Gentlemen and Ladies:
This message asks whether a "Peer-to-Peer" network, instead of a
client-server network, may be used between multiple, standalone, Linux
machines. Our "QUESTIONS" follow the preliminary "BACKGROUND" information
provided with respect to the current design of the existing network that we
want to convert entirely into a "peer-to-peer" Linux-only network (if
possible and reasonably practical to do so).
BACKGROUND: We would like to convert our computing entirely over to Linux
operating systems in all of our computers. That is, we would like to have
Linux be the sole and only operating system used in our organization.
Thus, we have no plans at all for integrating any other O/S, such as
Windows or Macintosh, with or into this Linux network that we hope we can
Historically, we have conducted our activities in our workgroup in a
so-called "peer-to-peer" network configuration that has the following
1. There are four machines in our immediate group:
a. Three (3) standalone workstations; and
b. One file server that contains only an O/S and
the data files with which the personnel at the
three standalone machines perform their work.
2. Each of the three standalone workstations contains
the various programs and applications employed by
the users at their respective standalone machines in
accomplishing their work.
Note: Only programs and applications are kept on
the hard drives of the three standalone machines; no
data files at all are kept on the hard drives of the three
Further: Each of the respective users of the
standalone machines is entirely free to use
the applications and programs of his or her
own choice in performing his or her own work.
Thus, in varying degree, the three standalone
machines each contains differing programs and
applications fom the other standalone workstations.
3. The file server contains no programs or applications
whatsoever. In other words, no programs are run
from the file server by any of the standalone machines.
However, in addition to being only a "file server,"
the file server is the machine that
a. contains the printers for the entire network
and actually handles for the entire network
the print jobs that are sent to it from the
three standalone machines; and
b. contains the Post Office for the email system
used on the network. The Post Office is actually
remotely administered by one of the users on
one of the three standalone machines.
4. The following "resources" are shared around
the network by all four machines:
a. All drives and directories (Or "folders") and
files are read/write shared by all four
b. The printers (located on the file server) are
shared by all four machines;
c. One of the three standalone machines is a
dial-in network server for the entire network
and also acts as a faxmodem (fax) server for
all of the machines in the network.
5. No programs at all are shared as between any two or
more computers in the network.
5. The network uses thin ethernet coax cable that runs
from each machine to the next -- i.e., there is no
"star" or "hub" involved.
Although at first blush this network may seem "too open" or lacking in the
security features of a "client-server" network arrangement, you may assume
that, among the persons who work in this network, security is not an issue.
To the extent that security may be required from time to time, we simply
password the relevant directories or other resources so that they can be
used only by those who are working upon the particular project that needs
to be secured.
QUESTIONS: Based upon the foregoing background information provided with
respect to our currently existing network, and since, to a person, we are
the barest of novices at Linux, we would be most appreciative if the more
knowledgeable and experienced members of the newsgroup could enlighten us
with respect to the questions we need to consider in making our transition
of our existing network to a Linux-only network:
1. Can Linux be networked as a "Peer-to-Peer"
network as described above?
a. If so, do the distributions of Linux come
equipped to set up such a network or is
some additional network application or
program needed to effect the "Peer-to-Peer"
network configuration that we want to create?
b. If not, what kind of network would we have
to use? Client-Server? (client-server is simply
overkill for us)
2. Can Linux be used to accomplish the "sharing" of the
resources as we have outlined the degree of "resource
If so, is this a complicated matter to accomplish or is
it a relatively simple matter such as is true in
peer-to-peer networking in Windows for Workgroups
and among Win95 machines that have been arranged
3. Finally, in the event that we should find ourselves
at some point merging or combining with another
group that uses an O/S different from Linux (such
as NT, Win95/98, Macintosh, or OS2):
a. Is it a complicated matter to "plug in" a Linux
workgroup, such as ours would be, into a larger
network that uses neither Linux nor Unix as
the O/S for its network?
b. Is it a complicated matter to "plug in" a
computer -- that uses an O/S other than
Linux -- to a Linux workgroup such as the
one we hope we can create? (i.e., for
example, would it be particulary difficult
for an NT or for a Win95/98 machine to
join us and use our network?).
These two operations ("plug in" to someone else's
network and remain peer-to-peer among ourselves
or "plug in" someone else to our peer-to-peer
network and have them now also be a peer-to-peer
member of our workgroup) was, and has been,
rather simple and easy to accomplish both under
Windows for Workgroups and under Win95. Are
we in for some wrenching "shocks" and "surprises"
under Linux? Or, will life just go on -- albeit under
a different, and hopefully much more useful,
4. Finally, given what we would like to accomplish
with our network configuration, is there a
particular distribution of Linux upon which we
should be focusing? SUSE? Caldera? RedHat?
Sorry to send up such a long message, but we thought it would probably be
best to "lay it all out at once" and first find out if we are even on the
right track or whether we need to learn a whole new mindset with respect to
how we are going to have to get our work done under Linux?
Any enlightenment, insights, suggestions, comments, or references to web
or hard copy resources with respect to our questions will be greatly
appreciated. Thus far, our search for the answers at the linux.org, et.
al. web sites has turned up no answers to our questions.