When the Lindows OS developers were working with version 1.0 and readying version 2.0, I was extremely skeptical as to whether or not this operating system would find its way into the enterprise. With the release of Lindows OS 3.0, I think they’ve got a potential winner on their hands as long as it is approached with an open mind. In this article, I will show you how you can slowly introduce this Linux-based operating system into your Windows environment without having a major upheaval of your existing infrastructure.

Join the Samba crowd
Lindows relies on an excellent open source package named Samba in order to interoperate with Windows domains. Samba is a mature offering and is able to offer a host of functionality ranging from making use of Windows resources with Linux machines to being able to replace Windows domain controllers in many instances.

Lindows comes with Samba installed and running. This fact allows you to browse the Windows network after a fresh installation. You will notice, however, that you are only able to browse workgroups. Your Windows domain is off limits to the default installation. In order to be able to browse the domain, you need to join the Lindows server to it. This is the same process that is required for Windows clients; in order to use the resources that a Windows domain has to offer, the client must join the domain.

Configuration changes are required
Before you can join the domain, you need to make some modifications to the Samba configuration file located at /etc/samba/smb.conf. Namely, Samba needs to be told to change its security mode to domain as well as the name of the domain of which it will become a member. I made changes to the smb.conf file using the nano editor, which I installed after the initial system setup. For your purposes, use any editor you like to make changes to the /etc/samba/smb.conf file. I recommend making a backup of the original just in case something goes wrong.

Lab configuration

For this article I am running a Windows 2000 Server as a domain controller for the domain named lab2kd.com. The server is named lab2k. On the workstation side, I am running a Lindows OS 3.0 system on a 350-MHz Pentium II PC with 128 MB of RAM. The Lindows workstation is getting an IP address via a separate DHCP server, but both machines coexist on the network.

Find the lines that begin with security, workgroup and password server in the smb.conf file and change them to reflect the appropriate values as shown below.
  security = domain
  workgroup = LAB2KD
  password server = *

The only difference between your installation and mine should be the workgroup because you will enter the name of your own Windows domain. If you are running Windows 2000 as a domain controller as I am, make sure to use the NetBIOS name rather than the fully qualified Windows 2000 domain name (in my case this is lab2kd.com). The password server = * line indicates that Samba will look for any domain controller in the domain. If you have problems, you can set this specifically to the name of a Windows 2000 domain controller.

Once these changes are made, the Samba services need to be restarted using the following entry from a command prompt:
/etc/init.d/samba restart

Join the domain
The previous steps prepared the Samba server for assimilation into the Windows collective. Now, it’s time to actually join the domain. From a terminal window on the Lindows workstation, use the following command replacing “LAB2KD” with the name of your domain and “LAB2K” with the name of one of your Windows domain controllers. The –U indicates a Windows domain administrator account that is capable of adding machines to the domain. You will be prompted to enter this user’s password during this process.
smbpasswd –j LAB2KD –r LAB2K –U administrator

Once you type in the password associated with the Windows administrator account, you should get a message similar to “Joined domain LAB2KD.” To make sure it worked, you can use Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC) to see if there is a computer account listed for this domain

Browsing the windows network
If you attempt to browse the Windows network from the Lindows workstation, it may still not work out as expected. Lindows needs to be told what Windows user to emulate. In other words, you need to be browsing with a user account that exists in the Windows domain. You can configure this information by choosing the Network File Sharing applet from the Lindows Start | Settings | Network menu as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
Starting the Network File Sharing applet on Lindows

The Network File Sharing applet takes three parameters: username, password and domain name. For ease of demonstration, I will use the Windows administrator account from the Lindows machine as shown in Figure B. Obviously, if you used Lindows on a user’s desktop, you would very likely want them to use a less capable account.

Figure B
Configuring Lindows to browse with a Windows user account

Once you make this configuration change, you can browse the Windows domain as shown in Figure C. I have created a share on the Windows 2000 server named Shared for demonstration purposes.

Figure C
Browsing the Windows 2000 server “lab2K”

You can see that the Lindows machine is browsing the Windows server in this example. One problem that I have yet to work out is the initial error message that comes up when I click on the Network Neighborhood icon on the Lindows workstation, which indicates that the Windows network (smb:/) is not available. However, typing smb://{workgroup | domain | server} does bring up the appropriate associated resources.

Right behind file sharing, printing is likely the second area in which administrators would like to be able to take advantage of existing Windows infrastructure while deploying an alternative operating system. Lindows can handle this as well by printing via a Windows print server just as a regular Windows client would do.

Setting up a printer device on Lindows to print to a physical printer on a Windows network was a very simple process. In fact, I was stunned at how easily and how quickly the process went. For starters, I have a Windows 2000 Server with an HP LaserJet 5000 Postscript printer configured and shared as HP5000PS. From there, everything happens on the Lindows box. From the Lindows desktop, open the printer wizard by double-clicking the Printers icon. Next, click on the Add Printer icon in the upper left hand corner of the window.

After the printing wizard’s welcome screen, you will be asked to choose the back-end selection. This determines how the Lindows machine will connect to the printer you wish to use. For my example, I chose the third option on the list [SMB shared printer (Windows)] as shown in Figure D.

Figure D
Choosing the print method

The next step asks for a username and password combination to use in conjunction with the print method selected previously. Since most Windows 2000 installations disable the guest account as a security measure, you need to enter the username and password of a user who has rights to print on the Windows server. For my demonstration, I will use the administrator user as shown in Figure E.

Figure E
Provide a username and password for a Windows user.

After entering a username and password, you will be asked to provide the SMB printer settings for the printer you wish to use. Namely, you will need to provide the workgroup/domain name, the server the printer is using and the share name of the printer on that server (Figure F). If you can’t remember all of the details, click the Scan button and browse the Windows network.

Figure F
Choosing the printer from the list of shared Windows printers

The next screen asks you to choose the printer manufacturer and model from a list. Not every printer is supported under Linux, but a great many are as Figure G illustrates. For information on how well HP printers are supported under Linux, visit the HP and Linux printing resource site.

Figure G
Select the right make and model of your printer.

Moving on, you will get to a screen that lets you test the printer and verify the settings. Clicking the Test button sends a test page to the printer. In my lab, this worked without a hitch. The next few screens of the printer wizard allow you to define banners, set quota limits, and assign access to the printer. Keep in mind that these settings only affect users printing from the Lindows system and do not affect the settings of the printer share on the Windows server. When the wizard is completed you will be presented with a screen confirming the choices that you made in the wizard.

How about Office?
I was skeptical about Office integration, even after being told that both Office 97 and Office 2000 will run under Lindows using WINE. I downloaded and installed WINE using the Lindows Click-N-Run feature and then put my copy of Office 2000 Small Business into the Lindows machine’s CD-ROM drive. I chose a typical installation and the installer started its tasks. When the process completed, icons for Word, Excel, and Outlook were placed on my Lindows programs menu.

Playing nice with Windows
The key to a successful desktop Linux rollout is getting it to play nice with the current Windows environment. This means being able to join Windows domains, use Windows resources such as file shares and printers, and being able to share documents between Windows and Lindows systems without inconveniencing your users.