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Blackhawk556
04-06-2010, 7:27 PM
I have a class project that requires me to gather info on how to set up a computer network. I need to write a paper which pretty much would help small business owners set up a small network on their own. I've already gathered data online but I'm interested what you data you guys/gals/business owners used when setting up your own network.

I want info that would help someone make the right choice when it comes to choosing the right equipment. What should they look for? Why? What should the keep in mind? What protocols should they follow? Cat 5e? wireless b/g/n? A switch instead of hub? (switch wins)

The network will consist of 5-25 computers plus printers and other equipment.


I know a budget is important but try to ignore that just for a bit.


Any small business owners willing to share their experience?

Anyone have suggestions on where I can gather more info for my research???

Satex
04-06-2010, 8:26 PM
Server: Reliable hardware platform of good quality. Have the necessary services such as: file sharing, printers, fax server. Gateway: security + VPN access. Data protection if needed (encryption). Printers: cost effective last B&Q and color printing. Copy machine integrated into server for scanning, etc...
Best backbone you can get, CAT6 or CAT5e only if line lengths are short. Managed switch is a must. Backup system and plan is a must for the network. I.e. how users backup critical data, how that is backed up centrally, and how often backup is made, off site backup, etc. Wireless security if needed.

Dark Paladin
04-06-2010, 9:24 PM
Alternatives based on what Satex wrote. . .

Instead of a full fledged server, maybe an appliance for ease of use and management. Something like a vendor agnostic Network Attached Storage with its own client software so there's very little configuration involved for the non-tech-savvy business owner. Some NAS also comes with print server functions, which helps. It may also be significantly more cost effective than shelling out for a Windows Server license.

While faxes are still in use, one might look into something like eFax or some other electronic-based faxing solution. Less paper wasted, and less overhead spent on a dedicated fax line.

A multifunction copy/print/fax/scan unit would be great, but might become cost prohibitive for a SMB owner. Also, the unit becomes a single point of failure, which leaves the business high and dry if something happens.

Wireless security is a MUST. Not only to protect your critical business data, but to prevent people from using your network connection for their nefarious deeds. Network security involves not only protecting data, but also preventing others from using your IP address to commit crimes. You may prove your innocence, but your business would already be disrupted by any investigations. WPA2 is good, using a nice and long alphanumeric Pre-Shared Key.

VPN would be nice to have, and something like IPCop installed on a obsolete PC = very little equipment cost. However, you'll need someone who's familiar with Linux and network configurations to set it up.

File encryption could be skipped if folder permissions are configured correctly, and internal security protocols are well defined. Job roles and access levels like "Accountant" needs access to these files, but "Clerk A" and "Sales B" do not, needs to be defined and enforced. Sufficient levels of password security should also be considered. Threats of theft does not only come from external sources. . . internal theft must also be carefully considered.

For most businesses, 100BaseTX is plenty. Gigabit is overkill for a small environment, unless you're dealing with high-resolution graphics or large database connections. For comparison, your common DSL/cable connection is only 2-3Mbps downstream, as opposed to 100Mbps for an common switch.

E Pluribus Unum
04-06-2010, 9:51 PM
I have a class project that requires me to gather info on how to set up a computer network. I need to write a paper which pretty much would help small business owners set up a small network on their own. I've already gathered data online but I'm interested what you data you guys/gals/business owners used when setting up your own network.

I want info that would help someone make the right choice when it comes to choosing the right equipment. What should they look for? Why? What should the keep in mind? What protocols should they follow? Cat 5e? wireless b/g/n? A switch instead of hub? (switch wins)

The network will consist of 5-25 computers plus printers and other equipment.


I know a budget is important but try to ignore that just for a bit.


Any small business owners willing to share their experience?

Anyone have suggestions on where I can gather more info for my research???

I am a self-employed computer technician and the bulk of my business is other small businesses.

I have a couple proven ways to save money for business owners.

Part of my niche is building low-cost servers. I can build a server for less than half the cost of a Microsoft server that runs faster.

I do it with Linux. Windows Server licenses cost over $1000.00. Then, because the code is inefficient, it requires $1000.00 worth of hardware to run a server that is good for 50 users.

I can build a server in a rackmount case, with 2 gigs of ram and 3 sata hard drives for about $600.00. Linux is more efficient, and it is free; right off the top that saves $1000.00. I can throw a gigabit network card in there, configure a RAID5 software raid with very good access times and have it to the customer with all the labor included for under $1000.00 and it would be just as fast or faster than the $2000.00 Microsoft equivalent.

Linux has a software package called SAMBA3. It handles all of the standard Windows server stuff, so Windows workstations see the linux server as a Microsoft Server; they cannot tell the difference. So, the office personnel can stick with their MS Windows clients and feel comfortable not having to learn a new operating system.

On top of this, there are countless free open source software to handle your word processing needs. Microsoft Office, MS Project, Adobe Acrobat, Media Player, et cetera, they all have open source counterparts that are completely free. This can save between $100-$300 per workstation in software licensing alone.

For the network hub, I would either use an open source router running DD-WRT or the like, or I would build a linux router depending on if they needed to use VPN or Voice Over IP services. For the layman, it basically saves a company thousands of dollars per month in phone charges if they have multiple offices. Generally, a business pays upwards of $.05 per minute for a business phone line. If he has two offices, that is between $.06-$.10 per minute for both sides any time they call either office. This is not to mention high cost frame relays to link the two office's computer networks. With VPN and VOIP, a business can pay $500-$800/month for a T1 on one side, and $100 per month for broadband at each office and backhaul all voice and computer traffic to one main office. That office can then buy DID trunks and save thousands on phone costs. Most small businesses are OK with one office, and an open source router running DD-WRT.

So... for a basic office:

$1000 linux server
$500 for a gigabit switch, a DD-WRT router, and various other network equipment
Roughly $550 per intranet workstation
Roughly $250 per network black-white laser printer
Roughly $400 per network color laser printer
Plus the labor for setting it all up. (Roughly 5 hours for network infrastructure and .75 hours per workstation)

For a 20 user network, with 2 black and white lasers and a color laser, all networked with internet, server, et cetera, you are looking somewhere in the ballpark of:

$13,400 Parts
$1,700 Labor

Total: $15,100

Ricky-Ray
04-07-2010, 12:05 AM
I have a class project that requires me to gather info on how to set up a computer network. I need to write a paper which pretty much would help small business owners set up a small network on their own. I've already gathered data online but I'm interested what you data you guys/gals/business owners used when setting up your own network.

I want info that would help someone make the right choice when it comes to choosing the right equipment. What should they look for? Why? What should the keep in mind? What protocols should they follow? Cat 5e? wireless b/g/n? A switch instead of hub? (switch wins)

The network will consist of 5-25 computers plus printers and other equipment.


I know a budget is important but try to ignore that just for a bit.


Any small business owners willing to share their experience?

Anyone have suggestions on where I can gather more info for my research???


Lot's of variables in there.

To start with are all users going to be desktop or laptop or mix users? If laptops are involved are they going to require remote access?

Depending on the number of users do you want to run Active Directory? Also do you require some type of document management system.

Printers, copier's and fax machines, seperate or all in one units attached to the network, would require a print server too.

Email? Are you going to host your own? If so at least an exchange server.

Phone system. Are you going to run traditional phone line or use VOIP?

Firewall?

Backup sever?

Of couse some of this can be run on virtual server's too to help cut cost down too.

For example, if it was only a 5 person office and wanted bare bones you could run 5 desktops connected to a standard router and add a switch for additional network ports to add on networked printers and add a NAS for document/file storage on a network.

However if it was 25 people then I would consider adding on servers. Print server, File server, firewall, at the bare minimum depending on budget.

smird
04-07-2010, 5:13 AM
Well the first question, is what's going to be running on this network. Is the server simply a file server or is it going to be running an accounting/inventory program or crm? If that's the case. We need to look at the requirements of that software.

As a general rule, I like Dell for my server. Hp workstations, and cisco network equip.

Is this network connected to the internet do you need a firewall, maybe voip phone system?

Brad

E Pluribus Unum
04-07-2010, 6:02 AM
As a general rule, I like Dell for my server. Hp workstations, and cisco network equip.

This is precisely what small businesses fall victim to all of the time.

I went into a small Doctor's office that had 4 workstations.... count them.... 4.

For these 4 workstations they had two Dell servers, a Cisco Catalyst 2900 Gigabit Switch, a Pix firewall, and a $1000 Cisco router. In addition to this, they had a T1 that they were paying $800 a month for when a cable modem would have been plenty.

I am a Cisco Certified Network Administrator and I have built expensive, complex networks in the tens of thousands of dollars but there is absolutely no reason to put that kind of expense into a small business.

Each of your "Dell Servers" running Windows products is going to run an Easy $2000.00. Your cisco firewall, router, and switch is going to run another $2000.00. Why spend $6000 on network infrastructure when there is a better/cheaper way?

I LOVE Cisco equiptment and when I can, I use their products exclusively. That being said.... I rarely quote Cisco equiptment to a network with less than 20 users; its just overkill.

I currently have a client that is a civil engineering company with 30 engineers running autodesk autocad, a very resource intensive program. They are setup with windows workstations running roaming profiles on a linux server I built over 2 years ago. It has 1 gig of RAM and a 800 gig RAID5 SATA array and its current uptime is just over 120 days and that is because I ran a distribution upgrade. The backup server only has one purpose and that is to store the backups and its uptime is over one year.

I spent a little extra money and got decent hard drives with a nice cache and mbps rating but other than that, the server is running standard parts from a couple years ago and it out-performs some of my other client's Windows 2003 servers running with twice the hardware.

Microsoft is a big resource HOG that costs $1000 over the competition. Why they are still in business is a miracle to me.

Obviously, I deal more with Server 2003 than I do Linux because there are those that just want an MS box. It doesn't bother me; the MS box has to be constantly rebooted and service patched to stay running correctly, which generates me more billable hours. The linux box just runs and runs.

Please.... download an ISO image for linux and install it on a beater machine.. you will be surprised at the speed and efficiency.


www.ubuntu.com

bigmike82
04-07-2010, 7:49 AM
Thinkg you leave out....there's *nothing* that open source has which can touch the Active Directory/Exchange/Office stack. Nothing that works as well and as easily. For that four person office...no, they probably won't need it.

But for 50 users? There's nothing that compares to AD/Exchange in the Linux world.

A huge mistake that many consultants make (I hesitate to call it a scam (I'm also not directing this at you, E Pluribus. You actually sound like you know what you're doing)) is that they skimp on hardware, and the client ends up having to pay much, much more for ongoing support and maintenance. AD/Exchange has been fire and forget for me. I set it up, show the client what features they can use, and let them go nuts. I then bill them a nominal recurring monthly fee for monitoring, and we're done.

Your basic Windows network based provides a full suite of collaborative tools (exchange and a limited version of Sharepoint), which allows everyone in the office to make full use of Outlook's functionality (contact/calendar/email sharing, scheduling, doc sharing, etc). A good server will run you 1500. Add 700 for SBS, and another 300 for the extended warranty, and the price of the server is now 2500. That's not unreasonable for a solution that can scale up painlessly.

"On top of this, there are countless free open source software to handle your word processing needs. Microsoft Office, MS Project, Adobe Acrobat, Media Player, et cetera, they all have open source counterparts that are completely free. This can save between $100-$300 per workstation in software licensing alone."
Yeah, but they generally suck in comparison.

"Why they are still in business is a miracle to me."
Because, when set up properly, it works very well. And, like I mentioned, the AD/Exchange/Office stack is an incredible combination.

Satex
04-07-2010, 11:07 AM
Thinkg you leave out....there's *nothing* that open source has which can touch the Active Directory/Exchange/Office stack. Nothing that works as well and as easily. For that four person office...no, they probably won't need it.

But for 50 users? There's nothing that compares to AD/Exchange in the Linux world.


I agree, SMB is a neat toy for home users - nothing more. If you go for simple configurations, SMB would work, but it doesn't come anywhere close to permissions and security configuration options that a standard MS server provides.

We having been running SBS2003 for 5 years now with no issues and it provides an order of magnitude more services than an Linux based server with SMB. It's also an order magnitude easier to manage and maintain.

E Pluribus Unum
04-07-2010, 11:57 AM
Thinkg you leave out....there's *nothing* that open source has which can touch the Active Directory/Exchange/Office stack. Nothing that works as well and as easily. For that four person office...no, they probably won't need it.

But for 50 users? There's nothing that compares to AD/Exchange in the Linux world.

A huge mistake that many consultants make (I hesitate to call it a scam (I'm also not directing this at you, E Pluribus. You actually sound like you know what you're doing)) is that they skimp on hardware, and the client ends up having to pay much, much more for ongoing support and maintenance. AD/Exchange has been fire and forget for me. I set it up, show the client what features they can use, and let them go nuts. I then bill them a nominal recurring monthly fee for monitoring, and we're done.

Your basic Windows network based provides a full suite of collaborative tools (exchange and a limited version of Sharepoint), which allows everyone in the office to make full use of Outlook's functionality (contact/calendar/email sharing, scheduling, doc sharing, etc). A good server will run you 1500. Add 700 for SBS, and another 300 for the extended warranty, and the price of the server is now 2500. That's not unreasonable for a solution that can scale up painlessly.

"On top of this, there are countless free open source software to handle your word processing needs. Microsoft Office, MS Project, Adobe Acrobat, Media Player, et cetera, they all have open source counterparts that are completely free. This can save between $100-$300 per workstation in software licensing alone."
Yeah, but they generally suck in comparison.

"Why they are still in business is a miracle to me."
Because, when set up properly, it works very well. And, like I mentioned, the AD/Exchange/Office stack is an incredible combination.

The older versions of Samba are NT4 compliant. The new versions of Samba are incorporating AD2003 standards.

Opensource software sucks?? Ever run open office?? It is a very stable, excellent piece of software.

Your outlook/project, integration can be easily handled by a phpgroupware installation.

What about pdfcreator to replace acrobat?

How about VLC for playing videos??

The list goes on and on.

Don't get me wrong... there are times when MS servers are required; for example, when software requires it. There are, however many more times that a linux server is better, yet no one offers them the alternative.

E Pluribus Unum
04-07-2010, 12:01 PM
I agree, SMB is a neat toy for home users - nothing more. If you go for simple configurations, SMB would work, but it doesn't come anywhere close to permissions and security configuration options that a standard MS server provides.

We having been running SBS2003 for 5 years now with no issues and it provides an order of magnitude more services than an Linux based server with SMB. It's also an order magnitude easier to manage and maintain.

I would beg to differ....

I have an ophcrack live CD that will crack many windows passwords, and I have another CD that will allow me to reset the password in the PAM file. If I have local access to your Windows machine, I can be in it within 4 minutes.

Linux supports automatic encryption of certain directories so even if you throw the hard drive in another machine, you cannot access the files.

Samba supports roaming profiles and security profiles.... you just have to know how to implement them.

bigmike82
04-07-2010, 12:02 PM
"Ever run open office?? It is a very stable, excellent piece of software."
Yes I have. Yes, it is excellent and stable.

Yes, Office 2003 and 2007 kick it in the balls.

"Your outlook/project, integration can be easily handled by a phpgroupware installation."
Been there, done that. That combination, based on my experience, isn't as good, nor as easy to maintain, as the AD/Exchange stack. Period.

"What about pdfcreator to replace acrobat?"
This works *if* all you're doing is converting docs to PDFs. PDFCreator by itself does not allow you to edit PDFs, or create them from scratch.

"How about VLC for playing videos??"
VLC is great...I use it all the time for videos. Windows Media sucks.

I don't dispute that there are many, many fine open-source projects. I'm not saying open source sucks, or that MS is the end-all be-all.

My point is simply that for general business/corporate use, open source can not touch AD/Exchange/Office in terms of functionality, stability and ease of maintenance.

"If I have local access to your Windows machine, I can be in it within 4 minutes."
Uhm, same with a Linux machine dude. Oh, and Ophcrack doesn't work if you don't store the hashes using LanMan.

"Linux supports automatic encryption of certain directories so even if you throw the hard drive in another machine, you cannot access the files."
Uh, so does Windows...

E Pluribus Unum
04-07-2010, 12:35 PM
"Ever run open office?? It is a very stable, excellent piece of software."
Yes I have. Yes, it is excellent and stable.

Yes, Office 2003 and 2007 kick it in the balls.

"Your outlook/project, integration can be easily handled by a phpgroupware installation."
Been there, done that. That combination, based on my experience, isn't as good, nor as easy to maintain, as the AD/Exchange stack. Period.


I guess that is a matter of opinion. I actually prefer OO over MSO. Some installations of MSO wont even open a file from Microsoft Works. Even still today I get calls from people having issues with MSO encoding an email attachment as a winmail.dat file instead of a readily available file format. I run into so many software bugs related to outlook, its crazy. Granted, many are fixed with a windows update, but it can be a PITA to trace it down.



"What about pdfcreator to replace acrobat?"
This works *if* all you're doing is converting docs to PDFs. PDFCreator by itself does not allow you to edit PDFs, or create them from scratch.

It is a LITTLE bit more labor intensive, but typically I just scan the document, OCR it, make the changes, and then print. Acrobat allows a PDF author to restrict editing, which many of them do so you're in the same boat with Acrobat.


I don't dispute that there are many, many fine open-source projects. I'm not saying open source sucks, or that MS is the end-all be-all.

My point is simply that for general business/corporate use, open source can not touch AD/Exchange/Office in terms of functionality, stability and ease of maintenance.

I take issue with the stability. Linux is much more stable than MS servers. Other than that... MS servers are much easier to configure and maintain in that it does not require any experience to get by. Anyone with a higher level of intelligence can use google to research most of the solutions and fix the server himself. Microsoft offers many more "turnkey" solutions that are very easy to implement. But at what cost?

For someone who owns a small business and does not want to hire a computer tech, it will work out better over a long period of time because he can handle it himself. In the case where he is paying for a computer tech anyway.... the cost of going MS will be thousands of dollars more. That is why I do not suggest 100% linux (like linux workstations). I suggest a hybrid network. In many of my network installations, I have an MS 2003 server AND a linux file server to handle the meat and potatoes.


"If I have local access to your Windows machine, I can be in it within 4 minutes.""Uhm, same with a Linux machine dude. Oh, and Ophcrack doesn't work if you don't store the hashes using LanMan.

What percentage of computer techs know linux well enough to do it?



"Linux supports automatic encryption of certain directories so even if you throw the hard drive in another machine, you cannot access the files."
Uh, so does Windows...

Natively???? I was unaware of that. I will have to look more into that. Historically I have had to install truecrypt or some other encryption software.

It sounds like we are saying the same thing. You are not saying that open source always sucks; I am not saying that MS is NEVER the way.... the problem is that 90% of all computer techs don't know linux so the customer never gets the option.

For a basic network, linux will do the job better and cheaper. As networks grow and demands exceed the limits of a linux server (like software requires a MS server) then you can add an MS server later.

bigmike82
04-07-2010, 12:51 PM
"I guess that is a matter of opinion."
*chuckle* True enough! I've used both, and for me, Office is just a much more pleasant experience.

"which many of them do so you're in the same boat with Acrobat."
True. 9 times out of 10, PDFCreator is absolutely the way to go.

"Linux is much more stable than MS servers."
Ehhh...I think a server that's set up by a competent tech, in either OS, will show a very healthy uptime. I mean...when you're talking about one restart per year instead of say, three, the difference isn't great enough to worry about. Now, a poorly configured MS Server is going to be much worse, from a stability standpoint, than even a similarly poorly configured Linux box, based on what I've seen.

"the cost of going MS will be thousands of dollars more."
At first, yes. But once you factor in *not* having to call the tech over, the costs start equalling out, IMO.

"What percentage of computer techs know linux well enough to do it?"
Hehehe...yeah. But you don't have to know it if you have the ability to use google (which many, unfortunately, don't).

"Natively????"
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308989 for XP.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb457065.aspx for a bigger overview as far as server and xp goes.

"For a basic network, linux will do the job better and cheaper."
Depends on how basic you're talking about, and what size. For very small installs, or for tech-savy individuals who aren't 'married' to MS...absolutely.

"It sounds like we are saying the same thing."
I think so. You're definitely capable of providing excellent solutions to your clients, which puts you way ahead of the curve as far as SMB consultants go. :)

To get back to the original question...the OP really needs to start considering how in depth he wants this project to go. You've got some great ideas with several different approaches.

Good luck. :)

smird
04-07-2010, 4:59 PM
This is precisely what small businesses fall victim to all of the time.

I went into a small Doctor's office that had 4 workstations.... count them.... 4.

For these 4 workstations they had two Dell servers, a Cisco Catalyst 2900 Gigabit Switch, a Pix firewall, and a $1000 Cisco router. In addition to this, they had a T1 that they were paying $800 a month for when a cable modem would have been plenty.

I am a Cisco Certified Network Administrator and I have built expensive, complex networks in the tens of thousands of dollars but there is absolutely no reason to put that kind of expense into a small business.

Each of your "Dell Servers" running Windows products is going to run an Easy $2000.00. Your cisco firewall, router, and switch is going to run another $2000.00. Why spend $6000 on network infrastructure when there is a better/cheaper way?

I LOVE Cisco equiptment and when I can, I use their products exclusively. That being said.... I rarely quote Cisco equiptment to a network with less than 20 users; its just overkill.

I currently have a client that is a civil engineering company with 30 engineers running autodesk autocad, a very resource intensive program. They are setup with windows workstations running roaming profiles on a linux server I built over 2 years ago. It has 1 gig of RAM and a 800 gig RAID5 SATA array and its current uptime is just over 120 days and that is because I ran a distribution upgrade. The backup server only has one purpose and that is to store the backups and its uptime is over one year.

I spent a little extra money and got decent hard drives with a nice cache and mbps rating but other than that, the server is running standard parts from a couple years ago and it out-performs some of my other client's Windows 2003 servers running with twice the hardware.

Microsoft is a big resource HOG that costs $1000 over the competition. Why they are still in business is a miracle to me.

Obviously, I deal more with Server 2003 than I do Linux because there are those that just want an MS box. It doesn't bother me; the MS box has to be constantly rebooted and service patched to stay running correctly, which generates me more billable hours. The linux box just runs and runs.

Please.... download an ISO image for linux and install it on a beater machine.. you will be surprised at the speed and efficiency.


www.ubuntu.com
Yup if you have 4 workstations you don't need much. But he said 5-25.
Then I asked some questions, instead of selling him on my favorite solution.

I would love to run Linux servers and workstations even, but most business software won't run on it.

BTW my little 25 pc network is in a company that does 6 million a year. spending even 50 grand every few years isn't going to break us.

You can buy Cisco switches and routers a lot cheaper than that LINK (http://www.cisco.com/cisco/web/solutions/small_business/shop/index.html)

bigmike82
04-07-2010, 5:02 PM
Dude, those are Linksys products.

Rebranded linksys is still linksys. ;)

smird
04-07-2010, 5:18 PM
Dude, those are Linksys products.

Rebranded linksys is still linksys. ;)

And who owns linksys?

bigmike82
04-07-2010, 6:27 PM
Irrelevant.

A Linksys product is not equivalent to a Cisco product, regardless of logos and writing.

E Pluribus Unum
04-07-2010, 8:22 PM
Yup if you have 4 workstations you don't need much. But he said 5-25.

Then I asked some questions, instead of selling him on my favorite solution.


The number of computers has nothing to do with it. You name the number of clients.... 5, 50, 500, 5000, you name it, and I can build you a linux server that is just as fast for half the money. A business out-grows a linux server when a software solution he is required to have will only run on an MS server. If their software requires MSSQL and will NOT run on MySQL, or the engine only runs on a WIN32 system and WINE does not support it. These scenarios are exceedingly rare. I have enterprise software running on a linux server with WINE because the software required MS WINDOWS.

The Wine and Samba packages have come a long way in the last couple of years. Try playing with it a while.


I would love to run Linux servers and workstations even, but most business software won't run on it.


I have rarely had an issue getting software to run on linux. In a worst case scenario, its as easy as installing virtualbox and running an old copy of server 2000 in a virtual machine. The only time I am really forced to run a windows server is when the company deals with clients or vendors that require it. Certain MS Project installations and software that integrates with MS software. In that case, I build a small server running Windows Server and handle all the real work with the linux box.


BTW my little 25 pc network is in a company that does 6 million a year. spending even 50 grand every few years isn't going to break us.


I would not classify your business as a small business. That is what we are talking about. Computer techs go into a small business and sell them a $10k network to service 5-10 computers. If you have the income to support a $10k-$40k network, then great. I would say real cisco all the way.


You can buy Cisco switches and routers a lot cheaper than that LINK (http://www.cisco.com/cisco/web/solutions/small_business/shop/index.html)

Again.... why??? A small business with 5-20 workstations with a 1mbps cable modem doesn't need anything more than a $50 linksys router running DD-WRT. If network needs expand later, then buy a Cisco.

I have configured everything from a Cisco 1700 to a 7206VXR. I have also dealt heavily with PIX firewalls and Catalyst switches. I am no stranger to expensive networks. It is very rare that a small business requires this kind of equipment.


P.S.
Linksys has never been and will never be Cisco.

KillZone45
04-07-2010, 11:53 PM
Bigmike82 and E Pluribus Unum, I am currently a tech student and have much to learn. I WISH I could just hang out with you two and learn. That is pretty awesome what you two know!

smird
04-08-2010, 5:20 AM
The Wine and Samba packages have come a long way in the last couple of years. Try playing with it a while.


Ok maybe this is the part I don't get. Granted It's been a while since I've played with Linux of any flavor. Hell I've got a SCO Unix Ace cert laying around here somewhere along with a CNE.

So I have a accounting package that needs to run in 2003 server or better. So I set up an linux box with wine or what ever. To run windows server inside of linux. Doesn't that server need to be just as powerful or more so than the stan alone windows server? Since it is running both?

For workstations, how do you get the client past the "this isn't windows" thought process? Hell, I have a tough enough time changing versions of word on them.

BTW I agree that for a small business all they need is a DSL line and cheap router.

My whole point to this is the OP said build me a network. Well that's like saying build me a vehicle. What do you want to do with it? We could do anything from a VW Bug to a http://www.maximog.com/


So what flavor of linux do you recomend I play with?

Brad

bigmike82
04-08-2010, 8:24 AM
"Doesn't that server need to be just as powerful or more so than the stan alone windows server?"
Not if you offload as many processes as you can to the 'nix server. You'll want to have the VirtualBox run *only* the accounting app. Everything else (printing, file, etc) is running on the Linux box. So the server will need to a bit more powerful than before, but still not quite as powerful as if everything were running on Windows.

"how do you get the client past the "this isn't windows" thought process?"
You can integrate Windows clients into a Linux infrastructure with little visibility to the actual users.

Your right in trying to get more details, but even bigger than that is the lack of a budget. That is the driving force behind any purchasing decision, and leaving it out kinda screwed the assignment, I think.

"So what flavor of linux do you recomend I play with?"
I prefer CentOS on the server side. If I were you, I would just get a server going and start installing all the correct packages to do what you would want a normal Windows server to do (file, print sharing, authentication, etc). Even if you end up not going the Linux route for most general purpose processes (I don't), you'll still be able to better analyze future requirements and potentially save yourself some budget for fun stuff (like...training). And setting up a server with actual real world requirements is the best way to learn. Once you figure out how to install and configure the packages to your liking, start looking into the security side of things (how to lock down SSH, how to configure IPTables, what applications (if any) do you chroot, and so forth). Best of all...this is all free.

E Pluribus and I have two different approaches to this problem. My default solution, for a small business, is a Windows network. His is a Linux network. And, quite honestly, there's no real right answer. There are compelling arguments for both methods. But regardless of what you choose, it's a great idea to be competent with both technologies because it can save you money or administration headaches in the future.

daveinwoodland
04-08-2010, 8:28 AM
I'm not a Win guy but I have to say, excellent write up and advice E P U

E Pluribus Unum
04-08-2010, 9:50 AM
So I have a accounting package that needs to run in 2003 server or better. So I set up an linux box with wine or what ever. To run windows server inside of linux. Doesn't that server need to be just as powerful or more so than the stan alone windows server? Since it is running both?


It depends on which option you use. Wine does not run windows server within linux. Wine runs the Windows binary natively in linux without emulation. It is quite efficient and much faster than Windows. Wine does not always work however. In the Wine configuring, you tell it what OS you want it to report to the software. You can make the accounting package think it is running on anything from Windows 95 to Server 2003.

There are some programs that do not work well with Wine. The biggest PITA for me has been Itunes and Quickbooks. For these software I have to run them in virtualbox in a Virtual Machine. Believe it or not, my XP virtual machine runs faster than XP does natively on my hardware. I have 2 gigs of RAM on my PC and Unix runs fine on 1 gig. Most of my disk operations for the virtual machine are done in RAM and it runs super fast.

If your accounting software will not run in Wine, then a virtual machine will run it. If the client is an enterprise level client, they can afford to just have two servers; one as a linux file server, and the other as a Windows 2k3 accounting server. A small business wont have the traffic to overwhelm the virtual machine.



For workstations, how do you get the client past the "this isn't windows" thought process? Hell, I have a tough enough time changing versions of word on them.

I do not run linux workstations usually. Unfortunately, the average user is not open to learning a new GUI and they are all brainwashed with Windows. I do have a Windows theme for gnome though; I can make the Linux GUI look just like Windows. :) Samba server with slapd appears to be a Windows server on the network. The older version of Samba appears to be an NT4 Primary Domain Controller, and the newer version of Samba appears to be an Active Directory server.

I despise Windows Vista. For the last couple years I have kept all of my clients that would listen on Windows XP. Windows 7 appears to be much better than Vista, so soon I will abandon XP for Windows 7. I'll let all of you beta test it a bit more and I'll go to it when the next service pack. :)



So what flavor of linux do you recomend I play with?


Ubuntu is just about to release the new version in a week or so. Download the pre-release and run it... its awesome.


Download the ISO image of the DESKTOP version. I actually run the desktop version on all my servers. The GUI is much easier to setup and layout and once I get it all configured I just disable gdm (the gui).

After you get the desktop version installed you can uninstall the frills to make it more efficient or switch to the server version later once you become familiar with it.

go to www.ubuntu.com and download the 10.1 beta ISO file.

After you boot to the live CD and install linux, drop to a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install wine1.2 samba4 virtualbox-ose slapd


You will probably need some help configuring them later, but that will get you started.

bigmike82
04-08-2010, 10:03 AM
"they are all brainwashed with Windows."
God I hate Linux attitudes sometimes. It's not brainwashing...it's the fact that it *works* painlessly. That's not something Linux on the desktop offers.

E Pluribus Unum
04-08-2010, 10:23 AM
God I hate Linux attitudes sometimes.

I don't mean to be a jerk, but it is what it is...


It's not brainwashing...it's the fact that it *works* painlessly. That's not something Linux on the desktop offers.

I consider people brainwashed because Windows is the only thing they are exposed to in school and work. How do you go to someone who has NEVER seen a linux box and convince him to try it?

You show me a high school that has even just ONE linux desktop setup for kids to use. :)

If things were even, people would be shown both, and given an opportunity to choose. They are not given that option. They are force-fed Windows and they don't know about anything else.

To me, that is brainwashing. :)

bigmike82
04-08-2010, 10:37 AM
"I consider people brainwashed because Windows is the only thing they are exposed to in school and work. "
Bullcrap. Any K-12 school I know of uses MACs exclusively. And yet people still gravitate towards Windows when they've left...

"How do you go to someone who has NEVER seen a linux box and convince him to try it?"
By giving them a *compelling* reason to do so. For the desktop, there isn't a big compelling reason to switch for most people.

jammer2k
04-08-2010, 11:17 AM
As an IT person there is no way I would even consider deploying Linux to the desktop. It has nothing to do with any technical capability of Linux and everything to do with users. Windows is what they know from previous work and their (mostly) home computers, even the 'savvy' users I have don't touch Linux. On the server side it is slightly different, I still use mostly Windows since almost all the apps we use require it and the poor availability of skilled Linux admins/engineers vs the far greater availbility of Windows admins/engineers way more than offsets any cost savings of Linux.

As to the orginal question, you really would need to define more in what the nature of the company is and what their computer needs are. An accounting firm has completely different needs than a Engineering firm or Ad/Marketing firm. Future growth and mobility of users are other factors (just to name a few) to consider.

E Pluribus Unum
04-08-2010, 12:58 PM
As an IT person there is no way I would even consider deploying Linux to the desktop.

Who here has suggested this?? We have been talking about servers.

jammer2k
04-08-2010, 1:08 PM
Who here has suggested this?? We have been talking about servers.

Sensitive much? Since Linux was brought up my response was a general one, not really specific to anything other than the OP.

E Pluribus Unum
04-08-2010, 3:17 PM
Sensitive much? Since Linux was brought up my response was a general one, not really specific to anything other than the OP.

No... not sensitive... I have very thick skin my friend.. :) I thought your post was a direct response to mine... my bad.

Dark Paladin
04-08-2010, 6:15 PM
You show me a high school that has even just ONE linux desktop setup for kids to use. :)

When I was still in TX, our local chapter of ACM regularly performed volunteer hours at local schools setting up donated computers for use in class. We started with using what Windows licenses were available. Towards the end we convinced some of the teachers to experiment with Linux in the classroom. Then I graduated from college, but I'm sure there are still plenty of CS majors pushing for mainstream Linux adoption. ;)

E Pluribus Unum
04-08-2010, 8:34 PM
When I was still in TX, our local chapter of ACM regularly performed volunteer hours at local schools setting up donated computers for use in class. We started with using what Windows licenses were available. Towards the end we convinced some of the teachers to experiment with Linux in the classroom. Then I graduated from college, but I'm sure there are still plenty of CS majors pushing for mainstream Linux adoption. ;)

That's Texas bud...

My girlfriend is a substitute teacher who loves linux. If she came across a classroom that had it, she would tell me.

Bakersfield City School District is the biggest school district in the state of California and she is sent to every single school in the district.

Blackhawk556
04-08-2010, 10:53 PM
ok thanks for all the responses

many people brought up really good points. Some like linux, some like windows. talking about computers is always hard because it will always bring out people who love Macs, Windows, or Linux flavors.

I'm interested and what should be the essentials of the network. If a network was being built by say 5 friends that are starting a business what equipment should they buy and why. What will be the easiest to manage if they don't have cisco certifications like some of you guys do.

To make some of you mad :) let's say they will focus on using windows because they were "brainwashed" into using windows :)

Why should they buy a switch? why a router? Should they use a star topology or a mesh? What would be the benefits of these things?

What would be the easiest method to implement to secure their network? What should they look for when looking for a firewall?

Why should they choose cable over DSL or vice-versa?

why RAID and which backup method should they use to make it easier on them

I'm not trying to look for a fight on why they should choose linux over Windows. Yes both have their advantages and it's my fault for not giving more info in the OP

jammer2k
04-09-2010, 10:40 AM
I am going to make a couple of assumptions on what you asked and go for the gusto.

Sounds like you are looking for a workgroup more than a full out network/IT environment.

For that I would say a decent router like linksys, dlink, or such. A Networkable printer of some sort would be useful a shared resource and NAS (network attached storage) for a common place to store files.

As for DSL/Cable/whatever, that really depends on availability and cost more than anything at that point. If you are wanting to setup some remote access for the storage and such you may want to look into a static IP or a dynamic DNS.

If you are wanting to setup an actual server of some sort then maybe a SBS (small business server) from MS would do the job. For the backups it would depend on the volume of data you are talking about but burning DVD's would probably be enough for most small uses, just remember to store the backups in a different physical location than the business and server.