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Linux Enterprise Computing

This page attempts to survey Linux in a corporate, commercial enterprise setting. This is a necessarily huge topic, and so at best, I've touched on a few idiosyncratic, eclectic topics, based on real-life experiences and concerns of managing a company powered by Linux. These interests include system and network management, databases, high-availability & fault-tolerance, clustering and SMP support, project management tools, as well as wish-lists of desired features.

Anyone new to Linux should visit www.linux.org. A general survey of commercial (as opposed to "free") applications for Linux can be found in the Linux Commercial-HOWTO; see also the Commercial Products page. The Linux Applications and Utilities Page is an excellent reference. A listing of visual apps & applets can be found at X: End of Story. Non-business-oriented applications can be found on the Scientific Applications on Linux page. General Linux documentation can be found at the Linux Documentation Project page. Finally, for completeness, see my raw, unedited list of Linux Bookmarks.

Enterprise Linux Banner

Commercial Listings
There are several lists of commercial establishments using and marketing Linux. If you are uncertain about the commercial viability of Linux, check these out.

Databases
A good industrial-strength database server should offer transaction support, two-phase commit and rollback, automatic check-pointing, hardware and/or power-failure recovery, hot backups and replication, just for starters. But to put these features to use, one needs Report Generators, Query Tools, Web-to-Database Gateways, and sophisticated Administration Interfaces. Yes, there is a wide variety of such products for Linux.

Bug Tracking, Project Management, Help-Desk Automation
A list of project management and bug tracking tools for Linux.

Network Management
Linux Network Management Systems; primarily focused on SNMP based tools.

Clusters and SMP
Clustering interfaces -- a way of hooking up multiple CPU's for single-system login, load-balanced web-serving, load-balanced database queries. I have begun to collect available information on SMP and clustering. See also the Linux Threads FAQ. Some comments pertaining to load-balanced IP routing lie here.

LAN Networking
Any realistic deployment of Linux on the LAN requires peaceful co-existence of Linux with Windows (SMB/LanManager, Netware 3.x and Netware NDS) and Macintosh boxes (Appletalk). A variety of well-known tools are available: see the KKI Reference and the Linux Services for Mac and Windows Users page.

Configuration Management and Version Control
Version control and configuration management is one of the many hard parts of enterprise-wide computing.

RAID
There are several options for RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) for Linux, from pure-software disk striping and mirroring, to RAID-capable SCSI controllers and outboard boxes. Storage management software is another issue. I've slapped together a quick survey. See also the CDFile CDROM Jukebox manager for the Kubik, Pioneer, Grundig and NSM jukeboxes.

Accounting, Electronic Commerce, Office Utilities

LDAP
A Linux port of the standard LDAP Lightweight Directory Access Protocol can be down-loaded from:
ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/contrib/RPMS/ldap-3.3-1.i386.rpm
ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/contrib/RPMS/ldap-devel-3.3-1.i386.rpm
ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/contrib/SRPMS/ldap-3.3-1.src.rpm

Graphical System Management
Graphical/menu-driven system management tools -- configure disks, add devices, configure modems, SLIP/PPP, set up IP, mbone, firewalls, etc. from a menu.

WAN Inter-Networking
Large companies with deep pockets buy expensive routers and switches to fill their WAN inter-networking needs. However, small enterprises, with 5-50 employees, might blanch at the thought of spending $20K or more for one of these boxes. For these folks, Linux needs a HOWTO for WAN Inter-networking which discusses X.25, Frame Relay, ISDN and ATM technologies and solutions.

RAS - Reliability, Availability, Serviceability
A RAS-HOWTO is needed, that describes the tricks and techniques for maintaining a high-reliability, high-availability, easily serviceable and manageable system.

Please note Caldera is pursuing X/Open UNIX 95 (Spec 1170) branding for Linux. This includes POSIX.1 (FIPS 151-2) and XPG4 Base 95 (POSIX.2, FIPS 186).

Persistent Storage
Persistent Storage for Linux. A good persistent storage implementation would allow the computer to be powered off, and then powered back on, without interrupting the execution of programs.

Encryption
There is a European version of SKIP for Linux called ENSKIP. USA versions require an RSA license or a non-RSA algorithm. SKIP is a secure IP-level encryption scheme with some very nice high-availability features.

There is an implementation of the IPSEC standard for Linux by the University of Arizona. Currently, this implementation lacks automatic key management tools.

The more well-known, widely available Linux encryption packages listed below can be found on many Linux sites.

Large File support
Currently linux supports up to 4 terabytes of disk; but large file support is limited. But there is an upcoming standard for large files.

Performance
A need for accredited performance benchmarks is needed. Until then we will have to live with claims that Linux provides the fastest Ethernet on planet Earth, period, or that Linux beats SunOS(tm) and Solaris(tm) in performance, running natively on Sparc(tm) hardware. Data on the BYTE Magazine UNIX Benchmark is available from Silkroad. It would be nice to see TPM-A B and C figures ...

Graphing Tools
(OK this has nothing to do with enterprise computing, but this page is still under construction).

A simple yet powerful plotting/graphing API that could be embedded in cgi-bin scripts and/or X11 clients and/or /tcl/tk scripts and/or Java scripts. The goal such an API is to provide an infrastructure for all of the 2D graphing/plotting needs of (for example) a network-management package.

The Linux Graphics Mini-HOWTO lists the different packages available for plotting, graphing, 2D, 3D, etc. See also the faq from comp.graphics, or http://wusarchive.wustl.edu/graphics/graphics/

Odds & Ends
An assortment of stuff that caught my eye:

Well Known References

Below follow some selected topics from the Linux HOWTO Index. I repeat them here only because they might be of interest in the commercial enterprise computing environment. Please refer to the complete list of HOWTO's for additional info, as I've repeated only a small number of the available documents.

The following lists relevant Mini-HOWTO's (shorter, less formal documents).


Last updated 3 August 1997 by Linas Vepstas (linas@fc.net)
Copyright (c) 1996, 1997 Linas Vepstas. All rights reserved.
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