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On Thursday 31 Jan 2002 16:58 pm, Chris Howells wrote:
It's a long story, but basically I have been increasing annoyed with RM
recently. Therefore, I would like to create a Linux distribution which
works in a similair manner to RM connect. What do people think of these
Sounds like it could be a good idea :-) For those of us who aren't clued up
on RM stuff, though, could you explain what RM Connect does?
I can't guaranteee that it's going to happen
or quickly (I'm busy with
school and developing KDE), but if some people want to help as well, then
it just might :)
I'd like to help (well, after finals; so I'll be available in about 5 weeks
Linux distribution plan
Schools, colleges, universities
To provide a simple to install and administer networking system, which
works in a mildly similair manner to RM Connect. Except it actually works
(and has decent security), and is based on free software (GNU/Linux).
Would it be difficult to make the interface like RM Connect, so it'd be easy
to pick up for people used to it? And, presumably, RM Connect would have some
sort of support with it, supplied by RM? I think that it would be important
to have some sort of support system in place, otherwise schools (I presume)
wouldn't really look into it.
Also, universities are more likely to have Novell, or some sort of Unix
system, rather than RM (in college here, we've got Netware 5, soon to be
upgraded to Netware 6). Schools are going to be the most likely target
By simply booting a machine with a boot floppy, it
should be easy to
install Linux on to the macine, after just asking a few questions such as
the hostname to use, and the kind of mouse that the box has.
You could use a static DHCP system - then you wouldn't need to enter the
hostname, and the server will give the same IP address to that particular
workstation all the time. (Assuming you're talking about workstation; you
could supply a separate floppy disk & CD for the server). Presumably with the
workstation, you could just install the system via FTP/HTTP from the main
server? (i.e. having a copy of the distribution CDs copied onto the server
A Linux distribution based on Red Hat 7.2 would be created. The main reason
that Red Hat is suggested is because it can be installed based around the
Kickstart installation system, which enables an administrator to stored the
installer settings in a configuration file, rather than needing to sit in
front of the computer and tend to the the installation every time a
question is asked.
You could use any distribution, and use GNU cfengine to make custom changes
on a per-machine basis. It's very powerful software, and you can undoubtedly
do what you want with it.
The distribution will:
* Be mainly based on KDE, but provide Blackbox for older hardware (486s and
slow Pentiums). There is a possibility that GNOME could be provided as
well, but I prefer KDE, and know very little about how GNOME works.
- From a programming perspective, completely differently. From an end-user
perspective, fairly similar :-)
Stuff like Kylix and Open Office will also be
Be careful: you may find it difficult to distribute Kylix because it's
non-Free software. You'd have to get permission from Borland. KDevelop is
supposed to be nice for C/C++ QT apps, although I've never used it.
And provide WINE - if it's in a school setting, they'll undoubtedly have some
software that requires Windows (like ecctis).
On the server side, CUPS would be used for the
printing system and all
machines will have ext3 formatted hard discs.
Sounds reasonable, although ReiserFS is more mature ;-) (start filesystem
flamewars here. And end here ;-)
* Have a central administration databases where:
- User names and groups are managed
- Print and disc quotas are managed
- Software can be allocated to a machine/group of machines
- The central configuration files are located
Sounds like a job for cfengine. I don't really know enough about cfengine to
be able to write configuration files (although I could poke around and give
it a go, if you're really serious about this project). Print and Disk quotas
you'd have to manage on the server-end, not with cfengine (which is used to
push information out to clients).
* On booting up a machine, a system service will check
with the server
hosting the administrative database whether any software has been
allocated/deallocated. If so, it will be downloaded via apache and
installed locally, or removed, as appropriate. However, some larger
software such as Open Office might want to live permanently on the server.
<pedant> You don't download via apache, you download via a web browser or
wget </pedant>. This shouldn't be too difficult to do - set of shell scripts
If any configuration files (e.g. /etc/host or
similair) have been modified,
the updated versions would be downloaded. Perhaps CVS could be used here.
Possibly. Or cfengine :-) Rsync may be a better option than CVS.
* A database such as NIS would probably be used for
NIS is only used for sharing passwords. For the purposes described above, a
simple MySQL database (or even some LDAP system, for people who like
buzzwords) would probably be better.
* Upon loggin in (via kdm) the system would map the
user's home directory
on the server to the /home/user directory on the user name. NFS or SMB are
Or simply have /home NFS mounted automatically at boot time, rather than at
* There will be some user based administrative tools.
This will allow the
user to change his/her password via a web browser. There will also be an
information page showing stuff like information about disc/print quotas.
Webmin, possibly, may be useful?
It will also be possible to define the desktop menus
(e.g. KMenu) that will
appear on the user's desktop. This will be based around .desktop files, and
a utility will convert these files to Blackbox menus so that the menu is
kept consistent between different desktops.
Fairly easily done. Same way as doing any other files :)
A web based e-mail system could be used to integrate
with the IMAP mail
Again, lots of possibilities - check Freshmeat.
* The server side would consist of the following
pieces of software:
- IMAP e-mail server
* It will be possible to customise the desktop to
default levels. For
instance, by most KDE configuration files will be held in a globally
readable directory (perhaps in /usr or /etc). Therefore ~/.kde will be
mostly read only
KDE's architecture makes it very easy to provide
configuration files based
on this process
Sounds like it - if you're a KDE developer, then you'd know far more about it
than I do :)
- --I reserve the right to be completely wrong about any comments or
opinions expressed; don't trust everything you read above--
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