Late in 2010 one of our charitable organization clients, a local church, came to these decisions: 1) The aging XP Professional systems in their office needed to be replaced with new systems. 2) The existing XP Professional systems that were not so old needed to be upgraded to newer operating systems. 3) The existing SBS 2003 system needed to be upgraded to a new OS as well.
We at ERACC made the pitch for Linux on the desktop and the server but the staff at this client thought they “needed” to stay with something “famliiar like Microsoft” and voted for Windows 7 Professional on their new and “upgraded” desktop systems. (I knew they were not going to see fuzzy, cuddly familiarity with a migration from XP to W7. But I also know when to stop promoting Linux and move on along.) However, the fellows in charge of decision making about their server decided they wanted to try Linux and not spend money to “upgrade” SBS 2003 to Windows Server 2008. We considered this latter victory enough for our Linux sales pitch and laid out an upgrade plan for their office. Funds were procured and the parts for new systems were ordered from ERACC in late December. The work began the first week in January 2011.
The server was the first system to be upgraded and we chose Mandriva 2010.2 Linux for the server. Why? The primary reason is we know Mandriva has some easy GUI tools for new system administrators to use to get started. The secondary reason is we are most familiar with the Mandriva distribution “under the hood” here at ERACC. So we can provide the “not so easy” administration tasks that may be needed at the CLI. (A recent repair of the Bind / rndc configuration was one thing the GUI tools could not handle.)
One example of administration at the CLI that we will be providing in the future is installation of a BiblioteQ library managment system. The client has an on-site library that is not “computerized”. The library will get one of the older PC systems that is being retired from daily desktop use. They eventually want library management software and we have recommended BiblioteQ on Mandriva on the retasked PC connected to a database on the Linux server. The setup of and connection to a BiblioteQ database is non-trivial for those unfamilair with the Linux CLI, so we will be doing that for them.
The server hardware is a Dell PowerEdge 2900 with 2 GB RAM, two Xeon dual-core CPUs and a PERC 5/i RAID controller with a pair of 160 GB SATA drives in a RAID1 configuration. The old 160 GB SATA disks in a RAID1 configuration were backed up to a 1 TB NAS unit using a live PartedMagic Linux CD-RW disc. The server was booted with the PartedMagic disc. The NAS share was then mounted via NFS and the data on the NTFS partitions of the SBS 2003 installation were simply copied to the NAS. A simple copy was good enough as the SBS 2003 system was just used as a file server. Had the system also been a database server then additional steps would have had to be taken. If it had been a vendor lock-in Microsoft SQL Database server, a migration to Linux might have been too costly to do at this time. (Comments on experiences migrating from MS SQL on a MS server to a different database engine on a Linux server are welcome.)
Once the 160 GB RAID1 was copied and verified the system was shut down and a pair of 500 GB SATA drives were installed in the hot swap drive bays. A new RAID1 configuration was initialized on the PERC 5/i controller using the new 500 GB drives. Then the system was rebooted with a Mandriva 2010.2 Linux x86_64 DVD. The installation of Mandriva went smoothly and the system was rebooted once the install completed and the DVD removed.
The Bind 9.7.2 server was installed for mapping IP addresses to local area network (LAN) systems and to forward non-local requests to the router. Each PC is assigned a static IP address and these were mapped to the machine names for each PC under Bind.
All the user accounts from the SBS 2003 installation were recreated as Linux users on the server to create the private directories under /home where we would place their server based “My Documents” directories from the old SBS 2003 setup. Then remote media sources for Mandriva were set up and SAMBA 3.5.3 was installed. SAMBA was configured with the information for the workgroup used on the SBS 2003 setup. The users were added as SAMBA users using Mandriva’s excellent DrakSamba tool. At this point each user’s PC was accessed and the network drive shares were checked and recreated as needed. Then, while logged in to the user’s PC, each user’s server based “My Documents” directory was copied to the user’s /home directory on the Linux / SAMBA server and the Microsoft “shortcut” for that was recreated on the user’s Microsoft desktop.
The old setup and the new setup both required an installation of the PowerChurch church management software (Only available natively for Microsoft systems.) to be accessible from most user’s PC systems. Since the SAMBA server had the same network name as the SBS 2003 server, the PowerChurch software share was recreated under SAMBA to be the same path it had been on SBS 2003. When tested from each user’s PC this “just worked” and the PowerChurch software loaded as if nothing had changed.
At this point the upgrade from SBS 2003 to Linux is done. Some call this a “migration”, but we here at ERACC think of any move from Microsoft to Linux as an upgrade, so that is what we call it. Over the next few weeks each user’s PC will either be replaced with a new PC running W7 Pro or migrated to W7 Pro from XP Pro. To date, two of these are done and we are working on the third one this weekend. In case you are wondering, the W7 Pro installations work just fine with SAMBA 3.5.3 on Mandriva 2010.2 Linux.
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