degree Brown Belt

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