Hardly a day goes by when Linux doesn’t make the news. Judging by the buzz, you might think that Linux is poised for world domination—the stated goal for Linux in a now-famous quip by its creator, Linus Torvalds. In truth, Linux still faces numerous challenges before it can dominate the computing world, much less the world at large. One of these challenges is the huge installed base of Microsoft Windows systems. As a practical matter, Linux must coexist with these systems. Indeed, the challenge of coexisting with Windows can be viewed as an opportunity: Linux can be integrated into a Windows network, providing a reliable and low-cost platform on which to run vital services for Windows systems, or even serving as a workstation on an otherwise Windows-dominated network.
This book is dedicated to describing this opportunity for Linux. If you’re reading this Preface, chances are you work with a Windows-dominated network but know something about Linux and wonder how you can best use Linux to improve your Windows network. In broad strokes, you can replace Windows servers, supplement Windows servers with Linux servers, use Linux to implement new services you don’t currently run, deploy Linux-based thin clients, or migrate some or all of your Windows desktop systems to Linux. This book provides guidance about how to accomplish these tasks, with an emphasis on Linux in the role of network server operating system (OS).
This book will help you reduce costs and improve reliability by describing how several common Linux programs and protocols—Samba, OpenLDAP, VNC, BIND, and so on—can be integrated into a Windows network. This book provides enough information to get any of these programs up and running, provided you’ve already got a working Linux system. Of course, a book of this size can’t cover every detail; if you need to do very complex things, you’ll need to consult other books or documentation. The relevant chapters provide pointers.
I’ve written this book with an administrator of a Windows network in mind, but with the assumption that you know the basics of Linux system administration. You might be uncertain of the details as to where Linux might fit into your network or how to get started configuring particular Linux server programs. That’s where this book can help: it introduces the most cost-effective ways to add Linux to your network and describes the basics of how to get started configuring specific servers.
If you’re not already familiar with basic Linux system administration, you should consult a book on the topic, such as Running Linux (O’Reilly) or Linux System Administration (Sybex). Such books will help you with tasks ranging from installing Linux to recompiling your kernel.
You should be familiar with networking basics. Although I sometimes provide brief overviews of important prerequisite knowledge, this book doesn’t dwell on the details of the TCP/IP stack or how best to lay out a network. Likewise, knowledge of your own network is vital; you shouldn’t start adding servers to a network you don’t understand. Perhaps you have little idea of how you want to deploy Linux, or perhaps you’ve got specific plans. If the former, reading the first couple of chapters of this book will give you a better idea of how Linux can be used. If you have well-formed plans, you can skip ahead to more relevant chapters, although reading the first couple of chapters may help you verify (or not verify) that your plans are reasonable.