[kwlug-disc] Best Server Distribution??

Bill Hazelwood bhazelwood at delta-elevator.com
Tue Feb 2 10:10:44 EST 2010

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
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. LOL!!!
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
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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