Tuesday, June 16, 2009

USB Live install vs. Active Directory

Linux and OSS software is all about scratching itches with creative thinking and slightly different applications of previously created tools. Recent changes in my work space have me considering some creative technology options to separate us from closed source software tools.

Recently my office was severed from the corporate M$ domain server. With it we had some issues that the multiple users on multiple computers. As each user signed on again to another computer they had to create their local account on each machine. Each user had to find their own way to trying to synchronize their application settings and user data across all the machines and accounts. Some individuals were more creative than others, but it was a problem that the computer users should not have had to overcome by themselves.

The roamng profile was the service at the core of this that I feel I need to replace. In addition we are expanding our office to include another that is geographically diverse. As I was first looking at this I was thinking some sort of server deployment using OSS tools might be the solution that I needed. At first I looked at OpenLDAP + NFS mounted shares to create a /home/user that could be mounted on any machine they signed on and then the application settings and data would follow the user. Then I took a look at LTPS (thin client) which for what we do in my office would require high bandwidth connections from user to server.

Then I had a thought, what if the user could have a usb key and then just boot any of the machines available into a live linux distro with persistance. This would offer the user the ability for each to custom add software that they found useful, while keeping all of their application settings like email and bookmarks. Logistically, this seems to make sense also since then at any time you could do a backup image of the usb key that could be restored and with the known sizes of the space on the usb key could make the backup storage space a managable activity.

I have been on a quest for a process that would produce for me a usb key that would have a "live" version of a linux distro (to support the widest range of hardware). I also need to try and pay attention to security since if this key were to get lost, the important data needs to be in a mode/filesystem that protects it to the point that any theif would be faced only with the option to format the key to use it.

I plan on making additional posts on this as I try and try again. I have tried a few tools and how-to guides on how to produce the effects that I desire with no success. I will be back to detail how that goes and to post what is my success story when done.



Nikolaidis said...

Hey Cafe!

How'd you make out replacing Roaming Profiles with thumb drives?


CafeNinja said...

I had used two different software tools with no success. I'm have two more to try and then some lengthy guides to follow. I may have crossed paths with a different problem. I will be making my 2nd post for that article this week sometime.