Status of this document
This document explaining how to set up an intranet on a machine running Linux has been made possible through a partnership with www.tldp.org/, whose webmaster (Michel Maudet) is the author of the original document.
What is an intranet?
An intranet is a set of Internet services (such as a web server) which exists within a local area network, meaning that it can only be accessed from stations on a local network and cannot be seen from the outside. It involves using Internet client-server standards (with the TCP/IP protocols), such as using web browsers, to create an internal information system within an organization or business.
For more information, see the article dedicated to the concept of an intranet.
This series of articles explains how to set up a Linux server (with the Mandrake distribution, although the procedure is the same for other distributions) which offers a multitude of services. The clients can be running any sort of operating system (typically Linux, Windows or MacOS).
The machine on which Linux will be installed will offer the following services:
- A domain name server (DNS) so that machines can be recognised with a name other than their IP address. In our scenario, we'll say that the IP address of the server is 192.168.1.1 and that we'll be assigning it the name tuxserver.
- An email server so that the clients can send and receive e-mail. The most common email server is SendMail, but given how complicated it is to configure, we shall use Qmail. This will let us use SMTP (outgoing mail) and POP (incoming mail)
- A Web server for providing our own website. The server used will be Apache (the most-used server in the world) running the language PHP, which lets dynamic pages be used.
- A database server (DBMS) for administering a database. We will install MySQL, a free DBMS that can run on Linux.
- A file server so that the intranet's users can access all shared files. We will use SAMBA, which has the advantage of being fully compatible with Microsoft networks.
- An LDAP server providing a very powerful directory service.
- A mailing list for authorizing users to send email to all (or some) of the users on the intranet.
The server properties
Choosing Linux as the operating system for our server was not done by chance. Most Linux distributions are free, as is all the software that comes with them, while their Windows equivalents (Windows system + MS SQL database server + Microsoft Exchange) would cost over a thousand dollars (U.S.) or several hundred pounds (U.K.)
As far as hardware is concerned, a Pentium 133 is enough to serve about a hundred clients. Beyond that, you will need to invest in a more powerful machine, perhaps even a dedicated server. What's more, the server's memory resources vary depending on how it is being used. Here is a small chart summing up what configurations are needed for standard uses:
|Type of server
|Traditional HTTP server
||18 GB (+ RAID)
|Streaming media server
||18 GB (+ RAID)