Easy Information Technology’s easyLinux and easySamba
Easy Information Technology (EIT) is not a common name to Linux users, but they are purveyors of a product called easyLinux. The easyLinux product is supposed to be a simple to install and configure version of Linux. EIT’s easySamba offers a simple to install, configure and use version of Samba for those who have recently come to Linux and don’t want to be faced with Samba install from the original source.
Our easyLinux review version came as two CD-ROMs from the EIT distributor in the US, IGEL. The easyLinux version is not based on any particular Linux distribution, but is designed by the developers using current kernels and packages. The primary focus of easyLinux is the simple installation and configuration routines that accompany the run-of-the-mill distribution set. The bootable CD-ROM (not boot floppy included) leads to a graphical installation routine that is easy, but not particularly easier than the installation routines that now accompany Mandrake, SuSe, Caldera, Corel, and other versions of Linux. After verifying the mouse and keyboard, easyLinux proceeds much as the other distributions do by prompting for an installation mode.
The easiest installation of easyLinux requires no superfluous prompts except for a disk partitioning, LILO, X and network routines (no better or worse than others). Total time for a basic installation was about half an hour. The stand-alone installation still asks for networking information, which was a bit strange. The Experienced install gives you more control, but doesn’t do much more. Finally, the Professional installation lets you add any packages on the distribution. All installation routines are friendly and easy enough.
After installation, easyLinux uses a bunch of wizards for all system configuration routines. For a novice the wizards will be handy, but for anyone who knows a little Linux they will get in the way. I found myself quitting the configuration and administration wizards repeatedly to open a terminal window and do everything manually. As mentioned, though, if you are unsure about what you are doing, easyLinux will have a nice GUI wizard (running under KDE) to help you.
The software bundle on the two CD-ROMs is acceptable but not notable. Tools like StarOffice and GIMP are included, as are a few utilities. For novices, this will be an acceptable set of applications and utilities but I quickly ended up FTPing a bunch of tools and applications from other machines. The Web site for EIT claims the easyLinux system features 4 CD-ROMs (5 for the German version), but we only received two. What’s on the other CD-ROMs remains a mystery.
Is easyLinux easier to install and configure than standard Linux? A little, yes, but not enough to warrant it over others. In fact, the poor bundle would be more disappointing for someone who can get as much from Mandrake or SuSe. Sure, the configuration wizards are handy for newcomers, but they will quickly get ignored as the user learns the Linux system in more detail.
The box easySamba comes in is mostly that: box. There’s a lot of cardboard in the box to fill it up, with a thin, small perfect-bound manual included. A CD-ROM is tucked inside the manual. easySamba is supposed to run Samba on any RedHat, SuSe, or easyLinux system, although we installed it without problem on several other distributions (including Caldera and Mandrake). In fact, as long as RPM works on the Linux target, it should handle easySamba without problems. The easySamba package provides Samba 2.0.6. The documentation is acceptable, but the fact that it was translated from another language is obvious in some locations, and the spelling and grammar errors will annoy some.
Samba, for those hibernating or new to Linux, is a utility set which uses SMB (Server Message Block) to allow Linux machines and Windows machines to appear on the same workgroup, as well as simplify file transfers and sharing of resources such as printers. Samba has been available for several years. What easySamba is supposed to bring to Samba is a graphical front-end that simplifies the installation and configuration of Samba. Once installed and configured, easySamba behaves exactly the same as a manually-installed version of Samba.
Installing easySamba was simple enough: mount the CD-ROM as root and run a setup utility. The dialog-driven interface does a pretty good job of guiding you through the process of setting up both Samba server and clients. You can use Samba to set up a primary domain controller if you want, and a wizard (or “wizzard” if you believe the manual) lets you handle the Samba services easily. A Sambaadmin tool lets you manage the Samba server easily, and make changes to the configuration dynamically.
Installing Samba using easySamba is easier than the manual approach, and does save a little time. For novices to Linux and Samba, easySamba will provide a much easier path to getting Samba up and running quickly. For veterans who know Samba well, there’s not much easySamba adds that will attract attention, although the administration routines are nicer to work with. Setting up shares and modifying existing shares is much easier with easySamba than with the ASCII configuration files, and this alone may make the package worth the cost. The underlying guts of the easySamba system are pure Samba, with only the front-end product from EIT. Is it worth $50 to you to simplify this task? That’s your call.
Easy Information Technology
713 Hindry Avenue
Summary: A front-end installation and configuration tool for Samba. No new guts, but a friendly face.