I am considering trying to build a portable IT system to support Job Clubs here in the UK (operating as a charitable enterprise), but have a couple of hurdles to overcome. The solution I have in mind will incorporate up to 10 laptops sharing a common router, portable server and other network facilities like printer, etc.
Firstly, I have avoided using Windows because of the excessively large number of updates, extra security software required to keep it stable and malware-free as well as the high cost of support and maintenance needed. I like Mac OS X as it is rock-solid stable, updates are automatic, not too frequent and not too large, but the hardware carries a high premium. I have played with a couple of variants of Linux, but found that some require regular manual updates every week, which makes support a pain.
Q1. Can Ubuntu be configured for automatic updates for all its software, so that it is completely transparent to the end-user? I basically do not want the end-users fiddling with Ubuntu or any of its applications at all, but at the same time need it to keep itself up to date as far as is possible with minimal intervention.
Secondly, I have limited bandwidth in some places the system will be used at (e.g. where no landline-based broadband is available) and it will have to run over a 3G wireless internet connection. In this situation I do not want updates to run as bandwidth is precious. Also, even when on the main base-site which has fixed-line broadband, updates for 10 machines will consume a lot of bandwidth.
I know that if I were to implement a solution based on Mac OS X, the OS X server can be configured to act as a local update cache server. E.g. each of the client laptops would pull their updates from the local LAN server rather than Apple's main update server. Thus update-related bandwidth would be reduced to 10% of what it would be without the update server on the LAN.
Q2 - does Ubuntu have the ability to time when updates are done (e.g. delay an update until it is at a high-bandwidth site?)
Q3 - does Ubuntu have the ability to use a local LAN-based server as an Update Cache instead of having to pull updates across from Ubuntu's main repositories?