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Linux Servers

An alternative to expensive Microsoft server licences and higher hardware requirements is to use Linux as your server platform. Most server functions can easily be performed by free (yes free, really) Linux servers. This includes company firewalls, file and print servers, web servers, email servers, authentication, database servers, proxy servers, storage servers (such as Openfiler) etc. If it can be done on a server, more than likely, the function can be done for free with Linux. There are commercial Linux server releases such as Suse and Red Hat which are not free but these come with support etc. Most of the high end server manufacturers offer Linux out of the box (HP, IBM, Dell and others)

Most Linux servers have far smaller hardware requirements than Windows servers and will happily run on older hardware. Most of them also only have a terminal interface though rather than a nice graphical interface so configuration and maintenance can be difficult for staff familiar with Windows servers only. There are tools available to make configuration easier. Interaction with Windows PC’s is made possible with a system called SAMBA so the end user does not even realise their servers are not Windows.

If you find the idea of using something a bit unknown worries you, you may be interested to know that (according to a Wikipedia article), over 85% of the worlds super computers run Linux distribution of some description and the big movies studios all use Linux servers for movie production. A lot of web servers that serve you up your internet content (including this site) are also all hosted with Linux servers.

If you want to set up a free Linux server, stick with one of the main distributions such as OpenSuse, Ubuntu or Fedora to make sure you have a wide user base to draw support from. My development Linux server is Ubuntu running under VMWare.

Posted in: Free Software

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