Just wanted to let y'all know that I'm still here. I've just been extremely busy with work, travel, and getting the school's cyber range stood up.
To update the last post about linked clones: the VirtualBox version worked nicely. The ESXi version was a horror. For the latter, the was a less-than-optimal bottleneck relating to accessing the hard drives. Standing up five clones produced an escalating read/write latency which eventually renders the box unusable. Short version: the ESXi effort abandoned.
The DMS code is working well (though redundant functions need culling). Using it was a loader for the Recoll search engine appears to be the best approach (though I sometimes miss the Sphinx search engine).
In any case, the cyber range is up and running with two new machines, supporting twice as many students (some of which are also Cyber Club members). My "free time" has gradually increased to the point where I'm writing again. I do have a serious backlog of "things to read" though and I intend on visiting the nearest Hungry Howie's (about 200 miles away) in the next few weeks.