[ale] Simple Admin Tools in Mandrake
griffisb at bellsouth.net
Fri Jun 27 09:51:00 EDT 2003
Admin Tools in Mandrake 9.1
(From a Beginners Perspective)
I've been following the thread on simple distros for non-admin people, and it
piqued my curiosity. Definately think it's time to attempt to download SuSE
8.2 from FTP to check it out a little more. I've only messed with the Live
Eval copy of SuSE 8.2, so my input on that is extremely minimal.
I installed Mandrake 9.1 about two weeks after it came out. This is my first
Linux installation. Previous to that, I've mainly run Windows (95, 98, ME, a
little NT, then XP and 2KPro). Also have some experience with OS/2, and that
experience made me a Windows convert. There's just something to be said about
not having to mess with things to get your desktop applications working first
time, every time. But let's not go there. I'm happily learning Linux and have
decided to not even TRY to run Windows apps on Linux. No Wine for me, I'm on
Had a little experience with LAN Manager and Netware a few eons ago.
Networking experience has been limited to SNA (don't say that!) and IP, IPX
protocols (first with IBM Bridges, then with Cisco routers). We don't mention
the terms key system, hybrid, PBX, Voice Mail, Automated Attendant or ACD -
but I've played with them for too many years. The only reason I even mention
them is that each system has it's own admin goals, systems and tools (oh
yeah, and the Bayonne project looks pretty cool!).
Back to the topic at hand - a new person administering Mandrake.
The tools I've found in my Mandrake install (from downloaded ISOs) have been
extremely simple to use, straight-forward, and self-explanatory. Meaning, I
picked them up in no time, and I think any first-time user could learn them
quickly as well.
Adding users: Click configuration, Other - then KUser or UserDrake
Schedule tasks: KCron, also XCron
Tape Backup: KDat (I haven't messed with this, I don't have a tape system)
Networking: Samba Conf
Software Management: Configuration, Packaging - then a GUI frontend to
Install, Upgrade, Remove software, or to add/change software Source locations
(like PLF and TexStar!)
If you prefer console based software management, URPMI is very simple to use.
Control Center: standard KDE control center
A quick note on URPMI. URPMI is a very simple command line tool to install or
upgrade packages. You can shoot yourself in the foot by doing a --nodeps and
--force, the same as you can shoot yourself in the foot using those same
options under RPM. You can also mess things up by doing an URPMI
--auto-select. This updates every package on your system that needs updating,
but it is kind of a scatter-shot approach. I prefer using the GUI front-end,
so I know exactly what packages I'm installing and why I'm installing them.
A great control/management frontend is Mandrake Control Center. This lets you
verify your hardware, mess with your partitions (I stay FAR AWAY from that!),
set your mount points, change your networking configuration - change IP
configuration, set up IP connection sharing (No! Not that!) and set up proxy
servers. I haven't messed with Internet Connection sharing or Proxy servers -
so can't speak for how well it does that.
In Mandrake Control Center under Security, you can change your security level
(I used that to play with stricter, then less restrictive security levels).
You can also set up a firewall. It's kind of a no-frills firewall, but it was
fairly simple to set up my Mandrake box to only allow http, ftp and Samba
(ports 137, 138, 139) connections.
The system portion of Mandrake Control Center lets you change your menu, add
users (UserDrake again), schedule backups to tape, CD, hard drive, or across
the network via FTP. I need to pop for a CD burner, or just launch an FTP
Server on one of my Windows boxes to simplify backups. I'm cheap and stubborn
so just scripted backing up users to floppy (ugh and argh!). Log Drake is a
simple GUI to help you view your logs. You can select the day (using the
calendar) and select log message types (authentication, messages, syslog or
user). You can also select what services you want to automatically start,
and what running services you no longer want to start. That makes it pretty
simple to shut down services you don't need (although it's difficult as a
beginner to know what services you don't need).
You also get Webmin. You have to love Webmin! I don't see a GUI click here for
Webmin, but I can enter it from the console as root and get Webmin up and
running. That helped a lot in tightening down my Samba setup. I don't know
off-hand if I got Webmin on the inital install, or if I got it after doing an
URPMI --auto-select. I need to take better notes.
I'm sure you can do all the above easily in SuSE or RedHat as well. I just
don't have experience in those systems. But for me - Mandrake 9.1 has been
very simple and straight-forward. Not to say I am completely satisfied. I
plan on installing SuSE for comparison. I'm also not sure if Mandrake's
financial position would make it a good choice in a business network. I would
hate to consider installing, testing in parallel, training, tranisitoning a
network over - then doing it again a year or so later if Mandrake went belly
up in big way.
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