Windows, Windows everywhere…

…but looking to administer them all with Ansible from a Raspberry Pi.

I bought 4 ACEPC AK1s shown below. Explicitly to have dedicated computers ready to go for Artemis, if we found Artemis in danger of breaking out. (Or, you know, scheduling it, but who’s that prepared?) I figured something low-end would be cheap but good enough to play the game…and also able to play Minecraft, Dwarf Fortress and other things that might be fun. (Or, in the case of DF: “fun”.)

Anyway, here’s the box with a can for scale:

They’re decent boxes – quad-core Celerons, burstable up to 2.6Ghz or the like, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC, 2x HDMI, 1x USB-C, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 – though I did have to return one of the four I bought already as it was DoA. I also bought 4x 128GB micro SD cards for extra storage, though they support 2.5″ HDs in the bottom of the case. (If you don’t want to leverage that storage, you can detach the bottom half of the unit completely, where that seam is.)

After considering whether to just get Android tablets – because cheaper – or PCs, it was obvious not to do tablets as they’d require an account to be tied to them in order to work at all (even if a guest account was added later to play on), would have to maintained manually fairly regularly or be subject to updates/reboots/etc. likely when needed most and, really, wouldn’t be useful for much else en masse.

PCs, though, could get a lot of lightweight games installed (even without expanding the storage) and be useful as computers, if needed, not to mention being infinitely more likely to be able to be centrally managed for updates, installs, etc. Though…being Windows… Well. I had no experience, really, in administering Windows, let alone administering it remotely, automatically, etc. PowerShell and I are not friends, yet.

After installing Windows on all 3 working mini PCs, adding a default account per-PC and second consistently-named admin account for myself, I enabled the new optional feature of an OpenSSH server for each. I figured that was enough to get in and be able to do stuff and, by the looks of it, once SSH was there, I could start to use Ansible to do actual administration/etc.

…not so fast. SSH worked but I couldn’t do much that wasn’t available from your average command prompt. Turns out, I needed a WinRM listener.

Following pieces of Ansible’s docs, I enabled a few settings needed to support what Ansible needed…

No dice, so far. Some tests with WinRM work, others don’t. Might put this on ice for the time being; it’ll be good to get it going in general, but for the short term, it’s taking too much futzing without much payoff.

But here’s hoping 😉

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