Lima Ohio Raspberry Pi Users Meeting Saturday

Just a quick reminder that this Saturday July 13th is the first Raspberry Pi users group meeting.

The event is being sponsored by the Lima Regional IT Alliance (LRITA.org) as well as MCM Electronics. There will be Pizza, and an LRITA USB thumb drive for everyone who attends,  and as a bonus both LRITA and MCM Electronics will be giving out Raspberry Pi’s (some with extra goodies) as door prizes!

For more information and to sign up check out the official LRITA page here: http://www.lrita.org/events/bit-talk/july-13,-2013-raspberry-pi-meet-up.aspx

Lastly I want to give a huge shout out to Brian and the team at MCM Electronics, I literally emailed them this morning and Brian no only agreed to get some door prizes for the event, but will actually be attending as well! If however you are like me and never win anything I would definitely recommend checking out MCM’s site… it’s where I order all my Raspberry Pi stuff and since they are less than two hours away I can go from “hair brain idea” to having hardware next day when I order from them!

vTiger Open Source CRM

This post is a little late because of some time issues I had last week. So without further delay…

This is week number three of my SMB Open Source software series and so far we have a back office server solution and a desktop OS solution. To build on that we are going to look at an CRM system this week that we can run on our server and use from any type of device.

vTiger is an open source Customer Relations Manager project that also has a commercial side, so if you ever need support it is there but to get started we can run the community version for free. So why does our small business need a CRM system ? Lets take a look at all the stuff that vTiger does:

Now you might be thinking that with all these features this stuff has to cost money… well if you want EVERYTHING or if you dont want to host this on your own server then yes … it will cost you money. But remember I said this was going to be open source software …. not all of it will be free though.

Here is a link to their site http://www.vtiger.com

I will say that I have set this up in my lab a couple times and installation is very easy. vTiger’s website also has a lot of documentation and training so it is one of the better options out there for open source CRM platforms.

Till next week…. ttyl

 

Ubuntu Desktop with Zentyal Integration

This week I thought we should build on the Zentyal Linux Small Business Server that we took a look at last Friday. After all what good is a Linux server if you are still accessing it from a Windows desktop right ? (Although because of its Domain Controller Emulation there really is no reason you couldn’t join Windows machines to a Linux controlled domain.) Anyhow, while looking through the documentation for Zentyal I found that there is an Ubuntu Desktop package for both 10.04 and 10.10 that will configure your Ubuntu Desktop to use the Zentyal Server to LDAP authentication, mail server, roaming profiles, and more!

How to get started

Note: Before starting I would encourage you to read this entire page. I have to admit that I tried this twice before getting it to work properly… and it was all due to not reading all of the documentation first.

So to get started you can use an existing or a new Ubuntu desktop that is running either 10.04 or 10.10, I chose to start with a new desktop since I was building all of this in VMware Workstation. After login you need to open up a terminal window and add a custom source location to the apt source.list file, and after doing that it is as simple as issuing one command:

apt-get update; apt-get install zentyal-desktop

This command updates the apt repository list as well as installs the required packages. Once you have went through all of the configuration steps and told it where your Zentyal server is located I rebooted my new desktop machine, just to make sure everything was started properly. At this point you have an Ubuntu desktop machine that will synchronize each users home directory with their home directory on the server when they login, and it will then sync any changes back to the server when the user logs off. This essentially creates a “My Documents” backup for every user as well, because when they save their files to their home directory we will then copy them to the server on logoff.

What does it all provide?

Besides central authentication and roaming profiles, this Zentyal enabled Ubuntu Desktop also provides many other features, some of them include:

  • Oracle OpenOffice
  • Evolution Email client (automatically configured to download mail from server)
  • Pidgin Instant Messenger (auto configed to servers Jabber service)
  • Zafara Groupware
  • Ekiga VoIP softphone client (make calls from each desktop to real phones if you setup a SIP or IAX2 account with a provider)

These are mostly just the features that Zentyal integrates with too, and in the coming weeks I will show you how to also setup an accounting package that leverages a MySQL backend which is stored on the server, and a native Linux client for the desktops! Remember the goal is to provide all the components that an SMB would need to survive without Microsoft.

At this point we now have a back office server which provides Email, Groupware, central authentication, file sharing, and a LAMP stack. This week we also added a Ubuntu desktop operating system that integrates with the server to allow for users to roam from one to another while maintaining their settings. Stay tuned for more updates and more projects to complete our Open Source SMB!

Zentyal Linux Small Business Server

  To start off my Friday open source project series I picked Zentyal. Zentyal is meant as a complete replacement for Microsoft Windows Small Business Server, as it has modules that do pretty much everything SBS can. The description from the  Zentyal Sourceforge page states:

Zentyal (formerly eBox Platform) is a Linux Small Business Server that can act as a Gateway, UTM, Office Server, Infrastructure Manager, Unified Communications Server or a combination of them. Zentyal offers an easy-to-use web interface to manage all your network services, from Internet access, network security, resource sharing, network infrastructure or communications.Zentyal is the open source alternative to Windows Small Business Server and it is being widely used in the small and medium businesses regardless of sector, industry or location as well as in the public administrations or in the education sector. It is estimated that there are over 50,000 active Zentyal installations all over the globe.Zentyal Migration Tool for Windows Server is also available for download, making the migration process from existing Windows environments easier.Zentyal development is funded by eBox Technologies that offers commercial support and cloud-based services on top of Zentyal server.

As with most of the things that I blog about I did download the ISO and test this guy out. It is based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS so setup is very simple, and after logging in to the GUI you are presented with a web interface that allows you to select whichever modules you want to install. One of the modules even allows you to create a captive portal which would be great for setting up a company guest wireless network.

After setting up your modules you can monitor the server from a very nice dashboard interface: (Click to enlarge)

One thing that I do think is pretty cool about this project is that they are offering a plugin that monitors and backups you your server to their cloud. This allows for quicker recovery because your configuration can be restored from their cloud. This project will definitely be worth following as it matures more and more

Here is a complete feature list:

 

  • Networking
    • Firewall and routing
      • Filtering
      • NAT and port redirections
      • VLAN 802.1Q
      • Support for multiple PPPoE and DHCP gateways
      • Multi-gateway rules, load balancing and automatic failover
      • Traffic shaping (with application layer support)
      • Bridged mode
      • Graphical traffic rate monitoring
      • Network intrusion detection system
      • Dynamic DNS client
    • Network infrastructure
      • DHCP server
      • NTP server
      • DNS server
        • Dynamic updates via DHCP
      • RADIUS server
    • VPN support
      • Dynamic routes autoconfiguration
    • IPsec support
    • PPTP support
    • HTTP proxy
      • Internet cache
      • User authentication
      • Content filtering (with categorized lists)
      • Transparent antivirus
      • Delay pools
    • Captive Portal
      • User authentication
      • Bandwidth limit
    • Intrusion Detection System
    • Mail Server
      • Virtual domains
      • Quotas
      • SIEVE support
      • External account retrieval
      • POP3 and IMAP with SSL/TLS
      • Spam and antivirus filtering
        • Greylisting, blacklisting, whitelisting
      • Transparent POP3 proxy filter
      • Catch-all account
  • Webmail
  • Web server
    • Virtual hosts
  • Certification authority
  • Workgroup
    • Centralized users and groups management
      • Master/slave support
      • Windows Active Directory Synchronization
    • Windows PDC
      • Password policies
      • Support for Windows 7 clients
    • Network resource sharing
      • File server
        • Antivirus
        • Recycle bin
      • Print server
    • Groupware: calendar, address book, contacts, etc.
    • VoIP server
      • Voicemail
      • Conference rooms
      • Calls through an external provider
      • Call transfers
      • Call parking
      • Music on hold
      • Queues
      • Logs
  • Jabber/XMMP server
    • Conference rooms
  • FTP server
  • Zentyal User Corner for self users info updating
  • Reporting and monitoring
    • Dashboard for centralized service information
    • Monitor CPU, load, disk space, thermal, memory
    • Disk usage and RAID status
    • Summarized and full system reports
    • Event notification via mail, RSS or Jabber
    • Bandwidth data usage
  • Virtual Machines management
  • Software updates
  • Backups (configuration and remote data backup)

 

Overall I can definitely see a small business with 25 or so users being able to use this as a Windows server replacement. The biggest thing would be keeping an open mind to start out with, I mean when you think about it, some companies use IBM iSeries servers that still host green screen type programs for users, so the biggest thing would be staying open and accepting that it’s not windows but still allows you to get your job done. Hopefully as I continue this series of posts we can get to the point where we uncover enough software to run an entire company without purchasing anything from Microsoft 🙂 So check back next week for the next project.

Project’s website: http://www.zentyal.org/

Open Source Project Reviews

One of the things that I spent a lot of my free time on while I was at college was open source projects. I loved to surf Sourceforge.com and Freshmeat.net looking for interesting projects that I could mess around with. So I thought why not share some of the cool open source projects that are out there today that you might not know about, but could solve some of your business problems without costing you money.

The plan is to post an article about an open source project every Friday, I picked Friday because lets face it… Most people aren’t working too hard on Friday’s anyhow.

I plan to start this series next Friday so check back around 8:30am as that is when I normally schedule new posts to go up and lets see if we can find some free code that might just make your job easier!

Also if anyone is using an open source project that they really like shoot me an email or drop a comment and let me know so we can share it with everyone.