LinuxQuestions.org
LinuxAnswers - the LQ Linux tutorial section.
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Server
User Name
Password
Linux - Server This forum is for the discussion of Linux Software used in a server related context.

Notices

Reply
 
Search this Thread
Old 04-25-2008, 11:18 PM   #1
SauceForge
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Apr 2008
Posts: 3

Rep: Reputation: 0
Distro recommendations for a newbie


Morning gents, I'm setting up a server to run off my consumer internet connection mostly for dev work, but I want it to be available over the internet. First, a little background. Skip over it if you're not interested.

No need to comment on the thread title, I'd rather hear what you have to say about my actual situation.

~~~
Background:
I love to salvage stuff. I salvaged an ancient PIII desktop from a garbage bin a while ago, and have combined my junk to beef it up with 512MB of ram and a wireless card. I installed CentOS on this baby with the intention of running it as a server. Well, It's working with FTP, Apache, MySQL and PHP quite nicely now. But to be honest, I'm in over my head. I have no damn idea whether the thing's secure or if it's full of Argentinian rootkits. I foolishly installed without a GUI in my pursuit for lower baseline CPU usage.

Back to present day, I have Windows 2000 running a similar setup now on a laptop. I'm fairly comfy with it and like to believe that the setup is reasonably secure. Too bad this laptop is FREAKING SLOW thanks to Windows 2000 bloat and a perhaps /slightly/ inadequate 64MB of ram.

So I want to go back to my original plan of having a Linux system running on that salvaged computer, but have realized that CentOS is a bit of a stretch for me as a Linux newbie. Hence this thread.
~~~

I'd like to know what Linux distro you would recommend to a newbie (Assume essentially Nil Linux experience) that can be secured with some basic understanding and online help. I'd be running LAMP(HP), probably vsftp, and if I could somehow share the document root directory with other Windows computers on my network, that would be great (I tire of sending crap through FTP, editing directly over a shared folder is so much smoother).

The Linux box has a D-Link wireless card and this would be the primary mode of communication.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, but please don't suggest Ubuntu server edition. If I wanted to mindlessly click my way to success I'd stick with WAMP or XAMPP! Nothing beats wasting hours messing with config files.

Thanks for any help you may have.

Oh and I mean no discredit to Centos. The chaps over there were Awesome, but I don't want to have to bug the community over simple stuff I should work out myself. I just need a more approachable starting point.

Last edited by SauceForge; 04-26-2008 at 12:34 AM.
 
Old 04-25-2008, 11:39 PM   #2
ronlau9
Senior Member
 
Registered: Dec 2007
Location: In front of my LINUX OR MAC BOX
Distribution: Mandriva 2009 X86_64 suse 11.3 X86_64 Centos X86_64 Debian X86_64 Linux MInt 86_64 OS X
Posts: 2,369

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
This is the first time that I heard that choosing you,re distro has something to do with you,re gender

all the best
 
Old 04-26-2008, 12:17 AM   #3
SauceForge
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Apr 2008
Posts: 3

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
You read my post title literally. In that context, "Real man" means someone who is prepared to put in some non-zero amount of effort.

If you've got any useful comments to make I would really like to hear them as I am pretty keen to get this thing going. Perhaps simply CentOS with a GUI would suffice, but I recall the default being *EXTREMELY* slow on the salvaged desktop. I.E. The mouse movement would stutter. Is this unusual for CentOS on a ~400MHz machine?
 
Old 04-26-2008, 12:20 AM   #4
duryodhan
Senior Member
 
Registered: Oct 2006
Distribution: Slackware 12 Kernel 2.6.24 - probably upgraded by now
Posts: 1,054

Rep: Reputation: 46
REAL Men don't use distros ... they compile their own linux .

The one who are a little worse than them use LFS.

All the girls use distros.
 
Old 04-26-2008, 01:31 AM   #5
toynbee
Member
 
Registered: Jan 2007
Location: Maryland
Distribution: Arch and Red Hat
Posts: 34

Rep: Reputation: 17
Hello!
Real man, fake man, girl, or other, Ubuntu is not a bad distribution. From my perspective the only real bad part of it is all the unnecssary programs and modules it loads to make things easier from you, and this is only actually a flaw from a performance perspective.

I personally use ArchLinux for my server; the installer isn't quite as simple as Fedora or Ubuntu, but once installed it's very fast and allows for high performance, plus the repos seem to stay up-to-date. Plus it's a rolling release, so one install and you're done. However, due to a high level of configuration being required, it may not be the best choice for a newbie. If you do decide to use this distribution, read this first: http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Beginners_Guide

Fedora is also not a bad first distribution; I dislike it because I've always used Debian and a lot of the configuration files seem to be located in places here I would not expect. Other than that, it's good and right on the bleeding edge. This guide, while geared more towards desktop than server use, is still helpful: http://www.fedorafaq.org/
You can also interact with the community here: http://www.fedoraforum.org/
Fedora is a good choice, as it is almost universally what corporations use (due to the support offered by Red Hat). Its popularity also virtually guarantees someone will have an answer to any question you have.

Probably, for a new user, the best distribution would be Debian. It's a bit behind in terms of releases because the devs like to use tried-and-true programs, but honestly this has never caused any problems for me. The support is also phenomenal on this distro: http://forums.debian.net/ (Ubuntu, a Debian derivative, also has a wonderful community at ubuntuforums.org.)

Hope this helps!

Last edited by toynbee; 04-26-2008 at 01:33 AM.
 
Old 04-26-2008, 01:56 AM   #6
SauceForge
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Apr 2008
Posts: 3

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
Thank you for those pointers. I'll take a look into the lot. I agree that there's nothing glaringly wrong with Ubuntu, but having installed the desktop version and seen reduced performance relative to Windows XP I wasn't too impressed

I've also come to the Debian conclusion from my own searching. Thanks for vouching for it - guess I'll go download the ISO now.

Thanks for the help.
 
Old 04-26-2008, 02:17 AM   #7
Pikidalto
Member
 
Registered: Apr 2008
Location: North Versailles, PA
Distribution: Ark Linux
Posts: 63

Rep: Reputation: 15
I'd recommend Ark Linux (NOT to be confused with Arch). Although it's meant primarily as a desktop distro, it can still do FTP, Apache, MySQL and PHP quite well if you install the server software addon CD from http://arklinux.oregonstate.edu/dockyard/iso/ . Also, it has a Windows visual theme/keyboard shortcut layout option for when you first login (a setup wizard will appear allowing you to choose Windows, MacOS Classic or OSX, the KDE default theme, a traditional Unix GUI theme, or a slightly customized Ark theme). You can also choose to completely disable the GUI once you get the server stuff setup by editing your /boot/grub/grub.conf file and appending a 3 to the end of the kernel line (though I would normally recommend against editing system files). This will force Ark to start up in runlevel 3 (provides support for multiple users logged in through CLI by pressing CTRL+ALT+F[1,2,3,4,5,6] without starting the GUI, although you could just run 'startx /usr/bin/startkde' if you really needed the GUI) as opposed to the default runlevel 5 when you don't append a number to your kernel line (runlevel 5 automatically boots you into the GUI while still allowing access to CLI via CTRL+ALT+F[1,2,3,4,5,6]).

Last edited by Pikidalto; 04-26-2008 at 02:26 AM.
 
Old 04-26-2008, 02:20 AM   #8
javaroast
Member
 
Registered: Apr 2005
Posts: 130

Rep: Reputation: 18
Debian or Centos are good options for a server. One option outside of a GUI might be Webmin http://www.webmin.com/ Webmin allows you to use a web front end to do common configurations such as Apache, MySql, Samba, bind, etc. It might not be a bad place to start.

I'm partial to Centos myself as it is pretty much the same as RHEL which is used where I work.
 
Old 04-26-2008, 02:23 AM   #9
salasi
Senior Member
 
Registered: Jul 2007
Location: Directly above centre of the earth, UK
Distribution: SuSE, plus some hopping
Posts: 3,902

Rep: Reputation: 775Reputation: 775Reputation: 775Reputation: 775Reputation: 775Reputation: 775Reputation: 775
Quote:
Too bad this laptop is FREAKING SLOW thanks to Windows 2000 bloat and a perhaps /slightly/ inadequate 64MB of ram.
I see this as your biggest limitation (64 ram). I would say don't use KDE or Gnome, they will be slow on 64 M ram, if you can get them to start at all. This is more important than which distro that you use.

My suggestion would be to have a look at Xfce in the first instance, but you might find a different Gui is more to your taste.

So you would need to select a distro that offers an appropriate Gui. One of the small ones (DSL, Puppy, Frugal) would be approriate, but even SuSE, Debian or an Ubuntu derivative would be workable, if you choose a sensible Gui (so not Ubuntu or Kubuntu but maybe Xubuntu).
 
Old 04-26-2008, 02:34 AM   #10
Pikidalto
Member
 
Registered: Apr 2008
Location: North Versailles, PA
Distribution: Ark Linux
Posts: 63

Rep: Reputation: 15
KDE WILL run on 64MB RAM, but very slowly. I kinda missed the part about the 64MB RAM in my original post, but Ark has a solution to that, too.

Ark has fluxbox in it's repos. While not as complete as XFCE (it does NOT display desktop icons, but the desktop folder is accessible via Konqueror, which runs just fine in Fluxbox), it is much better than XFCE in that it does all the basic functions you need (whatever it does not do, you can open Konqueror, Konsole, or another program for directly from your right click menu) AND does NOT contain any GTK (GTK, in my opinion, is nothing but a mess; last time I tried looking at it's code, I just got confused and scared away; on top of that, my own personal experience tells me that GTK is, in most-but not all-cases unstable, though Firefox and Pidgin seem among the few that actually work for me).
 
Old 04-26-2008, 04:53 AM   #11
toynbee
Member
 
Registered: Jan 2007
Location: Maryland
Distribution: Arch and Red Hat
Posts: 34

Rep: Reputation: 17
I hadn't read the whole post my first time around either -- oops. Given your memory limitations, you may want to consider a few things. For example, just like Ubuntu, Debian starts a lot of unnecessary processes at boot. You'll want to remove and/or disable these. ArchLinux actually comes equipped very light (one of the reasons for the aforementioned high performance), but again, it requires a bit of knowhow (or willingness to learn how).

You can use some lightweight DE's; OpenBox is a personal favorite, but requires some configuration that may cow a beginner (though honestly, it's not that complex). If you can, it would be best to avoid a GUI at all, both for performance and security (though X isn't a huge security risk). In Debian you can do this by setting the "gdm" and "xdm" services not to start at launch.

If you use the computer for personal use at all, don't use pidgin and firefox, these are both constantly the biggest pains on my desktop in memory terms. There are several alternatives out there for both, it's worth looking into.

You'll probably want to use lighttpd rather than apache. apache isn't a huge resource hog to begin with, but lighttpd is .... well .... lighter.

Regarding your desire to access shares directly from your Windows computer(s), that's actually very easy. There's even an entry in my wiki:
http://inebriatedrabbit.com/index.ph...are_from_Linux

(My wiki is a work in progress, I suppose that's what a wiki is supposed to be, but please forgive and perhaps correct my rough writing. However, most of my articles were written as I did whatever I was explaining, so should be accurate.)



There's more that you can do, but this is all that comes immediately to mind.

Last edited by toynbee; 04-26-2008 at 05:43 AM.
 
Old 04-26-2008, 05:51 AM   #12
IsaacKuo
Senior Member
 
Registered: Apr 2004
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Distribution: Debian 4.0 Etch
Posts: 1,349

Rep: Reputation: 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pikidalto View Post
KDE WILL run on 64MB RAM, but very slowly.
GNOME will also run on 64megs of RAM...just. I accidentally confirmed this earlier today with a default Debian 4.0 install on a 300mhz laptop. (I logged out and resumed my plan to install icewm-lite and do various nips and tucks here and there.)
 
Old 04-26-2008, 09:17 AM   #13
Pikidalto
Member
 
Registered: Apr 2008
Location: North Versailles, PA
Distribution: Ark Linux
Posts: 63

Rep: Reputation: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by toynbee View Post
If you use the computer for personal use at all, don't use pidgin and firefox, these are both constantly the biggest pains on my desktop in memory terms. There are several alternatives out there for both, it's worth looking into.
I've been using Pidgin and Firefox for some time now, they've barely put a dent in my memory usage. Are you using some really old version of them? Though I'm not surprised if they are using lots of memory because they are GTK-based, and they aren't as stable as I'd like to believe (Firefox works, but with six or less tabs, otherwise it crashes out on me-that's when Firefox doesn't work for me; and Pidgin has had trouble with file transfers, but at least it does them as opposed to Kopete which refuses to do them).

I'm curious, what are your recommended alternatives? Maybe I should try them out.
 
Old 04-26-2008, 09:43 AM   #14
hob
Senior Member
 
Registered: Mar 2004
Location: Wales, UK
Distribution: Debian, Ubuntu
Posts: 1,075

Rep: Reputation: 45
Running all of this stuff on a Internet-connected system isn't a newbie task - there's a lot to learn here. To avoid taking on too much at once:

- Use SSH for file and remote access - it's easy to set up, secure, and there are clients for everything. Samba is not for public-facing systems, and lots of newbies struggle with it initially. FTP is just inherently unsafe for write access.

- Avoid installing a database service until you actually need it - on such a constrained system the supplied MySQL config may take a big piece of the available memory as soon as the service starts, you'll have to reduce the settings down to avoid this.

- Please read up on security a little before putting a PHP system on the 'net, particularly if you are going to be writing your own code. PHP is now probably the no. 2 cause of hacked Linux boxes, because it's easy to mess up the configuration or the code and create an exploitable security hole (no. 1 issue: careless administrators not updating).
 
Old 04-26-2008, 09:44 AM   #15
Hangdog42
LQ Veteran
 
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Maryland
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 7,785
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 414Reputation: 414Reputation: 414Reputation: 414Reputation: 414
What's with all this freaking GUI crud? You wanna scream on 64M of RAM, go with the console. Real men don't need GUIs.......


Slackware.

Hm. Maybe I better update the flame-retardant on my laptop.
 
  


Reply

Tags
centos, servers


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Recommendations for a linux distro mengfei Linux - Laptop and Netbook 2 03-08-2007 08:36 PM
Linux distro recommendations? Jykke Linux - Newbie 2 03-20-2006 05:39 AM
Distro Recommendations for a linux newbie racebit Linux - General 6 11-09-2005 12:10 PM
Gaming PC - Distro Recommendations? Marou Linux - Distributions 1 09-12-2004 04:48 AM
dual display question - real real newbie !! Jay_Dee007 Linux - Newbie 1 09-29-2003 08:33 AM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:22 PM.

Main Menu
My LQ
Write for LQ
LinuxQuestions.org is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
Syndicate
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
identi.ca: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration