This book is organized in five parts, plus two appendixes. If you want a good general grounding in how Linux can be deployed on a network, you can read this book cover to cover; however, most chapters are self-contained enough to be useful on their own. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. As already noted, if you’re not sure how to deploy Linux, you should read Part I for some basic tips. Chapter 4 (on Samba share definitions) depends on Chapter 3, so you should probably read those two sequentially. Likewise, the remaining chapters in Part II depend on Chapter 3. If you intend to use a remote authentication database from Linux rather than deploy Linux solely as the repository for such a database, you should read Appendix A with any of the chapters of Part III. Kerberos depends on all the systems having matching clocks, so you should read the NTP section of Chapter 15 in conjunction with Chapter 9. Some backup strategies described in Chapter 14 depend on Samba information, particularly as described in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4. These interdependencies are pointed out in the chapters themselves.
This part of the book provides an overview of how Linux can be used to improve an otherwise Windows-dominated network. It consists of two chapters that describe Linux’s features and provide an overview of strategies for deploying Linux. This material is targeted at readers who have the least experience with Linux or who aren’t sure precisely how Linux can help them.
This part of the book describes Samba, a file- and printer-sharing server package that is arguably the most important Windows integration tool available for Linux. Samba implements the Server Message Block/Common Internet File System protocol, which has long been the backbone of file and printer sharing in the Windows world. A Linux system running the Samba suite can fit right in, delivering files or making printers accessible to Windows systems. This part’s four chapters describe basic Samba configuration, creating file and printer shares, using Samba as a domain controller, and using Linux’s SMB/CIFS client features.
Many networks employ centralized authentication tools that enable you to maintain a single account database for all the clients and servers on your network. If you wish to use Linux on a network that already runs such a system, you should know how to get Linux working with it. You can also use Linux to manage accounts for Windows systems. This part of the book describes three such systems: Windows NT domains, the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, and Kerberos.
One of Linux’s strengths has always been its support for remote login protocols—the ability to use Linux from remote locations. This support is handy both for system administration (simplifying your life should a server need support while you’re not physically present) and for regular users who remotely access Linux or wish to use Linux to remotely access other systems. This part of the book includes three chapters that describe text-mode remote access protocols, GUI remote-access protocols, and use of Linux in a thin-client configuration (that is, using a minimal OS on a simple computer to run programs on a more powerful central login computer).
This part of the book describes several miscellaneous server programs. Chapter 13 describes mail server programs that enable Linux to function as a network’s primary mail server or as a supplementary system to filter mail or retrieve mail from outside sites and forward it to another computer. Chapter 14 describes network backups. Linux can be a good platform for this task because its backup software packages are inexpensive (most are free), and some of Linux’s other tools (such as Samba) provide several opportunities for backing up Windows systems. Chapter 15 describes three other protocols and their servers: the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol for remotely configuring client computer’s network stacks, the Domain Name System for managing hostname-to-IP-address mappings, and the Network Time Protocol for keeping clocks synchronized.
Two appendixes describe some additional miscellaneous topics. Appendix A covers the Pluggable Authentication Module approach to Linux authentication. Knowing how to modify a PAM configuration is vital if Linux is to coexist with a network’s centralized authentication tools, as covered in Part III of the book. Appendix B covers the basics of deploying Linux on the desktop. If you decide to replace Windows desktop systems with Linux systems, Appendix B provides help to get this job done.