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Common Networking Services

A number of networking services are required by most organizations. In this book we discuss how each is supported on Linux and Windows. In some cases the services are not present on one or the other platform. The significance of such shortcomings will be discussed, and workarounds will be offered.

File Services

We want shared files to provide shared executable test images and shared source code, and to support the easy passing of documents and spreadsheets between individuals, regardless of what operating system is running on the desktop. There are several choices, as listed in Table 1–6.

Table 1–6 Network file choices


Support (runs on)

Common Internet File System (CIFS)

Linux, Windows

Network File System (NFS)

Linux, Windows (Services for Unix)

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Linux, Windows supports ftp

We won't make a choice now, but either of the two networked file systems (CIFS or NFS) would suit our purposes. For source code files, spreadsheets, and marketing literature, CIFS and NFS can provide sufficient service. We should note that NFS for Windows is a priced product with per-client licensing fees. Pricing will be a consideration in our final choice. Chapter 13, "Network File Systems," will discuss network file services in detail.

Print Services

We will look at only two network print services. Table 1–7 shows CIFS and the LPD protocol support available. They are not as smoothly bidirectional as the file services.

Table 1–7 Network print services


Support (runs on)

Common Internet File System (CIFS)

Linux, Windows 2000/XP/2002

Line Printer Demon (LPD; RFC 1179)

Linux, Windows 2000/XP/2002

We will discuss the details and tradeoffs of these two choices in a later chapter. Again, either of these services could fit out needs. Chapter 14, "Printing," will discuss network printing.

Firewall Services

Today the Internet should be considered a useful connection medium that carries a security risk downside. Companies and organizations need to isolate their networks from penetration by Internet-born invaders, but at the same time give all or some employees access to the Internet. This isolation function is provided by a firewall. A firewall is a bridge that filters traffic through it based upon rules that describe legal packet sources, destinations, and applications. See Chapter 12, "Security," for a discussion about firewall technology. Both Windows 2000 and Linux support firewalls (see Table 1–8). Both systems support NAT.

Table 1–8 Firewall services


Support (runs on)

IPChains (Kernel-based firewall)


BackOffice Site Server


Firewalls prevent unauthorized traffic from flowing between our intranet and the Internet. Neither Windows NT nor Windows 2000 have a firewall service in the base product. Windows XP Professional includes a firewall and Windows.NET Server and Advanced Server will support IP filtering.

Web Server

Both Linux and Windows include a Web server with the operating system (see Table 1–9). Windows 2000/XP/2002 provide Internet Information Services (IIS) with Windows for Professional (optionally installed), Server, and Advanced Server. Most Linux distributions supply an open source Apache Web server. We shall cover Web servers in more detail in Chapter 19, "Web Servers."

Table 1–9 Web server


Support (runs on)

Internet Information Service (IIS)

Windows 2000/XP/2002


Linux and Windows 2000/XP/2002;

Microsoft's IIS is a high-risk and high-cost choice. Over the past two years, IIS has required many security patches. Each patch must be installed on every IIS server running and the machine generally must be rebooted after each installation. If Windows security is used with IIS, then there is a per client connection fee (client access license). Windows domain security means a Windows domain would be required with its accompanying complexity. Together the cost of maintenance and the complexity of Windows domain security lead us to choose a simpler solution for a Web server. We will use the market leading web server, Apache.

Security Service

This is a touchy area. Our company personnel are mostly software developers who are not eager to delegate management of their computer to an IT organization. Another complication is that if there are policies that the organization wants enforced, the development environments must frequently be exempt. Development, test, and support systems generally cannot be subject to IT policies because software development requires management-level access to the security model of the computer. Management-level access translates to "root" privileges on Linux and "administrator" privileges on Windows.

Global sign-on is another sensitive area. Both Linux and Windows support a global sign-on in a limited connected environment. If an organization decides to have a single sign-on environment, then it must choose to deploy a single security model everywhere. The extent of deployment in our organization is small, so either Windows domains or NIS (Network Information System) could work for us.

We will have a global security database that is used for the shared facilities (files and printers). Otherwise, we will let individuals do ad hoc sharing as needed. The global security database will be used for access to files, source trees, printers, marketing and sales presentations, and email. Such services can be supported with Active Directory (AD), Windows domains, or NIS, as shown in Table 1–10. For Windows domains, Samba can act as the domain controller, eliminating the expense of licensing every casual client that needs to access shared resources. Since we are talking about 100 or so clients, the fee for Microsoft licensing is roughly $40 per client, which translates in our company to $4,000. We will discuss details of Samba and the choices for network file services in Chapter 13. Windows 2000 domains are discussed in Chapter 2, "Installing and Configuring Windows" (see http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/server/howtobuy/pricing/pricingwindows.asp).

Table 1–10 Network security accounts


Support (runs on)

Active Directory (AD)


Network Information Service (NIS)

Linux, Windows

Windows NT Domain

Windows NT 4.0, Samba, Windows 2000/ XP/2002


Email and discussion/collaboration groupware is required. Both Windows and Linux support an SMTP mail server and client. Either operating system would support our needs. There are many more email choices for Linux than for Windows. We have focused on only two servers and three clients. Tables 1–11 and 1–12 show our candidates for use as our email clients and servers, respectively.

Table 1–11 Email clients

Email Client

Support (runs on)

Microsoft Outlook



Windows and Linux

Netscape Mail Reader

Windows and Linux

Table 1–12 Email servers

Email Server

Support (runs on)

Microsoft Exchange Server




Groupware for collaboration is also needed for internal discussions and external discussions. Network News can be read by any good browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) and Netscape. Mailing lists will be managed by Majordomo free software (http://www.greatcircle.com/majordomo).

That about does it for basic networking services and standard services our organization will need. It appears that both operating systems will support our needs. Windows costs more. For network firewall support, Microsoft's Proxy server can be purchased individually or as part of the Microsoft BackOffice Suite.

Our Selections

We make our selections based on prejudice and price, the two P's of information technology. We will try to avoid vendor lock-in where possible. Lock-in is difficult to avoid in the category of desktop office applications. Sun Microsystems' StarOffice is free, but we find that it is slow and cumbersome. It is compatible with Microsoft's Office 97 level, but not with Office 2000 or Office XP. We feel that Microsoft Office is the de facto standard in desktop office suites. Elsolutions will use Microsoft Office XP for word processing and spreadsheets. This implies that administrative users must have Microsoft desktop operating systems. Their desktop machines will run either Windows 2000 or Windows XP Professional.

Our list of software preferences is shown in Table 1–13.

Table 1–13 Standard software environment for Elsolutions



File Sharing


Email Server

SMTP – sendmail

Word Processing

MS Word


MS Excel

C, C++

Linux gcc; MS Visual C++

Desktop OS

Windows Professional (2000 or XP)

Development OSs

Windows and Linux

Global Security

Samba Server acting as an NT 4.0 domain

Internet Browser

IE or Netscape (user preference)

Web Server

Apache (on Windows or Linux)

We may add or change some of the selections in the future. As our organization grows, its needs will expand. Our design and selections must allow for alternatives in the future.

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