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I have and run a small home business and I would like to setup my network better;

I have to find a way to manage users across my 6 Windows laptops. They all have Windows 7 home/pro. Connected to a small DLink router in 2 rooms of the home.

I have heard of Windows Home server, but unfortunately I dont have any more PC's. Is there a utility I can install on my pc (the admin) pc to manage this ?

Would really be nice if I can either centralize accounts or at lease when I change my password it replicates across all laptops.

All suggestions are welcome to this and other ways I can better manage my home network.


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The backend which controls this is Active Directory, or Kerberos logins. It's what Windows servers use to administrate your domains. There's a (dramatically unfinished) open-source replacement in Samba-4 which is attempting to replicate its functionality, as well, and from the testing I've done with it it works quite well.

The concept is that you'll join all your computers to the domain, and the domain controller will handle authentication of the users in your network. This means one central place to store credentials, and thus when you change your password in one place the change will be reflected in another. There are some other benefits such as roaming profiles and so forth as well.

Unfortunately all the solutions for this I've seen warrant dedicated hardware. There really shouldn't be any half-measures with an authentication server, especially not one which you want to posit as the central point of your network.

Happily, a repurposed workstation running samba 4 might well meet your needs, but it's not ready for production use yet. It is probably better than paying for the cost of a PC and a Windows Server licence, though.

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yes, I think I should invest in a SBS windows server + lic, but that will cost me $2000 AU or more. Is there a better cost effective way, i.e can a linux box be my authentication root (domain ) ? – IEnumerable Oct 23 '12 at 8:13
Well like I said, Samba-4 isn't finished. I have tested it and found the authentication portion of it does seem to work OK, but I wouldn't trust beta software to manage your production network. You might be better off waiting, or springing the cost of a Windows alternative if it absolutely can't wait. – Xyon Oct 23 '12 at 8:40

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