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Date:      Wed, 24 Jun 1998 17:41:57 +0200
From:      Johann Visagie <wjv@cityip.co.za>
To:        GLEN.W.MANN@monsanto.com, freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.ORG
Subject:   Re: Feasibility as Enterprise Server
Message-ID:  <19980624174157.A25367@cityip.co.za>
In-Reply-To: <"0624140818-Feasibility as Enterprise Server"@MHS>; from GLEN.W.MANN@monsanto.com on Wed, Jun 24, 1998 at 09:54:20AM -0500
References:  <"0624140818-Feasibility as Enterprise Server"@MHS>

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Hi Glen,

On Wed, 24 Jun 1998 at 09:54 SAT, GLEN.W.MANN@monsanto.com wrote:
>      
> Usually the two choices for a Small company LAN OS are NT or Netware.  
> Each have advantages and disadvantages.  I don't like either very much.

Agreed on all points.  IMHO, if you want to fit absolutely round pegs in
round holes, you're probably slightly better off sticking with traditional
LAN NOSes if you merely want to offer file/print/directory/etc. services to
LAN users.  Yes, FreeBSD can probably do the job (especially if you're
willing to roll up your sleeves a bit), but the others may be better suited
to it.

FreeBSD's strength is as an Internet server, where it is (IMHO, again)
virtually unparalleled.

> 1) Client Connectivity - we will have DOS clients, as well as WfW, 
> Win95, NT, and perhaps even MAC.  WfW, Win95, and NT are easy.  What
> about DOS and MAC?  Should I use NFS or Samba?

As you say, the SMB-enabled OSes are easy, using Samba.  For DOS boxes and
Macs to access files (using whichever method) you'll probably need
(commercial) third party software.  This is the  sort of problem you don't
have with (say) Netware.

> 2) Robustness, Reliability - IMO NT doesn't come close to Netware.  Can
> I realistically put my companies files on a FreeBSD box? (with backups,
> of course!)  Do I need a HP-9000 with HP-UX?

I entrust my company's riches to FreeBSD (with backups! ;-)

> 3) What sort of a machine do I need.  "Jordan's picks" seem oriented
> toward workstations.  RAID?  SCSI?  Tape backups?

FreeBSD does better and better if you go for high-end hardware, it seems.  As
of 2.2.6, drivers are included for DPT RAID controllers.  I've set up a
server with about 100GB (after RAID) disk space, and a Seagate AIT (25GB
native) tape drive.  FreeBSD is very SCSI-friendly.

> 4) What about network administration?  Is FreeBSD realistically
> usable in the office environment?

Again, FreeBSD is suited to administer the sort of networks it's supposed to
serve.  It's probably not Netware's equal for the administration of LAN
users.

> 5) How does FreeBSD handle open files during automatic backups?

Depends on the software you're using for the backup, I would assume.  I'll
let those with more knowledge tackle that one.

> 6) Will FreeBSD support typical printers such as HP 5's with JetDirect
> software?  Or must I connect the printer to the parallel port?  Is one
> or the other way better then the other?

I don't think you're going to get away with anything except directly
connected printers.  Also, how are you going to give your users access to the
printers?  You can do so via Samba, or standard lpd/lp if your clients
support it.  Again, this is not really what FreeBSD was made for, IMHO.

> 7) What about virus immunity?

A virus, _per se_, makes little sense in the Unix paradigm.  However it is of
course quite possible that some of the (say) DOS files on your fileserver may
contain DOS viruses.  There are as far as I know DOS virus scanners available
for FreeBSD.

> 8) What about security, both general security and file isolation to
> particular users in my user community?

Very good.  Make friends with smb.conf.  :-)

> 9) Are there e-mail clients for the WfW, Win95, NT, DOS, and MAC
> platforms that can use the FreeBSD server for the mail?

Anything that supports POP3 and/or IMAP.  In a LAN situation as that which
you describe, it would probably be best to go for IMAP, since that means that
all mail folders are kept on the server (as would be the case with most
LAN-based mail systems).

> 10) Should X be a part of a server's configuration?, or does it consume
> too many resources?

It _is_ hungry.  Personally, I hardly ever install X on a server unless I
have specific need of it.

> 11) In Netware, client configurations are "server-based" (via login scripts).
> Is this possible using a FreeBSD server?  (I think this is a not really.)

I suppose there's no limit to what you can do with some creative Perl/shell
scripting.  But you won't get these things on a plate if you use FreeBSD -
prepare to get your hands dirty.

> 12) What's going on with the move toward UNC file locators from drive 
> mappings?  Should I care?

If you're working in an SMB environment, you're probably going to encounter
UNC more and more.  Not a big issue, I think.  (Maybe I'm missing something.)

> 13) Is NDS really necessary to have?
> 
> 14) In the future, we may require an MRP II manufacturing system.  Will my
> legs be broken, or should I just get at that time the necessary server for
> our chosen MRP software?

Depends.  Can't say.

> 15) Can I use DOS, WfW, Win95, NT, MAC clients for MySQL connectivity?

Yes, either via ODBC, or via a Web-based interface.

> 16) Finally, is FreeBSD going away?  I hope not.  It's what I use most
> at home and I've set it up everywhere I go.  It's a really great product.
> I may have the opportunity to apply it in a new way.

>From what I can see, the project is in fact picking up momentum at a rapid
rate!  :-)

-- V

Johann Visagie | Email: wjv@CityIP.co.za | Tel: +27 21 419-7878

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