Linux Symposium, July 13th - 17th, 2009, Montreal, Canada
Centre Mont-Royal
Montreal, Canada
July 13-17, 2009

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Virtualized Desktops - A new kind of campus computing

Michael C Richardson (

Computers used to be expensive, and were found usually in places like university campus labs,, but we seldom use such environments anymore. Some machines had local disks, some network booted, but they were all controlled by a system administrator, and we all had a common /usr/local, (or /bnr/tools, or /project/bin, etc.). The machines were almost interchangeable. Installing software was someone else's problem, and someone else's responsability. There were downsides, but there were also upsides: collaboration with others was as simple as "chmod go+r $HOME". (Maybe even g+rw).

Now virtual desktops are on the rise, and suddenly there are hundreds of computers now in the same "place" again. This tutorial is about setting up such an environment, a review of many of the practices that may be useful to consider in 2009 that were either impossible or irrelevant ten years ago. Students will learn to set up network boot for physical and virtual computers, disk quotas and how to use the,. how to permit controlled collaboration and how to protect the infrastructure.  We will look at where there is significant room for improvement in our tools and you may even learn a little about XEN.

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