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RM Community Connect (CC3) running .exe files

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by HerrDoktor, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. I'm fresh from industry into teaching and have to say I'm appalled at the level of trust awarded to me by my network manager. With 15 years commercial experience as an Oracle consultant and software developer I'm neither allowed to generate nor execute .exe files. I'm ok to care after "little Jonny", I'm trusted with his education and welfare but not trusted to test software on my own C Drive!!!

    ok. Rant over and its clearly something I need to get used to.

    I want to introduce a greater programming and problem solving element into the school. Gamemaker, GameCreater RPGMaker, and VB6, VB.Net and SmallBasic all generate .exe files.
    I intend on introducing Logo and Scratch into Year 7, Alice into Year 8 and SmallBasic into year 9

    I've managed to convince SLT to allow the network manager to reduce security for year 12 computing to facilitate the creation of .exe's for VB6/ VB.Net. The likelihood of this happening for KS4 or KS4 is negligible.

    My question is how have others managed to be able to generate .exe files if they have a "locked down" system? A Virtual Desktop is one option but my net manager tells me we'd need to buy additional licenses for the virtual desktop operating system. He won't even create a dual boot/ sandbox area!

    Any help/ advise greatly appreciated
     
  2. I'm fresh from industry into teaching and have to say I'm appalled at the level of trust awarded to me by my network manager. With 15 years commercial experience as an Oracle consultant and software developer I'm neither allowed to generate nor execute .exe files. I'm ok to care after "little Jonny", I'm trusted with his education and welfare but not trusted to test software on my own C Drive!!!

    ok. Rant over and its clearly something I need to get used to.

    I want to introduce a greater programming and problem solving element into the school. Gamemaker, GameCreater RPGMaker, and VB6, VB.Net and SmallBasic all generate .exe files.
    I intend on introducing Logo and Scratch into Year 7, Alice into Year 8 and SmallBasic into year 9

    I've managed to convince SLT to allow the network manager to reduce security for year 12 computing to facilitate the creation of .exe's for VB6/ VB.Net. The likelihood of this happening for KS4 or KS4 is negligible.

    My question is how have others managed to be able to generate .exe files if they have a "locked down" system? A Virtual Desktop is one option but my net manager tells me we'd need to buy additional licenses for the virtual desktop operating system. He won't even create a dual boot/ sandbox area!

    Any help/ advise greatly appreciated
     
  3. tonyuk

    tonyuk Occasional commenter

    Hi
    Can understand your frustration but why would you want .exe on some of these files. gamemaker, scratch smallbasic wtc will all run within their own programme without create and exe file so the pupils can still create and run - okay they can not run it at home without the exe unless they have the software but then most of teh software you have mentioned is free so they could take it home and create an exe there. The other thing you may want to look at is greenfoot!
     
  4. During compilation, GameMaker and RPGMaker create .exe files.

    Pupils will be able to create games but neither test nor play them.

    Scratch poses no problem.

    SmallBasic also creates an exe file during compilation so testing would be impossible as well
     
  5. tonyuk

    tonyuk Occasional commenter

    Ah may be an RM problem then as we can get them to run within their own software with no problem (on a standard windows server installation with no RM overlay) - can not get it to run a standalone exe but inside the software is fine! Personally I would get rid of RM as they are more trouble than they are worth!
     
  6. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    A technician I worked with once came up with the solution of partitioning the student workstation drives so the C drive was still protected but the 'D' drive could still operate like the C Drive on a home PC. This helped no end with certain applications that struggled on a classic locked-down school system. There was of course the problem of the more computer savvy students using these D Drives as stashes for illicit software and files, but it wasn't too hard to stay on top of it.

    Secondly, as a Supply teacher I use a lot of different school networks, and have found that on most of them Portable Apps that can be installed on and run from USB memory sticks will work without interference. I don't know if there's a possible opening there for you?

    I wouldn't get rid of RM if I were you - I've not seen a good alternative yet.
     
  7. tonyuk

    tonyuk Occasional commenter

    Good idea but if you have a decent technician they should be able to run a network with no RM you are paying for an overlay that just makes a few things a bit easier for people that can not run a server!!!
    I would agree in the old days they were of use when server technology left a lot to be desired but with group policies etc coming on leaps and bounds I would say get rid of RM (most people on here would not have much good to say about them).
     
  8. I hear what you're all saying about RM but my network manager loves them. If I didn't know any better I'd say he was working for them. EVERY bit of kit he purchases has always been via RM, as has every piece of software. Let's just say during my period there (4 months or so) I've caused a few ripples!

    A partitioned boot drive was my first obvious suggestion. Create a new drive and give unlimited admin privs within that partition. He seems to think though that because students will have unlimited control within that drive they will be able to "bring down the whole school system". SLT have listened to his advice for over 30 years so I'll need good hard evidence from a reputable source that I am in fact correct and he's talking rubbish!

    Any ideas?
     
  9. robot1

    robot1 New commenter

    Your head has probably seen all the stuff in the press recently about porgramming. Both Cameron and Gove have mentioned it. My advice is to collect all the stuff in the media about programming and write to the head. Mention that Ofsted are very interested in programming lessons and that should get the head on side. Ask the head to direct the network manager to find a solution, its his job not yours. Too often in schools the tail wages the dog.
     
  10. Kidnap his children ? You have my sympathy ; it's not like you don't know what you're talking about :)
    My experience of things like VirtualBox is they are very good and stable, and would get round most if not all the problems. As far as I know (having googled it not ultra reliable) the licensing doesn't extend to VMs.
    Firstly, you could explain to your SLT that VB.Net executables are not executables. Well they are :) but it's just a stub to run the .NET CLR on the 'code'. So there is no reason why not to use VB.Net on the network. Same thing applies to VB6, though it is possible to hit the WinAPI directly using that (Does VB6 need admin mode under the 32 bit model ? Never tried it. If it does it's a security risk for that)
    Could you run Ubuntu Linux on your VMs under Virtualbox - no licensing problems there.
    Scratch and Alice are Java based so should work (I'd be inclined to replace the OpenJDK with Suns). There are Logo implementations available for Linux. VB6 has a VB6-similar called Gambas which has been around a long time and is designed as a near clone. There's even old BBC Basic available (brandy).
    As for the others, you may well be stuffed. Some of them may run under Wine (Linux's Windows environment) (SmallBasic doesn't, I've just tried it :( ) but a lot of stuff does work There may be Linux versions or similar programs available.
    Some people have posted they use Python and the like which are cross platform anyway.
     
  11. Linux? hahaha. He nearly choked when I suggested we upgrade from XP to Win7 even though I've made SLT aware that Support for WinXP SP2 ended on 13 July 2010. (Extended Support for WinXP SP3 runs through April 2014 though). We still have Office 2010 for chrissakes and the idea of Open Office sent him off on a rant that "they're both incompatible and there'll be .dll issues that will conflict elsewhere". Problem is, as I've mentioned before, for the last 30 odd years he's all they've known. He had the audacity to call me a "Jumped up young upstart" during my first few weeks even though I'm 41 fs! (Secretely I was of course flattered lol)

    Even though VB doesn't create a "true" exe at compile time, because the RM system is nailed so tightly, he says the only way around it is to remove all privileges and security for those users that use the software. Students can create the UI no probs. Compiling isn't possible without the relaxed security.

    Is he right when he says giving students admin privs on a dual partitioned drive can "bring the school system down" with a bright enough student?? Is there any way to remove the network facility from this new drive?
     
  12. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    In my experience some network managers are definitely tails wagging their respective dogs. To my simple thinking the network is there to serve the learning needs of the students, and the teaching needs of the staff, and it should be adapted and run accordingly. Sadly this is not the case in many schools. At worst the network manager makes his own rules up like some untouchable high priest, and basically configures the school's computers to work as easily as possible for him. Mere teachers and students don't get a look in. Only he is familiar with the arcane rituals and sacred words that can make the special magic work inside the glowing monitors, and all must bow before him and heed his word. Possibly worse still is the fast track promotion teacher who takes over a fully-working network and proceeds to reduce it to a pile of cack because he has to be seen to change things and manage a whole school project in order to slither up to the next stage of the greasy pole. They are a complete menace, and having seen one do exactly that with a RM network and rebuild it in his own image (ie pointless and utterly useless) with a different system, I have to say it comes as a huge relief to go back into schools with RM systems nowadays.

    I suspect your problem is more down to the network manager's personality than the specific network architecture. In the hands of a skilled, competent, hard-working and sympathetic technical team who liaise closely with teaching staff, any network can be made to run well. I know because I've been fortunate enough to work in those circumstances too.
     
  13. becktonboy

    becktonboy New commenter

    sorry to hijack this thread, which I read with interest as a primary ICT Coordinator using CC3. I can see the arguments on both sides of the RM love/hate line but this in the last post ........
    reminded me so strongly of my very first blog, I had to link it in. You might find it of interest if not relevance.
     
  14. I meant install VirtualBox then Linux on that - then you can install what images you want :) You can then create a single working image and reuse it.
    I appreciate it's not easy. Your best bet is to stick to Java based solutions because none of them create .exe files.
     
  15. He makes me laugh. Ho fails to buy in to any freeware, open source software namely either Linux or Open Office. he says "nothing is free and there will be someone somewhere logging traffic, spying on network use. No. We'll stick to providers we know work". LOL. Microsoft? RM? hahahaha

    I'm meant to be the HOD and ICT School coordinator. I can't coordinate **** unless I have authority to do so.

    I was recruited for my commercial skill set and business acumen yet they still bow to this all knowing numptee.

    I've called a meeting with SLT on Monday. I'll keep you updated
     
  16. You have my sympathy :( Sort of shooting him I don't have any suggestions .....
     
  17. <font face="Times New Roman" size="3">

    </font>OP, you have met the perennial push-pull of the Head of ICT
    vs Network Manager relationship.</font>


    You first have to establish from SMT what both your roles
    and responsibilities are, and the accompanying line management structure. I am
    guessing you are not handing in your notice just yet, so you will have to
    manage YOUR &ldquo;numptee&rdquo; over at least the next term, authority withstanding, and
    job applications withstanding.</font>


    Your Network Manager is your most valuable asset and affords
    YOU, and your ICT/IT students, a special relationship, should you wish to collaborate,
    cajole, enlighten, nurse-maid, or demand (authority withstanding) on an issue. </font>


    Also, be prepared to listen and reflect on your Network
    Manger advice as, though not always the way to go, another opinion is valuable.
    Be wary of a Network Manager that agrees with you. If you are liberal, you need
    a conservative voice and visa versa.</font>


    Your Network Manger is an expert and will save you from
    trying to be an expert on everything - you have enough to do as a teacher, and
    co-ordinator.</font>


    Good luck

    sch</font>
     
  18. I previously used additional/old computers/laptops that were not part of the domain but got guest network access/VLAN to get to the internet. This allowed us to wreck the computers/install/reinstall software without any worries that a "school computer" got "destroyed". It was our responsibility to run the software on it.
    The pupils were very responsible about it and ensured that I knew what they were doing. They certainly appreciated the effort that we made to allow them the widest possible experience in lessons. This set up allowed us to program in any language, try any flavour of operating system etc
     
  19. Oh dear, wrong on so many levels. The network manager's job is to ensure that staff and pupils have access to the available apps and their data, and to plan ahead for future needs, that is all. If you insist on dropping some crappy app you downloaded from some non-descript website onto the network and something goes wrong, it's not you that gets it in the neck, it's him, and it can happen. In my years of commercial IT, the cause of most of my problems were half-a*sed VB apps written by people who should, in a saner world, have been taken out and shot for crimes against software development.
    OK, I'm willing to accept that the person in question does seem to be a bit..... errrrrrr...... overly cautious and to be honest, I've avoided RM favouring Linux servers for everything except SIMS (not through choice) but it doesn't change the fact the provision of a running service is his/her main priority. If you have a complaint, you need to talk to your head list you concerns. If the incumbent has been there 30 years and you can't get a sympathetic ear, start job hunting because your problem isn't the network manager.
     
  20. Oops, forgot to mention. Under the new Microsoft schools agreement, a site wide licence for Windows 7 (backward applicable to XP) is calculated according to the number of full time staff at the school rather than the number of computers. Whereas we'd be paying &pound;13,000 for licences 2 years back, we now pay &pound;1100. So far, I've seen nothing banning these from VMs so in theory, you could VM all the PCs in your school with XP, or 7, sandbox them off and do what you need to do.
    You'll need to check the small print before suggesting it but it would tick all the boxes.
     

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