Network Multi-Booting for Mac Lab

coiner

Registered
Hello, I have recently absorbed a lab of linux thin-clients and the users of this lab would like it to be transformed into a Mac lab. So with that, I have been spending the past few days brainstorming how the lab will be set up...

In an ideal world, I would like my lab users to be able to choose whether they want to boot into OSX, Windows 7, or a selection of Linux distros. My vision is having these lab machines show a bootloader with several images to choose from when powered on, and then loading one of these images over the network.

As for resources, I have an OSX server (10.6.8) available to serve the images. OR I have several Unix/Linux servers available as well. (I'd like to look at all options available to me.)

What software should I set up to achieve this vision?!
 

Giaguara

Chmod 760
Staff member
Mod
I'd advocate for VMware View for the thin client system
http://www.vmware.com/products/view/overview.html

However, to virtualize Mac OS X systems... Mac OS X nowadays is allowed to be virtualized - but only if it's running still on Apple hardware. So if you are essentially hosting the Mac OS X images on an Apple server of some kind. Host the other VMs where ever appropriate, and set up the system with teh thin clients so that if the users choose to select a Mac OS X system, they will authenticate and then load the OS from those Mac OS X servers.
 

coiner

Registered
Well I was looking into VMware View but in reality the thin-clients in use are very old and should be (and will be if I can get the funds) replaced. I was figuring that I would buy new iMacs for the lab and get rid of the thin clients altogether. Then use *something* to load images on these machines on each boot.

However, the more I write, the more I think that View might be what I'm looking for. My initial thoughts were looking at things like Netboot/Netrestore and Apple Software Restore, but perhaps now I'm thinking in a different direction... So many options these days.

Keep the suggestions coming!
 

Giaguara

Chmod 760
Staff member
Mod
Most thin clients are rather simple for their specs, so the ones you have might just work fine with View.

Then again, if you had iMacs already... netboot/ASR might work well for you. I would guess you're looking for some images that can simply be cloned for an environment and then erased or restored as needed? (Like for a classroom or project or testing).
 

coiner

Registered
Well overall I think that View is a bit overboard for what I need, and quite costly beyond what I should be spending on this lab. I'm testing out NetBoot right now to see how that will work.

Your assumptions about the environment are correct. However, the lab users require Linux and Windows to do certain tasks (It is all linux thin-clients at the moment). At first I thought I would just replace the thin-clients and put OSX on with VMware Fusion and several VM options. I would rather give the users the option to boot right into the OS they want to use though.
 
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