We have a bunch of computers in our school, which are used by many students and some of them are really having fun in messing around with the system.

However it's not possible to restrict access to them since they need admin privileges on Windows for their projects. So currently the anual procedure for our Administrators is to reinstall the whole system to get rid of any nasty things.

I'm looking out for a solution to run those Windows Systems within a VM on an underlying Linux. Students should be able to pick one of a few VMs from a list during boot (preferably in Grub). Additionally there should be one boot option to get into the Linux system with an ordinary GUI to do administration things (it's just easier with a GUI).

The boot option list would look like this:

  • C++ Programming (Windows XP)
  • Robotics (Windows 7)
  • ....
  • Boot Linux with GUI

My idea is to use Ubuntu with KVM, because it's pretty easy to maintain and there's a GUI to configure new VMs (our administrators aren't that much into Linux).

Every entry should start linux with X server and maybe a lightweight window manager, but without a desktop environment (students shouldn't be able get into the host system). After the host system is up the VM should load in fullscreen. This could be done by executing a shell script after the system is completely powered up. Is it possible to tell the system via Grub to execute an individual script after the system started? Once the VM is shut down the underlying host system should also shutdown.

  • Using VMs is a good idea, however not that VMs are not multi-boot. With VMs you keep the host running, and then select the VM, either after login or with the display manager. – ctrl-alt-delor Dec 6 '14 at 14:49
  • A note about your boot option: Visual studio C++, is non standards compliant. I have had no end of trouble with the minority of people that leant C++ on windows, always complaining that the compiler is broken (because it does the correct think, there as Microsoft C++ does not). Why not give then an option to use Linux, gcc is the most popular and best C/C++ compiler. – ctrl-alt-delor Dec 6 '14 at 14:54
  • Wouldn't it make more sense to run the Windows VMs in Windows? Not that I'm trying to discourage you from using linux, lol, but it seems like you might be complicating your life unnecessarily here. – goldilocks Dec 6 '14 at 16:27
  • I already tried using Windows as host system, but it causes too much overhead for my taste. Linux on the contrary can be configured lightweight. I'm using Linux since years, but I never dealt with Grub and how the boot chain works - that's why I wanted to gather some tips first. – dersimn Dec 8 '14 at 11:32

This is a classic case of stateless VDI. oVirt or RHEV both provide this functionality as well as a restricted user portal allowing the user to start a VM with the OS they need. When the VM starts, a snapshot is being taken. When the VM is stopped, the snapshot is discarded, and all VMs are back at golden image state

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