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I am an administrator of a student lab with 20 PCs. I was thinking of a way to protect those machines in the long run with the presence of some students with destructive behaviour. The most suitable solution to install a Linux OS and use virtual machines to load Microsoft OS. This way once the OS fails I can simply replace the VM with a clone that was previously made.

The point is that most students have no experience with Linux, that's why I need to load the Virtual machine automatically at login and in full-screen view so that The startup process ends up in Microsoft OS through the virtual machine (VMWare based) in Linux platform.

update :
I'm using Fedora13 Linux distribution. I believe that part of launching the VM in full-screen is more difficult than automatically launching VMWare at startup. Is there some way I can tell VMWare to launch a particular virtual machine in full-screen when it starts on boot?

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Yes you can, The easiest way to do this is to set GDM to automatically login as a particular user, then setup vmware to run as that user automatically on boot. ~/.Xclients is likely the file you need to edit with the vmware command. If you tell me what distribution you're using, I can point you closer to the right direction.

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Also, instead of virtual machines you could PXE boot the machines to boot off an ISCSI image that can quickly be restored just like a VM snapshot. It is more work to setup but the OS runs natively on the PC. Similar to virtual machine setup you create a base image and the use COW (copy on write) versions for each PC. There are links to set this up. Just search for PC COW ISCSI.

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