[wellylug] Networking and network filesystems

Daniel Reurich daniel at centurion.net.nz
Tue Mar 8 22:41:54 NZDT 2011

On Tue, 2011-03-08 at 00:18 +0100, Andrew Tarr wrote:
> 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.

Depends on what you mean by "integrate them", and how far are you
willing to go.  Are you going to set up a permanent machine to act as a
server or just want peer to peer functionality?
> 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).

What do you mean by network filesystems?  Shared filesystem/home
directories or just peer to peer access with minimal/no authentication.
> 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. 

It's either your router doing it or you setup some sort of permanent
server to do that for you.

> 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. 
Check to see if you router doesn't already provide this functionality.
If it doesn't then your needing to set up some form of dns service on a
server, and having that handle and forward/cache requests for your
network.  You'll also need to get your dhcp service (be that your adsl
router or a service you've set up) to tell the dhcp clients where to
find your new dns server.

> 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. 
Static IP's are ok for servers but you'll still want dhcp/dns setup for
your portable clients and for guest access.

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

Depends on what you want.  For 1 or 2 pc's you probably wouldn't notice
the difference, but if youv'e got a few more and mail servers etc it
would be well worth the time invested.

> 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? 
For windows Samba 3 does a fairly good job for clients up to Windows XP.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 are a little more fussy and may require more
tweaking of the server, and Windows 7 also needs a registry tweak to
atleast do domain authentication (not sure about whether this required
for peer to peer with Pre Vista desktops).  For Mac OSX, if your running
a server with samba you may like to install Netatalk to get better
performance, compatibility and codepage support, but it's not essential.

> 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. 
Openldap and sounds way over the top for your scenario, but it is going
to provide the easiest path to centralized authentication.  Kerberos
might be a go.

> 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. 
> -Andrew. 

Daniel Reurich.

Centurion Computer Technology (2005) Ltd
Mobile 021 797 722

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