January 19, 2012

Active Directory Alternative

Hey Everybody!

I'm brand new to this community but have been using the GNU/Linux Operating System casually for several years now. It's just been more of a novelty than anything else. I am a Windows admin and have spent most of my life learning 'The Microsoft Solution'.

...then I saw the light :)

Now, I'm in the process of having an article published in [...] Magazine that bashes Microsoft's absurd licensing schemes. Microsoft has let me down on so many different levels. I'm now committed to learning 'The Free Software Solution'. I suppose I'll have to replace my dark art of VB scripting and .NET application development with shell scripts and Python - oh well.

Anyway, on to my question! In an attempt to be able to design a network that meets the needs of a hypothetical small business, I'm trying to find an alternative to Microsoft's Active Directory. Despite my animosity towards Microsoft, they do make some pretty powerful products - Active Directory being one such product.

Now, using the GNU/Linux Operating System in a business environment is quite different than me making the switch to Linux at my home.

  • How does a Linux domain work, or is there such a thing? (ie: can I join a computer to a Linux domain like in Windows)
  • Is there an alternative to Group Policy?
  • Is there a single tool or set of tools to manage LDAP users and groups, DNS, DHCP, RADIUS, IPSec, etc...?
  • What are some resources I can read or interact with to assist in my understanding of managing these topics on the GNU/Linux platform?

Like I said, I'm a Windows admin. I know Windows admins usually catch a lot of flac in the Linux community due to their lack of script-fu in the shell - but lets face it - Windows is a GUI managed environment. Unless your running dsquery to gain granular insight into Active Directory, the only reason to script is to automate a repetitive task. You don't need to know almost any commandline applications to manage a Windows box (well, outside of ping and nslookup).

Another thing that concerns me is NFS permissions. I don't know how these work. I know I can look up how they work and how they are evaluated on Wikipedia - but that isn't the information I'm looking for. I'm used to NTFS permissions. I know the metadata that the permissions carry and the alternate streams that exist on an NTFS volume. I'm looking for information from people in the field that know or used to know Windows systems and now manage a GNU/Linux environment. I want to know what they miss from the Windows world and what they don't miss.

I suppose overall I'm looking for selling points for GNU/Linux. I'm no longer sold on Microsoft, but I don't know where to turn now. Could it be here?

Let me know what you think,

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