Linux-based Nitix serves the works
Net Integration Technologies' all-in-one, set-and-forget Linux pack satisfies small networksFollow @pvenezia
If there’s one thing IT managers of small businesses or branch offices need, it’s solid, uncomplicated technology. Net Integration Technologies thinks it has the answer. The company’s Nitix server is essentially a custom Linux distribution focused on the small office. Driven entirely from a Web interface, the solution boasts an impressive array of features, using the most common Linux services such as Samba and Apache.
The package is slick, the interface is simple and intuitive, and for a small network, the overall solution is very attractive. The caveat is scalability.
For SMB (Server Message Block) file sharing, Samba 2.2.8 is implemented to perform Windows NT 4 domain services, allowing the Nitix server to function as a domain controller or domain member server. Here, Nitix permits the configuration of log-in scripts to map shares and printers, and it includes a quick configuration parameter to map a single home directory as the user logs in.
User management is straightforward, supporting simple group creation and population. Using groups, delegated administration is possible for the Web and e-mail servers.
Yes, a Nitix server can also function as an e-mail server, with qmail providing POP, IMAP, and SMTP services to users on the local network. Secure POP and IMAP is supported, but not authenticated or secured SMTP. In addition to client/server e-mail implementations, Nitix incorporates the Horde/IMP Web e-mail application, allowing users to connect to their e-mail from any Web browser.
Nitix also includes Net Integration’s ExchangeIt, allowing Outlook clients to connect to the Nitix server via an ExchangeIt plug-in. This plug-in enables groupware functionality such as calendar, contact, and task list sharing, as well as public folders and synchronization. Nitix accomplishes this via a combination of IMAP and LDAP services. In the lab, installing ExchangeIt was easy, configuring Outlook was straightforward, and using the collaboration functions went smoothly. For a smaller shop, this is certainly a viable alternative to Microsoft Exchange.
Other network-centric services such as DNS and DHCP are provided, and simple configuration tasks are, well, simple. DHCP configuration is handled by the Nitix server automatically, relying on its know-ledge of the network to construct the scope. If the Nitix server detects a DHCP server already present on the network during the initial boot, it will disable the DHCP services, but they can be turned on at any time.
If Nitix has an Achilles’ heel, it’s printing. Local printers are supported but network printers are not. For a small office, this means that network printers will require TCP/IP port configurations on the workstations, and centralized printer spooling isn’t available to manage print jobs and speed them along.
Complex DNS and DHCP tasks are not as simple through the GUI, and they may not be possible via the CLI, either. Anything beyond a simple access control, printer, or mail exchange record addition will cause headaches. However, a split DNS configuration is possible, which is helpful if the Nitix server is used not only for internal network services but also as a firewall.