[Lias] Seeking Recommendation for Tech Support Company
robert at fearthecow.net
Tue May 25 10:51:01 UTC 2004
Although it's not the best for readability, I'm having a go at answering
each thing beneath. Just a bit of background about myself: In addition
to working as a Linux shared webhosting sysadmin, I work for a group
that manages the IT infrastructure for 5 university colleges (and yes,
viruses are a very major issue with student machines).
On Mon, 2004-05-24 at 09:14, Les Bell wrote:
> Can anyone recommend a company that can provide technical support for a
> school network consisting of:
> 20 NT workstations (plans in hand to replace those)
> 20 (approx) Windows XP workstations
> 8 (approx) Windows 2000 workstations
> around a dozen Windows 98 machines
> 2 x Samba/Apache/Webmin servers
As far as I can see, the main problem with this network is that it isn't
very consistent - you're supporting 4 different desktop operating
systems, some of which are ancient (NT 4, 98). There would be a fairly
high amount of time required wandering around to patch/fix these all.
For the patching of windows 2000 and XP, you should be able to set up a
SUS server to automate the patching - or investigate another similar
system such as what we use here (Altiris w/ PXE booting). We're
supporting 4 labs of 2k workstations and one lab of XP workstations, and
with Altiris set up we can essentially manage everything remotely now,
unless something goes odd-shaped hardware wise. I'm sure that Altiris
isn't the best solution (in the version we use, the remote desktop is
very sucky and slow), but it does work.
After configuring Altiris, all you'd need to do is add a couple of lines
to your DHCP server to point all the machines to the PXE server. Of
course, these things cost $$$, something schools don't really have. (At
least the public school I went to in Rural NSW, anyway...)
> in the Chatswood / Northern Beaches area of Sydney?
> The company that were providing tech support have thrown up their hands in
> horror at the presence of Linux boxes (though they're based way out west,
> so I think this was a convenient excuse), and while I'm happy to help out
> as a parent, the school really needs someone who can respond quickly in the
> event of virus/worm outbreaks, patches to be distributed, etc.
If you block 137-139, 445, 5000 and a few other ports at your gateway,
and ban staff from plugging in laptops from home (or force them to use a
highly locked down VLAN) you should fix most of the problems with
viruses/worms, especially if you use a SUS server or Altiris/the like to
roll out patches.
Have you thought about grabbing a final (or later) year uni student to
handle the more complicated stuff like managing switches, vlans,
servers, etc and grabbing some TAFE work exp. students to handle desktop
support? I don't really know how complex your set up is, of course, but
many uni students should be able to handle this stuff easily, especially
if you're using common gear.
> The Linux servers aren't the problem, by the way; they're chugging along
> quite happily - it's tasks like joing new machines to the domain,
> installing Service Packs, etc. that's the issue. The setup is
> comprehensively documented, and there's the possibility of re-using some of
> the older machines in a K12LTSP lab in the not-too-distant future. Anyone
> with questions can ring me on (02) 9451 1144 or 0408 239 711.
Imaging computers is your friend! You mention that you're joining
machines to the domain - if they're part of a domain, you should be able
to force an update policy on them, to avoid requiring people wandering
around with CDs of patches.
> The local district technology adviser is being less than helpful, pointing
> out that by installing Linux the school can't expect support from DET.
> Considering the level of support seen in the past, and the fact that the
> Linux servers are the only trouble-free part of the network, I can't say
> I'm impressed.
That's ridiculous. And yes, here too, the Linux servers are by far the
most reliable as well. :)
MSN: ches at perlboy.org
"Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur." - Anonymous
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