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Old 01-20-2003, 07:00 PM   #1
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MS Windows 2000 Small Business Server Linux alternative?

Please could somebody advise me as to the feasibility of deploying a single server Linux solution in place of Microsoft Windows 2000 Small Business Server.

My brother has a small company. He has a total of around five members of staff each with a PC Desktop connected via a peer to peer network. The PC Desktops have either Windows XP with Office XP or Windows 98 with Office 97.

Currently printing is shared off of one of the PC’s and so is access to the Internet (via a 56k modem). E-mail is only possible (via a pop3 ISP) from a single PC so if individuals are awaiting e-mail they wait for the PC to be vacated in order to check their mail or ask for any messages to be printed (as they all currently appear in the one inbox).

He has been looking at Microsoft Windows 2000 Small Business Server as a simple single server solution in order to create a better groupware / e-mail environment for everyone plus a better file & print services environment that would be easier to back-up. This was also going to enable shared Internet and fax services.

However, the asking price for the software alone is in the region of £1500 (RRP). Would it be possible to create a similar simple environment with a Linux Server? I appreciate that the group calendar tools would be limited but does Linux offer a more economical and viable alternative?

If yes, please could you recommend the elements required.

Old 01-20-2003, 07:09 PM   #2
Registered: Jul 2002
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With a little work you could replace Windows in that enviorment.
Linux will route all the pc's over one 56k connection. (You need a modem supported in nix) It might not be pretty if they are all doing things on the net at the same time though.

With regard to mail you have several options. You can setup linux to check all of the users mail and download it and then just have the users get the mail from the nix server. As well as que the mail that the people send out and batch send it once an hour or when ever you want it to go out.

Mail can be really tough to get working in nix if you have never worked with it before though. Especially sendmail!

You can have a look at this link for some group calendaring software

or you can roll your own application with LDAP and PHP.

It really comes down to how comfortable you are with nix as to weather it would be worth replacing Windows in a buisness enviorment. Are you responsible for it?
Old 01-20-2003, 07:47 PM   #3
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Firstly thanks for the prompt reply.

I will not be “replacing” Windows at a server level because it currently does not exist. I was wondering if it was worth trying a Linux alternative first (as I’m interested in learning the operating system and a server version is cheaper than Windows Me!).

The situation is that I have recently upgraded my own personal computer (well motherboard, CPU, ATX P4 ready case, and ram) that runs Windows. I have a PC system spare (with the remaining bits) which is an Intel Cerelon 1.2Mhz with 512MB Ram and 2 x 6GB HDD’s. I was considering looking at Linux anyway as I will have to buy a new operating system for it and was considering SuSE Linux Professional as it’s around £79 (Me or XP is £150).

I felt that it might assist my brother if I donated it to him and that I could have some “fun” in the process. I was going to add a network card and a couple of modems (one for fax the other for internet).

Although I wouldn’t be “responsible” for it, we all know that family favours tend to bite you on the backside anyway, as they always appear to come with a free lifetime technical support service! However, I would really want it to manage itself with the exception of back-ups but appreciate that I would need to be familiar with Linux first (which I’m not). From a business perspective, if it all goes wrong I would ensure that he could go back to his old methods anyway.

I was expecting that internet usage could be done ad-hoc (Win2k SBS also provides local web caching) and that e-mail could be auto-checked and downloaded every 30-60 mins from 09:00-1800 in order to keep the phone costs down.

I know it will take a little more research and I’m happy to try it anyway. Deployment will depend on how I get on as I would hope to simulate the environment in order to test it will work at home.

Any further advice would be appreciated, including web links to reading up the subject.

Thanks in advance,

Old 01-20-2003, 08:55 PM   #4
Registered: Jul 2002
Posts: 143

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Here are some links you need for mail.

Fetchmail To get the mail off the servers. (you can set up scripts in cron to run at times you specify)

Cron to time scripts to run

Sendmail for sending mail out at periodic times.

For modem help maybe look here

Here is a link to commands for different versions of unix/linux

But buy a book man, if you are really going to do this. Because you will be married to it.

But its all possible. Including minimal management on the server. With the right scripts in place.

Last edited by turnip; 01-20-2003 at 08:57 PM.
Old 02-05-2003, 01:08 PM   #5
Registered: Dec 2002
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check these guys out...

its a linux based firewall solution that will allow all the PC's in the office share the internet connection via dhcp. I have broadband cable access, don't know if it works via dialup but worth the look. I can even VPN into my network from a remote location via the linux firewall. I think you can get a small office/home office lic. for free if you register.

It does require its own computer though.


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