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Mass Scale Lightweight Remote Desktop Environments for Educational Purposes

Federico Cucinella

Mass Scale Lightweight Remote Desktop Environments for Educational Purposes.

Rel. Fulvio Giovanni Ottavio Risso. Politecnico di Torino, Corso di laurea magistrale in Ingegneria Informatica (Computer Engineering), 2021

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CrownLabs was born in 2020 during the pandemic as a service for students, to let them practice with laboratory experiences thanks to remote desktop environments. CrownLabs has been started by a group of students and volunteers from Politecnico di Torino, and soon became a real-life playground for experimenting with cutting-edge and production-grade cloud technologies and development techniques (Kubernetes, CI/CD, open-source contributions). This thesis work aims to extend the CrownLabs ecosystem to make it suitable for a larger number of users, and especially to enable it as an exams platform. Hence, allowing students to interact with the same environments they have been studying onto, but in an insulated and protected sandbox that prevents distractions and cheating. The work spans from the whole CrownLabs infrastructural design and implementation to the choices undertaken to be integrated with Moodle, the platform that our university uses for delivering computerized exams. Specifically, the first area of investigation concerned the shift from virtual machines to container-based environments. This remarkably increased the performance in terms of startup time and resources consumption: a single physical machine can host several dozens of remote environments. Subsequent design and implementation of automatization modules enabled the usage in the exams scenario. Such modules provide: automatic startup of the remote environments prior to exams; pre-population of the environments with custom content; automatic termination of the environments when quiz attempts close; seamless delivery of the content produced inside the environment. Initial tests over startup times and resources consumption proven the potential of this solution and lead to the decision to leverage CrownLabs during a Computer Science exam session. Through the work done within this thesis, CrownLabs has been adapted for delivering remote environments for the computer sciences exams session held in September: almost eight hundred examinees used PyCharm through their web browser during the exam. The platform has been appreciated both by students and professors of the course.

Relators: Fulvio Giovanni Ottavio Risso
Academic year: 2021/22
Publication type: Electronic
Number of Pages: 65
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in Ingegneria Informatica (Computer Engineering)
Classe di laurea: New organization > Master science > LM-32 - COMPUTER SYSTEMS ENGINEERING
Aziende collaboratrici: UNSPECIFIED
URI: http://webthesis.biblio.polito.it/id/eprint/21148
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