dangjavageek
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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
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Raspberry PiNet(s) centrally / cloud managed?

Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:48 pm

I have several after school coding class locations interested in setting up a Raspberry PiNet classroom of 5 to 10 Raspberry Pi's each, 5 locations interested in getting going. I was asked if we would need to manage them all separately or if there was a way to have whatever care and feeding maintenance needs to go on across 5 locations handled from a single location and/or cloud. Given I've seen the intro remarks on http://pinet.org.uk/ mention, "PiNet was designed from the ground up to be extremely easy to set up and maintain. It is so simple, we have even heard of 11 year old students managing their school PiNet network" that seems hopeful. But I also didn't want to embark on something that will require 10 gigabit network cross connect to all locations in order to run - we do have (1) gigabit connectivity for some of the sites interested. Has anybody looked at managing multiple PiNet classroom locations from cloud or remote, and is that feasible or a lot of nonsense? Best regards, -- DanG

ejolson
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Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:47 am

Re: Raspberry PiNet(s) centrally / cloud managed?

Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:31 pm

Remotely administering a server can be done using residential-speed internet.

If the same students want to log in and access the same home directory from different locations you need a high-speed low-latency cross connect between sites. Software such as Syncthing could allow students to access the same home directories from different locations without a high-speed cross connect between them; however, such software is not automatically configured or included with PiNet.

Gbaman
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:43 pm

Re: Raspberry PiNet(s) centrally / cloud managed?

Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:47 pm

@ejolson is right, PiNet unfortunately is designed primarily for use on a single site/school. It doesn't include any built in methods for syncing users back and forth.
The entire system can run over an SSH console though, so if you had remote access to each site via SSH, you could manage it but would still be one server at a time.

As for network booting over the internet links to a single server, I would highly recommend against this. It is possible, but slow and unreliable in general from my own testing as the core components it is all built upon are designed for low latency environment.
As well, there are a number of flags enabled by default with PiNet (and LTSP in general) for favouring faster connections over stronger encryption, meaning the system shouldn't most certainly not be publicly accessible via the internet. Although a site-site VPN would be doing, as mentioned about it would be slow and unreliable.


Unfortunately I don't have a nice answer for you. Being able to centrally manage multiple PiNet servers (or share users between them) are both pretty low down on the priority list given the rather limited number of users it would benefit, so have to prioritise my limited time to work on PiNet on other features (like currently Stretch).

It is on the list though for someday :D
Lead developer of PiNet, a free and opensource centralised user accounts and file storage system for Raspberry Pi classrooms used in over 200 schools across the world.
http://pinet.org.uk

dangjavageek
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:01 pm
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
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Re: Raspberry PiNet(s) centrally / cloud managed?

Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:59 pm

Thanks @Gbaman and @ejolson - that makes sense. I think we'll look at remote access to classroom servers over ssh one at a time as suggested and leverage PiNet locally (only) as designed. Given availability of google (for education) drive, scratch teacher / student accounts (https://wiki.scratch.mit.edu/wiki/Stude ... r_Accounts) , Khan Academy student / teacher accounts, I suspect we'll be able to address requirements for access to resources across installations. Again, thanks for the thoughtful responses. Best regards, -- DanG

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