Desktop PCs with Linux

HPC department offers desktop installations with Debian Linux. The desktops are integrated into the HPC infrastructure:

To have our Debian Linux system installed on your computer please bring it to the UserHelpDesk.

The setup is mostly identical to lx-pool.gsi.de

Netboot (nfsroot) desktops

The majority of our desktops boot from the network. This has advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages:
  • Upgrades to newer Debian versions only require some server configuration changes and a reboot. Downgrades are as simple as upgrades.
  • The system is read-only and cannot be infected by malware.
  • System images receive (security) updates even while the desktops are turned off.
  • Management of many computers significantly easier to administer.

Disadvantages:
  • No system software can be installed locally.
  • Systems may hang or crash when the network is shaky.
    The setup of desktops embedded in a central infrastructure heavily relies on network services (Authentication, central filesystems, mail, ...). Standalone desktops are after all not significantly more useful in case of a network outage.

Standalone installation

For special purposes eg. data acquisition front-ends, development boxes etc. we alternatively offer standalone installations. Anyhow from the administrators view these installations are much more time consuming. Therefore we can only offer a more limited support. Eg.
  • Upgrades to newer Debian versions are much more time consuming and labor-intensive.
  • Given the limited man power of HPC we may not offer upgrades at all but only re-installations.
  • Downgrades are not possible.
  • Systems are more easily infected with malware.

-- ChristopherHuhn - 24 Mar 2016
Topic revision: r5 - 2016-12-09, ChristopherHuhn