Originally Published: Friday, 21 April 2000 Author: Jeff White
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Integrating Linux into Existing Networks

I often find myself hearing that many organizations are trying to find a way to implement Linux into their existing networks. Samba provides a way to incorporate Linux to service their Windows workstations. Also, with the number of available IPV4 IP addresses dwindling, Linux can act as an excellent masquerading machine using one available address for numerous clients connecting to the Internet.

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I often find myself hearing that many organizations are trying to find a way to implement Linux into their existing networks. Samba provides a way to incorporate Linux to service their Windows workstations. Also, with the number of available IPV4 IP addresses dwindling, Linux can act as an excellent masquerading machine using one available address for numerous clients connecting to the Internet.

Imagine yourself walking into an existing network saturated with Windows workstations being serviced by a sluggish NT server. Knowing what you know about Linux and NT, you decide that you would rather see these Windows workstations being serviced by a Linux server. It may seem overwhelming to integrate Linux into the Windows-based network, but it isn't as difficult as it appears.

Although Linux has a great graphical desktop environment, it may still be impossible for you to integrate Linux as the desktop workstation and assimilate Windows as the primary workstation. Fortunately, in the server realm, Linux can accommodate the Windows-based workstation environment by using Samba.

Taken from O'Reilly's "Using Samba":

Samba is a suite of Unix applications that speak the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol. Many operating systems, including Windows and OS/2, use SMB to perform client-server networking. By supporting this protocol, Samba allows Unix servers to get in on the action, communicating with the same networking protocol as Microsoft Windows products. Thus, a Samba-enabled Unix machine can masquerade as a server on your Microsoft network and offer the following services:

  • Share one or more filesystems
  • Share printers installed on both the server and its clients
  • Assist clients with Network Neighborhood browsing
  • Authenticate clients logging onto a Windows domain
  • Provide or assist with WINS name server resolution

    Samba can definitely provide an elaborate set of utilities and functions that can accommodate the demands and requests by the Windows workstations. Samba is relatively simple to install and to create a basic configuration for it to masquerade as your Primary Domain Controller.

    For GNOME users, browsing shares on Windows boxes hasn't been made any easier than that of gnomba. Gnomba provides an easy to use graphical front-end to the smbclient program making it easier for you to access shares residing on Windows machines and the Linux Samba Server.

    Alright, we have Linux providing services to our Windows workstations, now what about this IP Masquerading? If you are limited to the number of IP addresses that you have available to use, consider using IP Masquerading.

    IP Masquerading allows your private network to request information from the Internet via the masquerading server. When a private network computer makes a request, the masquerading server will rewrite the header of the packet. When the packet travels across the Internet to its destination, the originating IP address, in reference to the Internet destination, will be that of the masquerading server. The Internet address now replies to the request (made by the masquerading server) and sends its information back to the originating IP address, the masquerading server. When the masquerading server receives the packet, it will then rewrite the header of the packet and forward it to the original private-network computer source.

    In the eyes of the Internet, you are one computer with one IP address when in actuality you are one IP address and many computers. More information can be found in the IP Masquerade HOWTO and a mini HOWTO, written by myself, can be found on my site

    These are not the only two means of integrating Linux into an existing network; Linux can act independently or in conjunction as, and of course not limited to, a Web server, dial-up server, development server (CVS), DNS server, e-mail server, FTP server and firewall services.

    Jeff White, tekken@linux.com





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