Bringing Linux to Work – Portal Part 3

Ubuntu just doesn’t want to be chosen for me. I’ve had nothing but problems with it since I started going on it. I decided that it would be easier to use Ubuntu (1 disk install, apt-get abilities) to house the in house Intranet portal page here where I work. However, I didn’t count on Ubuntu having so many problems.

The first of many problems was mod_ntlm. This Apache module WILL NOT compile on my server. I emailed someone who actually got this to compile in Ubuntu and asked for how they got it to work, implemented their changes in the .c file, yet still couldn’t get it to compile. This reason alone is enough for me to not use it. But there are more reasons still that Ubuntu doesn’t do it for me.

The second reason is going cold. What I mean by going cold is that it almost froze up. For example, it would take over an hour to run apt-get update, about the same to run apt-get upgrade (depending on downloads) and even 20 minutes to do a standard ls -al | grep keyword command. After a reboot everything was fine. This led me to believe that some sort of power saving module was kicking in. So I removed all power saving modules, recompiled a kernel from scratch, turned off all BIOS power saving items, crossed my fingers and rebooted. Even with all of these actions, Ubuntu still went cold after a day of uptime. This is on an IBM NetVista P4 with 1 GB RAM. Ubuntu however will not be staying on any PC at my job due to the previous problems experienced.

I’ve got an exact match of this machine to provide backup for it so I’ve simulataneously been using CentOS to experiment around with it. There’s a reason that Red Hat is the leader in the server arena…because they get it done and provide a fantastically stable Linux environment. CentOS is repackaged Red Hat Enterprise Linux and it is fantastic. So from this point on, Ubuntu will not be actively developed on by myself…I’ll be using CentOS from this point on. Which leads me to the decisions I’ve been trying to come to.

I’ve been trying to find a good portal CMS that can house documents and provide news announcements for my department. No chat is needed…no forums…just a repository for docs. With all of this being said, I need to provide a flexible solution to house these documents as well because who knows what the director will come back and say. Perhaps tomorrow he’ll change his mind and want to have all documentation developed and worked on in Sharepoint and all reports to go on our intranet page. So I need flexibility if I’m going to get a CMS running on Linux and I need it to be stable so I can show tangible results to upper managment. Otherwise, they’ll continue to go with what has been working for them…and that is Windows.

Continue reading “Bringing Linux to Work – Portal Part 3”

Brining Linux to Work – Portal Part 2

Beginning this month, I’ll be attempting to infuse my place of work with Linux. I am an new Applications Analyst and resident AIX/Linux expert for a government agency that lives and breaths Microsoft. I feel that Open Source software, mainly, Linux…can be a great addition to this agency. I’ll be documenting my attempts here while I go along. If you have tips, tricks, solutions, advice or supportive comments…please respond in kind.

Well, Ubuntu had some troubles but CentOS did a fine job for me. The problem was in the compilation of the mod_ntlm module for Apache. Ubuntu couldn’t get it right. Changing the makefile a bit (Thanks Billy!) did allow me to post the file (finally) but I couldn’t get things to work for Apache 2. I reverted back to Apache 1.3 on the Ubuntu box but ran into the same problem that I did on the CentOS box with odd authentication issues. Alternatively, CentOS had no problems compiling the mod_ntlm Apache module for Apache 1.3 OR Apache 2.X which was much better than Ubuntu.

Of course, the real problem wasn’t getting the various software installed, the problem was doing it in the correct order. My advice to someone that wants to use mod_ntlm with Apache to pass parameters to a zope server for plone: Install zope and plone first…get a working site up and running on port 80 (intranet site that is) THEN install apache and work on mod_ntlm. I had trouble figuring this out as most of the instructions I found allowed for Apache to be working first before the zope server comes into play. Another thing you could do is turn off Apache during your zope/plone configuration.

Something else that is odd is that by default when you install zope in CentOS, it isn’t started. You can add it to automatic start using checkconfig in CentOS but finding out where the rpm installs zope is another story. Not being familiar with zope hindered my progress initially. After some fumbling I was able to get things working.

Overall on both the Ubuntu and CentOS installs, I was able to get things in working order but could not get Apache to use mod_ntlm correctly. Normally, if mod_ntlm is setup correctly and all directives are listed correctly (I was using .htaccess to house the ntlm directives) you’ll get to a page 404 not found if accessing the document root. Instead, I received 401 Unauthorized Access. This meant that I was not validating according to Apache to my active directory source.

Continue reading “Brining Linux to Work – Portal Part 2”

Brining Linux to Work – Portal Part 1

Beginning this month, I’ll be attempting to infuse my place of work with Linux. I am an new Applications Analyst and resident AIX/Linux expert for a government agency that lives and breaths Microsoft. I feel that Open Source software, mainly, Linux…can be a great addition to this agency. I’ll be documenting my attempts here while I go along. If you have tips, tricks, solutions, advice or supportive comments…please respond in kind.

You’ve Got to Start Somewhere…

Recently, I’ve been investigating portal applications (CMS portals) for an intranet server at work. The portal will act as a document repository and project status report tool. It needs to plug into the framework we have in place currently…which is a Windows 2000 Active Directory environment. Instead of powering this with IIS or WinXp with Apache…I’ve elected to go with Linux and Apache. However, I didn’t really investigate much to figure out if this would be a possibility. Problems were rampant and still are. Allow me to explain.

I’ve been given the requirements that any intranet page must be single sign on, meaning that when a user visits the page, they don’t have to login…they’re simply there and logged in already. This can be done using the apache ntlm module. I can also pass this parameter using Tomcat and JOSS with php. However, the ntlm module won’t compile on Ubuntu or SuSe and hence won’t install. So, that took away my top two choices for Linux distros (not to mention, caused me to waste 2 days of time). JOSS requires that I write and plugin my own php script which is something I don’t want to do currently. So I’m back at square one. I’ve changed direction and am instaling CentOS 4 currently…we’ll see where that takes me. I’ve had more luck with CentOS as a server (my server at home has around 120 days for uptime currently and runs CentOS at its core).

Continue reading “Brining Linux to Work – Portal Part 1”

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