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[K12OSN] LDAP...what is it and how can it help me

Not trying to sound like an idiot here....and I do know a little about
LDAP, but I need more info.  I love the idea of having a master server
that handles all authentication for all users on all platforms...etc.   My
Windows users....my Mac users....and my K12LTSP folks.  Can LDAP
essentially do this?  Would LDAP allow me to set up a /home directory
server that is accessible to all networks (Win XP and Macs) as well as be
able to export to my LSTP server so my Linux terminal users can access the
same home directory as well? (thus keeping the home dirs, data and users
off the LTSP box essentially making upgrades much less painful)  I've
followed the discussions about LDAP, but with not too much interest as I'm
not in the position to use it yet, but this coming summer I'd like to try
something different.  I currently use an SME (E-Smith) box as my PDC and
file server for everyone on Win XP and Macs.   My LTSP folks are on the
LTSP server and are unable to access their stuff on the SME/E-Smith box
(they can see it via Samba, but I can't get it so they can write to
it...any ideas?)  

I'm playing with two possibilities:

Next year (in the fall) going with a stock RedHat serverwith 2 nics (one
for my LAN and one for the LTSP network) as my PDC and file server and
exporting the home dirs via NFS to the LTSP box....and then copying the
user and passwd files between the 2 servers....I think some folks are
doing that now although I think they manually copy or sync the group,
user, and passwd files.


Maybe using LDAP in some form or another is the way to go.  Can folks
advise me on this?  Where can I find good how-to's or web sites that can
tell me a lot more about LDAP.  I need to learn as I'm getting the feeling
from you guys on the list that LDAP is the way to go.

I want to grow and integrate my K12LTSP environment.  The response has
been very good from teachers and kids....I need to tie it all together...I
can't continue with two seperate networks in the sense that the Linux
folks can't save in a place that they can't access from any other machine
on any platform.  I also need to streamline my creation of users and so
forth....between email, domain (file server) and LTSP....I'm duplicating
way too many users and my users are having to remember too many passwords
and stuff.  Any help would be appreciated.

David N. Trask
Technology Teacher/Coordinator
Vassalboro Community School
dtrask vcs u52 k12 me us

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