Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Zentyal - The Linux Small Business Server

by Julien Kerihuel (Zentyal)

Wednesday, 22.05.2013, London II, 17:00-17:30 Uhr

Overview of main features of your SBS

Zentyal offers a all-in-one solution that is secure and easy-to-use. It offers four typical roles that can be combined depending on the users needs, hardware capabilities and requirements. These roles are infrastructure management server, office server, gateway & UTM server and communications server.

The infrastructure management server role includes deployment and configuration facilities for services such as DHCP, DNS, NTP, Web server, FTP server, VM management, thin clients and UPS management.

The office server role targets providing drop-in Microsoft SBS/Server replacement with directory server, file sharing (SMB/CIFS) and printer sharing, with backup capabilities. The directory module allows to manage the LDAP tree, with Kerberos support for SSO (Single Sign-On) autentication, that can be deployed in master-slave mode and even synchronized with Zentyal Cloud services. In this context, Zentyal primarily aims at being interoperable with Microsoft environments through Samba4. Both Active Directory integration and MS Server replacement scenarios are possible thanks to the Windows 2003/2008 protocol compatibility.

The gateway and UTM role features advanced routing, firewall, HTTP proxy and content-filter, traffic shaping for QoS, RADIUS, Captive Portal, VPN, IDS/IPS and Mail filter (antivirus/antispam) capabilities.

Finally, the communications server has a full mail server stack (web and desktop clients) and in addition, groupware capabilities with contacts, calendar and tasks support, Outlook compatibility and mobile synchronization. Instant messaging and VoIP server completes the list.

On what distribution is your SBS based on?

Zentyal is runs on top of Ubuntu Server edition Long Term Support (LTS) versions. Community releases are included in all Ubuntu releases since Hardy (8.04).

How do the software packages in your SBS differ from the base distribution?

Zentyal publishes official releases in its own personal package archives (PPA). These are Zentyal modules with eventual backports for key packages like Samba4 or OpenLDAP, but there is an ongoing effort to push all the patches upstream and to the Ubuntu distribution.

How is the installer different from the base distribution?

Zentyal installer is based on Ubuntu installer. Provides some specific features like all Zentyal packages available on the CD image, or the possiblity to connect Zentyal Server to Zentyal Remote (the remote monitoring and management platform) during installation time. Autopartitioning using LVM is the default choice but other advanced disk configuration can be setup during the installation process. Also a minimal desktop environment is installed although this is optional.

In any case, just adding the PPA and apt-get install zentyal will install Zentyal over any Ubuntu server base.

Which hardware does your sbs support?

Any hardware compatible with Ubuntu will be supported by Zentyal too, although we recommend using Ubuntu-certified hardware when possible.

In which virtual machines does your sbs run?

Like Ubuntu server, it can be deployed on several virtualization systems such as Xen, Qemu, Virtualox, VMware etc.

Where do you store your configuration data?

Configuration data is stored in Redis, a popular key-value store database.

How do you generate the configuration files for the services out of your configuration data?

Zentyal framework takes configuration data stored in Redis and using Mason templates generates configuration files. Skeletons of configuration files are turned into functional configuration files after the substitution of variables. These configuration templates can be customized by the administrators to adapt Zentyal to their needs without any limits.

What languages / tools do you use for configuration?

Zentyal is a Perl framework for services configuration and management. The web interface is the obvious tool for most of the users, but people with coding skills can also make use of its API for scripting tasks.

Which services do you integrate?

Zentyal chooses the most popular open-source solutions for every module, for example Samba4 for Active Directory replacement and file sharing or Squid and Dansguardian for HTTP proxy.

Where do you store your user-data?

Users and groups specific configuration is stored in the LDAP tree where as their data is stored in the file system.

How do you integrate third party services?

Zentyal uses Samba4 technology to integrate into Active Directory domains allowing even to migrate them to a Zentyal based solution. The directory server offers LDAP authentication for any third party software like ERPs, CRMs and more.

What kind of single sign on for these services?

Kerberos is currently integrated in the users and groups management module and is the authentication method for the main services like mail and Zarafa, Active Directory and file sharing and HTTP proxy.

How are mobile devices connected?

Zentyal allows mobile devices connection both to the LAN network and to the groupware server for information synchronization. Accessing company LAN through VPN is possible in Zentyal 3.0 using PPTP. In forthcoming 3.2 release, L2TP/IPSEC support will be available too. With regards to the groupware synchronization, ActiveSync protocol through Z-Push is used for mail, calendar and contacts.

Whats the lifetime of a version?

Zentyal provides 3 years support (security and important bugfixing) for each major stable release. Zentyal Server major stable versions are released every September. The project follows a typical product development roadmap with development until June (Beta releases), code freezing on June until September (RC releases) and stable release on September (final release, even number).


About the author Julien Kerihuel:

Julien Kerihuel, lead developer of the OpenChange project has joined the company as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). As CTO, Kerihuel is responsible for defining and driving Zentyal’s technology strategy to ensure the fulfillment of the company vision of bringing SMBs and their local IT providers all-in-one IT solutions that are easy to use.