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Thread: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

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    Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    Hello, as I am getting more and more frustrated with Windows Server 2003, I was wondering about switching to Linux, but I have some questions:

    1.) Which is the best version of Linux to use as a server? (Please say Ubuntu or OpenSuSE lol b/c that's what TrueCrypt is available for)
    2.) I'd imagine Linux doesn't use NTFS, so will all my files be broken/unreadable on Linux?
    3.) Does it have a DNS/DHCP role?
    4.) Does it have the equivalent of a route add command:
    Code:
    route add <ip address you want to route to> mask <subnet mask of the ip you want to route to> <ip of router you want to use>
    This is because I have 2 routers (each with their own modem) hooked up to the switch so that all the clients on the network use one connection, and the server(s) use the other connection. I set up the DHCP roles as such:
    Code:
    Scope: 10.0.1.0
    Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
    Gateway: 10.0.1.2
    Range: 10.0.1.100 thru 10.0.1.199
    DNS/DHCP Server: 10.0.1.100
    So as you can see, this DHCP is telling all PCs on the network to access router 10.0.1.2, but THEN I use the route add command to tell the individual server PC(s) to use router 10.0.1.1 instead. So I'd like my Linux setup to be able to do something similar.

    5.) Also, I'm thinking about moving AWAY from Windows NTFS usernames & directory permissions. If I run OpenVPN on the server & clients, I think I can use OpenVPN instead of installing the traditional "file server" role, b/c OpenVPN lets you choose directory permissions per client user. Does anyone foresee any problems with this logic?

    Thank you.
    Last edited by latrosicarius; 17-03-2008 at 03:47 PM.

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    Re: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    1) for servers, typically debian or a commercial distro are popular. however, i run ubuntu at home.

    2)
    Code:
    jms@osc-bigmac:~$ sudo mount -t ntfs /dev/sda4 /media/Windows/
    jms@osc-bigmac:~$ echo "hello" > /media/Windows/hello.txt
    jms@osc-bigmac:~$ cat /media/Windows/hello.txt 
    hello
    3) bind9 and dhcpd? sure. it'll depend on your distribution as to how easy this is to configure, though

    4) from "man route":
    Code:
           route  [-v] [-A family] add [-net|-host] target [netmask Nm] [gw Gw] [metric N] [mss M] [window W] [irtt I] [reject] [mod] [dyn] [reinstate] [[dev] If]

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    Re: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    Quote Originally Posted by latrosicarius View Post
    Hello, as I am getting more and more frustrated with Windows Server 2003, I was wondering about switching to Linux, but I have some questions:

    1.) Which is the best version of Linux to use as a server? (Please say Ubuntu or OpenSuSE lol b/c that's what TrueCrypt is available for)
    There is no "best" version , its what ever the version you need.
    2.) I'd imagine Linux doesn't use NTFS, so will all my files be broken/unreadable on Linux?
    Linus uses an NFS based file system, although I believe you can use something like SAMBA to make file shares available to windows clients.
    3.) Does it have a DNS/DHCP role?
    Go and google for BIND and dhcpd They where available for Linux a long time ago
    ...snip
    you can modify the routing table on a linux box - if you are really clever than you'll have worked out how to deploy static routes via DHCP

    5.) Also, I'm thinking about moving AWAY from Windows NTFS usernames & directory permissions. If I run OpenVPN on the server & clients, I think I can use OpenVPN instead of installing the traditional "file server" role, b/c OpenVPN lets you choose directory permissions per client user. Does anyone foresee any problems with this logic?

    Thank you.

    Yes - you'll be cutting off your nose to spite your face... Especially if you think Open VPN is any easier to configure than a Windows RRAS service.

    There are many good reasons to run Linux in your environment , but I don't think any of them are the ones you are looking for.
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    Re: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    omg everything you wrote is scaring me :O

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    Re: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    As Moby Dick says - any of the main stream distros will be suitable - I use Fedora .

    Linux can use several file systems, depending on the application, but the most common one is ext3. However there are NTFWS drivers that allow you to mount and read NTFS file systems, and you can also write to NTFS file systems, although that is not recommended. As a file server it doesn't matter what the underlying FS is, provided other computers can read them. The most popular protocal for sharing files over a network is the SMB protocol (used extensively by Windows). The open source version used by Linux is SAMBA.

    There is the NFS protocol (network file share) but Windows doesn't understand it, although there may be applications you can add to Windows so it does - not something I have reserached.

    DHCP and all the network services (DNS) etc are all applications in Linux - and it does them well. Moby-Dick mentioned BIND - a popular and common one.

    Linux is based on the concept of a core kernel (which is Linux) supported by lots of applications that do one thing - but really well. (In someways similar to the DLL in Windows - which are loaded for specific tasks. However you can remove those applications that you don't need - making a compact OS - if you want to. Howver as I would guess you have little experience or knowledge of Linux (apologies if that is an incorrect assumption) you won't wnat to bother with that.

    However you do need to do some basic reseach - there is a shedload of info on Linux ditros on the web - Google is your friend, start looking for generic info.

    Linux does require an adjustment in mind set after windows. Windows file systems are disk-centric - *nix treats everything as a file. As a user the device containing the file is irrelevant and transparent - a directory may be on a local disk or 5,000 miles away on the end of a WAN - as a user, do you care? (No) although in your role as an administrator, you will - hence the subtle shift in mind set.
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    Re: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    I wouldn't be hasty about switching if you're not familiar with Linux, if you're not sure what you're doing it's very easy to break compared to Windows and can be a nightmare to fix. Fun to learn but I wouldn't do it in a production environment.

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    Re: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    Quote Originally Posted by Lourdes View Post
    I wouldn't be hasty about switching if you're not familiar with Linux, if you're not sure what you're doing it's very easy to break compared to Windows and can be a nightmare to fix. Fun to learn but I wouldn't do it in a production environment.
    While learning it is a fairly steep learning curve for Linux, especially after using a windows environment, it is at least as riobust as Windows, and easier to repair if something goes wrong. Generally it is one application that might fail, and if that does happen, it is very unlikely to bring down the whole system. The quivalent of the BSOD is VERY rare in a linux system.

    Why is it easier to repair? There is no registry or registry hive with the associated complex hive structure. Each application (from a large separately installed application like apache) down to system utilities (which comes with the distro) usually has a plain text configuration file - plain text is human readable.

    The Linux system is script driven - not always easy to understand, but is plain english and can be decoded by hand to understand exactly whatt is going on.

    The logging system is extensive - and logs are in plain text, so it is really easy to see what is failing.

    The system man pages give lots of basic information, and nearly every application written has a man page. Some have info pages, which gived even more info. There is a wealth of information on the net - Google is your friend. The mainstream distros have a load of very goopd textbooks available, and there are loads of general 'cookbooks' or 'howto' books that give step by step guides in confifuring a Linux system to do common tasks. ("Linux Multimedia hacks" for example).

    Personally I would be happier deploying Linux in a production environment than Windows server - but that is only because I have taken time and effort to understand Linux (and I still consider myself a bit of a noob) . No - youi wouldbn't download a distro and expect to put it into production the next day - you would gain some experience with it first - but once you reach that 'light bulb moment' - you won't look back, and you will be command line ls -l with the best of them!
    Last edited by peterb; 18-03-2008 at 11:47 AM.
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    Re: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    Althought I work for an almost 100&#37; windows shop ( all 1300 of em ), I have more day to day dealings with linux in the form of the ESX Service console , which is a virtual ised redhat console used to control the hypervisor. Its fallen over and giving me no end of grief at the moment - The hypervisor is still running happily so all the guests are up , but I can't actually log on to the box, just hangs after entering my username. Its most frustrating and unlike linux , which for the most part I enjoy using
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    Re: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    Quote Originally Posted by peterb View Post
    Personally I would be happier deploying Linux in a production environment than Windows server - but that is only because I have taken time and effort to understand Linux (and I still consider myself a bit of a noob) . No - youi wouldbn't download a distro and expect to put it into production the next day - you would gain some experience with it first - but once you reach that 'light bulb moment' - you won't look back, and you will be command line ls -l with the best of them!
    This is exactly what I mean, and I agree with the rest of your post, after you've reached a certain level of competency with Linux it is much easier to troubleshoot and resolve problems. But before that point when you're comfortable with the OS as a whole and know where to find everything it can be a nightmare compared to Windows which is almost self-healing at times (a kick and a reboot).

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    Re: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    But kick and reboot doesn't enhance your understanding of HOW it is working, or WHAT caused it to fail, and if you are a sysadmin, those are vital pre-requisites (IMHO).

    And in a production environment that should be an option of last resort. Better to stop the failing service, diagnose the fault and then restart that service. But in a properly configured and stable system, that should be a rare occurrence. If it isn't there is something fundamentally wrong with the system which wil require detailed diagnosis.

    It also depends on the system set up. If you are using one server to provide (say) DNS, Web, Mailservices, proxy services, file services, and Primary Domain Controller, rebooting the whole system could be potentially serious for the network and the users. (Of course, in a large system, you might prefer to usie dedicated machine for each major function, or have online standby servers, such as a primary and secondary Domain Controller)
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    Re: Thinking about moving server to Linux -- noob question

    Thanks for everyone, I think you have made me decide not to use Linux at the moment, but I will fool around with it in a VM on my personal computer.

    I can't wait for the day when MS goes full-circle back to the DOS days and makes a true, 100&#37; CLI OS, where you can slap a GUI shell on top as an option.

    I'm probably going to buy WS2008, but I will not be running it in "Server Core" mode because it's only a half-assed attempt at a full CLI OS, without full functionality. The RemoteApp TS is the reason I need it though.

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