Building a portable computer lab with bootable USB hard drives using virtualisation

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Shi, Hao (2012) Building a portable computer lab with bootable USB hard drives using virtualisation. International Journal of Computer Science and Information Technology, 4 (5). pp. 43-50. ISSN 0975-4660 (print) 0975-3826 (online)


Centralization of services is a global trend in universities worldwide. IT services in a university become a solo department to provide common IT support for the entire university community such as staff, students and visitors. Special services required for Computer Science and Information Technology courses are quite often not part of IT service agreements. The shared common computer labs are tightly controlled by IT services and could not be used to deliver some specialised course such as Microsoft Active Directory Configuration and Management. A dedicated computer lab is no longer a viable option to provide a practical solution with three-year University leased computers. The challenge in providing a long-term solution heavily relies on the individual academic staffs who deliver such courses. There is an urgent need to find a new long-term working solution for this problem. After numerous search and research in finding an optimal solution, a portable computer lab using virtualisation is proposed. Instead of using a desktop computer in a common lab, each student enrolled in the course such as Microsoft Active Directory is allocated a customised USB hard dive. The USB drive contains a bootable Windows 7 Operating System as well as six Windows Servers operated under Micro soft Windows Virtual PC. This not only allows the students to use a common computer lab but also enable them to totally control their learning with flexibility which was not achievable in the past. This paper aims to share the knowledge as well as tricks and tips gained through the process and to provide step by step instructions for building the customised USB hard dive. It is expected that the concept of a ‘portable’ computer lab using virtualisation will provide insight into delivery of IT courses in the future.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.5121/ijcsit.2012.4504
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 0803 Computer Software
Historical > FOR Classification > 1301 Education Systems
Historical > SEO Classification > 8902 Computer Software and Services
Current > Division/Research > College of Science and Engineering
Keywords ResPubID26333, portable computer labs, virtualisation, installation, virtual networks, Windows virtual PC, WVPC, IT courses, computer study
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