I’m looking for suggestions on how best to set up filesystem services for my local network. I’ve built out a decent fileserver (‘yawl’, running Ubuntu Linux) with a series of external HD’s, and I want to make those filesystem(s) available to client machines.
There’s a couple caveats. Whatever solution I use has to have the following features:
- Centralized Authentication / Authorization
Per my recent post, I’m liking the idea of using a centralized authentication server for account management. This is the role traditionally filled by Microsoft Active Directory. I have no interest in dedicating a new machine, paying Microsoft money, and introducing a whole new layer of ‘customizations’ to standards, as Microsoft is wont to do. Whatever solution I use needs to provide cross-platform support based on existing standards and tools. LDAP + Kerberos is what I have running now, but I can look at others.
- Multi Platform Support
I’ll need support for various client platforms. The big three – Linux, Mac, and Windows are a given. I don’t mind needing to install simple tools on each platform (for instance, for Kerberos ticketing on Windows, you need Kfw, etc).
- Inexpensive or Free
I have zero budget for this project, other than hardware. If I’m supporting my half dozen clients initially, with a possibility of a larger deployment later, the solution should be available in opensource.
Now, I already hear the cry. “Why not just use CIFS, the ‘windows’ fileshare protocol? Everyone uses it, and Samba is a great system.” That’s because from everything I’ve read, Samba cannot use an external authentication system OTHER than active directory. It vaguely supports Kerberos, and vaguely supports LDAP, but only to the level that an Active Directory server provides. I can find no clear documentation or even loose information that states how to configure Samba to authenticate in a non-windows Kerberos realm.
So where’s that leave us? Well, there’s a couple to consider:
- AFS – Andrew Filesystem
AFS is used at MIT and CMU, and is directly coupled with Kerberos. My understanding is it’s pretty damned cool, but it’s not really meant for ‘small’ environments like mine. I’d be happy to be proven wrong. I also don’t know if AFS clients exist for Mac and Windows
- SSHFS – the SSH filesystem
Not a bad idea. SSH is widely supported, well known, and seems like it’d do the job. Unfortunately, the sshfs is a FUSE system, and requires some tweaking on the Linux box to make it work. Secondly, I can find no support for sshfs clients in Windows or Mac. Alas.
- NFS – The original Sun Network Filesystem
Ahh, the good old days of NFS. Everyone knows it, everyone supports it, as far as I know, no one really likes it. At least NFS’s weaknesses are well known. In addition, I don’t know how good the NFS client support in Windows and Mac is.
So whadya think, world, what should I look at? Is there hope?