Spring 2005

The Devil doth tempt me so

Computing / May 4th

Many times in the past, and probably many times in the future, I oscillate between wanting to use Windows and some other operating system, such as Linux or FreeBSD. Initially this involved my desktop, but to Microsoft's credit, I have not had any desire to change my desktop OS in some time.

The same is not the case with my server. It seems that every time I install some Unix variant it takes me only a short time to conclude that it is complicated and requires more time to learn than I care to invest, or something goes wrong that leads me to conclude that it sucks, and I go back to using Windows. However, as much as I know Windows, it never fails to begin pissing me off to the point that I wonder if there is something better out there.

Recently I set up my sever with Windows Server 2003. I had been running a simple Windows XP server, but decided I wanted to set up a directory so that I could share user accounts across systems, enable internal DNS resolution, and do some DHCP stuff that the router was somewhat limited for. This is in addition to my normal MySQL, Apache, and Communigate configuration. Things seemed to be going well until recently.

First, I can't join systems to my domain. This means I can't share accounts. Second, the directory isn't handling security the way I want and accounts can't log in without granting them more privileges than I'd like to. Next, Communigate administration is broken completely. I can't log in to the web console to add accounts. Dynamic DNS isn't working and I have to manually add systems to get them to resolve, which defeats the purpose. There's no good way to tie existing mail accounts to domain accounts, something I've wanted for a long time, since then users can manage their own passwords. It needs to be rebooted monthly to stay current with patches, it runs slowly, and finally, today it decided to prompt me to activate Windows in the next 6 days or face the consequences. It hasn't mentioned this until now.

So I'm left considering the alternatives. I've wanted to get this working for years, to overcome the learning curve and do something different. Now, with Windows having the gall to want activation, and giving me only six days to find a way to shut it up (incidentally, asking Microsoft for permission to run their OS on my server is not going to happen), on top of all the other issues, it's time to take another stab at conquering the FreeBSD Daemon. I'm going to go with Webmin administration instead of Gnome/KDE in the interest of reducing overhead. At the moment I've only got 256MB of RAM and I'm looking to squeeze what I can out of it.

Finally, the one complicating element is that I'm thinking about trying to use ACLs to control file permissions, since that's how it should be. Wish me luck. If I fail, I can always come crawling back to Windows (again).