Virtual Computing

May 24, 2011

Today was the first day of the IT and Virtual Computing Project. We started with a meeting between Chris Kiprotich, Dr. Kulturel, and I. We discussed our background education, our skills, and the goals for the computer lab located here at the CYEC center.

Chris is a volunteer for the computer lab here at the CYEC who graduated from the University of Nairobi with a B.S. degree in Physics. Currently he is attending the same university for his post grad on entrepreneur studies. Although Chris’s studies do not pertain to computers, he has taken independent studies to further his knowledge on computer and networking. During our meeting, we discussed the goals Chris and I have had for this computer lab and how we both can collaborate together to begin expanding this computer lab.

Our goals for CYEC Computer Lab are as followed:

Chris:

  1. Expand the computer lab so that 60 students (30 per computer lab) have access to the server.
  2. Purchase NComputing thin client boxes to transform a single PC as a server and host a classroom computer lab.
  3. Have the ability to teach the students different operating systems using either VMware Workstation or Oracle VM VirtualBox.

Linda:

  1. Provide Chris with any prior research I have conducted in regards to NComputing and Virtual Computing.
  2. Demonstrate Chris the features Oracle VM VirtualBox and VMware Workstation software feature and how this solution can help the CYEC expand their computer lab.
  3. Choose one PC already available at the computer lab as a future server for the NComputing devices.
  4. Format the server’s hard drive, install the most current Ubuntu operating system, and install the chosen Virtual Computer application. In addition, install Windows 7, Windows XP, and BackTrack within the virtual computer for the students to use for future knowledge on different types of operating systems.
  5. Help Chris test NComputing thin client device available (Model: NC120). If the device works, this will give Chris the ability to continue with the NComputing project.

After the goals were discussed, I demonstrated the features both NComputing and VirtualBox have to offer.  In conclusion, Chris would like to begin using Oracle VM VirtualBox since funding is limited and will discuss with the financial administrator here at the CYEC about purchasing the necessary NComputing thin client boxes.

Background information on the PCs:

Currently, CYEC has at least 60 students who are interested in learning about technology. The current computer lab has 8 HP Compaq dx2400 micro tower systems with Ubuntu Linux 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) and Windows XP Professional SP3.

The specifications of each computer are as followed:

  • Intel Dual Core Processor – 2.0 Ghz
  • 250 GB HDD
  • 1GB RAM Upgradeable to 4GB
  • 16 port Ethernet Switch

The following information will provide a description on any devices and applications used for the IT and Virtual Computing Project here at the CYEC:

Ubuntu:

Ubuntu is a fast, secure and easy-to-use free operating system. Ubuntu will work with existing PC files, printers, cameras and MP3 players.

http://www.ubuntu.com/

NComputing:

NComputing is a desktop virtualization company that offers a solution for desktop virtualization and provides comprehensive computer resources to more students at a lower cost at every level of education. This solution is ideal for classrooms and computer labs. Desktop virtualization will provide an excellent alternative to traditional PCs with a thin client box.

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.ncomputing.com/

Oracle VM VirtualBox:

VirtualBox is a powerful PC virtualization solution that allows you to run a wide range of PC operating systems on a Linux system. This includes Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, DOS, OpenSBD and others.

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.virtualbox.org/

VMware Workstation:

WMware Workstation software solution provides PC virtualization, secure way to run multiple operating systems at the same time.

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.vmware.com/products/workstation/

 by Linda

May 25, 2011

Today was the second day of the IT and Virtual Computing Project. I spent most of the day in the computer lab collaborating with Chris. We chose what PC will become the server and I had the chance to look at the NComputing thin client device he had access too. The model Chris is interested in purchasing is the NComputing NC120. At the moment he only has access to one device and we will test it as soon as Chris is available or I will test it with another computer lab assistant.

After identifying what PC to use as a server, I began to format the hard drive and install the current Ubuntu 11.04 operating system. Unfortunately, Unbuntu 11.04 was not able to be installed on this PC due to hardware issues. However, Chris was able to access an ISO image from a prior Ubuntu operating system (10.04) giving us the ability to install this operating system on our server. The only problem we came across was electricity issues. After trying to install Ubuntu 11.04 twice and finally the third try was Ubuntu 10.04, electricity turning off was a little disappointing (I was already at 85%).

After the electricity went up, I was able to finally installing the operating system on the server. We did not install the Ubuntu Server since Chris was not too familiar with this application. The next step was to install VirtualBox onto the server but unfortunately, we only had the windows version and had to install the ubuntu version of VirtualBox. That took about one hour, due to internet connections, to find out it still did not work. I eventually researched the problem and found a solution and successfully installed VirtualBox. The third step was to install Windows 7 and any other operating systems they are interested in having; however, we had to pause the project till the next day.

 by Linda

May 27, 2010

Today was the third day of the IT and Virtual Computing Project. I was able to continue installing Windows 7 on VirtualBox as well as install BackTrack. I had couple of issues mounting the ISO on the VirtualBox but successfully completed installing the operating system. The next step is to install additional operating systems such as: Windows XP and Windows Server 2008. Currently, I am in the process of downloading Windows XP but due to the internet connections, the download will take a few hours. In the meantime, I will interact with the students and play games hoping to use some keyboard keys.

by Linda

May 28, 2011

My fourth day of the IT and Virtual Computing Project was continued by trying to download Windows XP ISO, updates for the Ubuntu Operating System, Guest Addition files in VirtualBox for Backtrack OS, and install Windows XP on the VirtualBox. However, the electricity went down and internet also was going in and out all day that I wasn’t able to download everything I wanted. I got the chance to download Windows XP ISO, but unfortunately it must have been corrupted during the download, because I kept having issues trying to boot up the virtual computer using the Windows XP bootable disk. After all the issues with installing Windows XP on the VirtualBox, I took a break and decided to install the guest additions for Backtrack but that was also unsuccessful. I did some research on other options, followed the options, and even had one almost work but still had no luck!

The project today was not working out for me! I tried to install Ubuntu 11.04 on VirtualBox and also had issues with this installation! So, I ended up giving the computer a break and heading over to the room to pack for the safari trip!

After dinner, I came back to the computer room and began to download Windows XP ISO once again, hoping that it would work, but the internet went down! What a day… Despite all the problems, we already have a server up and running with VirtualBox, Windows 7, and Backtrack. The next project is to mess around with ncomputing terminals and install the software required to run the terminal devices.

by Linda

May 31, 2011

Today, Chris and I got a chance to mess around with the ncomputing terminals. Since the model we have in had is older, it’s required to have old monitors as well as old keyboards, we collected the required materials and tested the device; it worked! The next step was to download the vspace software required for the server to connect to the devices; however, since the device is so old, it’s harder to find the required software. Chris and I researched other alternatives and come up with Userful Multiplier for the old ncomputing devices. Computer for Schools uses this software so with the proper operating system, Chris should be able to test at least two devices using this software. If Chris would like to continue using this software for more than 2 devices, which is the plan, an activation key must be purchased. In addition, either Edubuntu operating system or an earlier Ubuntu operating system must be installed.

After trying the free two device activation key, we came across issues installing the software. The main reason for these issues is the current operating system installed on the server. Since we had issues installing Ubuntu 10.10, we are having addition problems with newer software requiring this operating system version. As of now, Chris will continue downloading Edubuntu and test it with another computer prior to installing it on the server.

For the newer computers, purchasing new ncomputing devices is required. Chris will speak to the financial people of the CYEC as well as Computer for Schools for additional support on this purchase.

Unfortunately, Chris had to leave and will not be back for approximately a month. He will visit Computer for Schools on Friday and will continue researching alternatives for the ncomputing devices. He will also continue to try downloading Edubuntu, research for software to support ncomputing NC120 device, as well as research the necessary funding and information required to purchase the newer ncomputing devices. I had the chance to review everything with Chris such as: VirtualBox, BackTrack Operating System and the required passwords and steps to take, as well as Windows 7 and any additional stuff I did here at the CYEC.

Finally we said our good bye… Thanks for your help Chris, hope to keep in touch and continue this project with you!

by Linda

June 2, 2011

Today I came back to the computer lab to try one more time to activate the Userful Multiplier but had no luck. I registered for a new activation code and licenses, received it, but when I try to download it and install, I get an error saying that someone with the same IP address already has access to the licenses. I am not sure why we keep getting this error since we have yet installed the software? I will email Chris with an update, will email Computer for Schools in regards to the project and Chris’s visitation, as well as clean up all cookies, temperary files, etc. on the server. I will also speak to Duncan on who should be allowed to use the computer till Chris comes back to the CYEC.

I hope that after I leave, Chris will continue to contact me for any help, advice, or anything that will makes this transition easier. I will also like to continue helping the CYEC with this IT and Virtual Computing Project after I leave the CYEC today.

by Linda

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