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Busman's holiday

I spent a chunk of yesterday and today blowing away the household file server and reconstituting it as an Ubuntu Linux server. I had been merrily running the server under Windows 2000 for several years until — in the name of getting exposure to a new OS — I made the mistake of upgrading it to Windows 2003 Server in October.

I say mistake because that upgrade broke a couple of things. First and foremost, an old problem (which I had licked under 2000 by moving to new hardware) resurfaced where the machine would crash half of the time during the weekly backup[1]. Not Good. Second, because of the "security enhancements" (read: screwing with the competition) in Windows file sharing in Win 2003, the couple of machines I have running Linux could no longer access the server's Windows shares via Samba — 2003 Server effectively locked them out.

Saturday I copied all 73GB of files off of the server onto several different machines (no one PC in the house had that much free disk). I think I must have made three different copies of Asha's home directory. One does not fool around with the files of a woman who is working on her Ph.D. Next came the "hold your nose and jump in" moment of firing up the Ubuntu install CD and telling the disk partitioning tool to blow away all of those Windows partitions. Once I figured out that I had not one but two buggy CD-ROM drives the installation went fine (let's face it, a cheap IDE CD-ROM drive is just that: cheap, and has the life-expectancy of a May Fly).

Today was spent fiddling around with permissions and setting up drive mappings on PCs, and joy to behold, running some successful cpio backups to my external USB drive. I also did my first in-place upgrade of Ubuntu — taking a box from Ubuntu 5.4 (Hoary Hedgehog) to 5.10 (Breezy Hedgehog). It was pretty painless. Everything seemed to work. It took two passes through the package manager to get the last little piece upgraded, but it was certainly less painful than most of the Windows upgrades I've ever done.

So, now both of the servers in the basement are running Linux — the mail/web server is running Slackware 9 or 10, and the file server is running Ubuntu 5.10. We may be Windows-free in the server department, but I'm not quite ready to take the desktop plunge: I'm fiddling with Ubuntu on my laptop (and liking it) but I'm just so accustomed to Windows (and all of my Windows tools).[2] Oh well, when Microsoft pulls the plug on Windows 2000 support that will probably push me over the edge. I can't stomach XP (yeah, I know, you can tame it pretty well, but...) and I just ugh don't wanna contemplate Windows Vista.

[1] A little aside. Windows NT and Windows 2000 share a common file system — NTFS. Windows 2003 runs NTFS too. But, apparently not the same NTFS. Before making it a Linux disk, I took one of my external USB drives that I had been using to backup the server and plugged it into my Windows 2000 Pro laptop. Yes, the laptop saw that it was an NTFS volume, but it couldn't access it; it came back with an error that said, essentially "your file system is broken, I'm going home." Sigh. Thank you Redmond.

[2] The desktop has long been Linux's Achilles Heel. A great server operating system — and not just because it's free — Linux has always seemed too high a hill for the average desktop user to climb. (And, too high a hill for lazy IT people like me.) Well, Ubuntu has lowered the hill a lot. It's still not as easy as installing Windows. For instance, due to some legal something-or-other Ubuntu installs without the libraries needed to play MP3s or DVDs. The process you have to go through to download and install the needed libraries is up there with editing the Windows registry. I'm perfectly happy to do it. I like doing things like hacking MRTG config files by hand. But, I don't like doing that on my desktop PCs, and the average Bob or Barbara would feel like they'd hit a stone wall. That being said, if you're looking for a Windows replacement operating system I highly recommend Ubuntu. It's not perfect, but it's got a lot going for it.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2005 03:23 am (UTC)
One does not fool around with the files of a woman who is working on her Ph.D.

LOL! You said it! We're in the midst of backing up all of our files before making the great migration to a new PC. My husb has been threatened with pain worse than death if he loses mine. He's quite motivated not to!
Dec. 12th, 2005 03:31 am (UTC)
I learned, many years ago, before we were even married, that doing unexpected things with your SO's PC is bad. I think that I did something like replace her copy of Windows 3.1 with OS/2 Warp. That didn't last.

Good luck with your great migration!
Dec. 12th, 2005 12:59 pm (UTC)
Crazy man...what were you thinking?!

Well, it looks as if you survived that and learned from the error, as you're still married. lol

Still waiting for my PC to arrive...we're like expectant parents with an overdue baby.
Dec. 12th, 2005 03:37 am (UTC)
You can access the 2003 server with Samba - you have to make some adjustments to the Security policy. By default it expects ALL clients to encrypt SMB connections, but only windows machines can do that. When you tell it to only encrypt SMB traffic when the client agrees, all can speak with it happily. I've had to tweak all of our clients' serves so I can talk to them with my OS X laptop. . .
Dec. 12th, 2005 03:43 am (UTC)
Yeah, I tracked that down, but I'll damned if I could find the place to make the GPO entry for a 2003 domain controller. MS's instructions were pretty clear on how to do it for member servers, but the instructions for how to tweak the domain controller security policy were, um, freakin' useless.

I probably would have slogged my way through that problem were it not for the crashes. There was some sort of driver incompatability between my SCSI card driver and the USB driver. It worked like a champ under 2000 Server, but blue screened half the time I ran a backup under 2003.

Wait a minute does "I've had to tweak all of our clients' servers" mean that there's been a job change and you're now on the reseller/consultant side of the fence?
Dec. 12th, 2005 04:25 am (UTC)
Yeah - www.foresitetech.com that's where I hail from since the end of June this year. It's a company owned by Ben Sweet (Jon's younger brother) and another guy. Jon and I actually both work there. If you ever want me to go over the finer points of making that work on the DC for you, let me know it's not more than about 15 seconds to walk you through it.
Dec. 12th, 2005 09:38 pm (UTC)
First, congratulations on the new gig!

I may take you up on the offer of help. BTW, have you ever setup a Samba server to be either a Windows domain controller or a domain member server?
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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