Netboot users can't save environment settings?

I'm setting up an Xserve and a group of iMac workstations, all running Snow Leopard. I was hoping I could use Netboot to allow any user to log into his/her account from any workstation and see his/her personalized user environment (desktop pattern, Dock items, etc.)
I set up one iMac with generic versions of all the user accounts, imaged its disk, converted that into a Netboot disk image, and configured Netboot to serve that image. Everything works fine in the sense that I can boot any workstation via Netboot, log into a user account, and get work done.
But if I do any customization (change my desktop, add an item to the Dock, save a document in my Documents folder, etc.) it only stays that way during my session. If I log out and then back in again (from the same or another workstation) my user environment has gone back to the generic version, and any documents I saved are gone.
Is there something I've got set incorrectly, or am I just misunderstanding the capabilities of Netboot? I had thought/hoped that individual user customization settings would get saved in the NetbootClients0 directory and then would be available whenever that user logged in, regardless of what workstation s/he was using... but that doesn't seem to be happening.

I don't want to get involved with mobile homes because of that formaldehyde problem that FEMA had with theirs
Seriously, I had thought that the shadow-file mechanism in Netboot should have let users customize their environments without having to modify the Netboot image itself, by storing the customization data in a writable directory. But no...?
Since posting my original question, I have gotten some improvement by unchecking the "Diskless" option in the Netboot settings pane. Now if I customize my user environment on one workstation, the customization stays in place when I log in again +on that specific workstation.+
But if I log in on another workstation, the customization settings are still at the defaults, or at whatever I set them to last time on that workstation. I'm still not able to log in on multiple workstations and see the same customized environment. The Windows PCs in our group are set up to work this way, and the users expect their Macs to operate the same way.
I'd be willing to do this via server-based home folders if someone would direct me to a clear explanation of how to set this up so it interacts with Netboot.

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