Linux as server

I am exploring using Linux instead of NT as a server for the small business that I work in.  Will it work well as a file server and are there also any database server applications that work well?  What distribution is best for someone new to Linux but with copious computing/networking experience with Windows/DOS/Novell?
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ghjmConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Yes, Linux will definitely work well as a small business server. I have installed several such servers and have had uniformly positive results. The up-front effort of getting everything out of the box and working is somewhat higher than the equivalent NT server, but once it is set up correctly, Linux is rock solid stable.

The best solution for file and printer sharing for Windows clients is still Novell, particularly if you already know Novell from past use. Caldera (, founded by Ray Noorda, ex-Novell CEO) has recently released a full port of Novell NetWare to the Linux platform. The only thing it doesn't do is run NLMs. The three-user version is free, and additional users cost about half the price of a comparable real-NetWare license. Samba is great and works well, and it's free, but I have seen it suffer from performance problems and weird browsing failures. If your business is going to depend on this server, I'd advise that you have a serious look at Caldera's product. Caldera also sells a Linux distribution, which you might consider if for no other reason than it's likely to be the distribution on which the NetWare port is likely to get the most testing. Caldera also supports the NetWare product on Red Hat's distribution.

In terms of a SQL database, I had problems with Postgresql (which is free) because it does not support the full ANSI SQL spec. All major database vendors have announced support for the Linux platform: Oracle, Sybase, Informix, even IBM DB2. The Sybase port appears to be free, but I haven't tried it yet. At this point, I'm recommending Interbase, which until recently was a Borland product and is now sold by a Borland subsidiary called Interbase Corp. I am running a database server for a company of 300 people on Interbase for Linux and it has performed exceptionally well so far. This was the first major database to release a Linux version, and while it isn't free, it isn't nearly as expensive as Oracle, either. It is a full ANSI SQL implementation, provides both ODBC and native drivers for Windows, integrates extremely well with both Delphi and VB for client-side development, and was the first database to provide Sun-certified "100% Pure Java" JDBC drivers.

Good luck!
It will work great... with NFS (not designed for performance) VERY fine tuned, I could read a BIG file at 700Kb/sec. You can use samba and find the linux box as an NT, to serve filesystm and printers, even for user authentication... Yesterday I received a pre-release of oracle 8 for Linux, I'm downloading a "free" copy of sybase and I'll download informix as soon as I get more disk space... Everything for evaluation porpouses (yet). Anyway linux distributions bring some free databases, not so full featured, but they're there...

And about distribution, Debian is not for the newbie I think, RedHat is very popular and easy to install, so is S.u.S.E. (and has some more demos/commercial products with licences) I wouldn't recommend Caldera unless you need Netware for Linux...

But the best of Linux is SUPPORT... You will be able to mail the author of every piece of code and you will get an answer and it will be free...
Well, I was going to answer this, but marcelofr told you everything you need to know about it!!!

Good answer by the way.  The Databases marcelofr mentioned are very good, but I also suggest you check you MySQL at  It's obviously no Oracle nor Informix, but it's pretty good indeed!

good luck!

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And there also a soon-to-be-released IBM's DB2 for Linux ...
I would suggest you check out Postgresql ( It's a transaction-based free database server for Linux. I use it for my projects and it's great. It has JDBC and ODBC drivers, too, so you can use it easily from e.g. Windows applications.

For your first Linux system I would recommend RedHat. It is easy to install and the packaging system helps a lot. Debian is another great distribution, though it seems to be more or less targeted to the more experienced Linux administrator.

We have Linux servers handling all our server needs: mail, news, web-hosting, file and printing server, development platform, database servers etc etc etc. You can save a lot of money with Linux: the operating system is free and the machine doesn't have to state-of-the-art to run Linux. NT requires a lot more money and power.

Just go for Linux! =)
My favorite is still Slackware.
After many years of PC/Windows/Novell it was the easiest to make sense of.
I've read ans still read of too many issues with RedHat installs not working. Usually
it because redhat dosen't always have the latest files and Slackware is usually more

LinuxPro's sales speech is exactly the opposite of jeffa's opinion: they say they don't include a package they hadn't tested enough... so they're the least current... You can have what you want...

I don't know if this is good news or bad news but other OS's vendors say that Linux is the OS were each user has its own OS version ...
For not tested enough I have the most problems with RedHat and the least with Slackware.

Try to answer the question... don't talk to me.
ekarjalaAuthor Commented:
I'll accept this, although marcelofr's comments were very useful as well
Linux is the most stable of all the NOS'es available today and most builds of it are free to almost free. There is a lot more to linux though than just knowing how to get through <click-me-screens>. So brush up

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