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Old 02-12-2009, 02:11 PM   #1
jbarnhart
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Moving from XP/Win98 Peer-to-Peer LAN to Linux server


For the last 5-10 years I've used 20 computers on a peer-to-peer LAN, with both WinXP Pro and Win98SE computers. All office data is stored on one of the Win98SE computers and it is accessed by all the other computers in the office. I've held on to the Win98s because of the peer-to-peer 10 user limitation imposed by XP and Vista.

I'm wondering how difficult it will be to make the move to a server setup with Linux on the server. Will I be able to use my current mix of XP and 98 computers? Is the server setup difficult for someone as inexperienced as I am? Are there good step by step helps out there? Ultimately I'd like to convert the whole business to Linux based computers, but I'm just now getting up the nerve to test the waters.

I know I'm late getting started, but better late than never.

Thanks,
 
Old 02-12-2009, 07:01 PM   #2
theNbomr
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No time like the present to get started. Millions before you have done exactly the same as what you are proposing. Start by setting up a parallel server, and then set up the Samba server on it. Most distros probably have everything except the site-specific configuration already installed.
There are a few decent (none that I'd cal great, sadly) online tutorials and Howto's for setting up Samba. If you use those, try to make sure you are using ones that deal with a modern version of Samba. It is worthwhile to get used to configuring Samba by editing the txt file, as that is the common ground that will be explained in documentation. There are GUI tools that allege to help you doing this, but I've always gone back to manual editing. A related (light) subject for research would be starting, topping and restarting system services.
In case you didn't already know, Samba is the Linux server side of the Windows SMB protocol. The client side is a filesystem type: previously 'smbfs', but more recently 'cifs'. To set up a file server, you only need to focus on the Samba server.
Do you have any Linux experience at all?
--- rod.
 
Old 02-12-2009, 10:44 PM   #3
jbarnhart
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No experience at all with Linux. No experience at all with server setups. I currently have a Win98 computer that contains my data. The other computers on the peer-to-peer LAN all access the data on this "main" computer's hard drive. Individual computers have their own printers, their own versions of all software programs, their own AV protection, etc.

I think there will be a significant learning curve for me, but I need to do something so I can get rid of the Win98 computers.

Thanks again.
 
Old 02-12-2009, 10:54 PM   #4
ceantuco
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Welcome to LQ! and yeah this is a good time to start using linux. I set up a backup server at work with OpenSuse 11.0. It works great. I have a printer installed on the server but the only problem is that I can't print from my linux computer to the Linux server however all windows xp machines are able to print.
you could check the SAMBA website to learn how to set up SAMBA or use YAST (configuration Manager) to set it up.
Good Luck in your adventure!
 
Old 02-12-2009, 11:47 PM   #5
SuperDude123
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Maybe try installing Ubuntu on a spare hard drive on that win 98 system to see if you can get it working, then look in to installing Samba. Also, since your a first timer to linux (this was me 1 yr ago), try the desktop version of Ubuntu since its more point and click, and you can worry about the securities later (firewall, IPtables).
 
Old 02-12-2009, 11:55 PM   #6
ceantuco
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What are the specs of the machine acting as "server"? what are the specs of the machine you are planning on installing Linux?
 
Old 02-13-2009, 12:11 AM   #7
jbarnhart
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Okay, let's see if I'm on the right track. If I set up a computer with a version of Linux, say Ubuntu, as the operating system, I can then install Samba to allow the Ubuntu computer to access the Network Neighborhood of my LAN. At this point, I'm still functioning in a peer-to-peer type LAN, but the Linux computer is now a part of the network. It sees the Windows computers and the Windows computers see it. I can then store all my shared files on this Linux computer and the other LAN computers can access the files as needed.

Is this a way around the WinXP Pro and VISTA 10 user limit without going to Microsoft Server software? Can I run software like FoxPro (on the Windows computers) and access dbf files stored on the Linux computer? My Foxpro program currently looks for dbf files using paths like:

\\main\c\fxp\one\file.dbf

Will I need to rewrite foxpro code to access the Linux computer files in a different fashion?

I don't want to start my Linux adventure until I'm reasonably sure I'm not heading down a dead end road.

I'll be setting up a Dual Core AMD, 2G DDR2, 160G SATA.

All input gratefully received!

Last edited by jbarnhart; 02-13-2009 at 12:14 AM.
 
Old 02-13-2009, 08:53 AM   #8
theNbomr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarnhart View Post
Okay, let's see if I'm on the right track. If I set up a computer with a version of Linux, say Ubuntu, as the operating system, I can then install Samba to allow the Ubuntu computer to access the Network Neighborhood of my LAN. At this point, I'm still functioning in a peer-to-peer type LAN, but the Linux computer is now a part of the network. It sees the Windows computers and the Windows computers see it. I can then store all my shared files on this Linux computer and the other LAN computers can access the files as needed.
Not quite. The Linux Samba component is the server side only. That means it becomes part of the network that other client peers can access, browse, and print to.

The client SMB/CIFS component is already installed; in Linux, you just have to mount the remote Windows shares on the Linux filesystem. You will find the Linux filesystem somewhat different at first, but will soon come to appreciate its much advanced capabilities.

From the Windows viewpoint, the Linux Samba server appears indistinguishable from any other Windows shares(s). No changes whatsoever should be required. The specs of your Linux host are unlikely to be a significant issue. I routinely use systems that are considered underpowered for desktop use to deploy as fileservers, and they hold up very well under load. Shuffling bits between network and disk is not a demanding application, and is almost certainly an IO bound task.

--- rod.

Last edited by theNbomr; 02-13-2009 at 08:56 AM.
 
Old 02-13-2009, 01:21 PM   #9
jbarnhart
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Okay. It looks like my weekend is planned. I'm sure I'll have more questions once I get started.
 
Old 02-13-2009, 11:03 PM   #10
ceantuco
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Good Luck!
 
Old 02-14-2009, 02:59 PM   #11
jbarnhart
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No comprendo thees seestem!

I downloaded the Kubuntu 8.1 iso, burned it to a CD, and successfully installed it to a clean hard drive in about 30 minutes. I have zero experience with Linux, so it has taken me another 30 minutes to get somewhat familiar with the user interface.

Now I want to add the Linux computer to my existing peer-to-peer network. I eventually want to move my shared dbf, jpg, and doc files from a Win98SE computer to the Linux computer. I don't need the Linux computer to share printers or internet access - it can function mainly as file server. I do, though, need all my windows computers to have free and easy access to the Linux hard drive for file storage and data retrieval. I run Foxpro programs which rely on specified paths to access, use, and update these shared files (e.g. \\MAIN\C\FXP\ONE\file.dbf). I need the Linux hard drive to be mapable, and I want to easily copy files between WinXP, Win98, and Kubuntu.

As you undoubtedly know, I'm big time lost. It appears that the Kubuntu installation did install some Samba files, but I don't know if they are all that are needed - there's quite a list of non installed Samba programs in my Package Manager. I don't know how to join my existing workgroup or how to share Linux directories. My Windows networking knowledge is of no use to me in this alien land.

Excited, scared, and in need of some simple pointers.

-- Okay, baby steps have been made. I can access the WinXP computers from Kubuntu using Konqueror. I can copy files from XP computers to my Linux hard drive, but not from my Win98 computers (they have TCP/IP disabled for security reasons). Now I just need to figure out how to access the Kubuntu hard drive from both WinXP and Win98 computers.

Last edited by jbarnhart; 02-14-2009 at 03:57 PM.
 
Old 02-14-2009, 03:40 PM   #12
theNbomr
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Fear not.

Start by finding out how to start up a text console. Usually you will find a launcher under something called 'System Admin' or words to that effect in the start menu. Or, right-click on the desktop, and you should be able to get to a 'Run Command' dialog. Enter either 'xterm' or 'konsole' (assuming you are using KDE, since you said 'Kunbuntu').
I'm hoping your history goes back to MS-DOS, since you said you're using Win98, which only slightly less ancinet than DOS. At any rate, get yourself acquainted with navigating around the filesystem, seeing a bit about what's where. If you feel adventurous, try to learn how to use vim, otherwise track down a GUI text editor (not a word processor). I think there is something called 'kedit', maybe 'gedit', maybe 'nedit'. These are like windows notebook. Traverse your way over to /etc, and there should be a samba directory there. In that drirectory will be a filed named smb.conf. As root, you edit this file to configure the samba server. It is beyond the scope of one LQ article to describe how to configure this, but there are numerous online articles that do explain it. There might even be a decent tutorial with your distribution, but without knowing how Ubuntu packages stuff, I couldn't say for sure. An awfull lot of what you need to set up will be explained in comments in the config file, and will be semi-obvious if you already understand windows networking.

HINT:
It will be tempting, warm, and fuzzy feeling to use a GUI tool to edit your config file. However, doing so will make it almost impossible to find help anywhere. You will be describing things that most of us don't recognize, and won't be able to understand. If you post a fragment of the config file, or even just name a portion of it by section heading, people will probably be able to reply with a fragment of text that can be pasted directly to your file. This goes for most all configuration things in Linux, not just Samba.

Since you are just starting out with Linux, don't be discouraged if you don't have your server up and running in a few minutes. It is good to have a fairly clear objective, but it does take some time to acquaint ones self with a different landscape.

It might actually be easier to start your adventure by mounting some of your existing Windows shares on your new server.

A rough recipe goes something like this:

Code:
#
# Become root
#
su -

#
# Make a mountpoint for the foreign filesystem. /mnt is somewhat of a convention. 
# Use whatever you like without clobbering existing directories.
#
mkdir -p /mnt/windowsShares/
mkdir /mnt/windowsShares/someShareName
mkdir /mnt/windowsShares/someOtherShareName

#
# Mount a windows share. Replace 'windowsHost' and 'shareName' with real names in your network.
# (you may ned to supply windows ID & passwords here)
mount -t cifs //windowsHost/sharename /mnt/windowsShares/whateverShareName

#
# See what files we now have access to.
#
ls -las /mnt/windowsShares/whateverShareName
The above attaches a Windows share from the network, and grafts it onto a specified place in the Linux filesystem. This is unlike Windows, which has separate root directories for each partition. Linux has exactly one root ( '/' ) in its filesystem, and all other partitions and filesystem-like entities are grafted on in ways like I've shown.

Hope this helps. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
--- rod.

Last edited by theNbomr; 02-14-2009 at 03:42 PM.
 
Old 02-14-2009, 04:45 PM   #13
jbarnhart
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I can open /etc/samba/smb.conf with an editor called KATE. Problem with permissions, though. Can't save anything until I find out how to change the read only status.

The read only has to do with the root directory, not the file. If I cut and past smb.conf to another directory, I can edit and save it. I can't copy it back to the /etc/samba directory. How do I change permissions for the root directory?

Last edited by jbarnhart; 02-14-2009 at 04:53 PM.
 
Old 02-14-2009, 06:55 PM   #14
pentode
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You need to give yourself root permissions before trying to edit the file. I don't think Kubuntu has a root user created by default - eventually you'll probably want to add the root user (super user) since this is a server.

But if you open a terminal window and start your editor like this: sudo kate

It should prompt you for YOUR password and then you should be able to edit and save the file as root. If that doesn't work, you'll have to edit the sudoers list or create a root user. You will probably not be able to change the file permissions unless you use sudo or become the root user since the file is most likely owned by root.

File and directory permissions are one of the big differences between Windows and Linux.
 
  


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