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  Windows LAN server HOW-TO
  by Ryan Cartwright,
  v1.3, 2004-10-06

  This document is intended to assist those who wish to consider Linux
  as a server within an office environment which has PC's primarily run�
  ning Microsoft Windows 9x.

  Table of Contents

  1. Revisions

  2. Dedication

  3. Introduction

     3.1 The Scenario
     3.2 The Options
        3.2.1 Repair
        3.2.2 Replace

  4. The Linux Option

     4.1 Research is the key
        4.1.1 The importance of further reading
     4.2 The tools
     4.3 Convincing the boss
     4.4 Which distribution?

  5. Installation

     5.1 RedHat
     5.2 Samba
        5.2.1 Samba configuration
        5.2.2 Microsoft Word templates
     5.3 E-mail
        5.3.1 qmail
        5.3.2 fetchmail
     5.4 Faxing
        5.4.1 Faxing from Windows clients
        5.4.2 HylaFAX
        5.4.3 Word macros

  6. Is that it?

  7. Conclusion

  8. References

  9. Further Comments to v.1.2+


  1.  Revisions

  v0.1 - 21 September 2000 : Original document submission

  v1.2 - 19 March 2003 : Authors contact details amended, spelling
  errors corrected. Minor text changes. Further Comments section added.
  Version amended to suit CVS.

  v1.3 - 6 October 2004 : Minor spelling  & grammatical errors
  corrected. Minor text changes.

  2.  Dedication

  This document is dedicated firstly to Jesus Christ, my Lord and
  Saviour, thanks to Him I have the ability to do this. It is
  secondarily dedicated to the authors of the various utilities and
  documents referred to here. Thanks to them I have the tools to do it.

  3.  Introduction

  Linux (or more accurately GNU/Linux) is gaining increasing popularity
  within the workplace. Primarily it is deployed within the Internet
  marketplace at server level but it is beginning to make in roads into
  other areas such as internal network servers and desktop workstations.
  With this in mind and for reasons given below, my company decided to
  deploy a Linux based LAN server into our Windows9x based network.  I
  started this project with basic knowledge of Linux and some knowledge
  of Unix. During the course of the project it occurred to me that some
  sort of document describing the tasks involved would be helpful. I
  could not find such a document and hence wrote this one.

  What you will not find here is a repeat of installation and
  configuration documentation for the various tools and utilities used.
  I see no reason to repeat that but have instead opted to include
  problems encountered whilst installing or configuring these and
  workarounds/solutions for those situations.

  3.1.  The Scenario

  It will probably be helpful to give a short background of the
  environment in which the new server will be deployed.

  Some 35 PC's are linked in an Ethernet LAN across a sprawling site.
  Like many offices this one started with a single PC and grew bit by
  bit into the current environment. For reasons of speed, convenience
  and cost a peer-to-peer network was employed. Users share directories
  and printers across the network using share level access.

  One of the PC's became designated as a "server" (from here on I shall
  refer to this as the "serverPC"). Peer-to-peer networks have no server
  as such and thus this PC was identical to the others except that it
  had no consistent user. It was used to store common files (templates,
  small database files etc.) for use by all users and also contained the
  Microsoft Mail postoffice directories for the internal mail system.
  Networking faxing was also routed through this PC by means of
  Microsoft Fax and more recently, internet e-mail distribution was
  added by means of a mailserver utility which connected periodically to
  an external mailserver and redistributes the mail accordingly. It also
  shares a printer for use by the majority of users in the vicinity. The
  client side of the mail and fax systems was handled by Microsoft

  Increase of traffic through the serverPC especially internet mail
  increased to the point where file access slowed and users could not
  always log onto the internet mailserver. At first the internet
  mailserver program was suspected but further tests proved this to be
  untrue. Users were becoming increasingly frustrated and subsequently
  handing these emotions onto the IT support people.

  There was also a secondary issue to consider. Having a designated
  serverPC meant from the management viewpoint a perfectly good PC was
  "doing nothing" because nobody was sitting at it. A decision was made
  to allow occasional users to use this PC as a workstation. The PC
  would sometimes lock during these occasional uses as a workstation
  meaning the loss of access to important files to all users while it
  was rebooted and subsequently database and file locks would need to be
  cleared to allow users to get back to their data.

  3.2.  The Options

  The situation called for some kind of remedy. At the most basic level
  the options were simply "repair or replace" and as is often the case,
  there was funding limitation.

  3.2.1.  Repair

  Repair is at first glance the quickest and cheapest option but it is
  rarely easy, especially if you are unsure of the exact cause of the
  problem. As a workstation there was nothing "wrong" with this PC but
  as a server it often seemed overwhelmed. The situation could have been
  partially solved by installation of a network switch to speed the
  network traffic but could have possibly resulted in creating a
  bottleneck at the serverPC as it struggled to keep up with traffic
  demand. The PC was running Windows98 which as a desktop environment is
  perfectly adequate but as a server starts to struggle. At best it was
  considered that this option would only postpone the problem for a
  while especially if network growth continued.

  3.2.2.  Replace

  Replacing the serverPC with a dedicated server and establishing a
  client-server relationship would allow for the expected increase in
  network size and traffic. Traditionally a dedicated server would
  involve some considerable outlay as the options here were either
  WindowsNT or NetWare. Since the latter part of the 1990's Linux has
  come very much into the spotlight and it provided an alternative
  replacement strategy.

  4.  The Linux Option

  Linux is, to all intents and purposes, a Unix clone (for a more
  accurate description I suggest you look elsewhere as it's not relevant
  to this document) and as such the incorporates the excellent
  networking abilities of the latter. It is this trait (among others)
  which has lead to its' increasing deployment in the Internet server
  market. It could provide a low cost replacement strategy for the
  problem at hand and yet allow for the expected network growth at
  little or no extra cost.

  That Linux was an effective and cost-effective server solution was not
  in question but we need to know whether it could provide a specific
  solution in this case. Could Linux fulfil all the roles provided by
  the current serverPC, including file-serving, internal mail, network
  faxing and Internet mail redistribution. Initial enquiries showed that
  it could and so the question became less of "can Linux do it?" and
  more "can I make Linux do it?".

  4.1.  Research is the key

  Before presenting any argument for deployment to management it seemed
  prudent to research said argument. This would serve the additional
  purpose of educating myself in the finer details of Linux
  Administration. My Linux experience stemmed from a few months use at
  home and as Linux was not in use within the company I was to all
  intents and purposes the Linux expert.

  I started my research lurking at newsgroups, particularly
  uk.comp.os.linux (u.c.o.l.).Although lurking can be frowned upon in
  some circles it is something I recommend in early stages of a project
  like this. Reading other peoples questions and answers gives valuable
  insight into your approach to future projects you may encounter. They
  say it is a fool who does not learn from others mistakes. In addition
  I had a copy of the book "Learning RedHat Linux" published by O'Reilly
  ( This book was used when installing my home
  version of Linux and is excellent for this purpose. It also contains a
  very significant chapter on Samba - a networking application which
  allows Linux to act as a fileserver for Windows9x PCs. I also made
  extensive use of the Linux Documentation Project (tLDP - especially the Linux Users Guide, the System
  Administrators Guide and the Network Administrators Guide.

  4.1.1.  The importance of further reading

  I cannot stress enough the importance of the research to the outcome
  of the overall project. There are many phrases and anecdotes which
  accurately summarise this, including "forewarned is forearmed" and the
  five P's (proper preparation prevents poor performance).

  Note:- I am aware of the sixth P often prepended to that statement but
  I chose not to include it.

  4.2.  The tools

  My initial research revealed the direction I should go and what
  specific programs I should learn more about. These included:-

  �  Samba (for file and printer serving),

  �  qmail (for mail delivery - MTA)

  �  fetchmail (for collecting Internet mail from our ISP mailboxes)

  �  mgetty+sendfax or HylaFAX (for faxserving)

  Although there were alternatives (postfix and exim for e-mail spring
  to mind), these appeared to suit my purpose and a quick question to
  u.c.o.l. confirmed these as good choices. I was aware that network fax
  serving could be done and that tools were available - articles in
  Linux Journal helped as did advice from u.c.o.l. users.

  4.3.  Convincing the boss

  This proved to be one of the most anxious tasks of the early stages.
  It was one thing to bring myself to the realisation that Linux
  provided the best solution and quite another to consider guiding my
  boss(es) to the same conclusion.

  Although there was virtually no outlay cost involved (always a good
  stumbling block to remove) there was the matter of time. The project
  would involve certain amounts of time for me to learn as I went and
  this in turn would involve a longer overall timescale before the
  solution was in place.

  The temptation was to point out the faults of the existing solution
  and then present the Linux proposal as an all conquering hero. This
  was unlikely to work as it could have been interpreted as me pushing a
  solution simply because I liked the idea. In addition had I presented
  this argument any delay (or perceived one) in deploying the Linux
  server would be harder to explain.  I had to present my argument as a
  benefit for the company. To this end I could use the existing problems
  but I had to be careful to avoid a "Linux for Linux sake" point of

  As it happened all my concern was for nothing - during a conversation
  about the existing server the IT manager suggested the very solution I
  was about to argue for! However he did require some reassurances which
  were all along the lines I have discussed here. Your situation will of
  course be different but in any case it must surely be beneficial to
  present as objective an argument as possible.

  4.4.  Which distribution?

  I chose to use RedHat 6.0 for this project. This was down to a very
  simple reason - I already had a copy and could therefore get started
  quicker. Also I was used to it as I had been using it at home. I can
  see no real reason why in this case one distribution should be used
  over another except for personal preference. There are some server
  editions of several distributions and again use of these is in the
  realms of personal preference. I have limited experience of various
  distributions and thus feel inadequately qualified to make a
  recommendations, my advice would be that you may want to eliminate as
  many unknowns as possible and thus learning the nuances of a different
  distribution may cause further hindrances.

  5.  Installation

  5.1.  RedHat

  I assembled a PC from bits lying around the IT stores - a fun exercise
  in itself - and ended up with a test system of P133, 32MB Ram and
  540MB HD. I was planning on replacing the HD with a much larger one
  but wanted to test the installation on the rest of the system first.

  Having installed RH6 before a few times I *knew* this would be a
  breeze...I believe "famous last words" is the phrase I am looking for
  here!  Installation seemed fine but on 1st boot (and subsequent ones)
  I encountered "invalid compressed format" errors as the system tried
  to Uncompress Linux. This evolved into a system that hung at boot with
  a "LI" prompt and a few questions on UCOL highlighted this problem as
  being a drive geometry problem. The system could boot from an MSDos
  bootdisk launching Linux from LOADLIN but this was far from
  acceptable. A 1GB hard disk was used instead.

  A secondary problem was the NIC. The one I first used was a
  Realtek8019 ISA card, this is an NE2000 compatible card and thus
  *should* use the ne2000 driver. After much trying and even a kernel
  recompile the card refused to work with said driver, so I swapped it
  with a D-Link DT-530 PCI card from another PC. This card was reported
  to work with the 'tulip' driver. However the RedHat install procedure
  could not detect it. A quick look on the D-Link website pointed to the
  latest via-rhine driver as a solution. This was downloaded and
  compiled and installed along with the pci-scan driver file from the
  same site ( This site
  also contains excellent installation  notes. With the new drivers in
  place the machine was up and running and a few ping tests proved the
  NIC was running fine.

  5.2.  Samba

  Version 2.0.3 was installed as part of the RedHat installation and
  because this was a trial run I saw no reason to download the latest
  (at time writing this is 2.0.7). smbclient was not installed as there
  would be no reason for the Linux box to access shares on the Windows
  PC's. Configuration was a breeze thanks to the SWAT utility which is
  accessed by pointing a web browser at port 901 (ie:
  http://localhost:901). I was even able to access and configure this
  from one of the Windows boxes across the network (http://<ip

  5.2.1.  Samba configuration

  For some reason our users have a habit of not exploring the network
  beyond their workgroup - even though they often can. To avoid
  confusion on their part and to keep accidents to a minimum the server
  was put in it's own workgroup. There is much excellent documentation
  on setup and configuration of Samba and thus I refer the reader to
  those rather than repeat the information here.

  As our PC's all have static IP addresses and users are primarily
  seated in front of the same PC every day I opted for the share
  security option in Samba. This has the danger of leaving resources
  open for anyone browsing the network so I also employed the hosts-
  allow feature in the globals section. This was restricted to those on
  our network using a partial IP address. Shares were enabled pointing
  to various directories all under a new /resources directory.

  5.2.2.  Microsoft Word templates

  All the shares worked fine except when it came to templates for MS
  Word97. Word has a feature where you can set a Workgroup Templates
  location in its options. The problem was that if that pointed to a
  Samba share, the share could not be at top level (ie:
  //SERVER/template). When you clicked File|New, MSWord would report
  that it could not open the templates in the location selected yet you
  could open a template from that location through File|Open. This was
  further confused because you could navigate to said top level share in
  Explorer and double click on the template file and Word would create a
  new document based on your selected template. The workaround was found
  to be as simple as sharing the parent of the template directory and
  setting Word to look through that path (ie:
  //SERVER/resource/template). Despite much amending of file permissions
  and usernames it seems this is the only way to get this to work. I
  remain unsure as to which end causes the problem, Word seems a likely
  culprit (because everything else can use the files okay) but Samba can
  also be pointed to (because a Windows top level share will work in

  5.3.  E-mail

  qmail was chosen as the Mail Transport Agent (MTA) over sendmail which
  was supplied with RedHat. This is primarily because the former has a
  reputation for easier configuration and better security than the

  5.3.1.  qmail

  The latest source files were downloaded via a mirror of and compiled and installed. There is plenty of
  documentation supplied with qmail but I chose to also use Life With
  Qmail ( dsill/lwq.html). This document is
  similar to a HOWTO and was probably the most useful document for our

  Qmail installed easily enough but I encountered a few minor problems
  with using it. I configured it, for performance and reliability
  reasons to use Maildir as the default delivery. The good old standard
  mail program does not recognise this type of delivery and thus it took
  me a while to figure out why my mail was being sent but I could not
  see it. The solution was to use mutt ( which does
  support Maildir. Of course this was a minor problem as the users would
  not be using the Linux box to read their mail but rather get it
  through a pop client (MS Outlook) on their Windows workstations.

  5.3.2.  fetchmail

  Fetchmail was used as a collection agent and installation and setup of
  this was a breeze, especially when I found out about fetchmailconf
  :o). We do not require mail collection at all times but prefer to
  collect at set intervals. To facilitate this fetchmail is called using
  the -d switch by a cron job everyday and stopped by another one.

  We collect our mail from ten mailboxes on our webhosts server, one of
  these is a bulk redirect where anything addressed to our hostname but
  not to one of the other nine specific addresses is deposited.
  fetchmails multidrop facility was employed to allow us to download all
  the mail from this mailbox and then smtp it to qmail using the
  intended recipients address.  One problem we encountered was sending
  mail from our new qmail server to our salespeople. They collect their
  mail direct from the webhosts yet their domain is the same as everyone
  else's. This meant that every time a local user tried to send a
  message to one of the salespeople, qmail tried to find a local
  username to pass the message to and, upon finding no matching user,
  bounced it to the postmaster. The solution was to use a secondary e-
  mail address for the salespeople. Our webhosts do not provide dial-up
  services so our salespeople each have their own free ISP account to
  get access to the web. This account provides them with an address on a
  different domain and so qmail was able to forward all mail for them to
  this address using the alias files.

  Note: To make life easier for the salespeople our webhosts redirected
  all mail coming to their mailbox for these people to  the free ISP
  mail address - this meant the salespeople weren't 'confused' by having
  to juggle multiple accounts and addresses on their notebooks - bless
  'em :o).

  5.4.  Faxing

  The old serverPC used Microsoft's network faxing to share a fax
  service across the network. Users then used MS Word templates (which
  had VBA macros) to create and send faxes automatically, errors were
  mailed to the user.  To provide and equal if not better service on the
  new server I chose mgetty+sendfax to provide the local faxing service.
  This installed easily and I was soon able to spool faxes from the
  Linux server. Spooling from Windows clients was to prove a much
  tougher nut to crack and resulted in a change from the original

  5.4.1.  Faxing from Windows clients

  The previous arrangement shared a fax modem from the serverPC using
  Microsoft Fax under MS Outlook to provide fax services to all Windows
  clients. Further to this we used a standard Word97 template which had
  a macro attached for automatic sending of faxes. Utilising the Sendfax
  VBA command, this macro meant users had only to fill in the template
  and hit the "fax now" button on their Word toolbar to send a fax. They
  didn't have to deal with any third party programs which asked them to
  repeat everything they had just typed into the template. This
  arrangement thus provided seamless faxing to the user and it was one I
  was keen to continue.

  Ideally what I wanted to do was have some way of passing the intended
  document, the username and the fax number to faxspool on the Linux box
  from the Windows client applications. The traditional way to provide
  fax services to any Windows app is to setup a "printer" which points
  to the fax modem.

  5.4.2.  HylaFAX

  Originally I installed mgetty+sendfax to use as a fax server. This was
  primarily because it is supplied with RedHat 6 and so was readily
  available. Unfortunately it proved to be unsuitable for our particular
  use as we required some way of sending faxes to the faxserver using
  Microsoft Word macros.  There are some excellent Windows clients for
  mgetty+sendfax but alas they all require the user to enter the fax
  number etc. each time a fax is sent. I wanted a solution to match our
  current one where the user fills in a Word template, hits a button and
  the macro reads the fax number from the document and uses the VBA
  Sendfax command to send the fax via MS Fax.

  After much deliberating and searching I was pointed toward HylaFAX
  ( which has a windows client WHFC
  ( This client allows for
  communication through VBA macros which was exactly what I wanted.
  Hylafax installed okay although I had some rather annoying client
  access problems. These were solved by ensuring the client IP addresses
  were correctly added to not only /var/spool/fax/etc/hosts (as
  indicated in the man pages and FAQ) but to
  /var/spool/fax/etc/hosts.hfaxd. Once this was done I was up and
  running in no time. WHFC installed very easily and was set-up in

  5.4.3.  Word macros

  As mentioned, our users are accustomed to being able to hit one button
  to send a fax document from within MS Word97, it was important to keep
  this feature available with the new server. WHFC has OLE capabilities
  and thus we were able to write a new macro which allowed the user to
  send a fax from within Word without having to enter the fax details
  into a secondary popup box.  The macro does two things - first it
  prints the current document to a file, then it uses WHFC's SendFax OLE
  function to send the printed file to HylaFAX. The printer driver we
  use is the Apple Laserwriter 16/600(ps) one as recommended in the WHFC
  setup notes.

  Here is the macro code we use ...

  Sub Spool_fax()

  Dim givenfax, realnum As String
  Dim whfc As Object
  Dim OLE_Return As Long
  Dim Box_Return As Integer

  Application.PrintOut FileName:="", Range:=wdPrintAllDocument, Item:= _
     wdPrintDocumentContent, Copies:=1, Pages:="", PageType:=wdPrintAllPages, _
     Collate:=True, Background:=False, PrintToFile:=True, _
     OutputFileName:="c:\faxtemp\", Append:=False

  Set givenfax = ActiveDocument.Fields(8).Result realnum = "9" + givenfax

  Set whfc = CreateObject("WHFC.OleSrv")
  OLE_Return = whfc.SendFax("c:\faxtemp\", realnum, False)

  If OLE_Return &<= 0 Then
     Box_Return = MsgBox("Error sending file", 16, "FAX Not Spooled")
     Box_Return = MsgBox("Fax Job ID:" & _
        OLE_Return & Chr(13) & _
        "You will be notified by email if it was successfully sent", _
         0, "Fax spooled")
  End If
  Set whfc = Nothing
  End Sub

  6.  Is that it?

  That pretty much covers the installation and configuration of all the
  tools and utilities required to get our new server up and running.
  Having said that there is more to a good server than just the tools to
  do the job required. I advise you read the afore-mentioned Linux
  System Administrators Guide especially chapter 10 - backups!

  7.  Conclusion

  The Linux server was in place some two months after starting this
  project. I am sure this could have been days if I had known what I was
  doing but I would recommend to anyone considering a similar project to
  allow themselves a good time period. This is especially applicable if
  like me they have cut their support teeth in Windows.  Linux is not
  difficult to use, just different and the transition from Windows takes
  time. Read the excellent documentation around before you start and
  also you may find it more beneficial to try this step by step on a
  secondary machine whilst your old one is still running elsewhere.
  Migrating is a better approach than a straight swap.

  8.  References

  �  Linux Documentation Project -

  �  Freshmeat -

  �  qmail -

  �  HylaFAX -

  �  Samba -

  9.  Further Comments to v.1.2+

  Since first writing this document I have gained a great deal more
  experience with Linux and some of the tools mentioned here. I now use
  Linux in a wide variaety of tasks at home and work. I have since moved
  from the company for which I set this particular server but to my
  knowledge they were still using it some three years later ( I think
  they replaced it with a newer Linux based sollution arouind this
  time). If you are considering using Linux as an alternative to another
  OS I would encourage you to look into it.

  Not only have I moved on but the changing face of Linux has meant the
  necessity for this document has decreased somewhat. Many distributions
  (try looking here ) have made using Linux
  as a Windows-LAN server even easier by pre-configuring the options
  needed. Often you can find a dedicated product specifcally for the
  purposes mentioned here.

  However there will always be those who want to "get their hands dirty"
  or just want to do things for themselves and learn through that
  process. I can sympathise with this as the experiences shown here
  served to teach me far more about  Linux than I first anticipated.

  Also, as the world of Microsoft moves away from clients such as
  Windows9x, there has arisen a need for provision of things like shared
  calendars, address books etc. ( basically replacing Microsoft's
  Exhange Server ). Much of this functionailty are available under Linux
  through various applications and tools, some proprietary, but I
  decided against listing them here as I felt it best (and simpler) to
  keep this document within it's original purpose. If you require these
  things, have alook at some of the products available through various
  distributions which aim to provide all of the functionality listed in
  the document in one go.

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