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Replacing a file/application server?
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Thread: Replacing a file/application server?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Replacing a file/application server?

    Here’s my situation, and no laughing (at least, out loud.)

    I’m the sys admin at my church. The basic architecture is this: There are a handful of staff computers spread out through a couple of rooms in our church. All are connected to a (no laughing) Novell 3.12 server that is primarily used for file storage. I think there are one or two applications that need to run off the server, as that’s where the database is. Overall, it does not see a “lot” of action. Also, hanging off one of the hubs is linux server that handles all internet activity. All staff members log in to the Novell server in order to reach their share drives and have the ability to run any applications off the server. Printing is handled locally, so the Novell server is not used as a print server.

    (If you want a good laugh…the Novell server replaced a Lantastic network…..but that was pre-me.)

    Anyway, the Novell server is getting old. We suspect there is a hardware problem with the tape backup, disk space is shrinking, and the real problem is: we don’t own copies of Novell 3.12. Heaven forbid there should be an epic disaster that we need to recover from. (Crosses fingers.) One option we’ve looked at is to watch Ebay for Novell 3.12 disks and licenses. We’re not sure if we want to go that route. All the staffs machines have been “handbuilt” by our small committee, so we’re not afraid to build something ourselves.

    The question is: What’s a good strategy? We’re really looking for a file/application server. Can Samba handle this? Is Samba good for this? I don’t know Samba, but I’d be willing to learn. What would other admins do in this situation? Keep in mind that we have a (really) limited budget.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Greg

    <edit>
    I forgot to mention that the client machines all run win98.
    <edit>

  2. #2

    Re:Replacing a file/application server?

    I am not that familiar with samba, but isnce you are not using printer servers, I don't think there would be a reason not to go with Linux to replace Novell. Granted, you will have to learn some, but that is never a bad thing.
    And since many linux distributions are free, that takes care of your budget problem.

  3. #3

    Re:Replacing a file/application server?

    Ok, keep in mind I speak from a network engineer background, but I think that a priority would be to get rid of that IPX (Novell's protocol) based stuff and go all TCP/IP. In that case, you could replace the Novell server with a Linux server, and use SAMBA to provide some file shares for the Win98 machines. Samba works wonderfully for this. Also appealing is that the Novell client can be removed from the windows 98 machines.

    Samba is a pretty easy product to run. If you have access to a test box, give it a whirl. I should also mention that if you don't have to eliminate the Novell server right away, you could run both networks simultaneously - that way you have a smoother migration path.

    You can also run IPX on any linux server to provide some sort of compatibility with the current Novell server. http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/IPX-HOWTO.html has a lot of information on this.


  4. #4

    Re:Replacing a file/application server?

    I would take Gahwani's advice. Drop IPX completely. Buy an inexpensive tower with some sort a RAID array (maybe a simple harware mirror) and a tape drive. Set up a single, unsubnetted TCP/IP domain.

    Since this is a small workgroup, just install SAMBA. It's should be fairly easy to get running in your situation. I would even run a DHCP server on that box to ease your life some once you roll over to TCP/IP.

    [ftp=ftp://ftp.ora.com/examples/misc/samba/]
    ftp.ora.com/examples/misc/samba/
    [/ftp]

    That's the pdf for the entire O'Reilly's SAMBA Admninistrator's guide. It's a decent book.

    Look into SWAT if you want a SAMBA GUI or even webmin if you want to admin the box as a whole from a web browser.

    Get a good tape backup solution, even if you have to pay for a vendor supplied soultion. I currently zip/tar and then stream my linux webservers straight to tape, but I don't really trust the backups as much as I do the file servers I back up using something like ARCServ.

    Trust me, you only need to get burned once by bad or incomplete backups before you life is a living nightmare. I once came a hair away from loosing an entire orginization's data. The tape backups I had were complete crap and in the end I had to recover the data from the one good disk of a broken mirror. The disk was unbootable, by luckily the partition with all the data was still intact and recoverable. Needless to say, my life flashed before my eyes.

  5. #5
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    Re:Replacing a file/application server?

    To add to what Tolstoy and Gahwani stated ::

    Since SAMBA can be a PDC, have in teh domain script an auto directoy map for all directories they need. Save yourself the hassle there. It is pretty much a non-MS Windows PDC. If that makes any sense... It does all of the thjings a MS PDC can do but without the crap that iMS makes you deal with.

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