All Your Programs Are Belong To Us

Does this article scare anyone else?

With this in mind, ASU [Arizona State University] gives every student an ACE software image that includes Windows, an application stack, a productivity suite and any other files needed for a particular quarter. ASU cuts off access to the USB and floppy drives for this software image and basically blocks the students from changing the container’s configuration. After a given quarter is over, the image – or container – expires and is deleted from the laptop.

Bring a new meaning to the term ‘vapourware’…

7 thoughts on “All Your Programs Are Belong To Us

  1. I’m not sure why it’s *scary*, as such. Centrally adminned machines are nothing new, and this seems a nice way to give students a standard bunch of software to use for academic stuff, while still allowing them to have whatever they like installed on their main machine.

    Sounds quite neat, to me, really.

  2. Some schools now require students to take their computer to be locked down before you can connect it to the network. School takes the admin account,and you have a limited user account. So the school can access your system for things like patches, etc, etc.

    But downside is you can’t install anything. They do it to a fresh install. And you can’t install anything.

    Otherwise, you can’t use the school network or get online.

    Allows them to prevent things like virus outbreaks , spyware, etc. etc.

  3. Georgia Tech is using a system that is an improvement on what Robert was talking about. They’ve implemented (over the last summer) a new registration system called STAR3T (, not sure if it can be accessed from outside Tech) which scans your computer for Windows vulnarabilities before giving you full network access. Before then, your computer can only access that site and

    Linux users are passed straight through, of course.

    It’s a good compromise though between a fully open system and having ResNet take every single campus computer and lock it down, for which they would get lots of grief.

  4. While I would get a little upset if that was the end of the story, they did mention in another paragraph that the students still have full access to the normal os on the machine, so it’s not so bad.

    I think the technology is great. What I’d like to do is have an OS that was essentially just VMWare. It’d probably be built on a minimal linux configuration, but the user wouldn’t really care about that because they would essentially only be interacting with whatever OS they were running on top of it at the time. Then I’d extend it so that I could store the virtual systems on a central server, and run any of them on any of my computers. Suspend it on one machine, log in the next day on any of them and resume it where you left off :)

  5. Gerv: almost. In this scenario, the programs are running in a VM hosted by the local machine as opposed to running on the server. Instead of logging off when I leave work, I can just stick the machine on a portable device and take it with me, even if it’s windows, or osx, or any other os. It wouldn’t be able to do a lot there due to the limited nature of the hardware, but it could probably still beep if I recieve an important email. (In fact I would expect that to be the most common way to do it, since it would suck to have to download a few gigs worth of data – even via dsl – before you could use your computer. rsync can only help so much.) The biggest problem that I see right now is that VMWare doesn’t support accelerated video cards very well.