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[K12OSN] Off-topic: SuSE Linux 9.2, LTSP, and MS Exchange Server


I have successfully gotten SuSE Linux 9.2 Professional working as a LTSP server. That by itself would be of little importance to this group. However, it's the LTSP-ifying part that might make it relevant.

SuSE Linux Professional distributions are, like those from Red Hat, known for being very good server distros. However, SuSE Linux 9.2 Professional also makes a *terrific* desktop for typical Windows users. The GUI administration tools that come with it are, I find, really good. But for our purposes, there's a problem. SuSE 9.2 Pro, though it comes with the slick new Evolution 2.0, does not come with the Evolution Connector that lets you talk to MS Exchange 2000/2003 groupware servers. Look high and low, and you will not find the RPM for SuSE 9.2 Pro. Call up Novell's SuSE tech support, and they'll tell you that SuSE 9.2 Pro indeed does not include the ExchSrvr connector and that you need to go to Novell Linux Desktop. This ordinarily would make SuSE 9.2 Pro unsuitable for "Microsoft shops" that use Exchange Server. That's unfortunate, because SuSE 9.2 Pro is quite low-cost and will soon (this month, Novell says) be a free download, like SuSE 9.1 Pro is. Schools on a budget seem to be outta luck.

This has been worked around, by me, as of today. I installed 9.2 on my laptop (previously ran Slackware 9.0) for the "easy wireless configuration" ability, since our schools are now wireless-enabled. The wireless does work well, but I couldn't connect to my Exchange Server. Then, I remembered something called Red Carpet, which is no longer included by default in SuSE 9.2 Pro, but you can still install it. I found the Novell/Ximian FTP site with Red Carpet, downloaded it, and used it to download and install the ExchSrvr connector for Evolution 2.0. Worked great, and now I'm Exchange-Server-enabled...wirelessly. :-)

Then I got the idea, "waitasec. Some schools are contemplating giving email accounts to their students. Of these, I'm sure that some of them have pre-existing Exchange Servers. If we could get this SuSE 9.2 Pro LTSP-ifyed, then these schools could give their students email without having to worry about a bunch of virus/spyware-susceptible Windows boxes." So, I popped LTSP on there (it's an eeeeeaaasy install now), and it worked. I had terminals running Evolution + ExchSrvr Connector with multiple email logins (I switched to the 100Mbps NIC for that, of course).

This would also be a low-cost way to set up the staff on the LTSP architecture. Office staff don't need TuxType, TuxPaint (sorry, Bill--no offense meant), KVerbos, and so on. They do need email, office productivity, and perhaps a Web browser (our district uses some Web-enabled apps). These are easily handled by Evolution, OO.o, and Firefox. Will you still need CALs for Exchange Server? Yup. Will you save money by not having to buy a bunch of new powerhouse thick clients? Yup. Will it reduce your time to maintain a bunch of infected Windows boxes? Most definitely.

If anyone is interested in the details, just let me know, and I'll be glad to share.

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