In Linux, NIS is comparable to Microsoft's domain model. It will allow centralization of usernames, passwords, home directories, and user groups.
From what I have read, it isn't as powerful or as flexible as Active Directory, but it is sufficient for centralized logins and profile storage.
Personally, I don't feel Linux is ready for the corporate desktop. There is simply too much software that is Windows only, but would be needed in the corporate world; though that is of course dependant on what your users will actually be doing. You could try and run the software under Wine or Crossover Office, but in the corporate environment, stability and reliability is a major concern. Plus you can't realistically spend hours tweaking a certain program to run under Linux, time is money in the corporate environment.
On the other hand, I have found Linux to be a good solution for public use computers. Machines where the users will have very little interaction with the machine, and are there to simply browse the internet and use standard productivity software (word processing, spreadsheets, etc).
Here, Linux's security design is of great advantage. Plus, since Linux is still far from common in the general public's eyes, you have less concerns about someone coming in and attempting to compromise your machines, simply because the average person wouldn't know enough about Linux to figure out how to do it.
Of course that is only my opinion, and I am sure that others will disagree. But from my personal experience trying to migrate staff machines to Linux, I found it to be more of a liability than an advantage.
Last edited by MS3FGX; 07-06-2004 at 08:34 PM.