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I'm going to move a small office to Ubuntu. Typical tasks: VoIP, E-Mail, documents, RDP access, ERP, printing, file-sharing.

What stack of technologies & solutions can you suggest to use for better experience and flexibility? Real-life success stories are welcome :)

Here's a list of possible features to implement:

  • Network configuration
  • VPN
  • Centralized authentication (account management)
  • Home directories storage (hardware-independent workplace)
  • Simplified Shares/Printers configuration
  • Centralized administration & configuration
  • Installed software management
  • Hardware monitoring
  • Helpdesk: remove support
  • Documents & PIM sharing/storage system
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I don't want to be a jerk here but you're doing this the wrong way round. You're essentially saying "The answer is ubuntu, now what questions can I make fit into that?" where it might be better to say "What does the business want to do, and what would be a good answer to all of those?" – RobM Mar 22 '11 at 19:11
You're right, but the boss says 'Ubuntu', so be it :) – kolypto Mar 22 '11 at 21:07
up vote 2 down vote accepted

There's a lot of work involved in just finding out what you really eed let alone making specific recommendations, but to get you started....

You should certainly plan on using LDAP for a lot of the authentication/authorization stuff. I'd recommend GoSA as a plug-and-play solution.

NFS as a file sharing system makes decoupling users from individual machines very easy - but NFS is not a very secure network file system and has other problems too.

I've not tried myself but you might want to research using SMB for users home dirs - there is a pam module which handles the mounting of drives.

If all the clients are linux based - then you might consider using scp for shared file access - most modern file managers will happily run on top of ssh (I mostly use KDE - where all file access can be routed through wrappers).

For printing - cups. Its not as well integrated with LDAP as it probably should be - but for most purposes that's not such a big issue. And the only real alternative is the BSD printing system - which is not better for integration and loses out on ease of configuration (IMHO - please don't flame - I still use BSD lpd for managing queueing of non-printer stuff like fax).

There are lots of tools for managing software multiple machines. Canonical's landscape is well worth a look - particularly if you're planning on usnig Ubuntu anyway. You don't say how many you're talking about. I'd recommend configuring an ssh server on each box and a GUI server (X, VNC, FreeNX).

Documents & PIM sharing/storage system

Oooh, that's difficult to give a definitive answer to. Kolab+Kontact? Evolution+....? Zimbra? These will provide the email/PIM/calendaring document sharing is a different thing altogther.

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Thank you! Most helpful, especially GoSA :) – kolypto Mar 22 '11 at 14:30 is also great & "just works" :) – kolypto Apr 1 '11 at 20:58

Why not just use Google Apps to take care of that last bullet point?

That way you don't have to worry about email, calendaring, or document sharing. Plus now with Google Cloud Connect, you can still continue to use Word and just have it sync to Google's cloud.

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VPN: I've used OpenVPN successfully on ubuntu, the authentication was done by LDAP.

Centralized authentication (account management):...LDAP

Helpdesk: remove support: RT is a good tool if you mean ticket system. If you meant remote support, I used TeamViewer, it's cross platform (Windows, MacOS and Linux).

I second Daniel's suggestion for Google Apps. It does take a large amount of work off the sysadmin's shoulders. Plus, it integrates wonderfully with any platform/mail client.

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