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Paulkirkewalker
hi there,

i am completely new to linux, in fact i have only just started looking into it. what i really need to know is this: can i connect microsoft windows workstations (all xp) to a linux server. my server is currently running microsoft server 2002 small business edition. i have 15 workstations and growing but would really like to make a break from ms now as the costs are really starting to grow in terms of licences. i'm not sure if switching the workstations to linux is really an option as the major use of the network is to share ms access 2002 databases.

what do you think? can i connect win xp workstations to a linux server? if i can, what distribution of linux do you recommend for this?

thanks,
paul.
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petterg
Install samba (if it's already there, you'll just need to set it up), and your linux box will provide the same kind of filesharing as windows does - just that the linux is more stable.

Check out www.samba.org
Corey
In my home I have linux installed as a fileserver with samba running on it. Last night, I attempted to setup Samba to act as a Primary Domain Controller for the house so I was able to log into the domain via Windows clients. Here are some links that I found usefull:

http://www.samba.netfirms.com/
Samba-PDC-HOWTO

If you have any additional questions, feel free to post them, and I or someone else will attempt to help.
Corey
As for your question on distribution to use for it. I have found that the easiest distribution to connect to a Windows network was Xandros 2.0 deluxe. However, that version does not include setup for a PDC. The Xandros Desktop business edition does include support for PDC as far as I know. Please take note that I have not tried this version, but my experiences with Xandros 2.0 deluxe have been impressive and pleasant. The business edition costs $129, so, before you purchase, you may want to contact someone at the company to ensure that it is what you need.

As for a free distribution with similar capabilities, I am not sure. I haven't come accross any that setup as good as Xandros, however, there are many that I have not tried. Maybe hughsjr would be able to tell us if WhiteBoxEL is good at doing this sort of things.
hughesjr
Well,

WhiteBox Enterprise Linux can be a samba PDC, and it uses samba 3.0.2 which is as good as it gets right now.

However, the domain model used by samba is the NT 4 model when it is a PDC.

It is doable, but not nearly as easy as with a Microsoft server.

There is no easy way to create Microsoft groups and to add users to groups.

I generally don't recommend using samba as a PDC in a business environment...it is hard and restricive.

I would instead recommend, at a minimum, a MS Windows 2000 server as the PDC (Since NT 4 server is being desupported).

See this page and go to the Primary Domain Controller (*) section.

Here is a quote from that page
QUOTE
Samba has no knowledge of Windows 2000/XP Local Accounts; as far as it is concerned, there are only multiple users (defined in smbpasswd) and a single Administrator named root (if defined in smbpasswd). Samba also has no knowledge(nor does it care) about Windows 2000/XP Local Groups; all Samba group memberships are defined in /etc/groups.The reverse is also true -- Windows 2000/XP has no direct knowledge of Samba Domain Users or the /etc/groups file on the Samba box.


So for very simple networks, where there are not any Windows groups are required (except Domain Users), using samba as a PDC is doable ... but it is restricive.
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But, as you need to add more servers for File servers, Print Servers, Web Servers, FTP Servers, etc.... Linux (and Samba) can be very good at cutting costs.

If you had need for 5 file servers and 2 print servers, that could be 7 boxes with a free OS and only the one MS server as the Domain Controller.
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Another option that is quite cost effective is using windows terminal server (Win 2000 server or 2003 server and terminal services). All the client machines can use a free OS and run Microsoft Terminals on Linux. If you had 100 users, this can be quite cost effective.

Robert83 is using this type of setup.
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