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Old 08-27-2005, 10:28 PM   #1
Mosaicman
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Best Distro for Samba Server


I am looking for insights into what the best distro is for a file and print server that will be running SAMBA. I intend to have 3-10 desktop PC's some running winxp, some running linux (distro not determined yet).
This is your basic, small office server trying to escape the microsoft licensing trap.

Should I look at one 'stripped down' 'high performance' distro for the server and a separate 'sexy graphical' one for the desktops? That seems like a lot of extra work...but building a server that is not elegant and quick at running SAMBA would also be stupid.

I am also wondering where FreeBSD fits into this picture. Would I be better off using FreeBSD as the server, and then picking a linux distro strictly on its ability to be a nice XP replacement for the desktops?

I have found no information about how one linux distro is better than the next when it comes to performing strictly as a server. But I have seen lots of info that FreeBSD is a kickin' server OS.

Also, most of the distros I looked at say that SAMBA is packaged with it...but I imagine how easy it is to implement is going to vary greatly among the various distros...or is the SAMBA install going to be pretty much the same level of work no matter which distro?

Sorry for so many questions in one post...but they all seem related to me.

Any insights you folks have would be wonderful.

BTW - I am techncal from a networking and microsoft standpoint, but a newbie to both Unix and Linux.
 
Old 08-28-2005, 01:52 AM   #2
TheGiantPotato
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3 OSs is 3 times worse than 2

Personally, if you are new to Linux, I would recommend using Fedora Core 4. (unless you don't read this until FC5 is out...). Its the most straight forward to install, has all the backend stuff you want to run the server with, and is probably the smoothest Linux desktop for workstations that I've seen. Upgrading is easy via RedHat Network, and everything generally works without much trouble.

Configuring samba can be frustrating at times, but I've heard this has become much easier in the last year. Anyway, the difficulty experienced configuring samba has nothing to do with that distro you choose. You were asking for a suggestion for a distro to use on all of them, and Fedora Core is my recommendation.

By the way, there is no reason to make any real distinction between the "file and print server" and the desktop machines... in that data can be shared between the workstations without any fuss, particularly if they are all running Linux, and if the printers are mapped to the workstations properly, it doesn't make any difference which machines they are physically plugged in to.

It is possible to completely escape the old "shared drive" mentality that most Windows networks are subject to when you use a networked Unix solution. Think of a distributed network with fat clients. You should be able to share system resources (drive space, printers, etc.) collectively, and log into the system from any client machine (workstation) without having an id unique to that physical workstation.

If you are still mixing WinXP machines as it seems you will be, then you can maintain the same basic network structure you have had before, and simply add the Linux machines on via samba. The collective resource network I was referring to above is possible, but not if you mix Win macines into it... the best they could do is be outside clients, but not true peers in the network.

As far as FreeBSD is concerned... it is not just an awesome server system, it is an awesome system, period. From a technical point of view. From the perspective of user-friendliness, it sucks. It will probably never, ever catch up to Linux as a desktop system and will certainly never come close to Windows or Mac OS X (which is, in my opinion, the best desktop system out there at the moment... coincidentally, it is based on BSD, but Apple's changes to it are not open to everyone... so there !

Stick with just two OSs... BSD is different enough that you will get frustrated administering the Windows, Linux and BSD systems all at once.

Last edited by TheGiantPotato; 08-28-2005 at 01:55 AM.
 
Old 08-28-2005, 02:41 AM   #3
linux-rulz
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If you are going to be connected to the net, CentOS 4 might be a good solution for you. It is based on Fedora Core 3 (it is a rebuild of RHEL AS 4) and is supported with updates for 7 years, as opposed to approx 1 and 1/2 years with Fedora Core 4. For administration, they are both practically identical, as they are both Red Hat systems.

For networking, I prefer NFS (using Microsoft Services for Unix on the Windows desktops). Samba does not integrate very well in Linux (for instance, OpenOffice.org will not save to a Samba share). NFS integrates into Linux like a regular filesystem and it can be mapped to a drive letter on the Windows desktops using Windows Services for Unix.

Last edited by linux-rulz; 08-28-2005 at 02:42 AM.
 
Old 08-28-2005, 06:42 AM   #4
RanDrake10
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My input would be debian, a base debian (no gui, just command prompt and nano) for the server and a desktop install for the desktops. You can use some of the debian spinoff's like MEPIS, ubuntu, etc... and all the configurations will be the same for you. These are all free, but you can add other stuff easily with apt-get, like acroread, nvidia, non-GPL stuff.
 
Old 08-28-2005, 09:34 PM   #5
Mosaicman
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Thanks and follow up

Thanks for the insights.
I will put more research into Fedora, CentOS, debian and its children, and NFS,

I was shocked to learn that OpenOffice will not save to a Samba share. That seems like a pretty huge problem for the type of thing I am trying to accomplish.

Maybe I should have asked a different question - more along these lines....

I am looking for insights into what the best low cost or license free way to have basic file and print services in a small (3-15 pc) office setting. I need a license free or inexpensive server OS and networking tools to allow for the following:

.......connect 3-15 desktop and laptop pc clients running XP and eventually some running linux so they can access volumes on a dedicated server

.......The desktops will need access to the server volumes, access to eachother's hard drives is a plus but not required.

.......I eventually want to install software on the server such as Peachtree Accounting and UPS shipping software and then allow any of the networked desktop PC's to use these server apps. (There will be only one person running each app at a time - not simultaneously).

Does that affect your insights or suggestions?

Sometimes learning the right question to ask is half the battle.

Again - thanks for helping out. As someone who used to provide lots of PC support to others, it is really nice to rely on the good karma of others to help me out now that I am the newbie.
 
Old 08-29-2005, 12:40 AM   #6
linux-rulz
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Quote:
I was shocked to learn that OpenOffice will not save to a Samba share. That seems like a pretty huge problem for the type of thing I am trying to accomplish.
On Windows, OpenOffice will save to a Samba share just fine. The problem on Linux, however, is that there is no standard prefix for Samba shares (Gnome uses smb:// whereas OpenOffice doesn't).

NFS works perfectly on both Windows and Linux (Windows requires Services for Unix, which is a free download and free for commercial Use)

I still say CentOS, since it is built on a supported enterprise Linux distro.
 
Old 08-29-2005, 09:21 AM   #7
phil.d.g
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Quote:
Originally posted by linux-rulz
OpenOffice.org will not save to a Samba share
Using OpenOffice 1.9.122, samba 3.0.10 and trying to write to C:\Documents and Settings\ on a Windows XP machine I managed to do it perfectly OK with no problems. To do this I mounted the smbfs share into the filesystem thusly
Code:
 mount -t smbfs -o username=Administrator,workgroup=somegroup //123.123.123.123/C$ /mnt/hd
I then entered my password and all was good, obviously you would set up users and shares on the Windows machines so you don't have to use the administrator account/shares

So I see no reason why OpenOffice won't write to a linux samba share

Last edited by phil.d.g; 08-29-2005 at 09:26 AM.
 
Old 08-29-2005, 09:47 AM   #8
anand_kt
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Have you considered "Microsoft SFU 3.5" ?

Its a good bet for these sort of mixed environments...(although many may disagree)
 
Old 08-29-2005, 12:31 PM   #9
Mosaicman
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Using microsoft SFU

Would you be able to elaborate on the idea of using Microsoft SFU?

I am not familiar with it, but looking it up on the Microsoft site has not increased my understanding of it by much.

If I understand it properly, then it is something to be installed on a unix server to allow me to still buy and run microsoft server on a unix os....thus allowing microsoft or linux clients to use the server. But I do not want to buy microsoft server 2003, or pay CAL fees (which microsoft says you still need to pay in their description of SFU). So I do not understand if your suggestion helps me get around that or not. Is SFU also something that can be used instead of NFS or Samba?
 
Old 08-29-2005, 01:58 PM   #10
halo14
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SFU basically installs a UNIX compatible base under Windows, including things like a UNIX-style command line, Perl, NFS, etc... I messed with it a little at home.. but didn't really take the time to do too much with it.

In all honesty, I would strongly discourage using FC on your business server. Fedora is meant to be a bleeding edge distro that is basically a testing ground for technologies that may eventually make their way into Red Hat Enterprise Linux. For a stable Linux OS to run on a server,but you don't want to pay the money for commercial versions like Red Hat or SUSE LINUX ENTERPRISE SERVER, I would recommend Debian or SuSE Professional. Debian is 100% free and very stable, though not always easy for those new to Linux. SuSE Professional is much more stable in ratio to SLES than Fedora is in ratio to RHEL.

SUSE is known as being one of the most user friendly distrobutions around. And they also offer support for SUSE Professional, albeit not as advanced levels of support as for SLES. It also makes an excellent desktop workstation. It may be your best bet if you're trying to move away from a Windows environment.

Good Luck
 
Old 08-29-2005, 02:18 PM   #11
phil.d.g
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The part of SFU you would be interested in would be the nfs client and maybe the nfs server, it will allow a Windows computer to connect to a Linux computer's nfs server, directories specified in /etc/exports will be able to be accessed over nfs. NFS can be thought of as the Unix alternative to SMB. If I where you I would use Samba to share files from the Linux server to the Windows computers and NFS to share files from the Linux server to Linux workstations. You can share the same directories over samba and nfs so that the same files are available to Linux and Windows computers
 
Old 08-29-2005, 04:38 PM   #12
anand_kt
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thats right and few other useful features like `User Name Mapping` which wud allow u to use a single sign-on for your *nix and MS clients from NIS/ADS... ... several more are there, but i havent tried
 
  


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