Customer Story: Linux & FreeNAS File Servers

Written by Nick Scheidies on November 27, 2018

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Welcome to another entry in our Q&A series with JumpCloud® customers. Brian Kastor is a network engineer who specializes in Linux® and works for AIS, a systems integrator in Chicago. Brian agreed to sit down with us for an interview and discuss how he’s using Directory-as-a-Service® to manage FreeNAS file server access and Linux systems from the cloud.

If you came here looking for instructional material on configuring FreeNAS to use JumpCloud’s LDAP-as-a-Service, then you can find it on our Knowledge Base.

Q:  Why did you want an alternative to Active Directory® and OpenLDAP™?

A:  I work for a consulting company and we had just purchased these FreeNAS boxes to sync with OneDrive™, so the files would always be available without a VPN. Then we started talking about the challenge of how we were going to serve up the credentials for these file servers.

I am a big believer in open source and my goal was to use a directory service to manage FreeNAS access, without Microsoft®. It’s not because I hate Microsoft. I just don’t understand why someone would pay to run a NPS (Network Policy Server) – especially if they’re not running Exchange. What is it exactly that you’re using Microsoft for? You want to store files and login. Well, there’s better ways to do that.

As far as OpenLDAP goes, like I said I love open source. But LDAP is a beast. I can’t stand the process of standing up an LDAP instance.

Q:  How did you find JumpCloud?

A:  I read every day. I happened to see an ad for JumpCloud LDAP-as-a-Service on my mobile while I was reading. I had just started this FreeNAS project and it hit me, “Could I authenticate users to this without having to set up my own LDAP infrastructure?” So I signed up for a free account to test JumpCloud.

Q:  How has JumpCloud worked for you?

A:  When faced with the file server project, I decided to take one of these FreeNAS boxes, make a JumpCloud account, and then just hook them up. I started by trying it at home, and it worked.

So then I told my wife, “Login to your Ubuntu machine. There’s going to be a mount point for you that’s going to authenticate you, but the server to authenticate you is not here.” She said, “What?!?” I said, “Yeah, it’s basically, a directory server that someone else is going to maintain.”

It worked. From that initial test, we’ve rolled it out for our FreeNAS project and it works great there too. I love the JumpCloud user interface. I love it all.

Q:  Why Linux?

A:  I’m a huge Linux guy. There are no Macs or PCs in my house. My kids use Linux. They say things like, “Dad, I go to school – and the Windows machine takes forever for me to log on!” Microsoft was never supposed to network. And I predict that Microsoft, in the next several years, will have a Linux desktop. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Q:  What are your thoughts on Active Directory?

A:  I always say, “Active Directory is the best thing Microsoft ever stole.” Novell eDirectory was a 10 times better directory. But poor Novell couldn’t market themselves out of a paper bag. So Microsoft took some of the best ideas from eDirectory, and Active Directory was born.

considering jumpcloud

Now everybody uses Active Directory for everything. But with JumpCloud providing authentication services, you don’t need Microsoft licensing. You can just go right to the cloud.

Q:  What would you tell someone considering JumpCloud?

A:  Basically, what JumpCloud is doing is just beating Microsoft to the punch, by creating a directory for everybody. The service is fantastic. I love what JumpCloud is doing. JumpCloud is a no-brainer. There’s no reason that you need to be buying a $1000 server.

Learn More About Managing Linux and FreeNAS File Servers

Watch the video above for a rundown on LDAP authentication to Samba file servers or NAS appliances. If you would like to learn more about AIS, you can visit their website.

In this Q&A, Brian talked mostly about JumpCloud’s ability to manage FreeNAS access from the cloud, but that’s only one feature of Directory-as-a-Service. You can learn more about everything that comes included on our product page or read up about our SAMBA file server and NAS authentication specifically.

We also offer a weekly webinar that provides a high-level overview of the JumpCloud platform. You’ll receive a demo from a JumpCloud expert and get answers to your questions live! Alternately, sign up for a free account to get started with JumpCloud now or read one of our customer case studies.

Nick Scheidies

Nick is a content marketing manager and multimedia specialist. He's been studying the intersection of cloud technology with identity management, LDAP, RADIUS, and directory services since 2015.

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