Deploy Studio and Gigabit Switches

Deploy Studio is a wonderful piece of software that lets you make a system image from a Mac and then deploy it to loads of other Macs from your Mac server.  I’ve just upgraded 16 iMacs to Lion like this, taking only about 10 minutes per machine (perhaps 20 minutes per machine if you’re doing 5 at the same time).  All you have to do is netboot (hold down ‘N’ when you turn on the Mac), which makes the computer boot up from Deploy Studio on the server.  Then you choose the image you want to deploy, and then it does it all for you.  Marvellous.  It even automatically binds it to the relevant directories as well.

And with gigabit ethernet, this process really is much faster that it used to (possibly even 10x!).

Toucan set this up for us, of which I am very appreciative. 

Giving up on Profile Manager

The promise of Lion’s Profile Manager seemed good: a nearly free way of managing all the macs and iPads on your network, pushing setting etc over air using Apple’s Push Notifications.

Except I can’t get it to work. The issue is that when you try and enrol an iOS device, it complains that the certificate is invalid. I’ve searched hi and low on the Interweb for solutions, and even tried out a few. However, the result has been even more of a mess, as far as I can tell!

45 iPads arrived at school today, just waiting for me to set them up ready for September. I was hoping to use Profile Manager as part of the setup process, but I think now I’ll just have to make do with Apple Configurator and iTunes. Hey ho.

Maybe more joy will be to had with Mountain Lion Server?

These guys at Amsys seem to have gotten it going, if anyone’s interested.

Ricoh Printer Driver Fix pt.II, Or How It Might Not Have Been Such A Great Idea To Upgrade The Server When Teachers Are Writing And Printing Reports

One of the wonderful technicians from Toucan came and upgraded our Mac Mini server to OSX 10.7 Lion on Monday. It went pretty well, with only a bit of a glitch with the Snow Leopard machines needing to be rebound.  We tried setting up a script to this automatically, but this only worked on about half the machines so I still had to go around and make sure people could log on properly.

However, I also discovered that this had pretty much broken the previous fix for the Ricoh printer/copier, resulting in the copier spewing out reams and reams of gibberish.  This was compounded by the fact that it is report-writing season, which requires much printing at the best of times. Not good.

The problem boiled down to printer driver issues, more specifically that not all the Macs had the same Gutenprint drivers installed and so defaulted to the generic driver instead of the correct one.  Fun.

The solution was as follows:

  • Make sure all the macs had the latest Gutenprint installed, as this is the driver Workgroup Manager was instructing Macs to use.  Apple Remote Desktop made this easy.
  • Log onto each Mac remotely and do a test print, checking if the correct driver was being used.
  • If the wrong driver was being used, I then had to log in as an administrator and reset the print system, forcing the Mac to use the driver instructed by MCX.  To do this, you open ‘Print & Scan’ in System Preferences, right click on the list of printers and then select ‘Reset printing system…’.
  • Log in again as a managed network account and check it works.

I’m sure if I was a scripting kinda guy, there could be an easier way to do this.  But it did work, albeit rather long-windedly.

The moral of the story?  Make sure your Ricoh printer come with a Postscript driver card installed!

iCloud and class iPad sets

After our Lion Server upgrade and a (probably) lengthy discussion with one of Toucan’s finest engineers this coming Monday, I’m planning on ordering iPads for our school. We’re going for some class sets of 6 for Year 5 & 6 classes and then smaller class sets for Reception and Nursery. However, the issue still remains of how we’re going to manage them, particularly regarding AppleIDs. Here’s a solution I’m now considering…

Class iCloud accounts

Because we’re not going for complete class sets of iPads, sharing one AppleID and iCloud account may well work for each class set

  • Set up an AppleID and iCloud for each class set, with a catchy name like myschoolyear5ipads2@me.com or something.
  • Set aside money in the budget to pay for full licensing of apps once the Volume Purchase Programme comes to the UK. Not ideal, but neither are the alternatives.
  • Turn on automatic downloads of new apps on each iPad in the class, plus on the teacher’s iTunes on their Mac. This makes adding new (free) apps on the class set super easy!
  • Turn on documents in the cloud and iCloud backup. This means that children can pick up any iPad and their documents will be there. Hopefully won’t result in horrible syncing issues.
  • Setup the same me.com email on every iPad. Teachers can then email the whole class set at once.
  • Turn off photostream – pity needs to be shown for our wireless network!

Or something. What are the potential issues with this idea?

iPad mirroring with Reflection

Whilst at the South London Apple Education Summit, I discovered an app called Reflection, which allows you to mirror your iPad screen, wirelessly over wifi, to the screen of a Mac. It’s about $15, which is substantially cheaper than AppleTV+cables/adaptors (not that they’re truly expensive). I’ve had a try with it using the free trial, and it seems to work a treat! Hurrah!