How To Sanitize a Laptop

The process of sanitizing a laptop involves three aspects:

  1. Physically cleaning the laptop's appearance.
  2. Deleting the laptop's previous information.
  3. Installing the educational software (operating system and educational applications).

Labdoo provides two laptop sanitation manuals: a Fast Restoration Method and a Step by Step Installation Method.

The Fast Restoration Method is the fastest method to install the operating system and the educational content on a laptop.

The Step by Step Installation Method is very useful if you are new to the project and want to see exactly what a Labdoo prepared laptop contains. This method guides you on how to:

  1. Delete the previous content of the laptop.
  2. Install the basic linux operating system.
  3. Install the basic software (ofimatic applications, linux software).
  4. Install additional educational content (RACHEL content, wikipedia for schools)
  5. Install more additional educational content (XOWA offline Wikipedias)

This process requires more time but is recommended if you want to learn and to see exactly what contents are installed, while the Fast Restoration Method performs all these steps automatically.

If you are new to the Labdoo Project, you can follow the Step by Step Installation Method. If you have more experience with the process or need to deal with a large number of laptops, we recommend you to use the Fast Restoration Method. Alternatively if you don't have the time to sanitize your own computer, you can always bring it to your closest hub and have labdooers there sanitize it for you (click on the menu option ‘Hubs’ located at the top of the Labdoo website and then on ‘View’ to go to the list of Labdoo hubs).

If you have problems or want assistance on how to perform the laptop preparation, ask for help on the Labdoo Global Support wall and somebody from the core team will be happy to assist you.

The basic educational software package installed in every Labdoo laptop is called Edubuntu. Edubuntu is a free software platform that includes educational applications covering many areas of science, from pre-school level to high-school level and available in more than 130 languages. You can learn more about Edubuntu directly from In addition to the Edubuntu platform, laptops can optionally be preloaded with additional educational content such as an offline version of Wikipedia and many other powerful Open Educational Resources (OER) such as Rachel, Xowa, UNESCO content, Khan Academy, etc.

The simple sanitation guide helps you to install the basic Edubuntu platform (preloaded with all the Edubuntu education applications) and allows you to optionally install extra educational packages via some scripts. The advanced sanitation guide uses pre-configured images and it allows you to install all the packages (both the Edubuntu platform plus all the extra education packages) in one shot using the image. The next table summarizes all packages installed by each method:

Content Step-by-Step
Step-by-Step Method
Plus Scripts
Fast Restore
Lubuntu LTS (Operating System) Yes Yes Yes
Edubuntu Educational Software (base education packages) Yes Yes Yes
Office Suite (Libreoffice) Yes Yes Yes
Wikipedia for schools "wikidoo" (English offline lexicon suitable for children) No Yes Yes
License-free manuals for Ubuntu, Libreoffice, etc. No Yes Yes
License-free e-Books No Yes Yes
XOWA, access to 800+ Offline Wikis in regional languages No Yes Yes
RACHEL, access to Khan Academy, Edison for Robotics, CK-12 Textbooks, UNESCO's IICBA Electronic Library, Great Books of the World, OLPC Educational Packages, or MIT Scratch, among many others No Yes Yes
Barrier-free access for blind or hearing impaired user No Yes Yes
Browser-based English course, Multimedia based following UK Curriculum No Yes Yes
Offline video tutorials for user No Yes Yes
Optimized user flow to avoid accidental system changes No Yes Yes
Preparation for virtual machines (VM VirtualBox) No Yes Yes
Virus scanner and tool ClamAV No Yes Yes
Suggested minimum size of disk drive 20 GB 40GB min 40GB min (more Size allows you to load more content)

Please continue reading this guide to learn the step by step process of sanitizing a laptop by choosing one of the available methods.

Sanitation Guide: Fast Restoration Method (Labtix)

Labdoo recommends installing by cloning images and using the installation tool Labtix (contributed by Labdoo volunteers). Labtix is freely available and anyone can use it. It runs as a 32-bit ISO image on every laptop and it can clone both 32 and 64 bit images. Since Labtix is under continuous development and improvement, please check our FTP server regularly to see if there is a new version available.

Note for advanced users: Labtix has a persistence mode, i.e. you can make your own changes to Labtix and save them. You act as root user in fact. The password (only needed if you "get stuck" in the terminal when booting ) is "labdoo". But beware - as root you can destroy Labtix or bloat it by too many changes. Labtix fits on a CD when delivered. The tool ISO-snapshot also allows you to create a new ISO-file that takes over possible changes to the system.

Labtix comes with different installation tools and you can find most of them on your desktop. Which tool suits you best is up to you. They all have their strengths and advantages:

  • Labdoo installer: with a graphical user interface.
  • Auto deploy and content installer: complete and terminal-based installation tool that also automates the deployment of additional content to multiple languages.
  • "2-click" installer: clone images from the File manager SpaceFM with 2 clicks.

On the Labtix desktop, you will find a red folder ''Docs'', where you can find manuals as PDF files. However, we recommend you to watch the individual steps and tools in a YouTube video tutorial.

Sometimes you have to select certain settings in the boot menu because of the hardware, e.g. Toshiba, Nvidia and others. Otherwise, it can happen that Labtix doesn't boot, gets stuck at terminal level (the desktop doesn't appear) or the monitor remains dark. In these cases try the options in Failsafe Mode or Safe Video Mode. This is also explained in the YouTube tutorials below.

All video-tutorials are on our YouTube channel and on our FTP server

Preparation for the Fast Installation Methods

If you already have a bootable CD or USB Stick with our Labtix installation environment and Laboo Images for cloning, you can skip this chapter.

Thanks to the Labtix tool (LiveCD), all pre-installed learning content in labdoo systems can be "cloned" quickly and easily to new computers using the so-called images.
These images are available in 4 languages (English, Spanish, German, French). So you can select the language in the target country of the IT donation depending on the language and manually upload further learning contents in further languages.

You need two things for that:
Labtix bootable media: this can be a CD or USB stick, that you use to boot the Laptop you want to have restored, into the Labtix einvironment.
External USB hard drive: to store the cloning images and other learning content from our FTP server (Labdoo also provides an already prepared USB Drive to the volunteers, please contact your local Hub).

Labtix: The Labdoo installation environment

To be able to install older and newer computers with a license-free tool, has a small solution (live-image) based on the Linux-Version Antix which we have called Labtix (a combination of Labdoo and Antix).

In Labtix you will find everything you need to delete old data on a donated computer or laptop, for fast and automated installation proceses in order to obtain a ready-to-ship computer. Additionally, Labtix provides many tools to diagnose hardware, to analyze and solve problems (CPU/processor, temprerature problems, damaged hard drives, etc.)

You can download the iso file for Labtix from our FTP server
here (MD5SUM).

Once you have downloaded the file, you can create a boot media (CD or USB) from the iso file, which you will use to start and prepare (Sanitation process) donated computers

Creating a bootable USB or CD/DVD from the Labtix ISO

The next thing to do is to convert the ISO file into a bootable CD or USB bootstick (simple copying is not enough!). This often works with file managers of your favorite operating system or with additional tools. For further questions consult the web (search for "cd / USB stick create ISO" and your operating system).

A blank 750 MB CD is sufficient for one CD (DVD is not necessary), USB sticks go from 1 GB (but usually 4 GB is the smallest size you can get). Note for technicians: Labtix has a persistence mode, with which you can save your desired configuration. However, this takes up more space, therefore 4 GB or more is better.

- Download and run a program for creating bootable media. For example, Rufus: (link is external) or another alternative
(link is external)
- Run Rufus, select the USB device, click on the "Select" button and select the labtix.iso file, then click on ''Start''.

you will find many useful tools for Linux in the following link:
(link is external)

But the easiest and fastest way is using dd. Once you know the device path to your USB key (in the example /dev/sdb) run:
dd if=Labtix.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=1M; sync
(see details explained under:

You can use the following procedure: [ ]
(Here we refer to Internet and search engines).

Labdoo-Cloning images method and additional content

For the Fast Restoration method, you need to clone the Labdoo Images. For cloning, you have to download the images first. Images are copies of a complete, pre-installed system (of already sanitized laptops). Linux has a great feature that other operating systems don't have. You can transfer a system from computer A to computer B - and it runs!

You will find these images online in our Labdoo FTP server
You can also download these images from the web browser by selecting the image you want to download, right-click on it, and then select "save link as".

This does not work for folders or for many files! These have to be downloaded individually and of course, this is a lot of work.
Simple methods for downloading multiple files for all common operating systems can be found at

Images are large and the download takes a long time, so If you are familiar with FTP clients, we recommend downloading them directly via FTP (sftp, userlabdoo and password labdoo).

Labdoo Images for Cloning

When deciding what image is best for you, you should consider the following aspects:

  • The CPU/processor architecture of the computer you are currently working on (32 bit or 64 bit). You can easily figure this out with the Labtix environment. It will be displayed in the upper right corner of your desktop (see also the video above).
  • The target language you want to install.
  • The size of the hard disk in the computer to be refurbished. This size is displayed e.g. in the BIOS or after booting Labtix.

The name of an image on the FTP server shows:

imagesThe French and Spanish images occupy 80 GB because they already have the learning content in these languages (Wikis, OER Open Educational ressources,...). The German image is additionally played with German courses, dictionaries in many refugee languages etc..

The English images of 80 Gbs as well, but the larger images (160,250 Gbd) include even more learning contents

Additional learning content

Additional learning content can be added after the installation process if you are not using the method that allows you to add additional content during installation. We will come back to this later...

External USB hard disk preparation (1+ TB)

The downloaded images are already unpacked and ready to use. Copy them to an external hard drive or a local server. The USB disk must be formatted to store large files. For example, FAT32 is not possible because FAT32 can only handle files smaller than 4GB. NTFS is the recommended filesystem for an external hard disk.

The automated installation scripts require to be saved to an external hard disk without a parent directory, as they are stored on the FTP server. For further details please refer to the manual

Connecting to the Labdoo FTP server

The Labdoo FTP server allows users to download files and images for Labdoo devices for free. Here are some simple ways to connect to the FTP server. Pick the one that suits you best. For security reasons, Labdoo does not allow unsecured FTP protocol, only the secured SFTP protocol (no ftp, only sftp).

Keep in mind again, that if this all takes too long or is too much work for you, especially for a one-time installation, then give your IT donation into the hands of Labdoo Hubs and helpers!

Note: Labdoo is not responsible for third-party software.


1. Accessing the server through your browser

Open the URL in a browser and navigate via the links (Make sure the URL begins with “http://” and not “ftp://). Here you can download all files for free.
To download a file, click on a link with the right button of your mouse, then click "Save target as" (name can be different depending on your browser and opperating system).
This method's advantage is that you can access without a password, but on the other hand files can only be downloaded individually.


2. Access data to connect to the FTP server

It is more convenient to connect your PC or server directly to the FTP server. Depending on your operating system there are several tools below. We created a user on the FTP server: labdoo with the password labdoo and read permissions (no write permissions), which is available to you for this purpose. If you need write permissions, please contact (EN) or (DE).

Protocol = sftp (sftp is safer than ftp, so only sftp is available)
Server =
Username = labdoo
Password = labdoo
Path = /var/www/download


3. Integrate into the file manager (Windows, Swish)

Windows does not offer its own way to connect the file manager to an FTP server via the sftp protocol. ftp would be possible, but we do not offer this for security reasons. However, you can use additional programs sftp, e.g. the Swish Add-on for the Windows file manager is external) .

After installing Swish, you have to set up the access to the FTP-Server:

Login to the FTP server: Name - choose a name of your choice; server:; user: labdoo; path: /var/www/download
Security key: Save and connect - key remains permanently on the PC until changed; Simply connect - key is only saved for this session and will be queried again next time
Enter the password labdoo, now you can use the FTP server like a drive on your PC.


4. Filezilla

It is easy to connect your computer to the FTP server with special tools if you need to download massive files. The free FTP client Filezilla can be downloaded here

The start path can be set in the settings under Advanced --> Default directory on the server. Then you don't always have to click through the whole file system.

Enter the access data: Server - s ; Username labdoo ; Password - labdoo ; Port - 22


5. Linux
If you are using GNU/Linux, you can easily integrate the FTP server using the sftp protocol (secure FTP). Simply enter the path for the FTP folder → in your favorite file manager.


6. rsync

More information about using rsync for Linux users can be found here

If you want to mirror the whole FTP server, you can do so with the following command rsync -avHe ssh (Attention: Several 100 GB!)

If you want to mirror the subfolder /install-disk (installation disk), you can do this with the following command rsync -avHe ssh (Attention: almost 1 TB!)


7.Connecting Apple iOS using iTransfer to an FTP server

For Apple and iOS you can install and use the free tool iTransfer


8. recommended folders or links

If you want you can mirror the whole FTP drive :) Maybe you should choose the content you really need? Here are some useful paths that might be of interest to you:

All data necessary for an installation:
English documents:
Graphics + logos:

If you have any questions send an e-mail to Labdoo Global Support team wall and a Labdooer will get back to you.

Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

2 - Click Installation Method

This section describes how to use the file manager SpaceFM to clone images with just 2 clicks.

  • Double-click to start the file manager SpaceFM.
  • Mount the drive on which the images for cloning are located.
    • For external USB drives: plug it in, the drive appears with a - in front of it, then click on the entry and the "-" becomes a "+".
    • On a server: Plugins→MountShare→Scan and manually enter the IP address of the server, if necessary select Share from the list, User and Passwort→Mount.
    • The drive / server is now mounted, i.e. the computer has access to it.
  • Open the folder with the images.
  • Right click on the folder containing the image to be installed.
  • Click on "Labdoo Image Installer" in the displayed functions list.
  • In the next window:
    • Put a checkmark at "Shred sda" (hard disk will be overwritten 3 times) or remove it (hard disk will not be deleted),
    • Optional: enter host ID, if already known (otherwise this can be changed after restart)
  • The image is now copied to the internal hard disk sda.
  • At the end GParted opens for control to display the finished partition on sda. The whole hard disk should be available. Close GParted. In rare cases the automatic adjustment of the partition does not work. Then it can be adjusted manually.
  • The window with the installation's confirmation will appear, confirm with "ok" and close.
  • The installation will be confirmed in the terminal, then close with ''Enter''.
  • The installation is complete. Labtix can be shut down with "Poweroff" or "Save Poweroff" and the computer can be restarted.

Autodeploy ( method

Autodeploy and content installer: the complete terminal based script installation tool

NOTE: The new version (included in Labtix from Septeber 2018) automates the deployment of learning content to multiple languages (not visible in video)

Manual (pdf):

Installed tools for Labtix

Labtix comes with some useful, pre-installed tools:

SpaceFM. A file manager for the usual file actions and for mounting external devices. It also has plugins to mount shares and burn CDs or DVDs and others. SpaceFM is highly configurable and can be modified with additional plugins. The trashcan is disabled to prevent the accumulation of too much data in persistent mode, but it is addable as a plugin if needed. It should not be removed, because it is part of the desktop's environment!

Conky. A tool for displaying system information on the desktop. The output window is located in the upper right corner. The configuration file is /etc/conky/conky.conf.

Arandr. A tool to configure the screen layout. Very useful if the internal monitor was removed from your device and an external monitor is connected.

ISO-Snapshot. A tool to create an ISO snapshot of the system. The Snapshot saves all changes to the system. While running ISO Snapshot, select the directories that are NOT addable to the snapshot, except the "Desktop" directory that contains the .desktop files. You should move existing snapshots to a directory that you do not want to add to the Snapshot. The Snapshot is saved in /home/snapshot. If you create Snapshot in a non-persistent system (for example, booting from CD-ROM), you should stored it on another device. If there is not enough space to store the snapshot, the storage path can be set to another USB stick. It is possible to install Snapshot on a USB device with UNetbootin or to burn to a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM using SpaceFM's IG-Burn tool plugin.

UNetbootin. A tool to create bootable USB sticks. Start Unetbootin, activate "Diskimage", select the ISO snapshot (should be in /home/snapshot) and select the USB target drive. You should format the USB stick with fat32 and mount it (use SpaceFM for this). After the installation on a thumbdrive, you should use Gparted to check if the boot flag is set correctly!

Networking. Use the command line tool ceni or WICD to set up WLAN. LAN should work by default. Due to the low transfer rate, images should not be installed via WLAN.

Psensor. A tool to control the temperature of CPU, GPU and others.

Gsmartcontrol. A tool for reading the hard disk's S.M.A.R.T. data to check if the hard disk is ok. If you see "red" in the registers, you should use a different hard disk.
Tip: If a Seagate hard disk displays thousands of events for reallocating reallocations in the Attributes tab, the drive is not damaged. These hard disks have different firmware, specifically for Lenovo computers that uses the memory bit for reallocation events for other purposes.

Gparted. A great tool for partitioning disks, repairing file systems and copying partitions.

Using the Keyboard Layout Handler on the right side of the panel you can change the keyboard layout with a left mouse click. To make a permanent change, right click and use the "Keyboard Layout Handler Settings". The topmost keyboard layout in the list will be preset at startup. With a left mouse click you can browse the pre-installed keyboard layouts (German, US English, French, Spanish).

Hardinfo. A tool that gives you extensive information about the hardware and software of the computer.

The battery-plugin in the panel gives you information about the status of the battery when the mouse moves over it. With a right mouse click and "Battery Monitor Settings" you can activate the plug-in, if you haven't already done so.

Firefox-esr is a slimmed down version of Firefox and helps you researching the web. It can also display pdf files. By default, it does not collect cookies and does not store data, to avoid bloating with unnecessary data in persistence modeLabtix.

For more information please use the man pages of the help function in the terminal (eg "man gparted" or type in "psensor --help" and press (Enter)) or use the internet.

Desktop Settings:
The Labtix desktop environment is based on openbox with the additional lxpanel. If you right-click on the desktop, you can select "Desktop Settings" so you can make changes to the desktop. To install new starters on the desktop, copy them from /usr/share/applications on the desktop. To move icons on the desktop, use Shift + Drag. Please note that in some cases SpaceFM will move the items from the folder. In this case please copy them back. The "Add to Desktop" function of the Lxpanel menu does not work with Openbox.
To make changes to Lxpanel, simply click the panel with the right mouse button.
Use the Openbox Configuration Manager to change the design of the windows and other general optimizations.
For Autostart: Copy the .desktop files to /etc/xdg/autostart or edit /etc/xdg/openbox/autostart for necessary commands.

Persistence allows you to save changes to a live system like Labtix. An additional file to save all changes of the running system is addable to the USB stick. Enabling persistence on boot will slow down the boot process. Mainly, you sould use Persistence so you can make changes to a live system like Labtix and create a new snapshot to get a new, stable and fast boot live system. You can only installe Persistence on a USB stick. We recommend UNetbootin to install Labtix on a USB stick. USB sticks created with dd cannot be made persistent.

Make a USB stick persistent:
Booting from a Labtix USB stick. In the first boot screen, select the options "F5 -> persist_root" and "F8 -> save" and press "Enter" to boot. Follow the instructions to add persistence to the USB stick. Select "manual" as storage method. Adding the persistence file to the USB stick can take several minutes per GB. So please be patient.
As long as the option under "F5" is set to "persist_root", the USB stick will boot into persistence mode. Sometimes it is useful to boot without persistence. This can be done by setting the option under "F5" to "none".
In Labtix there is a green "Save Poweroff" button on the right side of the panel to save and shut down system changes and a red "Poweroff" button to shut down the computer without saving changes.

UEFI Boot only or BIOS locked and UEFI set

[This page explains a solution in case a donated computer can only boot with UEFI or the BIOS is locked (password unknown) and UEFI is set as the boot option. If your computer can boot in legacy mode, you can skip this page].

Back in 2013/2014, there was a technical and legal discussion about SecureBoot and UEFI. The manufacturers argued that only UEFI boot on their computer provides security and therefore must only be used. However, the EU and NGOs went to court and the judges decided that the computer manufacturers had to re-open the BIOS settings so that users could choose whether to use the UEFI boot, the legacy boot (the "old" boot) or both as boot options. Computers that were produced before the "UEFI only" decision and after the old flexibility decision have no problem installing with Labtix and prepared Labdoo images.

However, if the computer was manufactured in the "UEFI only" period in 2013/2014, this may cause problems when installing a Lubuntu-based installation. Our Labdoo images are set up for legacy boot, not for UEFI boot (although Lubuntu could). We have described a solution for these specific UEFI-only machines here.

Another use case is a locked BIOS. A computer has been donated, but a BIOS password has not been removed and is unknown. If the boot option in the BIOS is set to "UEFI / Secure Boot Only" and cannot be switched to "Legacy Boot" because of the password lock, you can run the installation process described below and then use the computer for Labdoo.

If our solution is too difficult for you, please contact Labdoo helpers or hubs in your country / region and ask them for support.

You can use the installation tool Labtix (recommended, supports UEFI-Boot) or Parted Magic. PXE is not possible because you have to select certain options during the installation process and PXE does not allow access to these settings.

The installation sequence is rough:

  • First install a small Xubuntu based image via cloning in a partition (Xubuntu is able to UEFI boot); a prepared image is available on FTP server,
  • Next ,install in a second partition of one of our Labdoo images with slightly different settings than usual.
  • Change the grub boot file.
  • After that, the system will boot and a user will not even notice that this is a special "UEFI only" laptop.
  • This solution only works for 80 GB disc-drives or bigger.

So here are the steps in details:

  1. Download the special UEFI-Boot image, available on our FTP-Server and copy it to a local USB-drive or any local server.
  2. Start Labtix, run the Clonezilla tool (icon on the Labtix desktop) and make the drive with the special UEFI image available - Important: Use "expert mode" and "restoredisk", mark the option -icds . For experts: Or install Xubuntu (I think all other UEFI based * buntu do it too) in UEFI mode on the device.
  3. If you use the prepared UEFI image, the size of the partition sda2 is set to 80 GB by default. A Labdoo image for 80 GB fits. If you want to install an image for a 160 GB or 250 GB hard drive, you have to enlarge the partition sda2 with GParted.
  4. Shut down the computer and restart it with Labtix.
  5. Start Clonezilla to replace sda2(!) of the installed UEFI-Boot image / Xubuntu by replacing "restoreparts" with sda1 of the Labdoo-image you want to install. Make sure you choose the target-partition sda2 when asked and the "-icds"-option in "Clonezilla advanced extra parameters". Make sure the option "-k Do NOT create a partition table..." is checked.
  6. After installing sda2, use GParted to maximize sda2. Check if the "boot"- and "esp"-flags are set to sda1. To retrieve the UUID of sda2 right-click on it and select "Information". Mark the UUID and copy it with "Ctrl" + "C" to the clipboard.
  7. Edit /EFI/ubuntu/grub.cfg in the EFI-bootpartition ( usually sda1, the small partition with 512MB ) with the editor Geany and replace the given UUID with the UUID of sda2 you copied by GParted. E.g. open SpaceFM -> sda1 -> navigate to /EFI/ubuntu/grub.cfg -> right mouse click -> open > Geany editor -> in line 1 you will see a UUID -> mark and paste the new UUID from the clipboard. Don't forget to save the file before closing Geany editor.
  8. Shut down and restart the computer. Now it should start in UEFI mode and users will see the Labdoo login after a short time.

This description is very technical, but it works. If you know a simpler solution, please feel free to contact us.
A special thank you goes to helpers from hub Rhein-Ruhr (Germany) for noticing and solving this specific problem.

Sanitation Guide: PXE Over the Network



This wiki will lead you through the process of sanitizing Labdoo laptops using ready-to-use images from the network. It allows you to sanitize laptops using a fast and efficient cloning process and is also very helpful if you are dealing with a large number of laptops. However, this process is quite more complex at the same time and that is why we consider it an advanced method. If you are new to Labdoo and do not have much experience with computers, we recommend you to use the Simple Sanitation Method, but if you are up for learning a great way to install a powerful software in a computer, this is your guide.

Images are a complete software copy of an installed Labdoo computer containing everything, from the operating system, software, educational content to al optimized settings. The cloning process takes care of everything for you in one shot, except for adopting the final configuration to the country of the destination edoovillage (language and keyboard) and setting the hostname.

In the next section you will find a step by step description of the Sanitation process based on images.

How to use a Labdoo PXE server to sanitize laptops

[Note: This section assumes you have a Labdoo PXE server with you (because you either created one by following the instruction in the section below "Steps to create a new Labdoo PXE server" or because another hub gave you the Labdoo PXE server so that you can use it to sanitize your laptop)]

If you already have a Labdoo PXE server, please read the "PXE Process in detail" document that you can download from this link. This guide explains step by step how to use the PXE server to sanitize laptops. You can also download from this link the "Labdoo Process Slip", a handy slip which will allow you to track each laptop technical description as explained in the "PXE Process in detail" document.

Steps to create a new Labdoo PXE server

# Installbox

The Installbox set-up allows you to automatically install Linux clients on a large scale.

### Pre-Requirements

- A laptop with wireless LAN and gigabit ethernet port
- A gigabit switch
- Network cables to connect the clients
- Wireless internet access where you are NOT using the IPv4 network address

# Installbox Setup

- Download the customized ISO image: GET-LATEST-VERSION-FROM-WEB.iso
- Either burn the image to a CD or write it to a USB key using dd if=debian-jessie-installbox.iso of=/dev/sdb
(replace sdb with the device node of your USB stick, if necessary).
- Boot the laptop using the CD or the USB stick.
- Please do not connect the ethernet cable yet.
- Select the option "Install" during boot.
- You will be asked to select the keyboard layout, select the one that fits best for you.
- During network set-up please select the wireless interface. There should be two interfaces on the list:
eth0 (which is ethernet, don't select this one!) and wlan0.
Note: If you do not see those two interfaces here, please abort the installation process. It means that your device is not supported.
- When you have selected wlan0, the installer will search for wireless networks available. Select your network.
Most modern wireless networks use WPA/PSK for authentication, so if you are not sure, you can select this option.
- Type in your Wireless password in the next step. Please note that it is displayed in a clear text.
- Relax, the rest of the installation should work fully automated.
- After a while the device reboots, so you can now connect an ethernet cable from the laptop's installation box to the gigabit switch.
- You should now be able to connect any client to the switch and select ethernet boot.
On Lenovo, you can press F12 and choose the network interface as a boot device.
- On the install box, an NFS export has been created on /exports.
This will be available to all clients on the LAN and should contain the Clonezilla images.

# PXE Boot Options

When you boot a client, the boot menu will show the following options:

- Clonezilla Autorestore x86
This should be started on a client where you want to apply the default image. No interaction needed, all existing data will be deleted.
It will restore an image called Linux-x86 which must be available in /exports on the install box.

- Clonezilla Autorestore x86_64
Same as Autorestore x86 but for the 64bit variant. It will automatically restore an image called Linux-x86_64

- Preseed x86
Prepare a 32bit master installation

- Preseed x86_64
Prepare a 64bit master installation

- Clonezilla Autosave x86
Create an image of a master installation. It will automatically be written to the NFS share /exports under the name Linux-x86.
Note: This will overwrite an existing image of the same name in the install box.

- Clonezilla Autosave x86_64
Same as Autosave x68 but for the 64bit variant. It will automatically write a disk image to the install box at /exports/Linux-x86_64.
Note: This will overwrite an existing image of the same name on the install box.

- Clonezilla Live
Just the default live image with all options and the NFS share already mounted.

- SystemRescueCD
A universal system recovery toolbox. It also contains GParted for manual partitioning.
To start GParted, simply type startx and then click on the GParted icon in the taskbar.

- Boot and Nuke
starts dban and will automatically wipe all data on disk.

Note: you can press the tab key on all options in order to change settings manually.
To permanently adjust the file, edit /var/lib/tftpboot/prd/pxelinux.cfg/default on the installbox.

# Workflow

After you have set up the install box a typical workflow would be the following:

1. Create a master image

- Choose another laptop on which you want to create the master image.
- Connect the laptop to a port on the gigabit switch.
- Follow the steps described in the 'Prepare Master Image' section.

Alternatively, you can download a prepared master image. See the 'Image Creation Cutoff' section below for further details.

2. Provision laptops with the newly created master image

- after the master image has been stored on the install box, choose the relevant Clonezilla Autorestore option from the PXE menu

Once you have created a master image, there is no need to re-create it other than changes that need to be done to it.
Next time, you can just start provisioning clients using the Autorestore option.

Hint: if you are not sure, just create a master image for the x86 architecture. This should work on nearly every machine.

# Image Creation Cutoff

If you do not want to prepare an image on your own, you can download the prebuild image for the x86 architecture.

To do so, execute the following commands in the install box:

sudo wget -c GET-LATEST-VERSION-AS.tar.gz -O /exports/linux-x86.tar.gz
sudo tar xvzf /exports/linux-x86.tar.gz -C /exports/

Note: the image to download might take a long time, it depends on your internet connection.
If the download is interrupted for some reason, you can resume it by executing exactly the wget command from above again.

This image is set up for the Swiss-German keyboard layout. If you want to customize it:
- Deploy a machine using the 'Clonezilla Autorestore x86' function.
- Boot it and make your customization.
- Boot the SystemRescueCD and start GParted.
- Shrink the root partition to ~ 30000MB.
- Remove any existing version of the image by running sudo rm -rf /exports/Linux-x86 on the install box.
- Reboot the client that contains your modifications and select the Clonezilla Autosave option for x86.
This will save your modified version to the install box.

# Prepare Master Image

In order to develop a master image from scratch, please make sure that the install box in your laptop has a working wireless LAN internet connection.

### Preseed

On a client that connects to the gigabit switch, start the pxe boot and select either Preseed for x86 or x86_64.
This will set up an install base of ubuntu with a user "Labdoo" and a password "Labdoo".

After preseeding, boot into the newly installed system and apply the customization from:

If you want to modify the preseed file, e.g. to set up a different user account, just edit /var/lib/tftpboot/trusty/preseed.cfg

Hint: To change the keyboard layout (which defaults to us), simply run dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration after installation.

### Creating the Image

When the client has been set up according to your needs, reboot and select the relevant Clonezilla Autosave option that fits best the architecture of your master set-up.

This will automatically save an image to the install box that will be applied later to other clients using the Clonezilla Autorestore function for that architecture.

Note: This automated process has been optimized for image installations on systems with at least 40GB HDD/SSD of space.
If you need to install it on machines with smaller disks, please shrink the root partition before creating the image.

# Image Requirements

If you do not want to use the images that eventually work with the install box setup, please make sure that your images
fulfill the following requirements:

- images should be deployed automatically using this setup and must have the following partition layout:
/dev/sda1 - swap (suggested size 2GB)
/dev/sda2 - root / ext4
- after the master preparation, please shrink the root partition to its minimal size possible.
This ensures that the image will be deployable on small drives as well.

# Resetting the Installbox

You can reset the changes made to the install box default settings at any time by running /usr/local/sbin/applypuppet as root.

# Making of the Installbox ISO

This step is not necessary, it is just for informational purposes. It describes how the ISO for the install box was created.

apt-get install -y bsdtar genisoimage syslinux-utils
cd ~
rm -rf cd
mkdir cd
bsdtar -C cd -xf firmware-8.2.0-i386-netinst.iso
vi cd/isolinux/txt.cfg
- append vga=788 initrd=/install.386/initrd.gz --- quiet
+ append vga=788 initrd=/install.386/initrd.gz url=GET-LATEST-VERSION-FROM-WEB.cfg locale=en_US.UTF-8 ipv6.disable=1 debconf_debug=5 netcfg/get_domain=domain.example netcfg/dhcp_timeout=60 netcfg/get_hostname=installbox --- quiet
quit vi with ESC :wq!
vi cd/isolinux/gtk.cfg
- append vga=788 initrd=/install.386/gtk/initrd.gz --- quiet
+ append vga=788 initrd=/install.386/gtk/initrd.gz url=GET-LATEST-VERSION-FROM-WEB.cfg locale=en_US.UTF-8 ipv6.disable=1 debconf_debug=5 netcfg/get_domain=domain.example netcfg/dhcp_timeout=60 netcfg/get_hostname=installbox --- quiet
quit vi with ESC :wq!
cd cd; md5sum `find ! -name "md5sum.txt" ! -path "./isolinux/*" -follow -type f` > md5sum.txt; cd ..
genisoimage -o debian-jessie-installbox.iso -r -J -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table -b isolinux/isolinux.bin -c isolinux/ ./cd
isohybrid debian-jessie-installbox.iso

# Additional Notes

- There is a script available on the installbox called /usr/local/sbin/pxesync.
It can sync the files needed for PXE boot for the Ubuntu and Debian distributions.

# Changelog

20150930 v0.2
- added prebuild image

20150928 v0.1
- initial setup

Sanitation Guide: Step-by-step Installation Method


This brief document describes the process of sanitizing a laptop according to the Simple Method.

[TIPS. If you'd like to get tips on how to collect unused laptops from your local community, please click here. After the laptop gets sanitized, you can click here to learn different ways to package the laptops to get them ready for schools that needs them. If you get stuck in any of these steps during the sanitizing process, you can post your questions in the wall of the Labdoo QA Team so that others can help you.]

Sanitation Steps

The current standard process of sanitizing a laptop is as follows:

  1. If the laptop is not already tagged with a Labdoo ID number, please follow the instructions under "tagging a laptop" page. Make sure you print 3 labels and attach two of them to the laptop and one to the AC adapter following the instructions that you will find on the website.
  2. Download the Ubuntu Mate 20.04 release from this link (this is a large .iso image):
  3. Burn the downloaded file into a CD. Make sure you burn the downloaded file as an ISO image. If you don't know how to do this, you can follow the instructions from any of these links depending on the type of computer you use to burn the CD:
    (Note: you can either use a CD or a DVD, the burning process is the same. We recommend to use a CD because some older computers do not accept DVD.)
    - Burning a CD using a Windows computer.
    - Burning a CD using an Ubuntu computer.
    - Burning a CD using a Apple/Mac computer.
  4. Insert the Lubuntu CD into the laptop you intend to sanitize and boot the laptop from the CD. Upon booting the laptop with the CD, you should see the Linux installation menu. If you don't see it, you need to enter into the bios of the laptop and change your computer's booting order to make sure that it first boots from the CD. For more information on how to configure the bios, see this page.
  5. Upon seeing the Lubuntu installation menu, start by selecting the installation language; for instance, choose “English”.
  6. Select “Install Lubuntu”.
  7. Select the language to be installed on the laptop. If you don't know the destination country, select “English”. If you know the destination country, select that country's language.
  8. In the "Wireless" screen, if you have an internet connection, you may select the network you use from the list and enter its password. Otherwise, leave it as default.
  9. The next window is just to confirm that the laptop fit into the minimum Hard Drive requirement. Hit "continue" once.
  10. Now we are going to do a small trick to ensure we completely remove any previous private data from the computer. Please press at the same time the keys 'Alt + CTRL + F3'. This will take you to a terminal window. In this terminal window, please enter the following command first: sudo apt-get install coreutils
    [press enter]. Once this command is executed, run this other command: sudo shred /dev/sda -f -v --iterations=2 [press enter]. (If this second command does not work, you can try with 'hda' instead of 'sda', like this: sudo shred /dev/hda -f -v --iterations=2.) This second command launches a process that will run for about 1 hour or so and overwrites the disk with random values. After you finish with this process, press at the same time the keys 'Alt + CTRL + F7' to continue the installation process and go to the next step. (Please see the video in this page for a complementary illdustration of this step.)
    Note: If the above does not work, an alternative method is to reboot the computer and select the option "Try Ubuntu" to boot Ubuntu in trial mode. Then once Ubuntu is booted, open a terminal by pressing the keys [Ctrl+Alt+T] at the same time. In this terminal, type the same 'shred' commands described in the previous paragraph. Once the shred process is completed, reboot again and redo all the installation steps again but omitting this step.
  11. Select the destination country. If you don't know it, pick the country where you are.
  12. When it prompes “detect keyboard”, select “No”.
  13. On the next screen, pick the origin country of your keyboard.
  14. Press “cancel” when the network is being configured (there is no need to do network installation since you have the CD and the updates are installed later).
  15. When you are asked for “Your name”, please enter the word “Labdoo”.
  16. When you are asked for the “Your computer name”, please enter the word labdoo with its Labdoo ID number (eg. labdoo_000003454).
  17. When you are asked for the “username”, please enter the word “labdoo”.
  18. When you are asked for the “password”, please enter the word “labdooadmin”.
  19. When you are asked for the “Confirm your password”, please enter the word “labdooadmin”.
  20. Select any time zone you want if the system requests.
  21. When you are asked for the “Partitioning method”, please select “Guided – use entire disk”.
  22. When you are asked for HTTP proxy information, please leave it empty and just press “Continue”.
  23. When it says “Install the GRUB boot loader”, please say “Yes”.
  24. When it says “Is the system clock set to UTC”, please say “Yes”.
  25. This completes the installation of the basic operating system. Next, reboot the machine and log into the Lubuntu system using the username "Labdoo" and the password “Labdoo”. Once you are into the Lubuntu system, make sure also that the laptop is connected to the Internet, via Ethernet cable or via WIFI. Finally, type ALT+CTRL+t to open a terminal window, and in it, type the following commands:

    sudo apt-get update [and press ENTER]
    sudo apt-get install edubuntu-desktop libreoffice [and press ENTER]
    sudo apt-get upgrade [and press ENTER]
    The last two commands could take from a few minutes up to an hour to complete.

  26. Install the Labdoo logo as a background image in your desktop to give it a friendly look. You can download the Labdoo desktop image from this page and then by right-clicking on your computer desktop you can select the option "Desktop preferences" and install the image.
  27. Now, you can install the additional educational software (such as an offline version of the Wikipedia, and more educational applications) by following the instructions in this page. This step is not mandatory as the laptop already has a good number of educational applications at this point, but it's a good thing to do.

What to expect next

Congratulations! You have now successfully completed your laptop drive campaign and sanitized your laptops, so they are now ready to be packed and travel. Please go to the Packaging the laptop for travelling section to learn how to get the laptops ready for door trips.

  • If you are traveling yourself to a school project, you can bring the laptops in your luggage. Try to distribute as many laptops to as many people traveling with you as possible because some countries have a limit on the number of laptops that can be carried per person.
  • If you are not traveling, then get in touch with one of the Labdoo hubs (for instance, one which is closest to you) from the hubs list. A Labdoo hub will help you decide which school your laptop should be sent to and he will also help you to get in touch with the travelers going to that school so the laptops can be picked up from you.

Dual boot MacOS and Ubuntu

Step-by-step instructions on how to install macOS and Ubuntu on a Mac computer.
There are four parts:

  1. Prepare Your Stuff
  2. The Mac Side
  3. Install Ubuntu Mate
  4. Post Installation

01: Prepare Your Stuff


  1. A 4GB or larger USB flash drive to create a bootable image
  2. (Optional but recommended) Another 4+GB USB drive or external HD to store the files that you will download later
  3. At least 40GB free on the Mac HD

Downloading Files
Download the following files from

  • refind-bin-0.12.0
  • ubuntu-mate-20.04-desktop-amd64.iso
  • unetbootin-mac-681.dmg

It is strongly recommended that you install and use a download manager software (e.g. FileZilla) to download the files since the iso file is huge, and the download manager can resume the download just in case you lost the connection. Save the files to a USB drive or external HD. Below is a screenshot using FileZilla:

Create Bootable USB
Do the following on a working Mac. Otherwise, complete “The Mac Side” section and come back here.

  1. Insert a blank USB
  2. Double click on the file unetbootin-mac-681.dmg that you downloaded earlier
  3. unetbootin

  4. Right-click and select Open
  5. Click the Open button
  6. Enter the password if prompted. The UnetBootin application will open. Select “Disk Image” option and the Ubuntu ISO file you downloaded earlier
  7. Click OK. UnetBootin will extract and copy a bunch of files to the USB drive.
  8. When it’s done, eject the USB drive by clicking on the Eject icon:

The USB drive now can be used to boot any Mac.

02: The Mac Side

If MacOS is missing
You will need to have Wifi and internet access to reinstall macOS.

  1. Booting the laptop.
  2. If it prompts you to install a new OS, simply connect to your WiFi and follow the screen
  3. Otherwise, reboot the laptop, holding both the Command and R keys until you see the Apple logo. Then select “Reinstall macOS” from the menu

If MacOS is present
If you know the password of the admin user, congratulations!. Otherwise, follow these steps to reset the password:

  1. Reboot the laptop, hold the Command + R keys until the Apple logo appears.
  2. Select Utilities -> Terminal to launch a terminal.
  3. Type resetpassword (yes, one word) at the terminal. Follow the screen to reset the password for each existing account.
  4. Restart and log in using the new password

“Labdooing” the Mac
Create Labdoo Accounts
You will use the existing admin account to create two new accounts: “student” and “labdoo” and then remove all non-labdoo accounts.

  1. Log in as the current admin account
  2. Select “System Preferences” -> “Users & Groups”
  3. Click the lock icon to unlock. Type password when prompted
  4. Click ‘+’ to add a new account. A new account form will pop up
  5. Create “labdoo” account - fill in the form with the following values:
    1. New Account: Administrator
    2. Full Name: labdoo
    3. Account Name: labdoo
    4. Password: labdooadmin
    5. Verify: repeat the password
    6. Password hint: can leave blank
  6. Create “student” account - fill in the form with the following values:
    1. New Account: Standard
    2. Full Name: student
    3. Account Name: student
    4. Password: labdoo
    5. Verify: repeat the password
    6. Password hint: can leave blank

Delete Non-labdoo Accounts

  1. Log in as “labdoo”
  2. Select “System Preferences” -> “Users & Groups”
  3. Click the lock icon to unlock. Type password when prompted
  4. Select a non-labdoo account, click the ‘-’ to remove the account
  5. Select “delete user directory” option. Confirm deletion when prompted
  6. Repeat step 4 and 5 for all remaining non-labdoo accounts

Change the Computer Name:
We will change the computer name to the labdoo Tag ID:

  1. Generate a tag ID for this computer if it doesn’t have one yet
  2. Click “System Preference” -> “Sharing”
  3. Change the computer name to labdoo-000xxxxxx, where xxxxxx is the tag ID.

Create a Partition for Ubuntu

  1. Run Disk Utility: Select Go -> Utilities -> Disk Utility
  2. Disk Utility screen
    disk utilities
  3. Click “Partition”. A dialog box will pop up. Click Partition again
  4. Click the ‘+’ sign. A new partition will be added. We now have 2 partitions, each occupies 50% of the disk space. Name the new partition “UBUNTU” and set its format to MS-DOS(FAT).
    new partition
  5. Click Apply
  6. Click Partition
  7. Click Continue. The process may take a while.

We are now ready to install Ubuntu on the new partition. But there is one task left: to install a boot manager.

Install rEFInd Boot Manager
Disable SIP (System Integrity Protection)
SIP protects critical areas on the disk from being altered, and rEFInd needs to write to one of those areas. Thus, we need to disable SIP before installing rEFInd

  1. Check to see if SIP is enabled or disabled. Open a Terminal and type “csrutil status”
  2. If it says “enabled” like in the capture above, follow the steps below to disable it

  3. Reboot and hold the Command + R key until you see the Apple logo. It will boot into Recovery mode.
  4. Select “Utilities” -> “Terminal”
  5. At the terminal, type csrutil disable
  6. Reboot and log back in as labdoo

Installing rEFInd

  1. Open a Terminal
  2. Open the folder where you downloaded the files earlier
  3. Arrange the Terminal window and the folder window so you can see both at the same time:
    refind install
  4. Drag and drop the “refind-install” file into the Terminal folder
  5. In the Terminal window, hit Enter or Return key to execute the command. Enter the password when prompted
    refind install command

We are now ready to install Ubuntu.

03: Install Ubuntu Mate

  1. Insert the bootable USB drive that you created earlier
  2. Reboot. The rEFInd boot menu will show
  3. Select EFI\BOOT\grubx64.rfi from {your USB drive name} and hit Enter
  4. Select “Try Ubuntu MATE without installing”
  5. After a few minutes or so, you should see the Ubuntu desktop
  6. Click on Install Ubuntu MATE 20.04LTS
  7. Follow the screens to complete the installation. IMPORTANT:
    1. Under the “Updates and other software” screen, make sure you select “Install third-party software for graphics and WiFi hardware and additional media formats”. Click Continue. Then connect to your WiFi network when prompted.
      ubuntu install
    2. Under the “Installation Type” select “Something else” option
      ubuntu install
    3. Select the partition with format fat32 which we created earlier using Disk Utility
      ubuntu install
    4. Double-click the highlighted entry. A dialog box will pop up. Select:
      Ext4 journaling file system
      Check “Format the partition”
      Mount point: /
      ubuntu install
  8. Click OK
    ubuntu install
  9. Click “Install Now” and follow the screens to complete the installation. At the “Who are you” screen, create the labdoo account and use the tagID for the hostname:
    ubuntu install
  10. When the installation completes, click restart to reboot the system. Hold the Option key while the system reboots until you see the original boot menu

    The installation of Ubuntu overwrites the EFI boot area that we created earlier in the “Installing rEFInd” section. But without the EFI boot area, the Ubuntu installation would fail for some reason that I haven’t figured out. Thus, we’ll have to install rEFInd again.

  11. Select booting from macOS partition and hit Enter key
  12. Repeat the steps in the Installing rEFInd section again

04: Post Installation

Enable SIP

  1. Reboot into recovery mode: hold Command + R key while rebooting until the Apple logo appears
  2. Select Utilities->Terminal to open a terminal
  3. Type “csrutil enable” and hit Enter key
  4. Reboot

What to do with the battteries?

If a laptop battery is not in good shape, our policy is to remove the battery and recycle it before sending the laptop to a school.

There are several reasons for that:

  • The battery that comes with the used laptop is reaching usually the end of its life cycle. Sometimes, old batteries can cause problems to power up the laptop.
  • The battery is one of the most poisoning waste products and we try not to pollute the environment of our schools, which may not have the capacity to properly dispose of waste.
  • A Laptop battery adds extra weight to the laptop and this could be a limitation if the traveler who is carrying the laptop needs to travel light.
  • Since Labdoo laptops are often used to serve in a classroom setting and many of those have power outlets, the laptops can work without the battery.

You can find more extensive information on why it is necessary and how to dispose safely old batteries in this article from
Please include only the battery in the laptop if it is still in good shape!