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Re: [school-discuss] Portable applications & VPN services

I do not know much about Simdesk, but from what I gather from their site, it is remote access to tools from anywhere, over secure https connection. There are certainly advantages. I do not know of any service from the FOSS community like it. Anybody else? The closest match to a full featured desktop, available from any PC, that does not affect the existing software on that PC, is a Live CD. Throw in a secure VPN client to a school hosted server, and you have everything Simdesk offers.

I see your point about damage. The upside of Live CDs is that an iso image of the cd could also be posted, so when a student destroyed their school supplied disk, they could burn another copy for themselves using their own media. All of the apps listed on the Wiki page are supported by current distros. It would require a custom CD, but that has become exceedingly easy.

As far as security, most distros can mount a USB stick as an encrypted FS. Without the student passphrase, data would be useless.

Chris Gregan
Open Source Migration Specialist/Founder
Aptenix LLC-Desktop Solutions
New Market, MD

"Open source, open minds."

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lee wrote:
Right, well the advantages / disadvantages of each technology... I was thinking in line of SimDesk & if its features held any advantages, what would a OSS method would be to get the same functional result.

R/W CD-ROM multisession drives (ala Puppy or Damn Small Linux) are more prone to getting damaged by kids than a USB stick. I can believe a college student can take good care of a R/W CD-ROM, but not inside your typical highschooler's backpack...

OTOH, there are a good number of portable OSS apps ported to work with most pre-installed OSs... This might be a plus for some, a minus for others. Students however could save the data on their local machine, as well as the VPN drive and access any local applications already installed as well. (this as opposed to the Linux-bootable CD that might not work well with Windows 2K/XP file system or the *next* Microsoft file system....).

The downside, for the time being, is the cost of USB sticks & security... but the cost of USB sticks should come way down (like the 32MB CF disks have - $5.00). Security issues could be addressed w/ on-stick thumbprint biometrics (again prices will come down....) and roaming user / VPN security features.

Another technology that has caught my attention is Shinkuro. It's a secure file-sharing relay system similar in function to gnutella (or a truly distributed file system). It also has a secure whiteboard function. Shinkuro is not OSS but - AFAICT - is "free" -- for now. http://www.shinkuro.com/products.php

What I'm looking at is ubiquity & appliance utility.


*/Justin Riddiough <jriddiough@xxxxxxxxx>/* wrote:

I like the original idea of using a USB stick. If someone couldn't
connect to the VPN folder from some location (firewall rules, no
access, etc,) there could possibly be a sync / temporary working
file space set up on the USB stick. Which would mean users could
still use the portable apps without having to rely on a local drive
to save information, and when possible, the benefits of the VPN

    On 10/11/06, *Chris Gregan* <cgregan@xxxxxxxxxxx
    <mailto:cgregan@xxxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:

        I guess since it would start out as a live cd, it could stay a
        cd. Then
        you could have a tool where students would get an iso image or
        CD that
        would log on from any PC with just a reboot. Save the cost of a
        USB stick.

====== /lee +-----------------------------------+ | This concludes our broadcast day | +-----------------------------------+