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This page lists the requirements for using ANI in your organisation. The list is diveded into organisational requirements, and requirements to the infrastructure.

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A - Organisational Requirements

Is ANI suitable for your organisation? What must be checked before ANI can be brought online?

The size of the organisation
Every involved person needs to understand that some initial effort has to be made to clarify questions, to set up the needed infrastructure, to configure ANI, to prepare the software to install with and to test everything. This effort will be soon compensated by reduced support after the first ANI-based installed computers and moreover during their operation. Based on our experience, the use of ANI already gains from a number of ten ANI-based installed computers.
The Planning of a Client-Concept
By this we think of questions to be answered going further than technical ones, like: Which version of Windows will be used in your organisation? Which software has to be on every client, which only on some type of clients? Is it necessary to purchase additional software licences?... Also, needs going further than the standard user-rights and configuration of Windows have to be worked out, like: Will it be allowed to save documents on the local harddisk? Which Windows settings can be modified by which user group later on? Who will have access-rights on floppy-disks and CD-Roms, who will not? etc.
A Person with technical Knowledge
At least one person with technical knowledge of the technologies mentioned later and the operating system Windows needs to care about the preparation and roll-out of ANI. Knowledge about Linux is not needed. In the ideal case this person may concentrate 100% on ANI until the rollout. Most of the work in relation to ANI can be taken over by a support team later.

Some words about "Will it be allowed to save documents on the local harddisk?": A lot of ANI's long-term advantages is gained if all users are forced to save all their documents - private as well as public ones - and settings on a server, and not locally. In MS Windows this can be ensured by using Policies and ACLs. The user is not constrained by this rule, but he has to be instructed in advance where to put and to retreive which kind of documents.

The advantages of this concept are rewarding: If your desktop computer fails, you can switch to any other free workstation and find your familiar environment and all your documents at the right place. So you are able to continue your work, while someone else from the support team changes the broken hardware and reinstalls your computer with ANI. After this, you can return to work on your old computer. When backups on the server are done on a regular base, not only expenses of work time can be prevented, but also the loss of data caused by a faulty harddisk can be fully eliminated.

Another advantage: If major or minor software problems occure on a computer, there's no more need of time intensive analysis by specialists. Instead, a quick reinstallation of the whole computer with ANI fixes all those problems. Also, rolling-out a service pack or even a new version of Windows can be done overnight by a central triggering of the ANI installation on all computers. The morning after every user can continue his work on the new system as usual.

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B - Requirements to the Infrastructure

ANI requires a technical infrastructure in your organisation as follows:

A licenced version of Windows
For now ANI supports the installation of Windows NT and Windows 2000; support for Windows XP is under development.
A network
If the existing windows computers are capable of using your network, ANI can be used too. The network is not only needed for downloading the Windows installation files from the server, but also for reasons explained below.
A reachable file server
For now only file access over SMB is supported - the windows way to access files over the network. The support of NFS is currently worked on. Every Windows computer can act as a file server, but of course the files can also be shared with Samba by a computer running Linux or aequivalent (e.g. MacIntosh running OS X).
A DHCP-server
A DHCP-server is a software service in the local network, which offers and assigns unused IP-adresses to booting computers. Further informations can be sent from server to client by the so called DHCP-User Options. These options are used by ANI to inform the clients about the location of the windows files on the network, and other things. Of course the DHCP server can also be installed on the same computer shareing the files for ANI. Every Windows Server edition and MacIntoshs with OsX for Servers come with a DHCP-server already included. A DHCP server can also be easily installed on a Linux box.
A Windows Domain Controller
A Windows domain controller centrally manages computers, user accounts, their passwords, and other ressources of an organisation. A computer in the role of a domain controller (also called a PDC) is used by ANI to register freshly installed computers as a member of the domain. The role of a PDC can also be played by the same computer which shares the files for ANI, and which runs the DHCP service. Every server version of Windows and MacIntosh (OS X) can play the role of the PDC, and so does Linux. OS X and Linux use the software Samba for this purpose.
A way to send E-mails
For this a SMTP server is needed on your network. This may be your providers SMTP server, but it's more usual to have a box with adequate software of your own to take this role. ANI must know the name of this server to be able to send a status mail at the end of every installation. The same mail server often provides a POP3- or a IMAP service. These services allow you to fetch all the received mails with a ordinary mail client. Microsofts Exchange Server edition contains all the required software, but there are free versions like EzMTS or hMailServer for MS Windows as well. Of course yo will find a wide range of this services for Linux an OS X, too.

For organisations with little infrastructure it's the easiest way to use ANI with only one single server. This single server shares all the files for ANI, takes the role as a PDC and also provides DHCP and SMTP services. Any server version of MS Windows, MacIntosh (OS X) or Linux aequivalents is applicable; for the latter we recommend good Samba and Linux knowledge.