NSDI '05 Abstract
The Collective: A Cache-Based System Management Architecture
Ramesh Chandra, Nickolai Zeldovich, Constantine Sapuntzakis, and Monica S. Lam, Stanford University
This paper presents the Collective, a system that
delivers managed desktops to personal computer (PC)
users. System administrators are responsible for the creation and
maintenance of the desktop environments, or virtual appliances,
which include the operating system and all installed applications.
PCs run client software, called the virtual appliance
transceiver, that caches and runs the latest copies of appliances
locally and continuously backs up changes to user data to a network repository. This model provides the advantages of central
management, such as better security and lower cost of management,
while leveraging the cost-effectiveness of commodity PCs.
With a straightforward design, this model provides a comprehensive
suite of important system functions including machine lockdown, system
updates, error recovery, backups, and support for mobility. These
functions are made available to all desktop environments that run
on the x86 architecture, while remaining protected from the environments and
their many vulnerabilities.
The model is suitable for managing computers on
a LAN, WAN with broadband, or even computers occasionally disconnected
from the network like a laptop. Users can access their desktops from
any Collective client; they can also carry a bootable drive that
converts a PC into a client; finally, they can use a remote
display client from a browser to access their desktop running on a remote
We have developed a prototype of the Collective system and have used it
for almost a year. We have found the system helpful in simplifying the management of our desktops while imposing little
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