I'm a sysadmin for a small high school in Budapest, Hungary, with about 200 students. Being a recent convert to Ubuntu, I'm now looking at rolling out Ubuntu to run parallel with our currently used Windows XP installations, with a view of eventually replacing them. The latter is going to be the hard bit, so at first let's go for dual booting and see how that turns out. We're running an Active Directory domain and the Ubuntu users would either need to authenticate to that or have some other means of using the same login across multiple machines.
As we are talking about 50 PCs in total, I would not much like to tweak every single one of those machines by hand, so my first question is about mass deployments - is there something similar to Symantec Ghost for Ubuntu, where I can take a single machine and just clone it to the other fifty? Then again, I'm sure they'd break Ubuntu less often than Windows, so a complete reinstall would not be required that often.
Are there any tools for centrally managing software installs, system upgrades and users? There are some applications that the teachers would be allowed to access, but not the students. I have no doubt that the Group Policies would not work in Ubuntu, but is there something similar? I'm not much for restrictions, but we've got to have a few. I'm looking at Wine for running legacy Windows apps, so my other concern would be restricting what Wine would run.
The second question is about logins. When I was in college we used AIX and could log in to all Unix machines with the same login. I'm sure such a facility exists in Ubuntu, I just don't know how to get it done. I've seen that it is possible to join an Ubuntu machine to an AD domain, so I'm not worried about that, but if I don't have to use AD then I'd rather not. I also noted that file and directory access with SMB is pretty straightforward, so that's not an issue for me either.
Come to think of it, these are pretty much the same questions that would be applicable to a small business transitioning from a Windows environment to Ubuntu, so I'm not even sure if this is the right forum. Pointers to other threads with similar information would be much appreciated, there is no need to replicate all that info here if it exists elsewhere. Right now I don't even know where to start looking, or what for.