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Old 01-18-2006, 10:37 PM   #1
ggs54
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Registered: Jan 2006
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Converting From Windows To Linux


I want to convert from Windows to a Linux environment. Currently, all of my desktops, about 75, run windows 2000. They use the typical applications such as Word, etc. I also have two file servers, three domain servers, a web server and a mail server, all of which are running Windows NT. My primary system is an HP9000 running HP-UX 11.00. This system will not change, only the Windows machines.

I bought a copy of SuSe Linux (9.0) about a year ago and set up one pc to tie into my HP as an off-site backup machine. It has run flawlessly and I am now ready to make some OS changes. Here are my questions.

Given my server needs, above, which enterprise version of Linux will provide the features necessary to do the conversion? I am of course interested in flexibility, ease of use, etc. I have no experience with Linux on a server and am hopeful that folks in this forum will be able to provide me with some input so that I can make an informed decision.

As I mentioned, my experience with SuSe has been very good. However, I know that there are many flavors for a desktop pc. My need here is very basic. My users are not very computer literate and I need something that will be both simple and reliable.

I realize that this topic is very broad in scope. However, my hope is to at least get some pros and cons, which will move me further on in this process. A good foundation is what I'm after at this point.

Thanks, in advance, for your help.

ggs54
 
Old 01-20-2006, 12:09 PM   #2
Cogar
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Registered: Oct 2005
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Distribution: Fedora 10, Kubuntu 8.04, Puppy 4.1.2, openSUSE 11.2
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I recall that Red Hat and Novell (SUSE) are the two big corporate Linux players, so you might want to contact them directly for technical assistance. Changing servers over is not a trivial task, and if you lose any data, you will regret it.

Regarding the desktops, I have used Linspire as does my son, and it is quite a lot like Windows. It even has multimedia tutorials for new users to get them used to the environment. I know a lot of people are not that crazy about Linspire, but I suspect a lot of that comes from their practice of logging everyone in as root and not requiring a password, just like the Windows default. Of course, this can be changed by adding user accounts. I also recall that the default user accounts have a few peculiarities (like they are not allowed web access or something), so you need to add a group or two to the user accounts to get them to work like "normal" desktop computers in a business environment. Of course, one minor drawback is that Linspire uses the CNR (click 'n run) warehouse to install software, which is $20 a year per seat and I do not know if you want to get into that or not. (Of course, you can always call Linspire and talk to a salesperson and they may make you a special deal.)

Looking at the more "traditional" versions of Linux for the desktop, SUSE 10.0 has received great reviews, and I believe you will notice many nice improvements compared to SUSE 9.0. This would be a solid option should you decide to pursue Novell/SUSE for your servers.
 
Old 01-21-2006, 09:11 AM   #3
tonyfreeman
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I'm not very familiar with Active Directory ... but do you use those domain servers aka Active Directory?

Possibly the easiest item to tackle first would be the mail server. If you use redhat/suse then install dovcot, spamassasin, etc. If you choose Debian or other then use postfix, spamassasin, etc. I prefer postfix as I have more experience with it - but dovcot was a bit easier to set up. Set yourself up first and find some volunteers from your 75 PC users to start using the new mail server. Work out any bugs and then deploy.

Once everyone is getting mail properly and spam is being filtered nicely go tackle the web server. If you don't use asp on your website then doing the conversion will be easy. If you do use asp then you'll need to convert those pages over to php. Install apache, php, and mysql (and possibly a CMS like postnuke, b2evolution, drupal, etc). If your doing static pages, then apache is all you need.

Set up the file servers next. This could go smoothly. First set them up with SAMBA and share out the directories. Edit your Active Directory login script to map those new drives in place of the drives that are used currently for yourself and some volunteers. Make sure all is working OK for a few days and then edit the global login script to replace everyone's drives.

Now it's time to replace those domain servers (active directory) with LDAP. I've not used LDAP ... I'm using NIS. Someone else will have to provide more input for LDAP.

Also ... one thing you can do before you begin or while you're change the above items is to install as much open source software as you can that will run on windows. This way they can start getting used to the applications before the big switch to linux desktop. OpenOffice, GIMP, GAIM, FireFox, ThunderBird, VLC, etc. Check out theopencd.org site.

Also ... you may also want some volunteers to start dual booting into linux and providing feedback about what windows software needs replaced on the linux side. They can also give suggestions for training. I'm sure some basic training in using openoffice would be necessary.

-- Tony
 
Old 01-22-2006, 07:48 PM   #4
thorn168
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Registered: Oct 2004
Location: USA
Distribution: Vector Linux 5.1 Std., Vector Linux 5.8 Std., Win2k, XP, OS X (10.4 & 10.5)
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ggs54,

I will refrain from suggesting an OS...but I will recommend that you look into using webmin. Webmin is a GUI app for administering Linux servers and desktops.

The URL is: www.webmin.com

I have been using webmin for about a year and I find it very helpful whenever I need to make root level changes in a system. On the otherhand the command line is faster and more secure. But the CLI has a steep learning curve especially if you have to edit configuration files in VI or Vim.

One other thing to consider is which package manager you wish to use and look at the list of source packages and how often the distro maintainers update the list.

Redhat Package Manager (RPM) tends to screw up package dependancies (AKA Dependancy hell!)

Since I have not used Suse I cannot comment on YAST.

Apt-Get is a package manager developed for Debian which has been ported to other distributions. Apt-get can run from the command line or you can use the GUI interface for it called Synaptic. I have used both apt-get and synaptic and I recommend it as a package manager.

If you wish to compare distributions I suggest that you go to www.distrowatch.com and search distros by distribution catagory after you click on the search link.

The nice thing about distrowatch is that they list the packages that are contained within the current release of the distro you are viewing. This is useful because it lets you know how up to date the software will be when it is installed.

Good luck with your transition,

Thorn168
 
Old 01-23-2006, 02:50 PM   #5
arno
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Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Netherlands
Distribution: fedora core 8, suse 10.3, ubuntu 7.10, kamikaze 7.09
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Redhat or Suse are both excellent in the US they prefer redhat and in germany Suse is often chosen, my advise is to first find a reliable firm who is going to help you with implementing linux they can help you with choosing which OS.
If you want to migrate you have to do a lot of homework en get commitment from the users and management or else it is going to fail.
Have a real inventory, what are the programs the users are using, are there linux versions.
Also look at what you have been missing, what is wrong or could be improved upon.
After the planning stage create a User group who is going to test your new setup and their new applications, use their ideas before your start to implement linux.
Make it known what your are going to do, what the benefits are going to be.
When you start with the migration start with something that helps them with doing there job more efficient so they feel happy with the new situation.
 
  


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