Running e-smith as a domain server can save a lot of issues with licence compliance and reduce reliance on MS in the server room. The technology itself, however, is not without its own issues and problems. The server is set up by editing templates rather than files directly, most of which can be accessed via the web based Server-Manager.

Our results show that running it on anything less than a genuine server hardware will lead to less than wonderful results. The minimum specs I would include for a large school (> 300 workstations) are at least 1 GB RAM (preferrably more), P4 (or better), and fast HDD - SCSI preferred.

However given those specs it will provide for you a powerful active firewall, web based email, virus scanning, spam control, and domain authetication.

The problems we found when running a lower spec machine include:

  • Word files corrupting when open on a workstation
  • Very slow logins
  • General slowdown of network access
  • Over a minute to change a password
  • Over four minutes to change a group

These have all shown marked improvement when the RAM was increased to 1 GB and the processor moved up to a P4. 'top' on the Linux system was showing a load average of 3.0 to 4.0 it is now averaging less than .4