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Implementing Linux in Your IT Organization

To help determine whether Linux has a role in your organization, we sort through the areas where the OS excels and where you should exercise caution.

Where's Tux?

We wanted to delve into all the areas where Linux is a presence, but our editor said we had to leave room for other articles. So we've analyzed only those application areas that support core business processes. You can find information on utility items, such as file and print sharing, and security applications, like intrusion-detection systems and firewalls, at our sister site, Linux Pipeline. This is where Linux is strongest. Every major Web server--with the notable exception of Microsoft's Inter- net Information Server--supports Linux. Whether you're a Fortune 500 running an entire rack of SunOne Web servers or a local distributor with a single Apache box, you could be running on Linux. If you're an IIS shop, one benefit of moving your Web servers to Linux right now is that all the knowledge your developers had for ASP is more applicable to PHP than to ASP.Net. Because PHP is developed for Linux Web servers first and ported to IIS later, it makes sense to run on Linux.

As for management, most commercial Web servers for Linux, including Sun's SunOne and Zeus Technology's Zeus, have excellent management interfaces that let you control all facets of your Web server through a user interface. Apache has some similar tools, but they're not as refined. If you're willing to learn the Apache 2 config file formats, you can administer things fine, but you might be better off, dollars-wise, talking with your vendor about the value its management console brings to your Web servers. If you enjoy Apache and just want help managing it and other common open-source products, check out Covalent Technologies' CAM (Covalent Application Manager). It manages Apache, the OS, several application-server pieces and MySQL from a central interface.

  • Web server vendors and projects: Apache, www.apache.org; Covalent Technologies, www.covalent.com; IBM, www.ibm.com; Roxen Internet Software, www.roxen.com; Sun, www.sun.com; Zeus Technology, www.zeus.com

    If your organization wants IM that works internally and can interface to any major IM program, a Jabber-compliant IM server is for you (a list of Jabber-compliant servers is maintained at the Jabber Web site, www.jabber.org). Because Jabber is developed on Linux and ported to Windows, this is another excellent place for Linux. As of press time, the Windows version had some serious bugs that the Linux versions didn't exhibit. And because IM servers are most safely deployed as semi-stand-alone servers with interfaces to only a very few other systems--say, some form of ID-management server--running Linux on your IM servers won't have a huge impact on the rest of the servers in your data center.

    Jabber is a little difficult to configure correctly, but helpful documentation is available, and if you purchase a commercial product, you'll have support while setting up your system. Commercial Jabber-compliant servers are available from Antepo, FaceTime Communications, Jabber, Jive Software and Rhombus IM, among others. Note that a simple internal- or Jabber-only configuration is much more manageable than a full deployment that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN and Yahoo. That's because each "connector" to a service must be configured separately.

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