I'm a network administrator for a secondary school (K12). We currently deploy the creative suite to our network, and students use Lightroom as part of their photography course. Lightroom by default prevents users from storing their catalogs on network drives. We found a way to trick lightroom into thinking it was a local drive. It's not pretty, but it works and we haven't had any issues with corruption or data loss. Occasionally we find a catalog that is unexpectedly 'locked', but this is usually resolved by a restart of the last machine the user was using as the catalog file handle is left open by lightroom for some reason.
Assuming this 'solution' stops working at some point, which it might very well, and that it's not "best practice", what other solutions are there for students that need to move around computers storing their photos and catalog files together?
We've considered local drives in computers, but this adds massive complications in terms of setting permissions and means students are fixed to a single computer, removing their ability to log on and work anywhere in the school. It's also a massive cost and time consideration bearing in mind we have potentially hundreds of machines to add drives to. It also makes backup significantly more complex and unreliable.
We've considered using a removable USB storage device, this seems like it would be even worse than using a network attached storage device in terms of it being disconnected unexpectedly. There's also the consideration of cost and how... forgetful... students can be! Backup would be virtually impossible.
It feels that the best solution, storing these files on a network, where they can be replicated and backed up, seamlessly accessed across the network is the best solutions. We can't see any real reason this isn't an option available to customers, does anyone know why this is the way the software is designed?
If anyone has any suggestions for how we can do things better, we'd really appreciate hearing them!
On my Mac I have put a small catalog and photos (used export as catalog from my main catalog) on an SD card and taken it to another persons Mac with Lightroom and it worked great. When I got to the other machine I just double clicked the catalog name and went to work. On windows you may have problems with drive letter changes but that can be fixed. (A windows person will have to respond)
I reread you post and you could use the SD card to store only the Catalog and MINIMAL previews and keep the photos on the network. Done this way a 16GB SD card would work well and be fairly fast. Sandisk 16GB Class 4 cards can be bought for $65 for a 10 pack. Make the kids put a $6.50 deposit for them and they MIGHT be more careful and could be reused for the next class.