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General Chat Thread, Why Windows Server? in General; Here is an interesting one and one not generally covered from this angle: Why go with a Windows Server based ...
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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Why Windows Server?

    Here is an interesting one and one not generally covered from this angle: Why go with a Windows Server based network?

    Here is the story, I have been asked by a school using linux servers and all Windows XP/7 clients if it would be better to go with Windows Servers and if so, why.

    I have already given my response but I am interested as to what everyone else would have said incase there are things that I missed.

    Their current network has no centralised logon resorting to local un-mandatory limited user profiles with shared docs mapped and accessed by a shortcut to a UNC path \\server this then prompted for a username and password which would then show the printers and shared folders avalible to them.

    What are everyones thoughts?? Stay linux or embrace Windows??

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    Thats basically what I do in my primary schools - I've used Win98/Linux and W2k3 machines as simple file/dhcp/printer servers with 2 logins (teachers and pupils) and a single shared folder \\server\classwork

    I use a simple AutoIt script that maps P: drive to each classes subfolder and let the teachers do what they want.

    I use WPKG as my GPO replacement tool.

    So the central server is pretty much irrelevant.

    Having said that, I prefer to use w2k3 for any new schools I take over as I find it quicker and easier to setup than a linux machine (just because of my personal skillsets) and I get the server licence for £50 and cals for a few quid so the extra cost/conveience isn't normally worth it.

    But I did set up one school using Ubuntu Breezy Badger a few years ago and that worked just as well.

    regards

    Simon
    PS (In a quiet voice - I run the clients as administrators )

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    SYNACK (9th November 2010)

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Why Windows? A number of reasons, none of them may be particularly good but...

    • It's what was on the machines when I got here
    • I don't think a live network is the place to test alternatives
    • I know how to and am comfortable in administering Windows servers (I've used desktop Linux and MacOS)
    • The big one - I know have Windows 2008R2 Datacenter covering my virtual host boxes so I can run as meny copies of Windows Server as I like for the exact same cost as running Linux - £0


    That last one is the important one for me. I actually prefer Apache to IIS (as in I know how to administer it better than IIS). So I tend to build WAMP servers when I need a webserver.

    Ultimate though it depends on you and your expertise. If you know how to, and feel comfortable in, administering Linux then why change? I assume the system is working and there is no reason to change. So if it ain't broke don't fix it.

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    SYNACK (9th November 2010)

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    One of the issues is that the system is not performing as they want it to. Moving to up to date versions of Windows on clients will cause even more issues so the existing system is not up to it. They are looking at an upgrade so I'm wondering whether linux would be able to provide for all of the requirements like centralized logon and support of Windows 7 clients. The last time I checked the samba authentication stuff required hacking the XP boxes to disable almost all security and treat it like an NT server. Was wondering if this had improved.

    Personally I think that a Windows solution is going to be the easiest and most integrated way of doing it but I wanted to know what others thought. I am sure that it would be possible to put something together with Linux but I don't think that it is going to end up as clean and maintainable (by me and others) so that was what I recommeneded. I was just checking if others felt the same way, the question of how to justify/convince people of the benifits of Linux systems come up quite often and I thought it would be different and possibly benifficial to discuss it from the other side.

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    gibbo_ap's Avatar
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    here at our place i am way more comfortable with a win environment and my colegue is more comfortable running linux.

    i would say if you having linux servers have linux clients and vice versa.

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    SYNACK (9th November 2010)

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    The answer for me is simply 'better integration'.

    Si says he uses WPKG to replace GPO? How does that work, as it is simply a package distribution system and not a policy system? Wait, just saw that he runs the clients as admins!! That wouldn't be allowed here - as it would effectively mean there was no protection of the network and therefore be a breach of the DPA.

    Without a central group policy system, how do you effectively lock down the client machines?

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    SYNACK (9th November 2010)

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    I am sure that it would be possible to put something together with Linux but I don't think that it is going to end up as clean and maintainable (by me and others) so that was what I recommeneded.
    You've answered you own question right here. Linux is good and I'm sure if you knew what you were doing it could give you the environment you are after. But installing a new system is tough enough without having to learn and hack new ways. Why reinvent the wheel? You want Win7 clients, Server08R2 is built to support Win7 clients - no need to hack SAMBA or LDAP in to place.

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    mthomas08's Avatar
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    Think the only answer not covered, unless I am blind is the fact its the worlds language.
    Most techy's of all ages will have a basic concept of Windows server/clients. Maybe I am wrong but to me every time you watch the news and there is a PC in the background its usually a windows logon/screen saver on, to me most business's would choose windows. I have found windows much easier to get in to and much easier to understand the basics and you only really need the basics to get going well enough. Some people might not agree but I would say thats my personal opinion. Windows is something I would always say "stick to". Linux is a bonus to know especially when it comes to "cost cutting" but if you have funding then I would go windows. Another school did come here to look at our system to get some idea of vanilla because they were Linux based, they have since moved to windows.

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    SYNACK (9th November 2010)

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    best reason is group policy being able to set settings that apply granuarly to pcs/users from a central location (ok settigns can be altered from workstations but are broadcast out). Simple things like say changing the proxy server are easily achieved with a gpo with a few mouse clicks and a bit of typing (literally the typing is myproxy.somewhere.something and a port number).

    You can easily assign users their own user area again witha few click and some typing (and do it for gorups) so say all your 2008 kids need user areas you can creata a folder structure say d:\users\2008 then quickly add their home area as something like \\server\users$\2008\%username% and it will link to their account create folders and set permissons for you.

    If its a win7 only environment id be tempted to ignore mandatory profiles entirely and just using group policy/group policy preferences and redirected start menu/desktop/docs etc just let them log on without one it will have the same effect (and its a pita doing mandatory on win7 as you need to sysprep and last time i tried that it killed the pc)

    oh and wsus for keeping win7 boxes patched without them all pulling updates down over internet

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    SYNACK (9th November 2010)

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    To be honest thats all i really know. I would like to get into Linux i have never had the chance.

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    SYNACK (9th November 2010)

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    The last time I checked the samba authentication stuff required hacking the XP boxes to disable almost all security and treat it like an NT server.
    Samba still can't, realisticly, act as a Domain Controller, so if you want Windows workstations everywhere, controlled and locked-down by a central server, then you'll need a Windows server to do that with. Samba works very well as a file server (and tends to be able to do more with more limited hardware), though, and integrates just fine with a Windows domain, so I'd keep your file servers Linux-based. At my last school I simply had one physical machine licensed for Windows Server Enterprise which ran four Windows VMs - DC, print server, apps server and SIMS server, all the other servers were Linux based.

    Of course, the definition of a "Windows workstation" can vary somewhat. You could run a Linux-based browser-and-thin-client-terminal-only OS on your workstations, doing most stuff in the browser and connecting to Windows VMs / Terminal Servers as needed. Especially using Windows VMs, there should be less need for having workstations under the control of a DC - you're just going to reset the VM back to start settings when the user logs off, so you can let them tinker to their heart's content.

    --
    David Hicks

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    The biggest argument in favour of Windows is training. Staff trained in the use and maintenance of a Windows network are easy to come by... it is far more common. Changing the network environment could involve retraining staff and lead to difficulties in recruiting replacments or finding emergency cover.

    I am not saying that this should stop you using Linux, Novell or whatever just that it is a factor.

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    Really It is down to own personal skillset, and better integration/control/managment. I guess if the clients were running linux too then it would be different but as the clients are windows i would go with a Windows backend for the fact it's what works best.

    James.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sted View Post
    best reason is group policy being able to set settings that apply granuarly to pcs/users from a central location
    We do all seem to be discussing one particular model of network management, where we have a central control server, workstations with differing locally-installed applications that need to be "locked down" the whole time to stop them being broken by day-to-day use and large wodges of user/application settings kocking around the place. This is the model imposed by Windows' way of doing networking, which has always struck me as an afterthought cludged together at the last moment. It'd be a lot simpler if we could do away with update servers, anti-virus servers and so on and have a system designed to be used over a network from the start.

    --
    David Hicks

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    SimpleSi (9th November 2010)

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    We do all seem to be discussing one particular model of network management, where we have a central control server, workstations with differing locally-installed applications that need to be "locked down" the whole time to stop them being broken by day-to-day use and large wodges of user/application settings kocking around the place. This is the model imposed by Windows' way of doing networking, which has always struck me as an afterthought cludged together at the last moment. It'd be a lot simpler if we could do away with update servers, anti-virus servers and so on and have a system designed to be used over a network from the start.

    --
    David Hicks
    That's kinda outside the scope of this discussion though is it not? If you want windows clients, you're going to need all those things - that's just how it is.

    Sure, if you have linux clients, or mac clients, then you don't need a windows server setup, but that doesn't really make sense if you have windows available for kids to use.

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