Small Business Server, You say!

On Monday, Stephen J. Vaughn-Nichols over at LinuxPlanet.com, asked where is Linux’s answer to Microsoft’s Small Business Server. He also wondered why, when most distributions come with all of the server software needed to make something similar, Linux is not used more often.

We know the answer to the first question: Amahi!

In all truth, Amahi is fast becoming an SMB, SOHO and workgroup server. Recently the 4.0 release added Primary Domain Controller functionality and VPN has been a stablelinuxplanet.com feature for a long long time, and we have a lot of SMB-ready apps. The community is looking at organizing the feature requests for the new releases in Amahi’s roadmap.

The answer to the second is that while Amahi is wonderful and works very well, relatively few people know about it. Like many other open source projects, Amahi has a lack of resources. The subject of an official port of Ubuntu for Amahi keeps coming up. It is a wonderful idea. Still, we have had some Ubuntu developers working on the Ubuntu port on and off. Most developers have seriously underestimated the job and sooner or later they lose interest. We need to pool interest! We do have lots of volunteers for testing it!

Another idea is for an Amahi hardware device. Something that could be plugged in, the install code entered, and a few minutes later, voila! An Amahi server for home or business. The off-the-shelf technology for such a venture is such that a device like this is possible in a price range that would make it competitive with other NAS products such as Dlink’s DNS-323; Newegg’s most reviewed NAS product. The next version of Amahi will be more ready to take vendors input for bundling in hardware solutions!

How do we as the core of the Amahi user base, change this?

Number one: Blog about Amahi! Number two: Tweet and retweet! Number three: Post in Facebook!

Stephen J. Vaughn-Nichols’ email address is readily available at Linux Planet: write to him and tell him that such a product exists! Trumpet Amahi’s features and ease of use! Tell your own story, like many in our testimonials page! Write a one liner with a link to Amahi! Whatever! Just let him know.

Finally, find an Ubuntu developer friend and let him know what we have and that we need their help! All he or she can say is no. And even if he or she says no, ask them if they know a developer that is looking for a project. Talk to them long enough and Amahi will stick with them even if they don’t contribute.

This project is in our hands. We are going to make or break it. If we get the word out, people will start to come around to something better, namely Amahi.

Let’s make Amahi become everything it can become!

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6 comments

  1. Ty Miles Nov 4

    I have asked this same question for a LONG time. Novell makes a small business server that does a lot of what MS SBS does. You guys, Clark Connect, SMB Server and several others. But everyone misses the point. MS makes setting up a small business server easier then easy.

    1. The Wizards are simple.

    2. Easy to set up directory services and replicate them.

    3. Easy to set up exchange from active directory.

    4. Point and click database set up.

    5. Unified tools (Everything done from AD)

    I have not looked at your product yet to test it out but I have tried out the others I listed. Novell SBS being the best out of the list. But Novell misses the point by making things extra hard to set up and manage. They have directory services, groupwise right there for mail, pretty easy set up for MySQL etc. Then once you have it set up, there are like 5 different tools to do each task. So if I want to make a user and then give them access to a file share etc. Its a PAIN. Even just making a file share can be a pain. :-(

    What is needed (And I know this requires developers etc) is a role based setup. You install the server and choose your role. For instance you could choose:

    1. File, Print Directory server

    2. Router, firewall server

    3. Mail, Groupware server

    etc.

    Of course you could come back later and add functions say if you wanted to add Mail functions to your File and Print server.

    I used SMB server and Clark connect for a while and both had tons of features but the main features needed to compete with MS SBS didn’t work. Like being a PDC and having that work right with directory services. If you stand up more then one server then each is totally stand alone (Where with SBS you add them to the directory structure)

    I forgot one note. Xandros Linux SBS actually did this all right, they had a MMC (Microsoft Management Console) like tool that you could install on your Windows or Linux Workstation and manage all the services across as many servers as you wanted. Their tools allowed you to create a NT4 style domain layout that all could be managed from XMC as Xandros called it with the look and feel of Active Directory. It was pretty sweet and worked well but they over priced it and only put out 2 versions before I assume killing it off when they got into their deal with Microsoft.

    http://xandros.com/products/server/overview/managed_community.html

    http://xandros.com/products/server/plug-ins.html

    Good luck and I hope to try your product in the future.

  2. lou1z Nov 4

    i think amahi has a long, long way to go before it competes with a fully fledged ms sbs.
    when you say pdc, what you mean is samba tweaked a little. sbs is a little more than that. it has active directory, ou’s, group policies for starters, then you have to add exchange with its superior groupware and activesync. add a fax server and then isa server in premium along with mssql. it’s a good product for its price and one which i install on a fairly regular basis for small companies.
    it certainly isn’t an sbs rival and the closest i’ve seen to that is clarkconnect etc but for a home server, it’s good.
    maybe it should aim to be just that as it has a long way to catch up with sbs and it’s competitors.
    i really like amahi and use it in my home for various bits and bobs and can’t wait to see what v5 brings.

  3. carlos Nov 5

    @Ty Miles: Very good idea about the role based setup and it’s in line with the wizard we’re working on at the moment for the v5 release. Yes, features require developers. We’ll get there!

  4. carlos Nov 5

    @lou1z: point well taken. Yes, I think it’s not totally ready, just getting started on the way there.

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  6. Scott Guthrie Aug 15

    I think a lot of people right off true small business. The majority of small businesses, at least in the US, are under 50 employees. There is nothing in the market place for this type of customer. Windows SBS is way to complicated for an small company without an IT department. Most of the IT world thinks small business is one with 500 employees and an in house IT department.

    The biggest issue I have with SBS is that it is built on Windows Server. Even though Microsoft has done a great job making SBS easier, it still has this massive complicated system at its core. When things go wrong, they are not easy to fix. Wizards are great for installation, but there are not many for fixing problems. Business this size can not speed $10,000 or more to setup a whole Microsoft ecosystem, and then spend thousands a year maintaining it.

    An inexpensive robust all in one server with file sharing, firewall, dns, remote access/remote desktop, dhcp, print server, and a few other services is what is needed. Email, groupware, and backup is more economical done in the cloud for business this size. I have had great success using google’s apps for business.

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