In our LoCo team (Ubuntu Massachusetts LoCo) we’ve been configuring a lovely tftp/pxe boot installer system that allows refurbished computers to be installed ridiculously easily via PXE booting. I’ve just completed a redesign of how it looks:
As you can see we have the facility to also install Lab machines with configurations that will use the LDAP and have hand picked and custom packages for the lab (this allows easy repair and setting up of lab machines as well).
There are still quirks and such, we can’t yet get it to install ubuntu restricted extras by default, although we have gotten skype, libdvdcss2 and java to install by default, but once sorted out these OEM machine installs will have all the updates, all the common desktop packages, anything extra we want to add including replacement gdm theme or extra docs / manuals and it’s must less hassle than a CD or USB boot media.
Although it was very easy to set up the xubuntu configuration for older machines. You’d also be surprised at just how many machines support PXE but hide it in some way. Some bios settings seem to put it under boot and some under the legacy device settings (the network card will have on, off and on w/PXE settings).
These settings are delivered by kickstart scripts and we have a local mirror supplying all the packages, so installs can be quite quick even with all the updates. I’ll post things if anything wants them, so far I’m trying to put together something that works once and then expand that to other community centers and learn how to deploy these servers more easily.