[K12OSN] OT: quote on file / mail server

John Lucas mrjohnlucas at gmail.com
Thu Jun 28 12:07:23 UTC 2007

On Thursday 28 June 2007 07:25, Rob Owens wrote:
> Our office in the UK is getting a new server to handle file shares and
> email.  They are planning to go the Windows route, but I'd like to find
> out how much it would cost for a comparable Linux-based system.
> The hardware has already been picked out, so I'm only requesting quotes
> from you guys on the labor involved in setting up the software.
> There are 20-30 users at this office.  They currently use Active
> Directory, and they would probably prefer to keep it that way (it's
> running on a different server).  I'd be interested in hearing proposals
> to replace it, though.
> My preferred distro would probably be either CentOS 5 or Debian.  (Due
> to the long-term support).  But I am open to suggestions.  GUI tools to
> manage the email accounts would be a plus, in order to break in any
> admins who are new to Linux.  (I will be the primary admin, but I need
> somebody to be my backup).
> The email server sends and receives email to/from another mail server
> which is controlled by the parent company.  It will not be exposed
> directly to the internet.  It does not require anti-spam measures, since
> the parent company's server handles that.
> Please let me know how much you guys think this should cost, even if you
> don't want to do the work yourself.  If you are interested in doing the
> work, please let me know that as well.
> I'm looking forward to hearing your suggestions.
> -Rob

I can't give you a quote, but perhaps I can suggest an approach. You need to 
decide on a strategy.

There are probably several ways to accomplish what you want, but you first 
need to state your needs more precisely:

	- what email clients do you intend to support?
	- are there other "groupware" (beyond email) needs?
	- how flexible is your AD (Active Directory) admin?

What I might do if *only* email is required and there were some freedom of 
choice of MUA (Mail User Agent):

	- extend AD to support Posix/Unix LDAP schema
	- set up CentOS (my choice) to authenticate via LDAP via AD
	- install/configure Postfix to use LDAP (from AD)
	- install Dovecot (IMAP server)
	- modify imap pam configuration to add "pam_mkhomedir.so"

This would allow the use of any IMAP email client (KMail, Thunderbird, 
Evolution, Outlook Express, Squirrelmail etc.). All user creation would be 
handled in AD.

I would also add "clamsmtp" to the Postfix configuration to use "clamav" 
anti-virus scanning. "Defense in depth" is a good idea, it doesn't hurt to 
run the mail through more than one scanner. The more diversity in scanners, 
the less likely a single virus will get past all of them. 

The single largest potential obstacle to this approach is to get the AD admin 
to modify the AD configuration to support Posix/Unix LDAP schema. If you 
can't get them to do this, then this approach is a non-starter. The steps 
aren't difficult and are covered step-by-step in chapter 9 of "LDAP System 
Administration" by Gerald Carter. This is a political, rather than a 
technical, problem.

One final thought: Do you need to run your own mail host? You might be able to 
use one already running within your organization *or* you might find the 
moderate expense of using "Google Apps" useful. Either approach would 
eliminate the expense of running/administering/upgrading another server.

        "History doesn't repeat itself; at best it rhymes."
                        - Mark Twain

| John Lucas                          MrJohnLucas at gmail.com               |
| St. Thomas, VI 00802                http://mrjohnlucas.googlepages.com/ |
| 18.3°N, 65°W                        AST (UTC-4)                         |

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