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A while back I became responsible for the IT infrastructure for another company. Fortunately, these type of companies tend to be easy to manage with the right software and hardware. However, this time I thought about trying something new. For many, many years I’ve been running Linux on the server for a variety of companies, but now I’m thinking about taking things one step further; migrating the desktops. I already did some initial research about what applications the company is using, and it appears as the few ‘Windows only’ applications they’re using can be run through Wine.

With the impressive improvements Ubuntu done to Linux on the desktop, it might be about time to give it a shot. Ubuntu Desktop comes with all softwares needed for the business (word-processing, spread sheet, web-browser, e-mail etc.), which makes it convenient to install and maintain.

At the moment this other company is in really bad shape in terms of their IT infrastructure. They have no server, and use one of their workstations to ‘share’ files used for critical business application. Obviously this needs to change.

If we start with the server, I’m considering using either Ubuntu Server (which goes well with Ubuntu Desktop), or CentOS, which is a clone of RedHat Enterprise Linux for the operating system. As for the hardware, I’m considering some cheap Dell or HP server, with 2 extra SATA hard drives to run on a RAID 1 array for the critical files. Furthermore, the server needs to have a UPS attached to ensure good uptime.

So now we have both our server and desktops running Linux, and we get that good feeling in our chest. Now what? The next (and final thing) is to set up file-sharing and central-user administration. The problem with this step is that there are many different paths to choose. However, I chose tree different options to consider.

    Samba PDC login with Samba file-sharing

  • Benefit: Works well even in a mixed environment with Windows Machines.
  • Drawback: No native UNIX filesystem, hence no support for UNIX privileges on files.
    Kerberos with NFS file-sharing

  • Benefit: Been around for quite some time. Fully compatible UNIX filesystem. Recommended by FreeBSD’s handbook.
  • Drawback: More complicated to setup. A 2nd slave server strongly recommended.
    NIS with NFS file-sharing

  • Benefit: Also been around for quite some time. Fully compatible UNIX filesystem. Easy to setup.
  • Drawback: Old. Not as secure as Kerberos.

All of these solutions may be run with OpenLDAP as a back-end, which makes administration and integration of other application easier later on. In one way the flexibility of Linux/Unix may become somewhat of a disadvantage. Since there are almost infinitely many ways to approach this problem, it involves a great amount of research.

In my research, I posted first a post at Ubuntu’s forum, and then later a post at Gentoo’s forum. However, none of them really gave me a good answer. Right now I’m leaning toward Kerberos, since it appears to be more secure and robust.

Since this project is scheduled for the summer, I haven’t started implementing this yet. However, I’m curious about what you readers think. How would you approach this problem?

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  1. Dan Kegel says:

    Can you give us the list of required
    Windows applications? And how many seats
    are you talking about? Inquiring minds
    want to know. Thanks!

  2. Viktor Petersson says:

    The Windows application I’m primarily refer to is called SPCS Administration, which is a very popular Swedish accounting and inventory system.

    As for the amount of clients, we’re probably looking at a handful of clients in the office plus a couple of road-warriors.

  3. Dan Kegel says:

    Looks like there’s a demo version available:
    Is that the right app?
    A few people seem to have tried it before with
    Wine, don’t know its current status.

  4. Viktor Petersson says:

    That’s the software (or one version of it).

    I have honestly not tried to run it under Wine myself, but I read on some forums that people managed to get it running without any problems with recent versions of Wine.

  5. Kjell Granberg says:

    Why not try Clarkconnect as server. I have used it for several year. Wery stabel and easy to use. New version whith PDC.

  6. Viktor Petersson says:


    Interesting idea. I think I’ve heard about Clarkconnect before. However, the main reason I would not use it server is the fact that I have no experience with it.
    It looks like an interesting product, but I have to give it some time in my lab before I would implement it into a commercial environment.

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