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How to Configure KerbalEdu on a School Network


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At South Davis Junior High we purchased 35 licenses for KerbalEdu to use with a ninth grade Physics class. We decided to install the software in the school library computer lab. Davis School District has a District-wide Microsoft network and every student and teacher in our District has an account with a unique login ID. They cannot use any computer without first logging in to the network.

Each user on the network has 1 gigabyte of "home" network storage space on a drive mapped as "H:" (this is in addition to Microsoft OneDrive). Students are taught to save all of their work to OneDrive (which can be accessed at home) or to H: (which cannot). The advantage of the H: drive for software setup is that "H:" always points to the home directory of whomever is logged in at the time.

In our student computer labs we use the program "DeepFreeze" to prevent students from installing software, changing the settings, or bringing in malware. Each time a "frozen" computer is rebooted, it comes back up looking and working like we intend it to. This means that any work saved to C: (including a KerbalEdu session) will disappear every time the computer is restarted.

We were very pleased to learn of the edusettings.cfg file for KerbalEdu. This allows us to set up the student computers to automatically redirect KerbalEdu saves to the personal home directory of the user where they will not disappear upon shutdown and where they are accessible no matter which school computer a student logs in to.

Nevertheless, it took some trial and error to get the config file to work properly. I learned that it is more accurate to think of the location specified in your edusettings.cfg file as a place to download from than a place to upload to.

The first mistake I made was to set the config file to "externalSavesDirectory = H:" When I tried to run KerbalEdu, it soon froze up completely. It turns out that Kerbal was trying to download every file in my network home directory to C:\KerbalEdu\saves. Lesson one, then, was that you need to have a separate, empty, folder in your home directory for Kerbal to save to.

This led to my next problem, though. I changed my config file to say "externalSavesDirectory = H:/KerbalSaves," but I mistakenly thought that every user would need to manually create a "KerbalSaves" folder on H: before they ran the game. This is not true. When a person runs the program for the first time, it creates the folder for them and uploads the contents of the C:/<program directory>/KerbalEdu/saves folder.

However, mistakenly creating a "KerbalSaves" folder manually eventually taught me more about the program. Despite having one's saved files in a network home directory, Kerbal does NOT use them there. When the program is running, it wants to have your files in the "saves" folder in the program installation directory (in our case, C:\KerbalEdu\saves). What the config file does is copy the contents of the specified network folder into the C:\<local directory>\ KerbalEdu\saves folder every time you run the program. At the same time, it deletes anything else (like a prior student's game) from the local “saves†folder.

Another thing I learned is that the install of Kerbal Edu puts two folders into the local "saves" folder. These are "training" and "scenarios." The problem I created for myself was that by creating an empty "KerbalSaves" folder, I was inadvertently deleting the training and scenarios folders on C:. Kerbal was replacing them with the empty contents of my H:\KerbalSaves" folder when I launched the program!! I learned this when training and scenarios would not run from the game menu. This also meant, when I "refroze" the computer, that NO ONE got the training and scenario folders.

I also made the mistake of "freezing" a computer with an active game session saved on it. This resulted in every new user on that computer getting a copy of that game file uploaded into their H:\Kerbal Saves folder.

Summary. It is important that the person who installs the program for the first time have no folder that matches the name of the folder that the edusettings.cfg file points to. After the game is installed, do not run the game until you have put your config file into the program directory. When you run the game (and enter the license number) your personal network "<savegame>" directory will be created (containing the training and scenarios folders). This is OK, but if you are installing to more than one computer, DO NOT have any other game files in your network <savegame> folder when installing. It is OK if "training" and "scenarios" are there because they will only be overwriting themselves (on C:) when the newly installed game on each computer runs.

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Thank you for writing about your experience with the edusettings.cfg save game redirect. You are the first one I have heard of actually using it. Glad to hear you got it working, though it seems it needs a few tweaks. At least I think I'll make it check that the directory it is directed to contains some saves (or is empty), or is smaller than some specified size, so that it won't copy the whole root even if it was directed there. Also probably a good idea to make it ignore scenarios and training directories so that those won't get deleted or written over.

Better instructions on using it in the readme and on the kerbaledu.com page are probably in order too.

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Actually I'm not sure the edusettings.cfg redirect needs any tweaks at all. It works just fine. Installers just need some more clear instructions (which I hope I helped provide in my "Summary" paragraph.) As it is, the program, on first run, checks the directory specified in the config file and, if no such folder exists, it creates that folder. After that, it runs fine in the background. This is just what you want for a new user. I believe got into trouble by overthinking things. I created a network-located "Save" folder manually before running the program. Since that folder was empty at first run, THAT is what caused the training and scenario files to be deleted. I caused my own problem.

I am afraid "tweaking" the program will only introduce additional problems. For example, setting a limit on the size of the save folder that the config file points to, no matter how high you set the limit, will eventually cause a player to be unable to save any more spaceships. This limit on hard core players is not necessary. The solution would be worse than the problem.

As for the "Training" and "Scenario" folders being located in the KerbalEdu/saves folder, I presume that was a decision of the original game designers. While it creates unnecessary duplication of files when using the edusettings.cfg setup, it is harmless unless one accidentally deletes them like I did.

Overall, I believe better documentation is the solution here. I hope I have contributed to that cause. :)

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Yes, I think you are right, a size or other limit on the folder the config file points to might not be a good idea.

However there would be a good reason to ignore the scenarios and training folders. If they are copied from the redirected save folder at every program start, any updates we would do to scenarios and tutorials could be overwritten by older versions for the redirected folder.

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