Promoting Linux Requires Advertising. It Matters to Me.
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
A general survey of commercial (as opposed to "free") applications
for Linux can be found in the
Linux Commercial-HOWTO; see also 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
Finally, for completeness, see my raw, unedited list of
- 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.
- 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
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
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
- 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
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.
- RCS is the default low-level version-locking tool in Linux.
CVS is on of the more popular multi-user, distributed
client-server version control tools. These are but two on the
list of Linux Version Control Tools
Creating multiple, identical copies of a system
can be hard work; it becomes even harder if patches and diffs
need to be maintained. Multiply this by hundreds of computers
... and Unix sysadmins go crazy.
The Working Version
company has created a system version control and distribution
mechanism to manage entire installed system versions.
In particular, their version-controlled file system
(yes, literally, a file system ...) caught my technical
eye. Pretty amazing!
- 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
- A Linux port of the standard LDAP Lightweight Directory Access
Protocol can be down-loaded from:
- 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.
- Red Hat's
glint is one of the favorites ...
- The Offix project
defines a drag-n-drop infrastructure for such tools.
Figurine Configuration Modeler
- InfoMagic offers
their Work-Group Server, a file/print server for $500
(this includes support), with a graphical management tool.
- 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
- An over-view & pointers to Linux
X.25 and Frame Relay resources.
- An extremely, very, very out-of-date Linux
- Build a Linux VPN (Virtual Private Network) with
and the Linux implementation of SKIP,
The ENSKIP kernel module and encryption daemon build
on top of the Linux firewall/masquerade technology
to provide a WAN bridge between LAN segments.
- VPN's can also be built by combining
firewalls with IPSEC.
- For airline host connectivity, including ALC, AX.25, P1024B, etc.
the Northrop-Grumman line
of products are recommended.
- 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.
Linux High-Availability HOWTO describes a new project to add
high-availability features to Linux.
- Please note the rapid response available from the linux security
mailing list, and Linux CERT.
- Fault Tolerance, incl.
redundant processor support, including redundant NFS,
high-availability disks, disk mirroring, various RAID levels.
- Anecdotes about the largest linux
installations around in terms of RAM, disk, network, cluster.
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.
- 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
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.
- PGP -- Pretty Good Privacy -- public key encryption.
- SSH -- secure shell, useful for point-to-point TCPIP encryption.
- SSL -- secure sockets layer. Non-USA users should look for
- 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.
- 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
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.
Linux Graphics Mini-HOWTO
lists the different packages available for plotting, graphing,
2D, 3D, etc. See also the faq from comp.graphics, or
YADE Yet Another Diagram Editor
- 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.
Commercial HOWTO is a listing of commercial Linux applications.
DNS HOWTO describes how to configure Linux for DNS (Domain Name Services).
DOS Emu HOWTO describes the Linux MS-DOS emulator.
Firewall HOWTO describes how to set up a Linux firewall.
IPX HOWTO covers how to install and configure IPX, including
the Novell Netware(tm) client and server.
SMB HOWTO describes how to configure the SMB
(Session Message Block) protocol, also know as
the NetBios or LanManager protocol. It allows a Linux box to
act as a file and print server for Windows 3.11, Windows NT (tm)
and Windows 95 (tm).
UPS HOWTO describes how to hook an UPS (Uninterruptible
Power Supply) to a linux box.
The following lists relevant Mini-HOWTO's (shorter, less formal
Last updated 3 August 1997 by Linas Vepstas
Copyright (c) 1996, 1997 Linas Vepstas. All rights reserved.
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