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Linux clients in network - experiences?



Yo!

So far, my experience was with administrating smallish servers and mostly 
stand-alone clients. The future shines bright, however, and I may soon be in 
a position to do much more than that.  But, lacking experience, I now need 
some advice.

[debian-security CC:ed since people there certainly have experience in the 
'Server/network set up' section below. Please don't crosspost when you reply. 
No need to CC me, I read both lists. Perhaps you also want to change the 
subject according to what you comment on.]

Environment: typical office environment, no or few 'special' applications. 
20-50 clients. Friendly $BOSS who hates M$, also, there's not much to migrate 
as this is pretty much start from scratch. (So it's quite an engineer's 
dream). Security is *very* important.

Again, of course I don't expect HOWTO-type information, but opinions from 
people who have experience with different products - and in some case, I have 
not even an idea what products there are, so even this information will help. 
The RTFM part is of course for me to do.

I mention mostly FOSS projects below, but I am not restricted, especially for 
finance/crm I suspect a commercial solution will be unavoidable. 
Recommendations/experiences sought all the more as evaluation is not as easy 
as 'apt-get install foo'.

Office: 
I guess OpenOffice (or perhaps StarOffice) is more or less the default here. 
Perhaps some find that koffice or the gnome counterparts can realistically be 
considered (for people who will receive word/excel/pp documents from their 
customers etc.)?

'Collaborative work'
 - phpgroupware is often talked about. I guess it doesn't support GPG in the 
mailer, so my main question is: how useful is it without the mailer (sending 
conference requests etc.) ? Can its calendar and addressbook be used from 
other applications (dunno what the standards are in this field - webdav or 
ldap access?)
 - evolution is quite mature - but iirc it required a MS Outlook server for 
the calendar application to work for groups. Is this still true?
 - The KDE suite has hugely matured - at a first short glance, kontact seems 
to be just a shell for the various kdepim applications, so kontact's mail is 
really kmail. Again, the main question is about how well addressbook and 
calendar work for groups. Is there a server, what server is there, ...?
 - kroupware: I'm a bit confused. Is this mainly a server and will be 
integrated in KDE's kdepim tools, or is this seperate? From the web page, it 
seems it's a seperate project. Will it be merged into kdepim? Feature-wise, 
it looks quite good at a first glance (gpg support in mailer?)
 - wiki: which one? Focus on usability by people who have no idea what this 
is.

Business software:
 - project management: taskjuggler - seems to be quite mature. Any others?
 - financial: sqlledger? How good is it really? How advanced is the thing in 
phpgroupware? Others? 
 - crm: no idea here. I strongly suspect GNUe isn't up to the task yet without 
*much* development work.
 - ticketing: phpgroupware has one. request-tracker is quite good. double 
choco latte and bugzilla are available, too. I guess I'll just go with 
request-tracker since I know that a bit. Might be abused as a crm with a bit 
tweaking, I guess.

Server/network set up
 - unix account management: I suspect NIS is not really an option in a 
security conscious environment (just hearsay, though, I'll look at it). 
Kerberos? With pam there should be no problem with integration. Others?
 - networked filesystem. NFS is certainly not the right tool here. 
AFS/Coda/Intermezzo? Or Lustre? Others? For this and the above, it would be 
nice if laptops could be integrated more or less nicely. Also, if the data 
would be encrypted on the wire this would be an added bonus.
 - authentication: I favor USB tokens (since ssh/pgp secret keys could be 
stored there, too). $BOSS wants fingerprint auth. What solutions do exist (I 
see there's an ITP out for libpam-usb. What about Linux-supported 
fingerprinting systems? Laptops?)
 - firewalls/routers: build my own, or buy? (I see an endless debate coming 
here :-)

Hardware:
 - Dual head: what is available with good Linux support? How much tweaking 
does Debian (think sarge) need (KDE? Gnome?)? (Ok, this will change every few 
months, so I'll need to do that research again when this actually comes).
 - ok, this would be on the server side: RAID and hotswapping. I personally 
like software raid since I can swap controllers without problems. The 
software RAID HOWTO says it's possible with SCSI hardware, impossible to do 
reliably with IDE. This still true? (SATA?)

Misc:
 - What experience do you have with setting the default locale to something 
like de_CH.UTF-8? Personally, I have quite a good impressions, but my primary 
tools are kmail, xterm, vi and konqueror - I rarely use any office 
applications. There will mostly be äöü, perhaps a few slavic characters. No 
right-to-left, cyrillic, chinese or korean except in spam mail.
 - what is the color of my briefs?

Ok, enough for a few weeks, I guess :-)
Thanks already for those who take the time. 

Greetings
-- vbi

-- 
Will the information superhighway have any rest stops?

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