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As I have great interest in Linux, I suggested my GM to update my office server to Ubuntu. He agreed to buy a new server (Hardware) after explaining him the good things about Linux & bad things about Windows.

The scenario is:

  1. The main server will be Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (where I should create a domain & users on domain).
  2. The old server (which is Win 2003) is going to be an application server.
  3. Around 30+ windows (both Win 7 & Vista, 32 & 64 bit) machines should connect to the domain & be able to access the shared folders on Ubuntu server.

I really appreciate some help as I don't have any experience on Linux server. At least how to guidelines.

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2  
A fair warning that has nothing to do with Ubuntu per se: I would advice against deploying server software, especially an Operating System that no-one has experience with. This sounds like a great way to get a negative experience. Production isn't a good place to start testing around with new OS-es, at least not with limited experience. Why not install a testserver / machine first just to play around? –  Nanne Nov 20 '12 at 12:27

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You are setting up a server in a "Small Medium Business" (< 100 employees), which may be very simple or very difficult, depending of what you will want to do with it.

Short answer

  • substitute a windows server by a linux server is not as easy as it seems, but possible (just it might be overwhelming for the amateur/enthusiast, leave that for the matured professional administrator)
  • add a linux server to an existing working network, is very easy and a good way to start with linux without any drawback, nor compromising the existing services. Benefit: linux services don't have licenses - they come free and forever :)

Long answer

Window server does more than file sharing.

So to substitute it by linux, you will have to:

  • understand all that windows was doing
  • how to configure linux to do all that
  • and migrate the configuration settings from the windows -> linux

And do it all in the backstage without the clients (employees) noticing any change (or they will complaint: if they are your friends they will laugh and joke the first day, but not after 5 days of suffering :) antecipate it :) )

Before disconnecting the Windows Server, you should take into account some hidden things that the windows server might be doing besides being a File Server:

  • managing windows domains, primary controllers and active directory
  • share printers
  • email server (by gods sake, if this is the case, then be aware that preparing a linux email server is no small task... and neither is maintaining it)
  • login scripts used by windows clients, and delivered by the windows server (it can be done with linux server also, but you will have to do it (see samba))

This is not supposed to scare you, but instead to make you aware and avoid disaster :)

With that said, here comes the good news: linux runs in almost any machine, with much lower requirements than windows servers, meaning you can recycle old hardware to try and make a test linux server without buying anything, and use it to test&convince all other in the office.

The simplest way to start, is to add (not substitute) a Linux Server to the existing network, and create simple services in the Linux Server such as

  • File-Server (with samba, very easy, lots of info, can also share printers)
  • Chat service (see ejabberd, not so simple, but not that hard)
  • Internal Forum for employees (see phpBB, easy to install, up and running in a breeze)
  • HTTP proxy (well, better check before promissing anything)

Other services can also be implemented in Linux (and work better than in windows, that's the backbone of how internet works) but they require a more profound knowledge from the system administrator, such as email, firewall, vpn, active directory, primary domain controller, calendar/task sharing, Dns, system monitoring and alerts, ...

I would recommend you start by making a virtual machine (use VirtualBox) and try to make the server there as you intend to do in reality. Also use some linux distribution with which you feel comfortable and there is lots of info/people (big community to search for help), such as centOs or Ubuntu Server

Finally, if you only want to make a simple server-for-1-job, search for a linux distribution which gives you a service and comes ready-to-use, such as FreeNas

Linux can provide a fantastic advantage, when well understood :)

Hope it helps - tell how it went

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Also keep in mind that Samba can only provide old-style domains, and in its current state does not provide anything which even approximates Active Direcotry and the newer style of domains that Windows Server 2003 provides. –  Bailey S Nov 20 '12 at 22:12
    
Thank you zipizap. –  feroz216 Nov 21 '12 at 8:20
    
feroz216, if you are now stuck with the mission of replacing windows server by linux server, all by youself, and get to a point of dense frustration, don't panic, its normal - many things just take more than they seem at first, and everything has a solution. That said, I think the solution in that case, it to be frontal and honest about it, telling your boss that you can make a great file-server (with samba) but in a different style than with windows. Have a look at FreeNAS or OwnCloud, understand yourself and then make him understand that linux is not equal, and has its own advantages –  zipizap Jan 2 '13 at 23:55

This is a very, very bad idea. Trying to use Samba to emulate even an old-school NT-style PDC, much less a modern Active Directory DC, is not a trivial task and is full of nasty pitfalls.

I have to be honest here - from the sounds of it, you aren't ready to try to implement Linux in production at all yet. WITH THAT SAID, if you're absolutely determined to try your hand at Linux in production (not just in test), a more sensible attempt would be setting up a KVM virtualization host, and installing Windows Server as a guest on KVM rather than on the bare metal. This gets you many of the advantages of Linux (high performance storage stack, excellent memory management, native RAID/LVM capabilities) and the advantages of virtualization (I/O cache that persists through reboots, hardware isolation, ability to run multiple guests on a single host, image based snapshots) without actually changing anything about what the end user expects the system to act like.

In practice - I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend that you play with KVM in a test environment before you even think about deploying it in production. It's a very powerful tool and could do great things for you, but rushing half-cocked into trying to deploy Linux for production in a Windows environment is a recipe for disaster, no matter how enthusiastic you are.

FWIW - I do deploy Linux servers in mostly-Windows environments, professionally, every day. This is not about Linux or Windows being "better", this is just about getting a job done well.

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with samba 3.6.3, Vista machines are OK but Windows 7 machines are not joining the domain. Even i tried the registry settings showed on wiki.samba.org but no use. Any suggestion or tutorials Mr. Salter ? –  feroz216 Dec 16 '12 at 9:10
    
Install Ubuntu Server. Install kvm and bridge-utils. If you don't have another linux desktop available, and/or can't absolutely guarantee you will always have another linux desktop available, then also install ubuntu-destop and virt-manager. Once you've got the virtualization suite running, install Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012 on top of it, and use that as your AD controller. Be sure you set up some image-based backups of that Windows AD controller, or you're giving up half the reason to virtualize in the first place. –  Jim Salter Dec 17 '12 at 1:38

Everything you need will be answered by reading documentation about Samba

With it you can act as a DC and have a way to setup shares with windows machines

Note: linux servers don't have any kind of GUI! For your first time, you might want to install one. I suggest against it, but deploying a server OS you are not familiar with to a production environment is not a good idea to begin with.

Ofcourse the best way to learn about something is to "just do it" ;)

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Thank you so much Mr. Squall. –  feroz216 Nov 20 '12 at 12:31
    
Dangerous advice to someone getting in over their head. –  Bailey S Nov 20 '12 at 22:10
    
Congratulations, you just got my first answer-downvote ever. –  Jim Salter Nov 30 '12 at 3:15
    
I acted like stupid after all these warnings. Installed ubuntu 12.04 LTS with samba 3.6.3. Vista machines are ok but Windows 7 pc's are not joining the domain. –  feroz216 Dec 16 '12 at 9:08
    
I succeeded in creating Primary domain controller, & all of my pc's are joined to PDC. Thanks everyone. –  feroz216 Dec 8 '13 at 6:56

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