Linked by Eugenia Loli on Wed 3rd May 2006 22:19 UTC
Oracle and SUN Xandros Corporation has announced the availability of Xandros Server, the company's inaugural release of a high-end server distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux: "Xandros becomes the first Linux platform to provide a 'Debian Enterprise' end-to-end desktop and server platform."
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Now That's What I'm Talking About
by segedunum on Wed 3rd May 2006 23:34 UTC
segedunum
Member since:
2005-07-06

This is an example of what Linux and low cost open source software as a server can, and should, be. I have long lamented on the lack, and shocking state, of decent rich graphical configuration tools from the so called big Linux vendors. Maybe it's what they're focusing on, maybe they're using the wrong development tools, I don't know, but Xandros are certainly delivering something here. There's a few other interesting titbits in that management console as well which hint at providing things that other vendors just don't seem to know are even required.

With the groupware included and without the God-awful spectre of Client Access Licenses to organise, administer and pay for you've got yourself something approaching Windows 2003's depth of graphical management tools, much better reliability, much better interoperability and have it a hell of a lot cheaper.

I think they could have done an awful lot better if they'd used purely open source software like Kolab for groupware and Bacula for backup for example (let's face it, they're good enough) as well as others, given them some excellent graphical tools and integrated the whole thing together, but this is a big step in the right direction. I'm suitably impressed.

At any rate, I think it should be a very sobering lesson for everyone, and the so called big Linux vendors, on how far they still have to go.

Edited 2006-05-03 23:36

Reply Score: 5

DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"With the groupware included and without the God-awful spectre of Client Access Licenses to organise, administer and pay for you've got yourself something approaching Windows 2003's depth of graphical management tools, much better reliability, much better interoperability and have it a hell of a lot cheaper."

From the Xandros server page...

"# Scalix Xandros Edition Groupware - Xandros Server includes 5 Premium User licenses for this award-winning e-mail, calendaring and collaboration platform. A $300 value."

There is indeed User licenses required for the groupware. Only 5 users can use this groupware without buying additional user licenses, or what Windows calls CAL's. So unfortunately, that seems to carry over to all commercial groupware suites.

Reply Score: 4

cr8dle2grave Member since:
2005-07-11

Not to mention the fact that the free-as-in-beer community edition of Scalix server comes with 25 premium users (required for the MAPI connectons to Outlook clients) versus the 5 included with the Xandros edition. Although, to be fair, according to the Scalix editions comparisons page (http://www.scalix.com/products/compareeditions.html), the Xandros version is the "functionality equivalent" of the Scalix Enterprise edition.

Reply Score: 1

DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"Not to mention the fact that the free-as-in-beer community edition of Scalix server comes with 25 premium users (required for the MAPI connectons to Outlook clients) versus the 5 included with the Xandros edition. Although, to be fair, according to the Scalix editions comparisons page (http://www.scalix.com/products/compareeditions.html), the Xandros version is the "functionality equivalent" of the Scalix Enterprise edition."

That is true. The free as in beer version is also limited to those 25, so not good for a business at all. Also the premium licenses are required for calendaring as well, which is a key component of the groupware.

Reply Score: 2

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Not to mention the fact that the free-as-in-beer community edition of Scalix server comes with 25 premium users (required for the MAPI connectons to Outlook clients) versus the 5 included with the Xandros edition.

Yer. The enterprise version has migration tools to migrate to Scalix, and the migration can even happen with no downtime to users and no difference that they should be able to see. This would probably have been important to Xandros.

Reply Score: 1

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

There is indeed User licenses required for the groupware. Only 5 users can use this groupware without buying additional user licenses, or what Windows calls CAL's.

http://www.xandros.com/products/business/server/services/scalix.htm...

Scalix Xandros Edition includes 5 Premium User licenses, plus a license for an unlimited number of Standard Users.

I suppose it depends on what the difference between a standard and premium user is (I would imagine standard is maybe web users and premium is for using the connectors). In that case they definitely should have used something like Kolab, although Scalix does provide some pretty good migration tools and they may have taken this into account.

Takes the gloss off it slightly, but it's an awful lot better than the situation with Exchange or Novell's awful attachment to Groupwise.

Reply Score: 1

2fargone Member since:
2006-02-20

I don't know if you're coming from the windows server mindset, but...

"rich graphical configuration tools"

is not required on a server. In fact, adding a gui means more software in the stack and which means more points to attack the security of the server and more threats to the stability of the system. I know the attractiveness of gui tools, but really, if you're doing anything with this server that puts it out on the web or into production, you really should think about climbing the learning curve and use nothing but the cli or webbased tools such as webmin. You'll get much more bang for the buck, so to speak.

Reply Score: 4

dsmogor Member since:
2005-09-01

But you agree that polished offertings targeting windows minset owners (given W market share they are the majority) doesn't hurt, do you?

Reply Score: 1

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

is not required on a server. In fact, adding a gui means more software in the stack

Yes, they certainly are in the vast majority of cases and for Xandros' target market. I'm getting sick of this Linux "graphical tools aren't necessary" thing people come up with. They are necessary otherwise the thing is going nowhere.

Reply Score: 3

2fargone Member since:
2006-02-20

The graphical tools are not necessary. Maybe desired by some, but not _NECESSARY_ to run a server. If you need them, then I hope what ever is needed comes sooner than later.

But as I have already said, if you are going to use this server in production or put it on the web, I HIGHLY recommend you don't add more software than you need so it will minimize the problems too much software can cause.

Reply Score: 1

twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

Even if you MUST run GUI tools to configure a server, if you have trouble typing "startx" to start up a local X server, I wouldn't trust you to type me a letter. And people who do that for a living are secretaries, not sysadmins.

Reply Score: 1

dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

In what way is webmin in any way better than basically the same thing except using GTK or qt as its GUI rather than a web browser? Having webmin running opens up at least as many of the points of attack you are worrying about.

As someone who admins both Unix and Windows systems I have to say that while I love the control and flexibility of the cli and text files, there are some things that are so much quicker and easier to handle with the windows tools. Right tool for the job and all that you know.

Reply Score: 3

2fargone Member since:
2006-02-20

I don't know if you know this about webmin, but the point of webmin is you log in remotely from another computer, whose gui will display the browser you are using to log into webmin which is installed on the server. The server doesn't need a gui to run webmin because you accessing webmin from another computer to see it.

Webmin is a great tool to reduce the need for a graphical stack of software but still give a graphical frontend at the cost of logging in from another computer.

Reply Score: 1

dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

You can do the same thing with regular a gui tool. Have the GUI tools run on your workstation and talk with the server over the network protocol of your choice. Several sollutions already use this approach.

And even if you don't want to do that, the really cool thing with X forwarding is you don't need a full gui running on the server. Forward the gui over ssh to your desktop and configure away.

Reply Score: 2

Ronald Vos Member since:
2005-07-06

In fact, adding a gui means more software in the stack and which means more points to attack the security of the server and more threats to the stability of the system.

That sounds bollocks to me (please forgive my language). I don't see how graphical widgets add vectors of attack in any way. ESPECIALLY locally run ones.

Reply Score: 1

SEJeff Member since:
2005-11-05

That sounds bollocks to me (please forgive my language). I don't see how graphical widgets add vectors of attack in any way. ESPECIALLY locally run ones.

http://www.net-security.org/secworld.php?id=3994" http://www.net...

Local users are more dangerous than remote users because they have much more access. In the case of this exploit, any user with access can get root thanks to X (your beloved gui). There is a reason seasoned administrators say, "NO!" to X and anything gui on servers. I happen to be one of those Systems Administrators.

Reply Score: 4

DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"Local users are more dangerous than remote users because they have much more access. In the case of this exploit, any user with access can get root thanks to X (your beloved gui). There is a reason seasoned administrators say, "NO!" to X and anything gui on servers. I happen to be one of those Systems Administrators."

There should not be any local users on a server, except for the administrator of the machine anyway. That is why server rooms are supposed to be kept secured...to keep all other people away from the machines. If there are servers that users have local access to, then you have some other issues to deal with.

Reply Score: 1

SEJeff Member since:
2005-11-05

Some software requires local user accounts on the box. There just isn't a way around that.

local access != physical access as your comment suggests. Local access means the user has a shell account on the machine. Depending on the type of server, there should or should NOT be local users. A generic email, web, ftp, dns server should not have user accounts. That does not mean that some types of servers dont need shell accounts.

Java developers write software for beefy linux servers. They need access to the development servers to help troubleshoot and debug their code. Saying there should never be local accounts on a server is completely ridiculous.

Reply Score: 1

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

if you're doing anything with this server that puts it out on the web or into production, you really should think about climbing the learning curve and use nothing but the cli or webbased tools such as webmin.

It looks like you're suggesting that only people who are new to server administration would use a graphical admin tool. I think it's more a matter of the right tool for the right task - I prefer GUI tools for simple one-off tasks, and CLI tools when I need to automate that task or repeat it often.

Reply Score: 2

2fargone Member since:
2006-02-20

I see where you're coming from, but what I was talking about is there are two times when running servers (but can be applied to most other situations as well), when it's pretty much necessary to consider not using anything graphical on the server at all. Specifically, it's servers that make money and servers that are connected to the net. And I suggest this for all business from SOHO to SMB to Megacorps, and homeusers who put servers on the net. There's no reason to add more software than is necessary when the requirements for those machines is as close to 100% uptime, reliability, and security as possible.

Like where I work, we have databases whose value are in the millions of dollars and are connected to the net. Those servers are absolutely stripped down to minimize any outages caused by software instability or security breaches. I mean there is no x-server, no gui's, they don't even have monitors.

Maybe for a home file server, yes, gui's are ok then. But if you are using it to make money with, any downtime is money lost and that's unacceptable when it's not necessary.

Reply Score: 1

kadymae Member since:
2005-08-02

Word. As somebody prone to fatfingering and transposing as I type, I really prefer a GUI. It's the interface I'm most comfortable with.

I will use the CLI, but I find assiging permissions there a lot less abstract than using a GUI which tells me, in my native language, who can access what files than trying to remember if it's an X, R, or W I want to assign.

Reply Score: 1

Of GUI config tools...
by qroon on Thu 4th May 2006 08:13 UTC
qroon
Member since:
2005-10-21

If the GUI tools are secure and can perform the same functions just like the CLI results, then why not use it? I don't think it can eat up 50% of a machine/server's resources. An intuitive and functional GUI can speed up things for some people. But for now, I still prefer the CLI in various administration ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE: Of GUI config tools...
by Temcat on Thu 4th May 2006 09:20 UTC in reply to "Of GUI config tools..."
Temcat Member since:
2005-10-18

Moreover, you need not have GUI on the server to do graphical administration. Just have the GUI tools on the admin client manipulate text config files on the server.

Reply Score: 3

Angel--Fr@gzill@
Member since:
2005-12-23

!!!

Well, you do not need a GUI for a server, but in many cases it is, actually, very convenient and time saving. Not to say, less complicated to learn and use.

If they deliver what they promise it can be a real good stuff, and good for many comanies that despite the price, will still save money.

It is also good for Linux, and for Debian, since it will prove, even more, the capacity of such a "Smooth and Rock solid system" that Debian is...

And it is a good movement for Xandros since is the first Linux platform to provide a 'Debian Enterprise' end-to-end desktop and server platform, and they have anticipated to Ubuntu.

I guess it can help many companies as a server solution.
For those that want-prefer to do it in the "raw way", they can use Debian instead (or a BSD...) Others can waith for Ubuntu to see what it delivers. Or try another server Linux distros. But if what they promise is true, it seems that Xandros is going ahead, if only for now...

!!!

Edited 2006-05-04 10:07

Reply Score: 2

Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

"Well, you do not need a GUI for a server, but in many cases it is, actually, very convenient and time saving. Not to say, less complicated to learn and use."

Yes, because what we really need is more people with less skill and understanding managing more servers on the internet....

Reply Score: 5

dsmogor Member since:
2005-09-01

With all the glarring windows compatibility features they are rather targeting intrantets.

Reply Score: 3

dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

Making things harder to learn doesn't make them more secure. In fact I'd say that if it's easy to learn people are more likely to make the effort, leading to more secure servers.

Reply Score: 1

Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

"In fact I'd say that if it's easy to learn people are more likely to make the effort, leading to more secure servers."

That must be why there are legions of inadequatly secured and mismaintained Windows servers.

Reply Score: 5

Slapo Member since:
2005-07-06

That's most likely because the admin isn't skilled enough, not because it can't be done. Besides, lots of companies have employees that know very little about administering servers doing this, so they might not even know about how to do stuff properly and securely.

Reply Score: 1

Slapo Member since:
2005-07-06

btw., that can happen regardless of the config tools form (if there are any)

Reply Score: 1

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

That must be why there are legions of inadequatly secured and mismaintained Windows servers.

That is as a result of totally inadequate software and the attitude towards security that Microsoft has given off over the years to their users. It has nothing to do with graphical tools.

Reply Score: 4

Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

"That's most likely because the admin isn't skilled enough, not because it can't be done.
Besides, lots of companies have employees that know very little about administering servers doing this, so they might not even know about how to do stuff properly and securely."

Exactly, thanks for proving my point.
This behaviour comes from the fact that "it's so easy, you just have to click some checkboxes and stuff. You dont even need to know anything!"
While this isnt entirely the fault of the gui tools they do make this line of thinking and behaviour much easier. Since it is so easy there is no explicit need to learn and understand how things work.
This is not nearly as common with cli tools since the learning curve is sharper and they requrie an actual effort.

Reply Score: 2

DeadFishMan Member since:
2006-01-09

As someone who actually had to manage a bunch of Linux servers once and had to deal with Windows admins on an almost daily basis that donīt even know what a "open relay" means, I wish I could mod you up to +5 just to make sure that this message gets through people with this misconception that a server should be easy to handle so that little Timmy can manage one if he wishes so.

Reply Score: 1

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

...make sure that this message gets through people with this misconception that a server should be easy to handle so that little Timmy can manage one if he wishes so.

No, no, no, no, no, no and no. That's not what graphical admin tools are for, and if you think that then the whole thing has gone way over your head.

Graphical tools help to set something simple up in a few seconds that would otherwise take a few minutes (or much, much longer), increase the usability of the system by letting you know what's going on in a short period of time, and can actually help security by giving people standard best practice ways of setting up and configuring something where otherwise mistakes can quite easily be made. The open source world is actually a much better place for this to be done than by Microsoft.

You're thinking too much about what goes wrong in the Windows world that have nothing to do with graphical management tools.

Edited 2006-05-04 17:30

Reply Score: 3

SEJeff
Member since:
2005-11-05

"Enterprise" doesn't necessarily mean pretty gui tools, it means support from other companies. Redhat is the "defacto enterprise linux" simply because it is certified by ISVs and IHVs (Independent {Hardware,Software} Vendors).

Can I get software from Oracle, SAP, Lawson, Remedy Corp, Novell, or IBM supported on Xandros? If the answer is no then this is not a true enterprise Linux distribution.

Overall, my feelings on Xandros is that it's an excellent and highly polished distribution. The only thing I'm not very fond of is how they don't seem to contribute much back to the community. A good example would be their excellent filemanager with true network transparency they keep proprietary.

Reply Score: 2

Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

Webmin is the worst. It's even worse than an X based tool since X can, and should, be configured to only listen on local Unix sockets while the whole point of Webmin is for it to be reachable remotely.
If the idea of a big perl script running as root and accepting connections from the network doesnt give you nightmares you're in the wrong profession.

Reply Score: 4

leech Member since:
2006-01-10

You do know that you can lock Webmin down to only accept connections from a single IP? Debian in fact sets it by default to only accept a connection through localhost.

Reply Score: 3

Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

"No, no, no, no, no, no and no. That's not what graphical admin tools are for, and if you think that then the whole thing has gone way over your head."

What they are intended for and how they are used are two different things. I have nothing against graphical admin tool per se but the problem with them is that rarely do people bother venturing beyond the tools in order to actually gain an understanding of the underlaying mechanics.
It's an attitude problem that is enabled and made worse by gui admin tools.

"The open source world is actually a much better place for this to be done than by Microsoft."

For the time being yes, but as soon as things become "as easy as Windows" that will likely change.

Reply Score: 1