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Old 12-14-2007, 10:22 PM   #1
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Question Linux in a VPN..


I’m a complete newbie in the world of Linux, so please bear with me. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. I work for a point of sale company. Currently, we have several hundred registers (which use XP) spread across the U.S.

I’m looking for a way to sort of centralize support and administration. So I’m thinking of implementing a VPN. I chose a Cisco 1841 router to manage connections/encryption and I need a server for authentication/file serving/mail etc…this is where I think Linux comes in. Initially, I chose W2k3, but the cost of licenses alone is enormous, so that’s out. So here come the questions…

Is linux easy to manage? How does linux fair in a VPN environment? Could it work as a radius server to the cisco router? Are there any high priced software licenses which vary upon how many users access the server? Which distribution would fit this application best, in your opinion? Are there any backup programs that can restore over a VPN, from said linux server. I know windows has Ghost Solution Suite…is there a linux equivalent?

Any additional thoughts/opinions would be very welcome.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by.
Old 12-15-2007, 06:27 AM   #2
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Linux in a VPN..


I will try to answer to all your questions....

In terms of which distro to use, you can choose any and configure it to your preferences. Since you are a newbie you could start with ubuntu just to get accomodated. You wish to configure a server, therefor you could use some other distros which have proven to be reliable in such case. For example fedora, centos, debian, I, for instance, pretty much prefer gentoo but they all require a little bit of reading before using them. You can find at a bundle of documentation which you will find very helpful.

In terms of ease of managemet, I find Linux to be accessible to anyone, depending on the time you are willing to invest in getting used to it. Management can be very easy. For instance you could use a mail server such as Postfix or qmail and manage them from a web based interface (webmin). Or install LDAP or Samba for authentication, respectively file sharing and manage them from web interfaces. So linux can be configured to be very user friendly. Personally, I find the flavour in linux to be working in command line.

Here is a howto on building radius on Linux:

There are software licenses for linux too, but there are also opensource alternatives which are totally free.

As an example for your problem you could use: Gentoo distro, postfix mail server, LDAP authentication, SAMBA file server and Amanda backup suite. As add-on software for management you could add: webmin, phpldapadmin. Regarding disk imaging software you could use unix utility dd.

I am not saying that getting this to work will be easy but after reading some documentation you could end up with a very reliable and easy to manage server which will cost you only in terms of hardware.

As for the VPN, you could check out a little about ipsec implementation on linux and OpenSwan. You can build VPNs on linux. Regarding strictly your question, Linux like any other OS, respects networking protocols, so it will work just fine through a VPN connection.

I suggest you first read some general information like howtos regarding getting started with linux and i'm sure you will figure out from there where to go next.

Hope, this is helpful.
Old 12-15-2007, 03:57 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for replying. You've given me a great place to start and some direction, so I have some idea of what I'm doing. You've been extremely helpful. Again, thank you.


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