[wellylug] Networking and network filesystems

Andrew Tarr andrewtarr at gmx.net
Tue Mar 8 12:18:33 NZDT 2011

While I've had more than one computer at one time in my possession for quite some time now, I've really only been using one at once for reasons that are too boring to relate.  But now it looks like I'll be able to have several working, which raises the question about how to integrate them. 

Linux will be the primary operating system, but I do have a MacOS X machine (which I'll probably try to set up to dual boot with Linux, but MacOS X will need to access network filesystems etc).  Windows is a distant secondary consideration - I don't really use it, but you never know when you might end up with a windows machine on your network (visiting friends, software that must be used that only works on Windows, etc). 

Until now, I've coped with DHCP (with my ADSL router thingy acting as the server) and SCP/rsync for the odd times when I've wanted to copy things between computers, but I don't want to do that forever. 

The first question is about name resolution.  As the number of hosts will be quite small, /etc/hosts would probably work for the linux boxes, but maybe it's just worth setting up a DNS server?  That way, presumably there won't be any problems with other operating systems, especially as I can have DHCP set up an appropriate DNS entry. 

Also on the topic of name resolution, obviously if I use /etc/hosts I need static IPs.  Is it worth considering using static IPs if I use DNS, or is it just easier to use DHCP? The number of computers is small, so I don't mind fiddling around a bit to set-up whatever once - I'm probably more interested in what's got less on-going maintenance. 

Final thing related to name resolution - is it worth looking into setting up a cacheing DNS? 

The second question (or topic, really, as I've asked several questions already) is network file systems.  I suppose most things will talk CIFS these days, making Samba perhaps the best all-around bet for accommodating anything, but perhaps it's silly to use Samba when I don't have any Windows machines at all?  Maybe NFS would be more sensible.  I gather MacOS speaks NFS.  Are there any drawbacks with using Samba with unix machines? One issue might be unix filesystem permissions, I suppose, although I see Samba has some extensions that concern them.  Are there other network filesystems I should consider? 

The final topic is how to handle users and permissions across the network.  As it's just me, it seems to work so long as I set myself up as the first user with the same username everywhere, but perhaps I should consider something cleverer? One issue here might be restoring things from backups with the correct permissions. 

I can probably work out how to use any of these technologies, so I'm not looking for a HOWTO at this stage, I really want to get some idea about what people have found useful on a small, mostly-but-not-entirely homogenous network.  Happy to read any resources you recommend. 


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