I finally finished rolling out the new changes to CSH’s usercenter. I decided to move away from Fully Automatic Installation and move towards the thin client solution provided by LTSP.
FAI was really painful to test, as well as significantly more painful to manage. LTSP allows us to only update one machine, and install upgrades without having to reboot the machines to receive the softupdates (the FAI way).
One machine, in this case a virtual machine on CSH’s Xen cluster, runs all of the software for the clients. The terminal client connects to the terminal server’s login prompt until the user logs in. Then the client automatically ssh’s (with X forwarding of course) to the server and subsequently runs all of their software off of that.
It is bandwidth heavy (on that segment of our network anyway), but it works very well. The clients are just as fast with the X forwarding as they would be with a locally installed OS (these machines are ultra slow).
Really, there isn’t much to say other than FAI is terrible. Related: I plan on setting up puppet at some point for myself.