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trojandhs 12-20-2011 11:31 AM

How to reset settings every week on multiple Macs
Hi everyone!

The school I teach at got 30 Macbooks this year. They are kept in our library for our students to use. The students add/delete programs. They save a ton of random photos, documents, and movies all over the place.

Currently, one of the librarians' spends all day every Friday cleaning up the Macs.

I was wondering if there is an easier way to reset the computers every week without having to manually erase all of the junk and manually reset some of the applications. We are currently using Snow Leopard.

Thank you very much for any info you can provide.

Deckyon 12-20-2011 11:49 AM

Actually, I would create a generic account and give it no rights for local changes or for storing files.

chscag 12-20-2011 02:04 PM

+1 to what member Deckyon suggested. Either do what he says or use software which essentially locks the machines to one standard profile and performs a cleanup on rebooting. Trying to cleanup 30 Macs is ridiculous not withstanding the junk that might be buried who knows where?

osxx 12-20-2011 03:37 PM

+2 for Deckyon's suggestion.

vansmith 12-20-2011 04:11 PM

Better yet, use Deep Freeze. Every school computer I've ever used has used this piece of software to keep machines in tip-top shape.

Essentially, you create a "state" (a clean install so to speak) and every time the machine is restarted, the machine is restored to that state. You can think of it like so - every time you restart the machine, it's as if you've just restored the machine from a SuperDuper or CCC backup. The only problem with this though is that students won't be able to store files on the machine so if it crashes or they need to restart it for any reason, they lose all their work. That said, I don't know if students have access to a shared folder on some sort of server where they can save work.

Deckyon 12-20-2011 04:32 PM

Without adding any software, the easiest will be working with setting up an account. Make sure that if the users want to save documents, they have a thumb drive available.

vansmith 12-20-2011 04:53 PM

True - my recommendation is only of value if you have a budget. DF (the standard version at least) is $35.50 CAD/yr x 30 Macs and you're looking at ~ $1065/yr. I'm guessing they have education discounts though (given that they have an education solutions page).

zewazir 12-20-2011 05:16 PM

There are a number of approaches. First, we always set up a student account on all our Macs (and widows boxes) which is locked down with parental controls so they cannot mess with applications or system settings. This alone limits the damage kids can do, whether by accident or maliciously.

Second, we have a server with netinstall images enabled. Anytime a computing station does get messed up, we can just use netboot to reinstall the disk image, and it's all clean - takes about 8 minutes for a single station, or we can use a dumb switch to do several stations simultaneously, which slows down the process, but is still faster per-station than doing it one at a time - not to mention the ability to leave things running while I go do something else, like replace the MLB in a failed iMac.

Third, if all I have to do is deal with a bunch of crud the students have downloaded onto their desktops or such, I fire off all the stations and use Apple Remote Desktop to replace the user folders with a single copy command. The command itself takes a while if I'm copying to a large number of stations at once, but it, too, can run in the background by itself while I do other things.

trojandhs 12-21-2011 10:13 AM

Thanks a lot for all of the feedback. I am going going to run these ideas by the librarian who is in charge of the Macs.

vansmith 12-21-2011 10:39 AM

Whatever solution you do choose, you should probably create an image of a "clean" machine (however you want - SuperDuper, CCC, etc.) so you can restore machines quickly, easily and perhaps more importantly, once it's started, your librarian can leave the machines alone and move on to other tasks. This is of course assuming that "cleaning up" can be accomplished this way.

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