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Thread: ClearOS / CentOS ... is this the right way to go?

  1. #1
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    Question ClearOS / CentOS ... is this the right way to go?

    Hi friends,

    In December I want to take some time to implement a proper office environment at my company. We are a small company with about 7-8 staff. The 'system' is completely wrong and since I joined the company I've never been given the freedom to rectify it.

    I have very little to no working knowledge of linux seeing as I'm not in the I.T. field. I've just been made the "computer expert" at work since everyone else is grossly incompetent and it's easier for them to just ask me to do something than to learn to do it themselves. From speaking to mates of mine on here who are rather clued up I've been informed that a linux box is the way to go.

    The current setup:

    File Server: We have a shared drive on an XP machine acting as the File 'server' where all our company files we work on are stored. It falls over about twice a week.

    Backups: Backups are poor. I pretty much copy the files across onto a portable drive once a month. I tried a windows based incremental option, but my boss couldn't decypher it so it was scrapped.

    Email: We have 7 hosted email accounts with a local company. Each account pulls mail from the mail server off site instead of it coming in to a central point at our office. Ergo, even internal mail chows bandwidth because it's sent out then back in.

    Antivirus: I have a 10-license Trend package installed on my pc, which acts as the host for the other pc's in the office. Hence my pc is slow as all hell.

    Internet: We have a 384kb (dynamic IP address) uncapped adsl connection. The only form of content filtering is via the netgear ADSL modem/router, which I use to block all the usual sites, but there's no way of monitoring who uses how much or frequents which sites.


    Desired Setup:

    File Server: Something that is reliable and still accessible to all. Would getting 2x320GB drives in a RAID1 formation be the way forward?

    Backups: I'd like something that makes incremental backups where I can see older versions of changed files on either a daily or weekly basis. Accessing these files must not be a huge process.

    Email: With the present incoming mail server still off-site, would it be possible to somehow pull all the mail to a linux box which then distributes it to the rest of the addresses? I.e. making it possible to view all mail coming in despite going to specific accounts. Thereby allowing to search for a mail item from one location instead of asking everyone to check their accounts for it.

    Antivirus: With a linux box as our gateway, would it block viruses coming in via mail/web? Do I then just put AVG/Avast on each pc for flashdrive viruses or which route do I go?

    Internet: Since we have a dynamic IP address, I can't have a dedicated server here with everything on it. However I assume my connection would be like so:

    LAN <-> 24port switch <-> Linux Box <-> ADSL Modem <-> Phone line

    Hardware:

    Normal Dual Core intel box, with 2x SATA drives in Raid array. I assume Raid1 = where one fails, I can plug another one in and it rebuilds the database. This would then rebuild the OS too if it fails. Correct? Perhaps I should order an extra drive of the same make/model for incase. I'll get a KVM switch to put the server down next to a part-time used PC near the dsl modem. 1x Extra NIC since I'd need 2 NICs on the box. How much ram would I need?

    For everything above, will a version of ClearOS/CentOS be my solution or do I need to look for an alternate route?

  2. #2

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    If your Linux skills are still developing, then ClearOs should be the one for you.
    Works well. Stable. Hardware config sounds good.
    You can run your smtp server on a dynamic ip. It is however advisable to get a backup mx server though.

  3. #3
    Karmic Sangoma ghoti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by packetloss View Post
    If your Linux skills are still developing, then ClearOs should be the one for you.
    Works well. Stable. Hardware config sounds good.
    You can run your smtp server on a dynamic ip. It is however advisable to get a backup mx server though.
    ClearOS has an option for a smart host for smtp relay, so he can use he can just get the mail server to pass the mail onto the smart host. I think the mail pop accounts will still be hosted by a provider and "fetch mailed" "drop boxed" into the local mail accounts.

    Hey voicy,

    Spoke to you about this on the weekend. If you need any help with this setup give me a shout

    For your mail voicy, I just checked, theres an option for retrieval so it will pull the mail for your local mail server.
    Last edited by ghoti; 11-10-2010 at 11:42 AM.
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  4. #4
    Super Grandmaster ponder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voicy View Post
    Normal Dual Core intel box, with 2x SATA drives in Raid array. I assume Raid1 = where one fails, I can plug another one in and it rebuilds the database. This would then rebuild the OS too if it fails. Correct? Perhaps I should order an extra drive of the same make/model for incase. I'll get a KVM switch to put the server down next to a part-time used PC near the dsl modem. 1x Extra NIC since I'd need 2 NICs on the box. How much ram would I need?

    For everything above, will a version of ClearOS/CentOS be my solution or do I need to look for an alternate route?
    In addition to the raid I would have another internal drive not on raid as a simple backup via rsync or something just in case the you cannot recover from a raid failure, data is pretty important. Then have a external eSata enclosure with another drive and another copy of the data you can keep offsite or in a fireproof safe onsite.

    If you are not familiar with Linux I would say go with ClearOS. Why not download and play with both so long though to get an idea of what they are like.
    entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem

  5. #5
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    Default

    Maybe consider looking at Zentyal too.

  6. #6
    Super Grandmaster Tinuva's Avatar
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    For mail, the best setup would be:

    Keep the current offsite hosted mail as you have, however also host a mail site onsite. So mail still gets delivered offsite to a mail server with a static ip. Then the onsite mail server use something like fetchmail to grab the mails via pop3/imap and put them on to the onsite mail server. People use the onsite mail server to send mail, which will route mail directly to the onsite email accounts, but if its external mail it uses the offsite smtp mail server to relay the mail out. Complicated, but will work the best for you, I believe exchange on windows can do this too.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for the feedback, guys...

    Tinuva, that's pretty much what I have in mind yes. MS SBS server seems to be the other option if I want to go the print server route.

    I'll have to compare cost VS ease-of-use. I'm simply not clued up enough to see what's happening. I'm keen to give linux a spin, but this is sort of a revamp pet-project where I want minimal costs incurred to the company.

    But yeah...people accidentally deleting our files etc. is a ball ache. Apparently active directory sorts this out nicely. What's linux's variation of it?

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  9. #9
    Karmic Sangoma ghoti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul5186 View Post
    Have a look at this:

    http://www.zentyal.org/
    Thats the new ebox. I tried ebox... it broke a lot
    "To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist. That is all..." - Oscar Wilde

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by w1z4rd View Post
    Thats the new ebox. I tried (the old) ebox... it broke a lot
    The devil, as always, is in the detail. Personally, it seems to me that they've done a system reboot, if you will, and this new iteration may be better than the old one.

    So I've got both 32/64bit ISOs downloaded if anyone cares/wants 'em without having to interminably wait for downloads to complete.

  11. #11

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    For your anti virus route, get a quote on a 10 user license of Nod32. It's damn light in the resources department, and even if you host the server side on your desktop, you shouldn't take a too bad hit. Believe me when I say you don't want to run unmanaged AV programs on a small network, it's a real headache. If you can't afford it, Microsoft just recently amended Security Essentials license to be free for small businesses up to 10 computers. Still not the same as a managed system, but much quieter than many other av's.

    Otherwise, the rest of your plan seems ok.

  12. #12

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    Take a look at SME Server http://wiki.contribs.org/Main_Page
    completely free and easy to use web interface.
    . An awesome util : DropBox
    . Mind blowing bandwidth

  13. #13

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    We have ClearOS boxes at all of our clients and they work beautifully. Print server too. The Clear SDN has great Internet Domain & DNS Services as well, so your dynamic IP is not really an issue if you want to host your own mailserver. Your server will always be eg. "voicy.poweredbyclear.com". VPN, content filtering, its all in the box! Easy to use for novices and once you start to get more familiar with linux it has still centos under the hood, and you can make that do anything!

  14. #14

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    Hey Voicy - do you have any kind of budget for this project? I know you said you want to keep costs down but has your boss told you how much he is prepared to spend on the revamp.

    Being new to Linux myself, I cant really say how good an option it would be with few linux skills. If the initial setup is straightforward thats great, but from my limited experience in this area you might find it harder to support initially while you skill up? Im really not sure.

    having been in your situation before, a MS SBS might be a good option, but more expensive than the linux options obviously. I used to use a little product called MDaemon for mail (google it) to get around exactly the same problem you have with email, and it worked like a charm. You need to evaluate which of the options is best for you, and alot of that comes down to your budget as well

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by warwickw View Post
    Take a look at SME Server http://wiki.contribs.org/Main_Page
    completely free and easy to use web interface.
    I used to use this, but the free version isn't that popular or well supported anymore, so I moved on to ClearOS (ex Clarkceconnect)
    <profound><witty> One Liner </profound></witty>

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