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IT pros offer Windows-Linux configuration tips

IT pro Jeffrey Small couldn't make Linux and Windows play well together. What could he have done differently? Our readers weigh in.

At times, the Windows-Linux integration process can seem like a many-headed monster, and IT pros must contain it to avoid getting eaten alive.

In a recent story, we wrote how IT pro Jeffrey Small wrestled with a Windows XP-Red Hat Linux-Samba installation. After reading the story, a few readers wrote to us about tricks that could help Small and others implementing or managing Windows-Linux environments.

Background: Small, an Austin, Texas-based IT consultant, was asked by a customer to install the Windows XP operating system on new PCs. Small configured the server to run Samba, the open-source implementation of SMB protocol. He configured the workstations and installed a Linux firewall. The server installation was smooth, but the Windows browser on workstations wouldn't recognize the Linux server. At the time of Small's installation, service pack one for Windows XP was not available.

Check Linux baseline

Ray Hazlett, a Windows XP fan, suspected Small was working with outdated Linux code. Specifically, Hazlett posited that Small hadn't upgraded his Linux baseline with new bind patches.

Hazlett, who lives the multi-platform IT life everyday, sent his note from a machine running Red Hat Linux 8 and an Exchange module. "I also use XP extensively, and it's a great OS," he said.

'My Network Places' quirky

System administrator Timothy Spencer said Small might need to reinstall Windows XP. He said Microsoft's "My Network Places" is far from perfect and is troublesome even in a complete Windows environment.

Spencer has set up multiple Samba servers in mostly Windows environments without a hitch. If anything, he said, Windows 98 can conflict with Samba, not Windows XP.

Spencer said Samba is so easy to use and works so well with Windows, he would never again use Windows 2000 -- unless a customer forced him to. Small said he's in agreement with Spencer on that point.

Use 'guest' account

Reader Bob Knight suggested Small specify a disabled guest account on the Linux box, because browsing requests are processed as a "guest."

"This is a common 'gotcha' and is documented in Browsing.txt, which is distributed with Samba in the text documents," Knight said.

Just one more challenge

Small plans to put these tips to work in future projects. Now, he'd like some tips on convincing Linux-wary businesses to take the leap.

"The most difficult part is managing the customer's expectations," Small said. "Just a couple days of researching integration problems can eat all my profits."


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