Of course, as a student I had no money, so in many cases I needed free pieces where only commercial pieces were available. Worse, in some cases the pieces I wanted didn't exist at all.
Looking back, it's interesting to see what's happened and what hasn't. It's also very depressing. Consider that it's been basically 10 years since I started working on this.
-Single sign-on authentication system. At the time Kerberos 5 wasn't mature. I did some work on it to try to get what I needed, which was mostly authentication-passing. Kerberos 5 is still under-adopted, but by and large what I wanted is there. No true replication of any of the free KDCs, though. Single master solutions suck.
-Web authentication. Well, let's see. Since that time, browsers became proprietary, and so everything which would have been what I wanted became impossible. I don't want to type a password again. I can live with, but don't want, weird translators to make certs from tickets and vice-versa. This one is a horrible failure, but maybe, now that Microsoft is pushing Kerberos, something might be possible in the future. I'm not holding my breath.
-Distributed filesystem. At the time I wanted an open source equivalent of AFS. I did some work on Kerberized NFS, and it went nowhere. I did some work on exporting AFS to Macs with Netatalk (not much beyond the then-state of the art) . I looked at Windows solutions. Of course, now OpenAFS exists, so basically this is one where I can't overly complain. The Windows support is lagging, but extant. Sadly, no disconnected operation in the distributed sources, no read/write replication, a lot off growth stunted by the delay in becoming open source; Now lots of work that might have happened has gone by the wayside because the people have moved on.
-Secure name service. DNSSEC just hasn't gotten there. I stopped following it quite some time ago.
-Secure directory service. Without DNSSEC, it isn't Hesiod. Some encapsulated Kerberos for DNS stuff I found laying around at MIT and adopted never looked promising enough to continue with; It was a hack. NIS or NIS+ would require GSSRPC but at the time there was no melding of the two, and I declined to do the work. These days, the answer is probably LDAP via a secure connection, and that's possible. Maybe someday I'll get some time to play with it, but OpenLDAP seems to be excessively complex, and last I checked was single master. Ew.
-Privilege delegation service. I wanted an adm replacement, since adm was written to be extensible in Scheme, and I thought it was a dead language. Since, I have extended adm to manage Cyrus and krb5, but I still think it's dead. Sadly, nothing comparable has come along.
-Mail service. Cyrus now supports distributed mailboxes, but not replication. Only the lack of replication precludes this solution from meeting my wishes.
-Local disk management. I have depot to merge subsets of a disk tree into a coherent image including overrides, but I also want the ability to selectively link versus copy subdirectories, packages, or file classes (copy shared libraries, link archive libraries) from a distributed filesystem. No system has ever addressed this to the level I want. Nor have I followed through on any of my plans to write one.
-Resource management. I want to be able to easily create a user or a batch of users, create and manage groups, manage groups of machines, and the like. Moira seemed to be the answer here, except it always wanted proprietary databases, and I never got around to porting to any of the free ones. It's not perfect either, but it's closer than anything else I looked at.
-Mailing list management. I want a distributed list service, not just a service on a single mail host. I could probably glue the pieces together and have it, at this point. Maybe one of these days I will.
Some of these are interesting problems. I was going to write a paper surveying local disk management software with zacheiss for LISA, and we never did anything about it. I wonder if I'll ever have time for it. Likewise, I wonder if we'll continue to struggle with problems that should have been solved 10 years ago for the next 10.