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Servers need TLC, too, right?

My servers are a mess. They're limping along until this summer when I don't have classes to teach (or classes to take, for that matter) and I can do some serious maintenance.
christopher-dawson.jpg

My servers are a mess. They're limping along until this summer when I don't have classes to teach (or classes to take, for that matter) and I can do some serious maintenance. This maintenance is serious enough that, for at least a couple of them, I'll be better off wiping them out and starting with a clean slate.

This is a bit of a pain, but not actually all that uncommon for a standard desktop deployment. Obviously it's not a first choice for servers, though. However, I've learned enough over the last year about Windows Server 2003 in general and Active Directory in particular that I can do a much better job of setting them up now than was done by a consultant when we first rolled them out a year and a half ago.

Given that I have to blow away our domain controllers, however, I started wondering if this summer might not be a time to give Linux a shot for our security, print services, DHCP, DNS, file sharing, etc. It's not an area where I have much experience aside from a few experiments at home. Obviously Linux on the server side is a bit different than my forays into desktop Linux.

By next year, if all goes according to plan, we'll have the staff/man hours to handle regular maintenance on the servers and keep them from reaching critical levels of problems and failures. What I'd like some feedback on, however, is whether .nix servers need this level of TLC? We can't move to Mac servers given our existing hardware investment, but could explore .nix since I have to rebuild anyway. I don't have hardware to support virtualization and can't roll out Edubuntu on the thin clients when teachers/students return (angry mobs with pitchforks aren't any fun). Would we be better served with .nix handling print services, dns, dhcp, and authentication in a mixed environment (with Microsoft Terminal Services still handling thin client duty)?

I don't think so - group policy has been very effective and since we can't ditch terminal services yet, I don't think the mixed environment makes sense for us. i think clean installs with AD running happily (and a new model that allows for regular maintenance times next year instead of waiting for problems to reach a critical failure point) will work best for now. What's everyone else's experience, though? Talk back if you've run a mixed back room and let us know what's gone right and where you've struggled.

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