Linux as a Network Server

After experimenting with Red Hat Linux 7.1, with Samba, I’m thinking this may be a good replacement for a simple file and print server combination, as opposed to Novell Netware, Windows NT or Windows 2000. The Linux+Samba combination looks like a Windows NT Server from the perspective of a Microsoft desktop workstation. The Red Hat Linux “boxed set” distribution is available for around $40.00 and includes an innovative on-line update service which will automatically patch your copy of Linux to the latest version. Linux can also be downloaded from the Internet for free, if you have the stamina, bandwidth and knowledge to get it up and running. Samba is included with Red Hat, so it doesn’t need to be installed separately.

Advantages

  • Very low initial cost: the software is free.
  • Good support from Red Hat. There are support forums for peer support, and you can submit installation support questions to Red Hat and they will actually reply!
  • Stability. Linux is known for being more stable in general than Windows.

  • Versatility: Linux includes a grab-bag of network utility programs including a decent mail server and firewall, as well as programs to connect the server to the internet and share the connections among multiple workstations.

  • Linux does not require additional software to be installed at the workstation. Novell requires the installation of the Novell client software at the workstation.

Disadvantages

  • Linux is less well known than either Novell Netware or Windows. Getting local support may be more difficult and expensive
  • Unable to run Windows-compatible applications on the server. SQL-Server and Access (to cite two examples of databases that are often run on a network server) cannot run on Linux.

    There are others, however, including the open-source (almost free) MySQL and PostResSQL as well as commercial products like DB2 from IBM and Oracle databases from Oracle.

In short, I think Linux is worth considering, when thinking about buying network server software.

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