[kwlug-disc] Best Server Distribution??

William Park opengeometry at yahoo.ca
Wed Feb 3 21:51:07 EST 2010

On Tue, Feb 02, 2010 at 10:10:44AM -0500, Bill Hazelwood wrote:
> 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. 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.

$50k sounds reasonable, if replacing 40 desktops and 40 mobile units.
But, I assume you're talking about licenses...

> I found many stories of users with Linux machines that just work. No

Well, Linux applications just works on Linux.  Just like Windows
applications just work on Windows.

> 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

I don't see where Linux can make noticable contribution.  All listed
components are integrated with other Microsoft components.  In
particular, all your applications run only on Windows.  

Actually, you asked the right question above, "where does that leave
me?"  Pros and cons would go something like this:
    1. go with Windows
	-- $50,000 licenses,
	-- everything is already paid for, and nothing can go wrong,
	-- if something goes wrong, you blame Microsoft.

    2. go with Linux
	-- cost of initial configuration and installation,
	-- cost of on-going support, 
	-- cost of training the users,
	-- cost of rewriting any customized programs,
	-- if something goes wrong, you're to blame and get fired.

It all depends on what your company do with its computers.  I don't know
what "elevator manufacturer" does with its computers.  Sounds like
you're using it for "accounting", ie. job costing, work in progress,
inventory control, AR, AP, PO, OE, etc.   :-)

> Thank-you to all for any support you can give.
> Best regards,
> Bill Hazelwood


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