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Hey folks! I'm back with a quick update, or rather some thanks to everyone who provided me with advice.
I've chosen to go with Ubuntu Server LTS 10.04 opting only to install SSH during the initial setup and configuring everything myself without a GUI. So far things seem to be going pretty well. After a while of reviewing my options, I came to the conclusion that the best approach was to get a little bit more familiar with the OS and once reasonably proficient, I'd do a bit of distro hopping to see which one I prefer. Like many suggested, I think that what I am developing my understanding any flavour of Linux should be suitable for my meagre needs. Also, although I aspired to get down to the nitty gritty, I didnít feel that I was ready to jump into a Ďnuts & boltsí distro like Slackware or Gentoo. I can always revisit this decision later.
The main reason that I chose Ubuntu Server is because of the fact that there are many other distros out there currently using it as their foundation. Furthermore, Ubuntu is based on Debian and so if I want to go that route, it should be a much easier transition. Specifically, however, I'm looking to tinker with Zentyal in the near future, so hopefully some exposure to Ubuntu should aid in my understanding of it. Also, I found out that you can actually download the Zentyal interface and run it alongside Webmin.
That said, I havenít installed Webmin yet. Instead, Iíve been focusing on getting a LAMP, Samba, FTP server up and running with WOL functionality. I was able to set everything up successfully, but I must admit that I followed several guides, so I donít completely understand all of the config files. Moreover, Iíve been administering everything through SSH (using Putty) and the included pscp utility from Windows Ďpower shellí (whatever that is).
So far Iíve been logging my time and documenting my experience with questions as well as workable solutions Iíve found simply by exploring various config files. For example, Iíve made notes on how I perceive file systems to work, permissions, group policies (or what I feel are the Linux version of Windowsí group policies), etc. But, I still have a lot of questions to ask and this forum will probably be my primary resource when I canít figure something out myself or find it on the net.
Thanks to everyone for the resource links. So far Iím digging through Linuxhomenetworking, as I find it to be very well structured, TLDP, Iíve read about half of DNS and BIND, and Iíve started to read a bit on general computer security, which I feel should fill a lot of knowledge gaps and allow me to reverse engineer my network from a security standpoint.
Anyway, thanks again to everyone who contributed to this post, and Iíll keep you guys up to date as I progress. Things are slow at the moment, but I attribute that to the fact that Iím technically studying not only Linux, but also general networking and security as well. In the future, Iím also looking to give CentOS a try as it seems to be highly recommended in the server market.