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Why Windows Server? (Please no fanboyism)

I fixed that the other way around - by replacing Windows Server at work with Linux. It wasn’t doing anything Linux won’t do anyway - file shares, DNS, DHCP. It was also 2008R2, so it needed to be replaced anyway.

If I’m interpreting things correctly, I think you’re actually looking at the list of what Samba can apply to itself through AD, not what it can push out to Windows clients… As far as I’m aware, for Wndows clients, Samba ADs can push out anything WIndows ADs can.
I could be wrong though - my need to do such things went away about 10 years ago when I quit working for a school, and Samba 4 was still in alpha at the time.


Because if you walk into any office there’s probably a 90% chance they’re running Windows client machines talking to windows servers in some capacity.

It’s nothing to do with capability, cost, etc. It’s more to do with what is out there and actually being used.

And if you’re trying to get a job, going for skill that are applicable to 90% of businesses is more efficient than targeting that 10% which may be spread across a myriad of different distributions.

Not saying linux doesn’t exist, poo poo to linux or whatever. But the chances of you being exposed to it in a corporate environment (especially early on when you’re starting out as a Windows Helpdesk jockey before moving up to more complex things) is far less than Windows, even if linux drives a lot of the company. Most smaller companies having stuff hosted on linux is probably via either cloud provided applications or third party applications on an app-specific virtual appliance maintained by a third party vendor.

I’d suggest targeting

  • Windows
  • The OSI/Internet network model (ethernet, TCP, core protocols like DNS, etc.)
  • how web apps basically work (web front end, SQL back end - so you have an idea of where to start looking at diagnosing problems)

If you understand networking properly and the way modern applications are generally architected, the platform they are delivered on is basically an implementation detail.

Whether its linux, macOS or Windows hosted, all the apps are basically doing the same stuff and run into similar problems to try and fix.

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To add to this, the way Microsoft licensing works there’s a very strong push to Hyper-V.

As an enterprise - If you want to keep your Windows VMs patched, you more or less need a Windows license AND and SCCM license (or some other equivalent) for the VMs.

Windows server licenses are based on CPU cores, and a physical license includes a couple of VMs. You need to pay the physical CPU core license even if you’re running a VM instance on some other hypervisor.

Your system centre license includes SCVMM which is basically Microsoft’s product to compete with vSphere.

If you were to go VMware you need to pay most of the Microsoft licenses(which give you hyper-V plus SCVMM and a bunch of other stuff) anyway.

I’m looking to move our shit off vSphere to HyperV (Windows shop) for this reason. Another reason is hardware HCL support. I’m looking to run HyperV on hardware that isn’t on the VMware HCL. If I do that (ESXi on non-HCL hardware for small deployments where a full blown certified server isn’t appropriate/justified) and have hardware/software issues, I’m fucked. VMware will blame hardware not on HCL, hardware vendor won’t care/blame VMware. If its Windows, I call the hardware vendor/MS and get support.

And yes, for all the complaints people may have about Microsoft - Hyper-V is solid. Guest drivers for it are even included in the linux kernel. Linux runs great on Hyper-V. The reverse - Windows on KVM - is more of a pain in the ass in my experience.

As to Samba? In the real world you need to ask this question: If I’m unable to fix it, who do I call? The cost of a windows sever to do file/print vs. the risk if something goes wrong with Samba for say, Windows 10 build 2104 (for example0 is just not worth it.

Companies will spend multiple zeros worth of money to avoid/attempt to mitigate risk. Anyone who signs off on saving a thousand bucks for windows server and ends up bringing the 30+ person office down for a day (e.g., 30+ people at say $30-100+ per hr for 12 hours) because of some incompatibility with samba and a future windows patch is screw-in themselves. The lost productivity costs add up fast. Same applies to other free/non-MS software in an MS environment.

The same thing might happen (well… DOES happen) with Windows client to Windows server. But at least then you can point the finger at Microsoft and have a single entity to blame/chase for a fix. And you can say “everyone else in the world does it this way, it’s not due to a decision we made”.

All that said - I may seem quite pro Microsoft here, which may be a surprise to some who have seen my previous vitriol spewed over Windows 10 in a personal use environment. But there’s battles you can fight and there’s battles where it is just not worth the hassle.

Putting your own balls on the line to go against the grain and run non-MS software in an MS environment is taking on a whole heap of personal risk (e.g., “the company is down because samba broke!” - never mind any potential flow on effects) for very little potential personal gain (“You saved us $1k!”).

So most people won’t do it. Which means you’ll see a lot of Windows servers out there, thus learning Windows will serve you well for most environments. Learn Linux by all means (definitely recommend), but I’d suggest that for after you’ve got a handle on Windows server admin stuff first - at least the basics.

This alone makes samba instead of a Windows domain controller a non-starter in a corp environment. Group policy is IMHO essential once you get over more than a handful of Windows machines to administer.

And again all it takes is MS to “fix a security bug” with something that breaks it (samba) and you’re between a rock and a hard place.


Yeah, but it was a learning exercise. Also, My wife need MS Windows for College but she is an ububtu user otherwise. It was implemented to make things “just work” the way our unix-y stuff just works.

Funny enough, at my current job we have Windows Domain Controllers, but we implement Samba-AD for the 90% RHEL machines for single sign ons, privileges, shares (nfs and smb), and a myriad of there inter operational functionality. since I m the resident GNU/Linux guy, my home experiment actually paid off.

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Id rather not look at it as Windows vs Linux. Rather lets just look at their overall differences.

  1. The learning curve to install and manage a Linux server is steeper to the average user. Windows users don’t need to be a programming expert to customize the server. This is something that is sometimes valued by an admin. It all depends on you

  2. So linux (LOOONUX lol) is a better choice for web developers who can configure an open-source Apache or NGINX server. Its not like you cant do this on Windows its just not as convenient as it would be on Linux at least from what I have read. Likewise, developers working with a MySQL database know that Perl, PHY, or Python development tools are long-time favorites, with broader online community support so this lends linux a bit of an advantage I think? @ChrisLifts please correct me

  3. A Windows server package USUALLY includes technical support, along with regular system upgrades and security fixes. Its not that linux doesnt do this but it just wont come with out of the box save SLES and RHEL. Linux technology has proceeded at a slower rate of change. It is a trimmed down system. You don’t have to upgrade for features you may not need continually. You can add those features to Linux yourself. Theres a trade off in every advantage and disadvantage.

  4. Virtualization is free in both however easier in Windows. Hyper-V is free and fairly standard at this point. It has a shallower learning curve than KVM, QEMU, and XEN. KVM and XEN do offer more capabilities at the same tier. Also I believe Hyper-V comes with support. Again correct me if I am wrong @ChrisLifts

Thats all I can think of. Use the best tool for your job :wink:

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As a proficient Unix-like user, I have been a big fan of Hyper-V since ~2013. It is a good product and MS has hit it out of the park with that. It is a shame that they do not push it more. I would rather use that over vmWare any day.

Just to echo what everyone has said. You use the right tool for the job and you use the skills that you have. I would rather setup a unix-like system as a server anyday over an MS Windows machine. But that is because of my personal requirements and if I were in charge.

If we have 90% MS systems, then MS server with the whole AD and LDAP shebang it is, because nothing is going to manage an MS Windows system like… an MS windows system.

Otherwise, if we are a 90% Unix-like shop, then MS Windows Server really has no place here unless we needed something like share point or something proprietary like that. And then at that, the MS windows system would only be managing that. The unix like stuff would get OpenLDAP and Samba-AD if needed.

So @reavessm use what you got and what you are more comfortable with. If your aim with your home lab is to learn, then start with what you know and what you are comfortable and then build you base line. Then make a parallel environment using the stuff that you want to learn and see if you can get similar functionality. After that, evaluate which is better for you and easier to maintain. Then figure out what you priorities are and use that to further your education and journey,

No matter which camp you fall into, there are plenty of opportunities out there, you may just need to look a little harder for others. Just remember that specialization is not bad. you just need to be aware of what is out there enough to be familiar with it. After that, it is like riding a bike, all be it with s different configuration.


That’s correct. It fully supports replication. So if you had a forest with a Linux member it could work similarly. You’d still need a windows server to make the changes for it to propagate but otherwise it can.

So yeah no. HAProxy + Windows Server + SQL Server was my last job. It was fully automated with deployment pipelines and immutable infrastructure, CI/CD, buzzword city.

Everything is easy in the Windows world if you know PowerShell and C#.

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There seems to be some confusion over what exactly constitutes a home lab on this thread. People use the hardware they have in their labs differently.

Some folks have hardware on which they run hypervisors, and run “virtual labs” (installing things, setting up networks, without breaking the hypervisors on a daily/weekly basis). Some folks just run experiments on bare metal - which might include experimenting with hypervisors and virtualization environments.

Some folks have their non-lab machines at home rely on some stuff in their lab environment, others don’t.

… and then there’s windows server/hyper-v/samba everything in that mix.

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For the Linux side, Samba for single sign on for Linux clients probably makes sense. For the same reasons Samba does NOT make sense for Windows clients.

You’re cutting out that cross-platform compatibility risk. Sure, it might work today but I wouldn’t trust microsoft at all to care about breaking compatibility to fix a problem.

Shit, they break their own stuff enough these days, never mind introducing third party dependencies into the mix! (another reason I’m wanting to get off VMware).

Caveat: until you run into some things the product does not do. Then it can be like pulling teeth.

If there’s one thing administering a windows environment for the past 15-20 years has taught me, it’s that Microsoft are very good at covering the 90% of what you want. If you need the 10% they don’t include though (which you may discover after your project is well into deployment) it’s a total ball-ache of third party add on costs or custom hackery.

There’s also a huge amount of plain bad information out there on how to get things done basically. because somebody documented how to make it “work” in their home lab with 3 machines.

For doing anything serious, windows is nowhere near as “easy mode” as people often think it is. Just because it has a GUI (or you know powershell) doesn’t mean getting things done is not often difficult with it - due to deficiencies (either design brain damage, missing features or bugs) in the products.

Maybe its just my environment which is likely very “edge-case” (many sites, distributed over the planet, often in really shitty locations with poor/unreliable bandwidth and no local support, small number of admin staff).


Sounds like an argument for buying a grill instead of a Windows server… Far more jobs flipping burgers than maintaining Windows servers out there.

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That’s more superstition than reality. Though it’s true quite a few companies make their technical decisions based on superstition…

Your fancy Microsoft support contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Microsoft will have a minimum-wage Indian phone center rep waste your time reading the trouble-shooting script, asking stupid questions, looking for amateur mistakes. Then in the end they’ll just say they don’t know what the problem is, and you should just reinstall your server! I’m not making that up, BTW.

With an open source project like Samba, YOU can dig through the actual code, and see EXACTLY what conditions might cause the error message you’re getting. And for a little bit of money, you can hire ANY programmer to fix it for you… for far less than the cost of a few minutes of your support contract.

Besides that, Samba isn’t going to stop working. It’s going to be small issues requiring tweaking settings, just like you have to do with Windows. But with Samba you can apply those right away, instead of editing the registry and needing to reboot. Lots of long days wasted dealing with stupid locking issues on Windows servers…

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Linux doesn’t have to be complex. There are plenty of Linux distros designed for SOHO use, with a nice, user-friendly web UI.

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I’m not suggesting to not learn linux. I’m suggesting that if you’re starting out, learning Windows administration opens up a larger segment of the market to you.

Note also I suggested to focus on application architecture and core networking stuff.

Windows vs. linux is a wash - they’re tools to do a job. What matters is understanding the underlying technology not specifically the implementation of it, however you will encounter windows more frequently in jobs you’re likely to obtain starting out. More important is learning the core concepts of how to diagnose and fix problems. Whatever platform you learn THAT on is irrelevant. It’s all the same shit.

I say this as someone employed professionally for my Linux and network skills since the mid-late 90s.

I’m not talking about support contracts. And calling Microsoft is something you get a local integrator to help with if you need to most of the time anyway. I.e., you deal with a real person.

I’m talking about copping blame for doing something others don’t and wearing the more difficult to obtain support.

I don’t agree with it from a technical perspective but from a political perspective, “saving the company” a few dollars running Samba for example instead of a Windows machine that is actually intended to work with windows clients and relied upon by 100s of millions of end users is putting your balls on the line for what? Saving the cost of a business lunch. If you run into a problem you can’t fix with it or it causes downtime (even a couple of hours - and you’ve done the cost of the windows license in downtime easily) due to MS breaking it, you’re potentially fucked - vs. saving some minimal cost the company doesn’t give a fuck about paying because it’s the cost of doing business.

I mean you do you, but that’s basically suicide politically if it goes wrong for you, and I’d personally not stake my early career on that.

If you’re an experienced guy with the ability to talk to management, demonstrate risk/vs mitigation plans, deal with the buck stopping with you, etc. go for it.

But for someone asking about setting up a home lab and what to learn - they are not in that situation yet.

Also, thread titled “Why Windows Server?”. These are reasons why to consider it. Whether they fit you or not - they’re still reasons to consider.


You do realize this is more about how it appears politically to the higher ups, rather than about any actual help you receive?

Even if Microsoft does not provide a fix quickly, that is less heat on IT, than if they where using something that they did not have a contract for. They can just point fingers elsewhere, whereas they do not have as many or as good targets if they were using Samba?

and sniped by @thro

And how many of them can be managed exclusively from the GUI, including if something goes wrong? And not just marketing, but actual heavy users say that they never need to touch the CLI?

If something ever goes wrong that can’t be fixed from the GUI, then all of a sudden you need a Linux “expert” (not necessarily an actual expert) to fix it.


Also, politically.

For the cost of a linux guy who knows shit from clay (as opposed to one who thinks he knows more than he does, and is a real cowboy/danger to the company), the company can probably employ 2-3 mostly competent windows guys.

Hence, windows is often more desirable, in case the linux guy gets hit by a bus.

Not to say the linux guy isn’t usable in niches, but for general purpose stuff like file/print/non internet facing stuff… rolling out stuff that’s easier to get staff for makes business sense.

Again. Not saying don’t learn linux. But if you neglect your windows skills you’re useless to a whole heap of people. Ideally you want both - because THAT is where the real money is. Being “that guy” who can deal with both platforms and use whatever is appropriate or diagnose fix cross-compatibility problems. But that’s an even smaller niche to shoot for.

All that said - you really want to be learning cloud shit as well rather than home lab, because the days of on-prem gear are disappearing and will be limited to larger and larger companies moving forward.

Why? Billing internally for projects, spinning up gear rapidly (not “We bought this new app, can you spin up a VM? … What do you mean we need 200k worth of hardware for it? What do you mean you need 3 months lead time?”), etc.

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I wasn’t pretending you can run a business with no technical people. Just proving that Linux can actually be easier than Windows to quickly bootstrap the services a business needs.

When your Windows server acts up, you need someone who knows arcane registry magic and obscure command-line invocations, too. For the same salary as any halfway decent Windows admin, you can get a Jr Linux admin good enough to bring up and maintain typical office systems.

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:rofl: That’s exactly what watching a Linux admin working in a terminal look’s like to
Windows folks.

That’s very subjective, and may be true for the industry or location you live and work in, but won’t be universal. Whilst I was consulting I came across more than a few companies where management regretting using GNU/Linux and MySQL Vs. Windows and SQL Server as they could not hire decent staff. They also felt that the third parties they were using charged too much and were not skilled enough working in large, complex corporate networks.

Overall my 20+ years experience has taught me that if you are a small/medium enterprise you can do really well using FLOSS + local support companies. If you are a large corporate that has an IT budget in the $millions you can go toe-to-toe with Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and make demands of them that smaller companies wouldn’t be able to. Shitty support from Microsoft or Oracle? You get your account manager on the phone and tell them. If they are not providing value for money, well, in 3-5 years time IBM/Red-Hat will be providing it instead etc. It’s a different world… and client desktop is only one small part.

Overall, no one ever got fired for buying I̶B̶M̶ Microsoft… so it’s worth learning as you’re almost guaranteed to find work.


So true. Unfortunately, I was not part of the architecting phase of this place. Honestly, there really is no reason to be using MS Windows at all accept for the student workstations here. Even then, we already run Libre Office alongside MS Office. Anything that is important is running on RHEL and Oracle SQL.

We have been privy to the MS product breakage first hand. here. At my house, things have been much better with MS Windows 10 vs 8.0 and 8.1 when she needed a Windows seat for college.

Yeah, I am always that guy! Keeps me employed. Unfortunately I am like the King’s hand. I am always stuck in the muck because someone decided to be clever.

Not that I don’t enjoy this conversation, but I was asking specifically about homelab use. If you’re learning how to use things for work that’s fine, but I want to know how many of these windows-only features are used in a non-educational capacity in a homelab.

i.e. “I use IIS instead of Nginx for my personal website because they have X feature that Nginx doesn’t”