May 31, 2005

Bender finds Linux server suite

Author: Tina Gasperson

Bender Engineering got free of its Web host and even started running its own Web and email server after IT administrator Victor Reinhart discovered a Linux-based server software solution.Bender Engineering is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. The company develops and sells an asset managment software package called MaintStar to public works and manufacturing companies across the United States. On the shop floor it runs about 12 servers with various operating systems for development purposes. Internally, its needs are simpler but perhaps more pressing.

Reinhart had been looking for a standalone email server so he could have greater control over virus and spam protection than Bender's Web host was providing. Additionally, the process for uploading updates to MaintStar was proving cumbersome. "We distribute the software online. We have to update the CD image from time to time. It's about 400MB. It was taking forever to upload to the ISP."

Reinhart needed a solution that wouldn't take too much time and effort away from the ongoing development of MaintStar. Hiring another IT staff person was not an option. He experimented with Linux email and Web server software but was never happy with the results. "I found that there is good software for free, but it is very specialized and it only performs a couple of functions. Open source email products are not for the faint of heart." On top of everything else, Reinhart wanted a server-based antivirus solution. He didn't find a suitable open source product, and that particular functionality was going to cost him thousands of dollars to have included in a commercial email server.

With options like those, Reinhart didn't have to have his arm twisted to risk $99 on Linuxon's Red Hat-based server software, a package which includes open source stalwarts like Apache, Samba, qmail, SpamAssassin, and Clam AntiVirus. Upon investigation, he found that he liked the way they had "taken all these open source things and glued them together." Reinhart was able to install Linuxon quickly, with no manual configuration, on a hard drive with no operating system.

He is also pleased with Linuxon's inclusion of Clam AntiVirus software and built-in Web server capabilities. "Now we can just copy the CD images locally to the Web server and it is immediately available for download."

Bender Engineering owns one Linuxon server that handles all its email and Web needs. "We have several workstations attached, and we're able to connect to it from outside the office using any Web browser," Reinhart says. The Windows workstations connect using Outlook or Outlook Express.

Reinhart says his only complaint is that he's still getting a lot of spam, but he's quick to add that the ease of installation and reliability of the Linux server make up for a lack of spam-catching ability. "This is a lot simpler than doing it myself."


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