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Old 05-28-2008, 08:58 AM   #1
Registered: Aug 2005
Posts: 36

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Active Directory for Linux, Migration away from Windows servers

I have taken on the project of converting all our servers from Windows to Linux. We will always have Windows computers on the network, but I believe all our win servers can go away with some flavor of Linux or another. Perhaps one or two will be maintained as 'virtual machines' but will not have their own hardware. These are WS03 machines configured to do Domain Control, DNS, DHCP, Firewalling (ISA04), Exchange, File sharing and more. The reasons for this are: 1. Reduce the # of physical electricity consuming heat generators, reduce the M$ footprint and dependency on M$, move to an open source platform, learn Linux so I can manage our webserver too.

For the DC, DNS, DHCP machines I've decided on CentOS as the distro. There will be two physical machines and a variety of 'virtual' machines (like to handle being the firewall, another for groupware, etc.)
The first 'physical' machine to go will be the main file server as it has the most power to handle 'virtual' machines - it needs to be a DC.

A week ago I dove in, got it running, setup VMware, converted the existing WS03 installation to a guest, fired it up and connected to the physical disk so it could resume the task of file sharing. Unfortunately VMware has a bug in their SCSI driver to connect to physical disks and this has failed with no hope of a resolution anytime in the near future. It's a shame, because other than this issue (drive timeout errors) it worked perfectly.
So instead of having a transitionary period where I could use Linux as the physical host and Windows as guest (still doing it's job) I have to learn to completely replace the Windows file server with a Linux configuration.

So, I need to learn how to configure CentOS to join the domain and manage file serving/sharing just as the Winserver did. Also need to learn DNS & DHCP since this Winserver was one of two DCs and I would hate to be down to only one.

I was told Samba could do all this. But after reading a few tech docs I see that Samba specifically says that it can NOT do Active Directory. So I guess I can scratch that.

Seems like Fedora Directory Service looks pretty GUIable and has lots of features, but I lack the Linux experience to tell if it's a good fit for a hybrid (win/lin) AD single sign on environment. I also see OpenLDAP is a good possibility. I'd sure like to get pointed down the right path from the beginning and avoid any false starts with packages that will end up falling short of the goal.

I've scoured the web for tech docs on this and there is an overload of information for someone with my limited experience. There's a lot of real high level docs on this subject and I'm not the least bit afraid to learn new things, but most of this stuff is way over my head.

What I'm hoping is that what I'm trying to do is possible and one of you could provide a link (or 3) to a cookbook recipe which would detail setting up Cent/RHE machine to handle these tasks. They'd include: some sort of GUI to manage all this, joining the domain as another DC (not the PDC just yet), setting up file serving, sharing based on user rights (as I do now with Windoze), setting up DNS and DHCP, etc.

I don't have a lot of Linux experience, I'm probably somewhere in the 'intermediate' skill level when it comes to windoze and a beginner to Linux. I have managed to setup a MythTV Front & backend, can setup Cent to run, handle basic installations, VNC, VMware, I've even done a little sharing of files w/ the Mythserver (done thru webmin), but it doesn't follow our domain rights and something is still goofy about it.

I do have another Linux/VMhost (the myth server) running which I can play around with VMguests for a little while to learn this on before trying it on our main file server.

Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Last edited by MonsterMaxx; 05-28-2008 at 09:02 AM.
Old 05-28-2008, 08:04 PM   #2
Registered: Nov 2004
Location: Townsville, Australia
Distribution: Fedora Core 5, CentOS 4, RHEL 4
Posts: 855

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I did a traineeship a little while ago, and part of my traineeship was to document everything i did, I wrote it all on this website

I changed the network i started in from 90% windows 10% Linux to 50% windows 50% Linux, had i stayed there longer i think i could have eventually taken more, there is heaps of stuff up there that might be able to help you, setting up DynDNS and DHCP, Samba, openldap and lam PDC, mail servers, anti-virus scanners, etc, etc, check it out, it might be able to help, other wise i'm sure someone else around he can offer something else, the people on this site are great and always willing to help, i asked heaps of questions here when i first started looking into linux
Old 05-28-2008, 09:32 PM   #3
Registered: Aug 2005
Posts: 36

Original Poster
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What if I went to SUSE and YAST? Seems like they have some pretty good how-tos. Are there downsides to this anyone knows about.
Old 05-28-2008, 09:59 PM   #4
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Registered: Mar 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia
Distribution: Fedora, CentOS, OpenSuse, Slack, Gentoo, Debian, Arch, PCBSD
Posts: 6,678

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Nice site Paul

As to SuSe vs CentOS, in either case, on a server, I assume you'll ditch the gui and do everything from the command line in any case. You'll find that apart from some specifics about how to install packages, the odd file location and service name (bind vs named comes to mind), you can use howtos from one distro in another without much trouble. Stick to what you like.
Old 06-27-2008, 09:52 PM   #5
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Registered: Jun 2006
Distribution: Red Hat, Solaris, FreeBSD
Posts: 20

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Instead of messing with Samba you may want to look at OpenAFS. Clients are available for all platforms, including Windows. Have a look at


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