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These old PCs want some VDI loving. But what about the server?

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Readers' corner A request from The Register Forums where David Dawson writes:

This is a question for a potential project I'm about to embark on. There's a charity that I have some association with, they've got around 30 windows desktops that are fast approaching the end of their working life. They have to use windows for various reasons, but don't really have the cash to upgrade en masse. So, I did a little pondering and thought, virtualisation.

If we could get a nice fat server (which we can) to host VMs, then the desktops can be kept, or gradually replaced with a Raspberry Pi or whatever. The conundrum is what to install on the server. A full Windows Server 2012 is quite expensive, and I'm not sure if that’s the way to go anyway (having very little recent experience of Windows servers).

So, does anyone know what the best approach might be? My ideal would be something like Openstack + some provisioning layer (that’s’ free or cheap).I've had a good look around and come across a few different projects, FOSS / cloud and its ilk.

I'm just wondering if anyone has any direct experience of VDI that could recommend a basic approach.

My ideal would be for some users to log into the thin client and be presented with their own desktop, including installed applications. The other group of users should be given freshly minted VMs each time, although with their own desktop preferences from Active Directory (or Samba...)

Reg readers, can you provide some pointers? Answers here, please. ®

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