An operating system to boot other operating systems
Hey there, everyone!
First of all, let me introduce myself and my problem, feel free to skip to the question at the bottom of the post, but I know most of the Linux community likes to know the problem to try to overcome it with a different solution.
I work at an University as a junior system analyst, in the sector I work, we have six labororatories with an average of 30 computers each. We use a wide variety of software, including paid closed-source and computer demanding ones. From network analysis software to 3D modeling and CAM/CAD, on Linux and Windows.
It's not an easy task to have all those labs operating 100% of the time with full functionality, requiring extensive maintenance and software updating and replacing, but at the same time security and privacy for our users.
We've been using Clonezilla's imaging system to restore all the computers per laboratory using Broadcast. This takes a lot of time to set up, around 4~5 hours per lab to complete. It works and is not THAT hard to work with, but with the increasing number of computers in our network we'll be soon overloaded with repetitive and time consuming tasks.
We came up with multiple ideas on how to solve this, the main one being:
- Have a server and an image for each computer model, which is then loaded via PXE to the user (Like Xen)
Yesterday, while discussing the problem we thought of something that seemed really nice, if we could get it to work, I'll try to explain it.
Each client computer would have 3 Partitions (suggested).
One of them, will store the Windows operating system, the other one will store the linux operating system and, the last and most important one:
It'll be something like a "GRUB operating system", it let's you select which of the two systems will be booted into, but not only that! It'll check a registry file on each one of them and compare it to an image stored on a server. Now, here comes the fun part: If the comparison returns a "different images" state, it WILL NOT boot into the operating systems, but warn the user that there's an 'update' available and aks if it should update. From now on, it'll erase the system partition and start copying a new one from the server (not sure how we're going to optimize this yet, but it is not our main problem).
Is there any way to make, or even, is there any operating system available that will let us boot into another operating system? Something like the "Asus Express Gate"
Ps.: We're currently studying the gPXE solution.