I need to build an ubuntu server for school, but I hate with a passion command line interfaces. I need a server with a desktop, like the current win server 2003 (which has crashed, ugh). This server needs to host the school network domain, have an active directory, and handle the roaming profiles that the students and staff access through WinXP workstations. It also needs to work as a file server, maybe a print server.

We have about 30 WinXP machines that log into roaming profiles, and several printers located around the school.

Can anyone advise me on how to create an Ubuntu server starting with Ubuntu Desktop edition?

Much thanks if you respond...


  • 3
    Please don't hate command line. Even MS Windows is switching to command line these days. You can not manage more than a few servers without command line. – Mircea Vutcovici Jan 11 '11 at 6:22
  • I am not saying this is impossible, but it will be very difficult to setup with your requirements. Particularly if you refuse/strongly dislike using a CLI. What is your problem with Windows? It is very inexpensive for schools. – Zoredache Jan 11 '11 at 7:51
  • Yeh, look, the only reason I don't like it is because I haven't yet got my head around it, and as I only have a few days to try and get this problem resolved I don't really have enough time to learn command line properly. In time, sure, that would be great, but for now. In any case, it would be beneficial to have a server with a useable desktop. – Dave Moody Jan 12 '11 at 1:01
  • Zoradache, the problem with our server is that it keeps giving various insufficient resources errors. It's not the operating system itself doing this because while getting these errors I can that very little of the processor is being used (as shown by task manager). On the rare occasion when I can actually log in to the server I get a stream of errors. Here are just some of the event ID's I've found in the logs: 2504, 26, 10026, 12291, 32777, 4295, 35, 1168, 1912 - there are dozens more. Unfortunately, the machine won't remain functional long enough for me to investigate them all. – Dave Moody Jan 12 '11 at 1:20
  • continued... These errors often result in things like this [various].dll not a valid .... When I was examining the logs I found that one of the server logs is corrupt and unreadable. The machine often blue-screens during start up and performs memory dumps, sometimes several at a time. It's doing one as I write. None of the shared folders on D:\ are accessible across the network. Students/staff can't log into their user profiles. Most of the time I can't even log into the machine either directly or remotely. – Dave Moody Jan 12 '11 at 1:28

Unlike windows server (which I understand to be a very different operating system to windows xp), ubuntu server uses the same packages as ubuntu desktop (the only difference is that each version has a different selection installed by default). So, if you want to use ubuntu desktop as a server, you should simply install ubuntu desktop (you'll almost certainly want to use the 64bit version if you've got the memory available), and once it's installed, use the package manager (Synaptics Package Manager, most likely) to add the services your server needs.

I'm afraid I have little experience with managing the windows roaming profiles from linux, or hosting an active directory from linux (in fact, I've never heard of a linux server being able to be the domain controller for a windows AD domain, but I'm hoping somebody else will be able to shed some light on that), but you'll want to use the package manager to install:

samba server (this is your windows file sharing and printer sharing - you'll most certainly want this) apache2 (this is the webserver you'll most likely use, if you need a webserver) dhcpd (this is the DHCP server you'll most likely use, if you need this server to be a DHCP server and NAT gateway)

I'm sure some others reading this thread can add some more suggestions of packages you'll need to complete your server.

  • it is somewhat possible to do on Ubuntu. Here is out-of-date guide. help.ubuntu.com/community/… – Zoredache Jan 11 '11 at 7:53
  • @Zoredache I didn't realize that samba was able to be a domain controller. That link didn't work for me, but "samba PDC" returned a lot of useful information, including up to date guides. Thanks for that Zoredache, very useful. – David Hagan Jan 11 '11 at 10:50
  • Thanks for your help, if anyone else has ideas on this please let me know. Dave. – Dave Moody Jan 12 '11 at 0:59

Not that I recommend you continue to avoid using command line, but if you decide to, check out Zentyal. It's basically Ubuntu server with a GUI management interface http://www.zentyal.com/en/products/server/

According to http://www.zentyal.com/en/products/server/office/ it can do PDC with roaming profiles and all

  • Good find! – jmort253 Jan 14 '11 at 3:21
  • Yeh, I am really excited about this one, going to give it a try today! – Dave Moody Jan 14 '11 at 4:12

Since you're using this as a server and may not know what packages you'll need to install to make your Ubuntu server complete, you could install Ubuntu Server on your machine, knowing that you'll have the server package.

Then, from the command line, run the following command:

#  sudo apt-get install gnome-desktop-environment

I ran this command on Ubuntu Server to install the desktop environment.

If you want a career in system administration or any type of software engineering career, I recommend you learn the command line as it is perhaps the most powerful feature on a UNIX-based operating system.

  • I agree in the value of learning the command line, but I only have a few days to resolve this problem, not enough time I think to make such a big transition. – Dave Moody Jan 12 '11 at 0:58
  • @Dave - Understood, which is why I offered the solution. Good luck! – jmort253 Jan 13 '11 at 6:21

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