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Alternatives to Windows Server


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#1 sourcaffeine

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 12:14 AM

I have used Windows Server for years and have had no problems. I now work in a call center where the budget is small and they've been running with local accounts and run into many time-consuming issues. I advocated for getting a license for Windows Server, but it was turned down.
 

I am looking for a free and/or cheap alternative to Windows Server. Right now the most important thing (to my employer) is getting something like Roaming Profiles setup. All the work done is web-based and relies on individual users to be able to login to any computer and retain their browser settings (bookmarks, mostly). As it sits right now, each user changes bookmarks everytime they sit at a different computer and as you can imagine it is annoying and time-consuming.

Ideally we'd just use Windows Server and Roaming Profiles and lock down some features using GPOs, maybe deploy some software now and then using GPOs. I am not really concerned about deploying software at the moment, or even restricting access. Just being able to have users login to their own personalized accounts and have their browser settings saved would save massive headaches. Are there free alternatives out there for this?



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#2 JohnnyJammer

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 05:03 PM

Well to be honest, working at a call center and not running a decent server is going to cost more in the long run than the initial out lay of a server + license.

 

I dont think you will get what you are looking for mate unless you used a windows 7 machine and created shared folders, this would be the cheap solution.

Then just use logon scripts (A batch file) to pull certain folders from the share folder to the PC ("\\windows7\shares\%username%\favourites"), using the %username% variable in the batch file would ensure that the correct placement of say the favorites folder would be over written.

You would also need a log off script which does the reverse and saves the favourites or anything else for that matter.

Create thje batch file, set up a Scheduled task so it applies to all users who login to that machine which reads the batch file is C:\Scripts\logon.bat and then C:\Scripts\logoff.bat

 

Simple and you wouldnt need a server either!



#3 sourcaffeine

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 05:37 PM

Well to be honest, working at a call center and not running a decent server is going to cost more in the long run than the initial out lay of a server + license.

 

I dont think you will get what you are looking for mate unless you used a windows 7 machine and created shared folders, this would be the cheap solution.

Then just use logon scripts (A batch file) to pull certain folders from the share folder to the PC ("\\windows7\shares\%username%\favourites"), using the %username% variable in the batch file would ensure that the correct placement of say the favorites folder would be over written.

You would also need a log off script which does the reverse and saves the favourites or anything else for that matter.

Create thje batch file, set up a Scheduled task so it applies to all users who login to that machine which reads the batch file is C:\Scripts\logon.bat and then C:\Scripts\logoff.bat

 

Simple and you wouldnt need a server either!

No, we have servers. They were used in the past when the call center operated their dialer and PBX themselves. They were able to use Linux for that, but have never had an active directory environment. We have good hardware, but management doesn't want to spend the money on a Windows Server license if it isn't necessary.

Like I said, all I need to do is save browser settings for each user so that they can sit at any computer, login, and their personalized browser settings are saved. I know with Roaming Profiles this is pretty simple. I am looking for a free or as cheap as possible alternative for some sort of virturalization or profiles solution.



#4 dannyboy950

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 01:43 PM

I believe there are still UNIX/Linux server systems available but do not remember much about them.


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#5 Slurppa

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 07:09 PM

I haven't tested it myself but I have heard that Zentyal has some domain system support.



#6 sflatechguy

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Posted 28 February 2016 - 11:02 AM

Any Linux distribution that can run OpenLDAP will probably do the trick, which includes openSUSE or any of the Red Hat-flavored distros (Fedora, CentOS,etc.) It's open source, so it's free. That should make the bean counters happy. :thumbup2:



#7 sourcaffeine

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Posted 28 February 2016 - 02:32 PM

I haven't tested it myself but I have heard that Zentyal has some domain system support.

 

I did go with Zentyal. It comes with Samba 4 and has all the features I am looking for including roaming profiles and GPOs.

Dead simple setup and configuration. So far, it is looking like a pretty good alternative.



#8 MasterNe0

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 03:49 PM

Ubuntu server might worked if you setup roaming profiles within it. We did that for a client and turned a ubuntu server into a DC using LDAP and such with roaming profiles even thought it wasn't easy.






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