Linux as a File and Print Server
Over the last three weeks we looked at Linux from the beginning and then talked some about its capabilities. This week is the first episode where we drill down to more specifics. And, in this episode, we look at using Linux as a file and print server.
Right off the bat, let me point out that here at Linux Journal we have a network of Linux systems that runs the gamut from desktops to web servers. All printers are served by Linux systems, and the MS-Windows system used for layout still relies on a Linux system as its file and print server and has for about five years.
It doesn't. That is, Linux distributions include all the necessary software to use any Linux system as a file and print server. Because multi-user and pre-emptive multi-tasking are part of the basic Linux kernel, there is no need for a special version of the software.
This is not to say that servers and desktops have to be configured the same way, just that they can be. If you are building a server that will be subjected to heavy traffic volumes, you will want to use faster, more reliable disk drives or possibly a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) storage system to allow the system to continue to operate even if a disk fails. You will also want some sort of backup device, such as a tape drive on the server.
On the software side of a server, you may want some sort of commercial backup software. While Linux includes backup software, many people choose a commercial package because they find it easier to use.
There are lots of alternatives including Windows2000 and Solaris-based systems. While Linux isn't the only answer, it is an excellent answer.
Linux has proven reliability offering typical uptimes in the hundreds of days.
The cost of a Linux solution is lower than that of the alternatives.
Cost deserves more discussion. Besides a zero cost for the software, Linux tends to be frugal in resource utilization. You can squeeze more performance out of your hardware with Linux than say Windows2000. As an example, I know of two ISPs in Vancouver. They have about the same amount of traffic to handle. One ISP uses nine WindowsNT systems, the other uses a single Linux system. While you shouldn't expect a 9:1 ratio, you will see the difference to be significant. One case study of Linux as a file server comes from our story here from our "Linux Means Business" column.
Print service is another area where Linux will shine. Linux includes print spooling software. The Samba and netatalk packages mentioned above offer print service capabilities as well. This means that The supported printers can either be connected to the serial or parallel ports on Linux systems or they can be on Ethernet and just be managed by a Linux system. For an explanation of how far print management can go, see our discussion on the Linux Print System at Cisco Systems, Inc.
Linux speaks TCP/IP, the standard communications protocol of the Internet. As MS-Windows and Macs can speak TCP/IP as well, TCP/IP over Ethernet becomes the standard. Linux has the additional software (Samba for MS-Windows systems, for example) that allows it to perform the requested services. No add-ons, nothing to buy--it just works. (More on Linux and TCP/IP is available in an early LJ article here.)
|Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform||Jan 23, 2015|
|Designing with Linux||Jan 22, 2015|
|Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch||Jan 21, 2015|
|Ideal Backups with zbackup||Jan 19, 2015|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Animation Made Easy||Jan 14, 2015|
|Internet of Things Blows Away CES, and it May Be Hunting for YOU Next||Jan 12, 2015|
- Designing with Linux
- Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform
- Internet of Things Blows Away CES, and it May Be Hunting for YOU Next
- Ideal Backups with zbackup
- Slow System? iotop Is Your Friend
- New Products
- Hats Off to Mozilla
- January 2015 Issue of Linux Journal: Security
- 2014 Book Roundup
Editorial Advisory Panel
Thank you to our 2014 Editorial Advisors!
- Jeff Parent
- Brad Baillio
- Nick Baronian
- Steve Case
- Chadalavada Kalyana
- Caleb Cullen
- Keir Davis
- Michael Eager
- Nick Faltys
- Dennis Frey
- Philip Jacob
- Jay Kruizenga
- Steve Marquez
- Dave McAllister
- Craig Oda
- Mike Roberts
- Chris Stark
- Patrick Swartz
- David Lynch
- Alicia Gibb
- Thomas Quinlan
- Carson McDonald
- Kristen Shoemaker
- Charnell Luchich
- James Walker
- Victor Gregorio
- Hari Boukis
- Brian Conner
- David Lane