31 Mar 2011

Keep Control - The Turnkey Linux PDC

I’ve previously mentioned the need (or not) to implement a server at small business level (SMB/SME). Office workgroups (up to 12 PC’s) can happily share files and printers from a SAMBA NAS whilst running eMail & collaborative groupware from Google Apps, account admin is quite manageable with a dozen or so users and if remote desktops are enabled both application and operating system management can also be kept in check by the *appointed* office IT individual. 

However, when infrastructure starts to expand (and funding doesn’t) the tight little managed workgroup can very quickly grow past it’s manageable boundaries and in such situations it's wise to get on top of things before they get out of control.

Even with financial constraints, if a few days R&D and admin time is allotted it’s quite easy to morph an existing workgroup into a professional domain model at very little (or no) cost. The answer? A Samba based Linux PDC (Primary Domain Controller).

There’s no need to buy a dedicated server as Linux will run quite happily run on a low end or second user re-purposed PC (Just make sure you back it up, and/or install a RAID1 disk mirror) and if existing workstations are already spec’d with a suitable business platform (as oppose to a “Home” operating system) centrally controlled domain logons, roaming profiles and related home shares can all be accommodated from no more than a few entries in the server smb.conf file. It really is very easy to accomplish and there are a whole array of quick “How To’s” posted around the web explaining the procedure. Or, for those wanting an even easier solution (and who doesn't?) Turnkey Linux provide a preconfigured SMB PDC as one of their many excellent pre-builds, simply download the .ISO, burn, install and configure via the web interface. We demo the Turnkey PDC in our Linux for Business Workshop and can't recommend it highly enough.

But, what about Active Directory I hear you say? Or MS Small Business Server? Well, yes, both superb solutions and de-facto models of choice across todays connected IT enterprise, however being Microsoft products they also come at a price, and to be honest for a single site SMB/SME a Samba based PDC model + cloud groupware tie-in is not only a substantially more cost effective option but sat on a Linux box it’s also more stable, more secure and substantially more resource efficient.

If your office IT is starting to fray at the edges and you don’t have the time to get things sorted feel free to call us, we would be more than happy to get you tightened up and ready for future expansion.

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