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We have a Linux server, and about 10 Mac OS X (10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard) workstations and 5 Windows (mostly 7, some XP) workstations and are looking at expanding.

Is it possible to log into the work stations with user accounts that are centralised on the Linux server?

So for example I could log into any of workstations using my username/password with out setting up a local accounts.

We don't need to store user profiles/files on the server though. (although it would be nice if we could)

The Linux server is Debian and we are also using Samba and ACL's to share files.

Is this possible, and what software should I use to implement this?

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The windows side is easy: Just setup Debian to use OpenLDAP for authentication, configure Samba as a domain controller, put the Windows boxes into the domain and you are done. This is pretty standard stuff and you will find plenty of tutorials on how it's done.

The Mac side is more complicated. Generally, you can authenticate against any LDAP server, but for this to work nicely out of the box, the LDAP server has to be OpenDirectory (MacOS Server) or Active Directory, as these are best supported by Apple. For OpenLDAP to fully work, you will need to add a plethora of custom configuration to your LDAP server and your Mac boxes, but I guess it will be significantly easier if you don't need roaming profiles.

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Note you'll need to downgrade the level of NTLM authentication for the windows 7 hosts. ie. Control Panel - Administrative Tools - Local Security Policy Local Policies - Security Options Network security: LAN Manager authentication level Send LM & NTLM responses Minimum session security for NTLM SSP Disable Require 128-bit encryption –  Michael Henry May 4 '11 at 10:28
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I have no experience with it myself but you could try OpenLDAP. Your Mac OS clients will let you authenticate against this natively, and there is a client for the Windows workstations.

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