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Re: Linux clients in network - experiences?

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Adrian 'Dagurashibanipal' von Bidder <avbidder@fortytwo.ch> writes:

> 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.

If you're lucky enough to have nothing but matching units on the
production floor, you are truly lucky.  In which you get to do the
easy job of just taking one installation and tuning that one box, make
your image with dd or something similar, you put that image on a
server with a big drive, in which you can then just use an NFS or
other networking filesystem mounted from a basic boot floppy (possibly
even an ordinary Debian rescue disk) to host the raw image.
Non-networked environments could probably use a compressed loop device
to store the image (think like Knoppix).

> I mention mostly FOSS projects below, but I am not restricted,
> especially for finance/crm I suspect a commercial solution will be
> unavoidable.

Oh, please tell me it's my call center you're doing this to!  Win2000
is killing my stats and Citrix lag and an overburdended webserver with
*everything* on it is the one thing really putting a cramp on my stats
at this point.

> Office: 
> I guess OpenOffice (or perhaps StarOffice) is more or less the default here. 

Not staroffice, God no.  OpenOffice.org and KOffice are the two big
choices.  Emacs is the all-encompassing dirt-cheap military-grade
solution to everything, but you'll have a hard time getting anybody
who isn't as incredably weird as I am to use it thanks to the
relatively steep and almost insanely abrupt learning curve.

> 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.)?

Depends on what you're doing with it.  But unless you are dealing with
mostly unix environments, in which KOffice looks better in KDE (which
will probably be less of a shock for employees coming from Windows),
produces file formats more commonly found in Unix shops, and the
printed result isn't that bad, either.

> '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?)

KOrganizer might be closer to what you're looking for.  Or
OpenExchange, from what I hear.  KOrganizer has the advantage of
smooth integration with PalmOS-based PDAs and uses .ics files to store
it's data.

>  - evolution is quite mature - but iirc it required a MS Outlook server for 
> the calendar application to work for groups. Is this still true?

OpenExchange would fill that hole.

>  - 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, ...?

I'm not sure...isn't it LDAP?

>  - 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?)

Why would anybody who has a single machine and a PDA to synch with
kpilot ever need server functionality?

>  - wiki: which one? Focus on usability by people who have no idea what this 
> is.

I know no shop that doesn't have one completely out-of-left-field
piece of software nobody has seen outside of work before.  If this one
turns out to be your shop's version, consider yourself lucky.

>  - crm: no idea here. I strongly suspect GNUe isn't up to the task
> yet without *much* development work.

Most CRM managers I've met have been pinheads.  But most of them
worked for Stream.

>  - networked filesystem. NFS is certainly not the right tool here. 

It can be, you just *really* need to know what you're doing for it to be.

>  - 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?)

Fingerprints are a bad idea for authentication for anything beyond
tracking someone (ie, crime investigation).  If someone manages to
copy your fingerprint and make a mold of it, they've copied your
authentication token, and it's not something you're likely to change
without some ethically questionable and probably backalley surgery.

>  - firewalls/routers: build my own, or buy? (I see an endless debate coming 
> here :-)

Depends...are you better at iptables than your budget is for Cisco?

>  - 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?)

2.6 has support for it.  Someone who actually uses that support would
be better to complete that answer, though.

> Will the information superhighway have any rest stops?

Doesn't look like it.  Can you make due with rolling down the
Windows(tm) and aiming it towards the shoulder?

- -- 
 .''`.     Paul Johnson <baloo@ursine.ca>
: :'  :    
`. `'`     proud Debian admin and user
  `-       Debian.  Because it *must* work.  debian.org   aboutdebian.com
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