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Desktop PCs with Linux

HPC department offers desktop installations with Debian Linux. The desktops are integrated into the HPC infrastructure (central authentication, central home directories, etc.).

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
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Topic revision: r4 - 2016-12-08, ChristopherHuhn