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Cheap computers for student lab

Last response: in Components
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November 26, 2012 7:00:03 PM

Hello, I volunteer at a literacy center that exists strictly on grants, in other words a shoestring. We need to get very low cost computers that will run MS Office and get on the internet. I'm considering building them if need be. Also looking for software that will allow me to set all the lab computers up exactly the same way and prohibit students from changing anything on the computer, downloading anything, or saving files to the computer. I would appreciate suggestions on either issue....thank
November 26, 2012 8:46:57 PM

If you don't care that they're used and would probably be kind of a hodgepodge of different makes and models, you can look at things like Freecycle. Craigslist is also a place you can probably find some people with older computers they're looking to offload, and if you pick them up or pay to have them shipped to you, they're yours free of charge. You can also approach any large businesses in your area. Plenty of times there are whole closets full of older "retired" equipment that the local IT admin would probably dearly love to get rid of.
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November 26, 2012 9:10:27 PM

Yes Thats an excellent suggestion Scott.
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November 26, 2012 9:27:48 PM

Yes it is a great suggestion. Thank you for the reminder. We have received a few from a local bank and hope to get more so I will persue that also. Any suggestions about how to prohibit students from downloading, changing settings or saving files?
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November 26, 2012 10:07:32 PM

Well there isn't much point in using office if you can't save your document.

As for making sure they don't download anything, don't put them on the internet. Browsing requires you to download.

I think the best bet is to allow those things and supervise them. Windows has built in permissions systems to do exactly what you are asking but you need an ADMIN to administrate them... This clearly isn't you, and you clearly cannot afford one. Maybe you can find a volunteer.

Where are you based? It would make it much easier to know WHERE you need your free/cheap computers if you expect us to source some. If you are anywhere near Falkirk, Scotland I might even donate one to you.

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November 26, 2012 10:54:15 PM

scott46 said:
Yes it is a great suggestion. Thank you for the reminder. We have received a few from a local bank and hope to get more so I will persue that also. Any suggestions about how to prohibit students from downloading, changing settings or saving files?


There is Microsoft's SteadyState which I believe is free, and the only free one I'm aware of really. DeepFreeze is the only other similar program I am aware of, but I'm sure if you did some googling, you might be able to find some others. Another option is just to have a catalog of images that you can restore to the systems say once a week. You could use something like CloneZilla to make the image once you get a particular system set up the way you want (even better if you have a collection of similar units), then just let people go nuts and do whatever. Every Friday evening or whatever works for your schedule, you just go and reimage every system so that all the crap that people manage to put on the computer during the week, is obliterated. You can also do ad-hoc images as needed. The later option is more work, but it's also extremely cheap. You just need some time, a stack of DVDs, and some kind of convention for telling what image goes to what system or set of systems.
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