I have a network of 5 workstations, 1 laser printer and 1 photocopier. Each of them connected to a WiFi router to get out to the internet or use the printers and copier. They belong to a small charity organization that I volunteered in and as such they do not have the budget to go about buying expensive Windows Server license etc.

For now, each workstations have one administrator account and multiple user accounts on it.

My question here is there anyway I could centralize all the user accounts and allow users to log on to any workstation with their username?

Also, is there anyway I could simplify the provisioning of printer drivers, software, system settings whenever there is a new user account being added to the workstations?



Expensive Windows Server License? For a charity? Have you checked out Microsoft's charity licensing pricing? It's like $120 for a charity license of Windows Server Standard. If they qualify for Tech Soup, then it's even less.

So install a server. It's the only supported way to do everything you want. If you need the functionality of centralized authentication and group policy, you need to pay for it. There may be hacks to get certain things like that but they are by no means easy and tend to break more often than it's worth.

  • Tech Soup is great. I worked at non-profit (albeit a larger one) where a great deal of their software was provided via Tech Soup and MS Charity Licensing program. It gave us options that just wouldn't of existed due to budget concerns. – kce Jul 27 '11 at 17:06

@Jason Berg has the right answer here, but if you really can't spring for the server licensing fee you can do this with Linux, however unless you are an experienced and competent Linux administrator you will probably find this a very troublesome approach.

You can use Samba to create an NT4-style domain, authenticate users against some kind of backend, have support for roaming profiles and manage the printers by using the Samba server as a central printer server. Linux will also happily run on rather modest hardware.

Unfortunately, there is really no way to replace the GPO mechanism.

There are lots of resources out there about Samba, but Samba-3 by Example is my personal favorite. They even have a tutorial based on this exact scenario.

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