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I have just purchased a new Acer Revo nettop PC for dedicated internet browsing. It will be the only pc on a home network.

My original plan was to install one virtual PC for family browsing, another for remote web based server administration and ban browser use from the host Windows 7 o/s. The idea was that I could recover to a fresh VHD image once a week to eliminate any build up of malware inside the browser VMs.

However now I am looking for alternative solutions since the Intel Atom cpu does not have hardware VT support which Windows Virtual PC requires.

Would it be possible to engineer some type of routine overnight host o/s wipe and recovery? I guess cyber cafes do something like this? The only user data that would need to be retained across a recovery would be browser bookmarks but these could be exported to remote service.

Edit 1: I am thinking the o/s reset could be done via some disk image recovery process.

Edit 2: Just had a brainwave. Routine browsing could be done via the new Google Chrome O/S. I have just seen a video of the Google Chrome o/s booting off a usb pen drive in seconds.

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3 Answers 3

Bear in mind that if you do wipe/re-install every week, you will probably find you've run out of Windows activations VERY quickly.

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Good point I had not considered this. However I was hoping to "install" via a whole drive snapshot taken after basic windows installation and registration. I will add a hint about disk image o/s recovery to my op. –  camelCase Feb 4 '10 at 23:48
    
Granted, that would probably get you round activation, but I've just thought of another con with that approach. Every time you re-imaged, you'd have a ton of Windows Updates to do. That's a fair bit of bandwidth (and time the thing is vulnerable to critical exploits) as time goes on and the patch Tuesday's pass. –  Ben Pilbrow Feb 4 '10 at 23:59

Microsoft had a software solution for this very purpose, Windows SteadyState. In Windows 7 it was rebranded 'Guest Mode' and was supposed to ship with the OS (yay) then got pulled (boo).

It think the easiest, low-risk solution for you is to boot a Linux LiveCD and launch Firefox from there. If you still want a functional OS to boot into as a power user, use the BIOS to put a password on the hard drive, and boot from CD by default. Then, you can get onto Win7 any time you like by going to the boot menu and putting in the password.

Here's a list: http://www.livecdlist.com/

PS if your BIOS doesn't have a HDD password option, you can truecrypt the drive and that'll have the same effect.

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I would take a look at Windows SteadyState. Basically once you set the state of the machine a simple reboot will revert it back to the way it was when you saved the state.

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