Hi, we are running a computer pool for students with 48 machines on openSUSE 12.1. Ususally we try to install "almost everything" except software that is really annoying when $HOME is on NFS (e.g. beagle in former times).
In older times we used autoyast to install a new version of openSUSE. But autoyast is just taking too long to install such a long list of software, and when you forget about a small thing, the turnaround time with such a big number of packages to install is too long. So we switched to autoyast and images (tar.gz method) for new machines (or new harddisks) and zypper dup for upgrading on working machines to new releases. These upgrades take place in the break between semesters.
zypper dup usually works great. But somehow from 11.4 to 12.1 the update-alternative files for java were messed up resulting in a non-working java plugin for browsers. Found out by accident last week.
Since our university uses Novell iprint for charging the students for printouts, we had to find out, that cups 1.5 does not work with iprint client. And so we had to build cups 1.4 for openSUSE 12.1.
Printing seems to be one of the most complicated problems in universe ;) Students love n-up printing to save money. But somehow this seems to confuse printers from all kinds of different manufacturers (HP, Lexmark, Sharp). There is also no clear statement how to do it right, because for some PDFs you better use n-up printing from acroread and for others you can only use okular and cups n-up printing. Failure of printing "the right way" (TM) will result in hanging or resetting the printer.
Since the machines are administered by central root, we disable NetworkManager, Update Notifications, and so on. Bad thing is, this changes from release to release, and we have to consider all desktop flavours (KDE, Gnome, LXDE, ...).
For updates we use the automatic online update. Problem here was: SuSEconfig is not run. But this problem decreases, since SuSEconfig does less from release to release. Another thing I'm not quite sure about is: when e.g. openssl library is updated, a lot of services are affected (zypper ps can tell you), but the services are not restarted automatically. Since our machine run rather long (until next kernel update or crash or power plug pulled) they only get restarted when we do a zypper ps manually and either restart services manually or reboot. Well this should not be necessary, but I'd feel better if zypper ps shows nothing.
To change the configuration on all machines, we usually copy the configuration file(s) to all machines and restart the service. We have scripts using SSH with authorized_keys for that. Problem is, if a machine is not online, it does not get the change and one must remember to change it, when the machine comes back. If there is a better solution, please let me know.
Wow, that was log. I didn't intend a such long post ;-)