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Old 07-06-2009, 05:58 AM   #1
Johnnie J
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Networking question, do I need to install X Windows?


Hi All,

I have 4 old P4s that I've been playing with different distros with. Now I'd like to build a functional network with them. I also have a little old P3 that I'd like to turn into a firewall/router.

I'll keep Ubuntu on my wife laptop and maybe PC-BSD on my more powerful personal computer. The others I'd like to turn into servers: DHCP, DNS, web server (Apache, MySQL or PostgresSQL), file/print server, entertainment center.

I have X Windows running on the laptop and will on my computer but do the others need it? If not how are they configured?

Any ideas as to how to set this up are greatly appreciated.
 
Old 07-06-2009, 08:28 AM   #2
stress_junkie
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Linux does not need X software to run. If you don't have X software then you don't have access to the numerous system administration GUI applications that have become available in the last 10 years. On a Linux system without X software system administrators, and those who aspire to be, have to configure their system the old fashioned way; they edit files like /etc/hosts by hand in a text editor.

Some distributions like Red Hat and Gentoo have a lot of system administration utilities that run from the command line. These command line utilities often have an X software front end to make running them less trouble. It is much easier to fill in a form in an X window than it is to remember 12 or 20 parameters to feed to a command line invocation of a utility. One excellent example of this is the suite of APT software. The APT collection of package management utilities are native command line software. People have created X GUI software such as Adept and Synaptic to provide an X interface to the APT software. Yet it is still possible to run every APT function by means of entering a command in a terminal window.

So running a Linux system without X software is certainly possible and some professional system administrators prefer to do this.

Last edited by stress_junkie; 07-06-2009 at 08:50 AM.
 
Old 07-06-2009, 08:54 AM   #3
Johnnie J
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Thanks stress_junkie,

That is what I thought, but I keep getting ahead of myself. I think what I should do, as I've so little knowledge, is install the OSs with X to get everything up and running, which will still take me a very long time, and then start learning more commandline.

For my less powerful computers perhaps I'll use a less memory intensive window manager.
 
Old 07-06-2009, 10:15 AM   #4
onebuck
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Hi,

Word of caution. You may not get the resultant you expect from a 'GUI'. If you learn to configure via the cli then you will not be hampered or restricted by what someone thinks is the proper way to configure something via a 'GUI'.

'Linux Newbie Admin Guide' is a good place to get some useful information. 'Rute Tutorial & Exposition' is even better.

The above links and others are available from 'Slackware-Links'. More than just SlackwareŽ links!
 
Old 07-06-2009, 01:00 PM   #5
Johnnie J
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Hi onebuck,

There is my conundrum. I'll have to make a decision before proceeding. I think I'll proceed using the command line. It doesn't really matter how fast my progress is as this is just a home project for me, something I'm doing purely for my personal interest. I have several books on OpenBSD, "Absolute OpenBSD" and "Secure Architectures with OpenBSD" that I need to spend some time going over.

I'd also like learn about shell scripting, any recommendations books?
 
Old 07-06-2009, 01:12 PM   #6
onebuck
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Hi,

'Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide' is a good one.
 
Old 07-06-2009, 03:49 PM   #7
Johnnie J
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Thanks onebuck,

that looks like a really beginners guide to shell scripting. I have another question. I know there are a variety of shells. Are they each scripted differently? I think that from what I've read BASH is probably the most commonly available on GNU/Linux or BSD systems.
 
Old 07-06-2009, 04:18 PM   #8
andywebsdale
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Also I think its worth pointing out that there are a few web-based Admin tools, so X doesn't have to be running on the server(just a web server) for you to have access to GUI tools. You would just use your favourite browser to login over the network - Webmin is one that springs to mind(used it a few years ago -don't know if its still current)
But the other posters are right about admin being more fine-grained & controllable using the CLI than a GUI, & once you've got a command right, you can turn it into a bash script - job done!
 
Old 07-06-2009, 05:19 PM   #9
Johnnie J
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andywebdales, I think that scripting is amazing and looking forward to getting into it. I'm glad you pointed out that I will need X on my webserver. I'm not the least bit familiar with how they work. Do you know of any good books for Apache, PHP, Perl, whatever I'll need to get it up and running? I love books, a good web guide is fine but I love to have a book(s) on the go.
 
Old 07-06-2009, 07:06 PM   #10
chrism01
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You don't need X on a server period.
however, you certainly can run it if you want. Very handy in the initial stages, but remember its not either/or; you can always open up an xterm to get the cli anytime you want.
Handy way to see what the GUI cfg tool did, by reading the cfg files before/after.

This is the place for Perl:
http://perldoc.perl.org/ - full lang definition, using lots of examples + tutorials section as well.
See also http://www.perlmonks.org/?node=Tutorials
If you want a paper book, the Llama book (Learning Perl) http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596101053/ is a great start, then The Perl Cookbook http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596003135/ is invaluable. Loads of real world problems solved for you, with explanations of how/why.
Just make sure you get the latest editions.

Apache: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/
MySQL : http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.0/en/
PHP: http://www.php.net/manual/en/
 
Old 07-06-2009, 07:20 PM   #11
lazlow
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Just to put things in perspective. I have a 1ghz PIII with 512 ram and it runs Gnome without issue. Its main use is as a media box. You can setup the machine to boot without X, and yet be able to start X whenever you like. That way you can handle your configurations (or whatever) with X and not have the "wasted" load of running X 24/7.
 
Old 07-06-2009, 07:28 PM   #12
jschiwal
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To build on what Lazlow posted. You can log in remotely via "ssh -X" and use the target machine's graphical config tools, even though the machine isn't running X.
 
Old 07-07-2009, 06:42 AM   #13
Johnnie J
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I like the idea of having a GUI available to run X with. If I were to build a web server do I need to have X running on it to server web pages?
 
Old 07-07-2009, 06:56 AM   #14
andywebsdale
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No, you don't need X running on any server, ever. Web pages are just files of text(generated by Perl or PHP scripts or retrieved from the servers disk) which your browser on your PC (not the server) renders as a web page. As the previous poster said, you can use SSH (secure shell - bit like Remote Desktop but more secure) with "ssh -X" and then the Xserver on your PC (not the server) will run the GUI. You don't even need a monitor plugged in to the server - everything can be done from your personal PC remotely.
X servers are a big overhead (like comparing Windows to DOS in terms of load) so your servers will run much better without Xservers running(also no hassle with video card drivers, a potential big source of problems on any operating system).
ChrisM01's recommendations are well worth following up also.
 
Old 07-07-2009, 09:01 AM   #15
Johnnie J
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Thanks again andywebsdale,

I'll have to get a switch and configure my oldest machine as the router. Anyone know of any inexpensive switches that I could use? Can I use one of those SOHO routers, ie Linksys type, purely as a switch?
 
  


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