Enterprise Linux Log

Jul 23 2007   5:51PM GMT

Replacing Microsoft Small Business Server: IT pro asks for open source software alternatives


David Crook, a consultant and 20-year IT veteran, has issued a challenge — via SearchEnterpriseLinux.com — to the open source community.

He tells me he has a shiny new IBM xSeries server “sitting idle waiting for something to make its life a little less boring.” His first thought was to install Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS), but then he asked himself: Is there something less costly and less memory-hogging than SBS?

Got any suggestions? He wants an open source or low-cost, Linux-friendly alternative that matches features with SBS. Here’s the hitch: He wants an alternative that has these features integrated in one package.

“What I want to avoid is the hassle of downloading a load of different packages, with there inherent dependencies, to achieve the equivalent. Does such a beast exist in open source land or do Microsoft still have a stranglehold in this area?”

Other than cost and memory requirements, Crook can find little wrong with SBS.

“Microsoft has managed to produce an excellent package in SBS 2003, and when compared to other Microsoft products it does stack up value-wise. I have found SBS 2003 bulletproof, and its performance is more than acceptable.”

On the other hand, Crook sees great value in Linux and open source and wants to use and recommend it more often. Ease of use issues keep getting in his way, though. He wants more Linux-supporting commercial and/or open source application packages that are simple to install and maintain.

“For all Microsoft’s faults they have been successful in making software installation and configuration reasonably straightforward. I cannot sacrifice usability!”

Is there hope for David? Can he find an alternative to SBS that has compable integrated features and ease on installation and configuration? Let him know via comments to this post or an email to me at jstafford@techtarget.com

3  Comments on this Post

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  • Eric G
    Take a look at Novell's Open Workgroup Suite. http://www.novell.com/products/openworkgroupsuite/ I am deployed to Iraq right now, so I don't really have the opportunity to play with it. From the looks of things, it pretty much a drop in replacement for Microsoft SBS. Point for point it looks like they match what Microsoft is offering with SBS. Windows Server 2003 - SUSE Server (NetWare if you wanna go retro) Active Directory - eDirectory Exchange Server - GroupWise With Novell's solution on the desktop you have way more choices with what clients you want to use to talk and authenticate to the server. Windows XP, Vista, Linux and OSX (with some work on the server) are all supported. After reading this thing over I think I should point out no I don't work for Novell... it just so happens I've been contemplating the same question: basically what do I want to suggest as the best package when I offer consulting services to a business?
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  • Greg C
    Check out Collax at www.collax.com. It's a pre-packaged, web-administered server that can be had with O-X mail/groupware. There's a free 5-user eval and pricing is decent. I had a virtual server up and running collax/O-X within 5 minutes. It looks like it CAN connect to a Windows AD server or it can run LDAP for the clients. The main weakness I'm finding is lack of a "real" Quickbooks alternative. gnucash and the other "personal" money programs aren't robust enough, and sql-ledger/smb-ledger don't seem to have the same ease-of-use. Once that part is in place I think we'll start to see small business moving toward open source.
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  • Eric Gearhart
    For a product that tries to be a drop-in replacement for QuickBooks - take a look at AppGen's MyBooks. I emailed AppGen asking about it. Here's part of the detailed, well written response I got: "Much of the focus for Appgen Software is on the mid-range Custom Suite system and our development system, which required updates to 64bit platforms and other enhancements. The MyBooks Pro system is a very stable, structured system that is worldwide distribution, and is largely supported by our developer partners. While we continue to port to current versions of our supported platforms, there is not a significant feature-development planned for this product in the next couple of years, as the product's stability and usability is set. And, as you know, the accounting process is not available for re-invention, so there is nothing required in terms of correcting errors and such in the back-end system." It supports Windows, Linux and OS X as clients. Looks to be pretty cool. She did say that because QuickBooks switched to a Sybase database they can't migrate from anything newer than QuickBooks 2005 though: "Further, with Intuit's change to a Sybase database engine, we no longer have access to transaction data for complete imports, so the embedded import utility is limited to importing US QuickBooks data 2005 versions and prior. We are able to perform imports of list data (customers, chart of accounts, vendors, etc.) from exported QuickBooks 2006/2007 data, but not transaction data." Hope that helps. It just so happens I was looking for the same thing... a viable alternative to QuickBooks for Linux, because Intuit has not released a Small Business QuickBooks client for Linux (yet...)
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