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This paper presents an architecture and a field implementation for a flexible and scalable distributed access control and management system, with application to the educational environment. The distributed control modules are developed based on embedded systems. Embedded systems are becoming increasingly common due to the fast deployment of advanced microcontrollers offering high processing speeds at an affordable price and allowing for simple and reliable use of Open Source software. The presented system uses a microcontroller with a standard Ethernet interface, to validate users presenting a compatible Ibutton or RFID Card. The user credentials are validated locally or in a central database. Authorized users are given access to reserved areas. By using a powerful database, very flexible and complex high level administration and management functions can be implemented. By sharing the local IP network infrastructure, maximum commonality and flexibility are achieved. Both microcontroller and database server software are fully implemented using Open Source developing tools.