LJ Archive


Linux and Windows File Servers

I've been looking through the April 2013 issue of LJ's Letters section with particular interest in the uptake of Linux in schools, and I'd agree with most of what Lucian Macu and you have to say.

It's not just schools though where the adoption of Linux is perceived to be difficult. In my previous job with the Birmingham City Council, I was one of a few users who ran Linux on the desktop. I was on the UNIX team, so it seemed the most natural thing to do. However, initially the back-end home drives and so on were on Novell, and then they moved sadly to Windows. We ran Lotus Notes for e-mail, and I can say the native client for v8 worked very well with Fedora (can't remember the release).

In my current job with IGT, until recently, I have been forced to use the truly dreadful Windows 7, although recently due to Windows 7 crashing and not starting up yet again (four times in two and a half years), I'm back with a Linux desktop in a totally Windows environment.

To try to streamline living in this environment, I started writing some login scripts that would cope with Novell (ncpfs), Windows (Samba CIFS and so on) and Linux (sshfs) back ends and create a mapped drive similar to a Windows desktop. It wouldn't be too hard to cope with a Mac desktop to these back ends too. Some embryonic code exists to detect OS X, but as I don't have a Mac currently, this is on hold.

If there is a mix of desktop systems, it is desirable to have a degree of uniformity to them. Personally, I find the Windows desktop clunky to use, but if I were a user familiar with how Windows desktops work, the idea of mapped drives rather than mounted filesystems grafted on at a mountpoint would be easier to adjust to.

Also, if I am a Linux laptop user, I would not want a remote home directory mounting over my /home/user, and if there are shared team filesystems, there still needs to be somewhere to put them, so on balance, I think the idea of using a drive letter isn't too bad for a desktop system. Of course, the drive letter is really just a mountpoint, but let's not tell the users that!

So far, development has halted a bit for various time-related reasons, but the work as it exists is freely available on my Web site: www.rainsbrook.co.uk/wiki/doku.php?id=rb:linuxloginscripts.

One main block to progress has been the move by Linux from SMB to CIFS. I used to be able to use smbmount, but CIFS doesn't want to allow a user to run this without anything in fstab.

One of the golden rules I have tried to set is that all this drive mapping and setting mountpoints should be able to be run as the local user. I'd really like to avoid any root level work. Ultimately, if the login script lives in the user's local home directory, the cfg part could come from the netlogon shared directory for Windows or an HTTP link. If the cfg file is changed by an administrator, there should be no requirement for the system admin to modify anything locally.

For many years now, I have been a passionate Linux user. I am constantly frustrated by the lack of progress on adoption in education and business. It's more than capable for use in either environment with some small developments.

I'd hoped that with the Linux adoption by Novell, we might have seen more business/user developments in distros rather than just technical and architectural ones, as it is, Linux is more than capable, but it needs some bits bolted on to help it play well in an alien environment.

I'm not really sure where to go with this. I'd hoped that someone in the local LUGs would have picked up on this and offered to join in, but not much interest has been shown. I think I need to try to open this up and get more ideas in to solve some of the blocks that exist and maybe to clean up the code and so on. So if you know anyone, please point them to the Web page!

Andrew Stringer

Well, it's posted as a Letter to the Editor, so all our readers will see your link. Perhaps it will go somewhere.

I will note that I was very excited when Novell turned to Linux as well. Unfortunately, like you, I haven't seen anything really come from it. I deal with Windows a lot in my day job, so in that regard, I feel your pain too. I try to look at the heterogeneous computing environment as a learning opportunity, but it's still frustrating at times. I'm not able to use Linux as my main computer during the workday, but thankfully, I can have a virtual machine running full screen. Thanks again for your letter—Shawn Powers

Space Program on Twitter

The best thing I've done to re-ignite my enthusiasm for the space program is to join Twitter, so I could follow @Cmdr_Hadfield. He's the Canadian commander of the ISS for the next two weeks still, and he tweets down some amazing photos of places on Earth and the aurora and such. He's a big hero up here in Canada, of course.

Also, I hope you get your ISP problems sorted out soon, as I neglected to download the April PDF and epub files; I don't remember reading it either. I must have been out to lunch on April 1st.

Neal Murphy

I love Commander Hadfield! I think his foray into social media has done more to excite the younger generation than years of marketing ever did. Oh, and my ISP problems? Yeah, it seems to be getting bett[CONNECTION LOST].—Shawn Powers

The Open-Source Classroom Column

I've been a subscriber to Linux Journal for the past 5+ years, and I thoroughly enjoy working in Linux (Ubuntu/Debian). I believe that not enough is done to expose the children of South Africa to Linux from an early age. They are mostly educated on Windows/Office-based systems.

For a while now, I have been seriously considering starting a physical training center to teach them about Linux, open-source software, Raspberry Pi, Arduino and so on, but the details haven't been finalized yet.

The reason for this e-mail is to find out if there will be any issues if I call the center “The Open-Source Classroom”. I know there probably are a million other choices, but the name is so appropriate for what I have in mind.

Roelof Oelofsen

I responded right away when I got this, but I'll reiterate for everyone—yes, by all means, use the name! We chose the title for my column because it sounded cool, but it's not something unique or specific enough to the magazine to worry about it. Thank you for asking, but even more, thank you for your passion in regards to educating kids!—Shawn Powers

Linux Poetry

I write original pieces that I e-mail to friends and colleagues every Friday. This one, from this week, seemed like something you might like to “print” in Linux Journal. (I am a longtime subscriber and still have issue 1 wrapped in plastic!)

My title is "Linux Operations, Relations And X"
to understand my position, go read the Specs.

They call me the LORAX, I speak about trees.
Rooted, Directed, Acyclic and Bs.

I speak about trees, for the trees have no tongues,
And I'm asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs -

I love backyard flowers, and gardens and seeds,
but Version Control Systems, use the trees in my needs.

It lets people find the files that go missing,
it lets me bring back bad mods, that others were dissing.
There's CVS, RCS, Subversion and others,
with features and options and ideology that smothers.

I search for myself, I search for my team,
for without simple GUIs,
They'll simply run out of steam.

I'm looking at Bazaar and I'm looking at Git,
I'm looking, and looking and looking more, a bit.

They call me the LORAX, I speak about trees.
I care about branches, and trunks and tags for these.
It must be easy and it must be simple,
it must make people smile and show me their dimple.

I already got Git, Git I already gat,
don't correct my conjugation, I don't wear that hat.
Bazaar they say is simpler,
they say that's what to get,
But I rely on my gut, my gut says get Git.

Git is bazaar, and Bazaar, I can get,
but for the non-data-arborist, both are a threat.

Git is from Linus, so it must be well done,
Linus did Linux, then Git just for fun.
I can insist, and I will, on my best rule of thumb
smart things from smart people really make me feel dumb.

When I smell Git's docs, I feel like a sneeze,
How will I ever find the forest, while looking at trees?

Still, they call me the LORAX, I speak about trees.
Rooted, Directed, Acyclic and Bs.

Dennis Director

Poetry for geeks is cool, And Dr. Suess rocks, So truly everyone wins!

—Shawn Powers


Just a follow-on from the Everpad article [see Shawn Powers' Everpad article in the April 2013 Upfront section]—I find that the Windows .exe version works just fine for me in Linux using Wine (1.5). But just as good, if not better, is the Evernote extension for Chromium (or Chrome) as well as the Evernote Web Clipper add-on for Firefox.


I find myself using the Evernote Web app in Chromium more often than not. I'll admit, I haven't tried the Wine solution yet; I'm not sure why it never occurred to me! I still wish they provided a native Linux client, but at least the Web application is robust. Thanks for the tips!—Shawn Powers

Photo of the Month

When cleaning out a closet with old papers, I found the attached. How many memories this card has brought me. I think it would be a good idea to republish this card and send it to those who renew their subscriptions.

Manuel Soriano-Vic Pérez

LJ Archive