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I am considering a network design for a small office. I am looking at designing the network like this: I'd like to have a central computer on which all the office software is installed and users sign in from the 5 PCs on the local network.

I've seen it done in schools and universities where you sign in using a Novell prompt and you get access to applications on the network.

What would be the cheapest route for me to take in this situation? I'd like it to not cause a lot of issues in the long run. Are there any alternatives to Novell, e.g. can it be achieved with VMWare?

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What operating system will this server or central computer be? – Christopher Oct 5 '11 at 21:33
Windows Vista or 7 sorry I should have said. – zcourts Oct 5 '11 at 22:27
up vote 3 down vote accepted

There is no cheap answer to this, and nothing appropriate for a 5-PC office. If he thinks that doing this means he only has to buy 1 license for the software, he's incorrect. Any method of doing this is going to expensive, period.

Citrix XenApp (formerly presentation server) was made for this, but you have to have good server-class hardware to run it on, plus Citrix licenses, plus Microsoft TS licenses, plus the software you want to run in the first place. It's also not set-and-forget, you need an admin who knows what they're doing to set it up - although maintaining a 5-person environment shouldn't be a full-time gig once it's done.

Windows TS alone can do this generally well now too, but again, you're paying for it.

Citrix and VMware (the companies) also have VDI products; but now you're talking some bucks to deploy and maintain.

MS has App-V, but again - you need a server (or servers), you need to have the skills to package the apps and maintain the systems.

Novell had/has ZEN, which includes an application launcher, but that's (IIRC) not much different than publishing applications via AD GPOs. So, you could just do that.

Honestly, for maintaining a 5-PC office, just install the needed software on each machine, after paying for it. Unless there's a specific problem that the owner is trying to solve, and you didn't explain it?

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No there's no specific problem as far as I know. The explanation I gave is as clear as I understand the problem. He just wanted to share the stuff as i described. thanks for the insights and I'll pass it on – zcourts Oct 7 '11 at 4:11

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