[sf-lug] Hayes Valley Setup

Andy Grimm agrimm at gmail.com
Sat Jul 28 13:33:31 PDT 2007

First, let me apologize for not taking part in the thread here. I'm
still on vacation for another day.  I feel the need to speak here

Rick, we haven't met yet, but it's already unbelievable to me how
cynical you are -- not about the users, but about the people spending
time making this lab happen.  We spent a long time discussing plans to
do PXE booting for reimaging machines, having an LDAP/NFS
infrastructure, etc.  It's not done yet, because the primary objective
was to get the server onto the network (and yes it is in a room
generally inaccessible to end users), so we can start building the
rest of the system remotely.  The workstations all PXE boot, so no
floppies needed, and I could write instructions for non-tech staff to
do this easily.  I think you severely underestimate the plan here.  No
one's 'declared victory' as far as I know.  It's a work in progress.

Just my two cents.


On 7/28/07, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Quoting jim stockford (jim at well.com):
> > Who'll go down to HVCC to fix up boxes when needed? Are there
> > volunteers? A rotation schedule?
> We had to deal with this matter at The CoffeeNet, a 100% Linux-based
> Internet cafe that my friend Richard Couture and I built at 744 Harrison
> near 3rd Street.   (See: http://linuxmafia.com/coffeenet/ for a mirror
> of its Web site.)  Richard was proprietor of The CoffeeNet, but couldn't
> possibly sit around to babysit the machines.  Like me, he was a computer
> network consultant.  The cafe staff were completely non-technical.
> As an aside, this is part of the reason The CoffeeNet out-competed
> several rounds of Microsoft-oriented cafes nearby, such as Cyberworld,
> Internet Alfredo, and Club I.  Cyberworld had to keep an expensive NOC
> staff on-hand pretty much all the time, just to keep their NT-based
> network and workstations working, while Richard's NIS/NFS-based setup
> just kept running.
> Each of the workstations downstairs in the cafe was a cookie-cutter
> workstation box.  Upstairs in his apartment (and away from public
> access) was Richard's old 486 myrddin.imat.com, serving as NIS master
> and NFS server to the boxes in the cafe.  Every once in a while, some
> idiot customer would decide it was cute to crack root and do something
> childish.  The cafe staff had a piece of paper behind the counter giving
> a simple recipe about what to do:  Reboot, enter the BIOS password, set
> the floppy drive first in boot order.  Save, exit.  Boot from the
> maintenance floppy normally stored behind the counter.  Linux
> mini-system starts, switches to RAMdisk, prompts for workstation name.
> (Staffer removes floppy.)  Script on RAMdisk starts rewriting
> workstation hard drive based on an image file stored on the NFS server.
> Staffer goes back to making espressos, after writing Richard a brief
> note so he knows to reset the workstation boot order, that evening.
> This routine was made possible by the fact that the shared NIS
> authentication database, all filesystems users cared about (home dirs,
> mail spools) were on the protected machine upstairs, such that the
> workstations held no data state that mattered.
> Last I heard, there was still a clone of the CoffeeNet setup in one of
> the computer labs at CCSF.
> You might want to think of such consideration _next_ time you do a
> project.  D'oh!
> Of course, when you do a _real_ setup like that, you can't just load a
> distro's defaults, declare victory, and go home.  (Welcome to the land
> of network consulting.)
> > There's always opening the box and shorting the CMOS to ground to
> > restore factory BIOS.
> I used to do that, before I discovered the "skeleton key"
> factory-established passwords in BIOSes.  See:  "BIOS Passwords" on
> http://linuxmafia.com/kb/Hardware/
> Please note that, if you _don't_ set a BIOS password, and leave the
> machine publicly accessible, you can _count_ on some jerk doing it and
> not telling the staff.  (Welcome to the school of Papa Darwin.)
> If you didn't think of that, yr. not cynical enough, yet.  ;->
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