[kwlug-disc] Best Server Distribution??

Oksana Goertzen ogoertzen at gmail.com
Tue Feb 2 15:58:55 EST 2010

Here is my 2 cents!  :)  Take from it what you will...

In my opinion, distro does matter.. (Sorry Richard!!)  and it matters
because of
support and what you enjoy working with.  Working in IT, and supporting IT
you know what it feels like when things are not working and you are the
point... when you have a problem with a system you want to be able to rely
someone else for support, for expertise, for "just-making-it-work" when
you're too
tired, too confused or whatever.  So, I would go with a hardware vendor who
dedicated linux support and releases linux drivers and documentation etc. ..
maybe that's IBM or HP... I'm not so certain of Dell's support.  Then you
to go with a distro whose tools you like working with - check out
tools for managing their servers and services.  Is there a GUI version?, do
you need
a GUI version? [Will anyone else be doing some day-to-day management if you
absent - training/sick].  Are those tools comprehensive, efficient and easy
to use?  Is
there a separate tool for everything (like M$).  What's patching like?  How
do you
determine what's patched?  And finally, what is their support like?  Do you
want to call
them directly or call a local reseller/vendor who will support their
platform(s)?  The
decisions you make here will impact you.  These decisions will determine how
your implementation will go, especially if you are new or inexperienced with
Linux and
the new software you'll be rolling out.  Thankfully, if everything is set up
correctly at
first you'll likely have far fewer issues maintaining and supporting
everything after the
fact than you _ever_ did with Microsoft!  :)

I believe OpenXchange is an option with regard to replacing Exchange.  I
believe there are other options if you want your clients/staff to continue
to run Outlook
in the short term.  This might be the easiest solution ... leaving the
workstations as-is
as much as possible for now.. running XP and Office and later on, in a
second phase
of implementation, migrate email and users to Open Office.

If your clients/staff need Terminal Services to authenticate remotely, I
don't know if
there are Linux options.  CALs for Terminal Services are expensive if I
recall correctly.

As John mentioned, nearly everything else can be migrated to Linux...DHCP,
PDC, File/Print/Fax services, Email, Security, Backup, and AV, Web Hosting

And as Khalid suggested, you need to do the math and prove to management
what they
will save and how... because there will likely be some pain from end users
and others
who don't want change or or frustrated by the changes and won't understand
you are changing away from something as glorious as Microsoft.  :)  For
example you
could look at patching... and patch Tuesday.  Patching Linux is generally
painless and you don't need to reboot unless you're patching the kernel
(even then, there
are ways to eliminate that if you wish .. the old security/usability
arguments apply however).
I think many, many good arguments can be made for the architecture of the
it just needs to be quantified to management - in terms they can
appreciate... i.e. easier
to troubleshoot, less maintenance, patching is not disruptive/better uptime,
more stable
and reliable, better performance on the same hardware, easy to remote into
and fix,
secure.  :)

One other thing you might want to consider if you're replacing hardware is
if you get a robust enough piece of hardware you could run multiple servers
discrete tasks on one machine... better utilizing drive space, cpu and so
on.  As well,
some vendors offer linux appliances which are optimized for that one app and
pretty much turnkey solutions.

Good Luck!  It sounds like a fun and exciting project!!


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bill Hazelwood <bhazelwood at delta-elevator.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 10:10 AM
Subject: [kwlug-disc] Best Server Distribution??
To: kwlug-disc at kwlug.org

 Good morning,

In spirit of the recent post on what would be the best desktop distribution,
I would like to ask the same question for servers, but first a little
background. I appolise, but this is going to be long winded.

I am the 'IT guy' for an elevator manufacturer in Kitchener. I use the IT
term loosely as I have no formal training, I am 100% 'home-grown'. I solve
problems the hard way (lots of head scratchin' and bangin') and if that does
not work, I am on the phone to Microsoft. I have been ITing for 10 yrs and I
hold Microsoft wholely responsible for my hairloss and premature greying.

We are currently running Microsoft's SBS 2003 server suite and we are
looking to upgrade. I naturally looked to Microsoft for my next headache...
I mean solution. After all, once you become a sheep, what else can you do???
This is where the problem begins, upgrading to Big Mic's newest offering is
going to cost the company close to $50k in hardware and software (We have 40
desktops, 2 remote offices and 40 mobile/PDA users.). Ouch??? Are they
kidding, who can afford that??? What am I to do, the bosses are not going to
be happy with that request. So, I started looking for alternatives.

I found many stories of users with Linux machines that just work. No
problems, no worries and best of all, no costs. The years of Microsoft abuse
has left me very skeptical. Is this possible? Can servers just work? Is it
possible to have a 'lights out' server room? For the most part, I am a Linux
blank slate. I spent a bit of time with QNX about 15yrs ago and I am an
original DOS guy. I am no stranger to the command line, however I am quite
rusty for sure. So, where does that leave me???

I have grand plans and I am looking for direction on how to get there. What
distro do I use? I have been given the OK to take some training courses and
have looked at Red Hat and Ubuntu. If I trained in Red Hat and later used
Ubuntu (or something else) would the training be a waste? I understand that
there will be a steep learning curve and that I will need to purchase
support, but I figure that in the end I will be better off.

Here are some details;
- Continue to run WinXP as the desktop OS for the users
- Need Microsoft SQL Server
- Need (I think) Microsoft Server for other Server applications (AutoCAD,
Alarm System, Terminal Server for remote offices, Desktop Antivirus server)
- DHCP, DNS, PDC, File, Email, Security, Backup, Print and Fax servers to be
some flavour of Linux

Thank-you to all for any support you can give.

Best regards,
Bill Hazelwood

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