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Old 03-22-2006, 11:52 AM   #1
Haravikk
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Recommend linux distro for budget server?


Okay, I did a search for this and found one thread, but it didn't have many good replies so I've decided to just post a new thread anyway and hope I've not missed any glaringly obvious thread that does have the answers I want.

Right, well the premise is simple, I'm building a really cheap machine that I'm going to use as a budget web-server, and I need an operating system to run on it. Windows didn't even get a consideration needless to say. I'm a rabid Mac User, but I don't want to run my PHP stuff from my main machine, and while Mac Minis are really nice little computers, I'd rather not pay the overhead for Mac OS X, iLife etc. when my requirements are rather limited.

The machine specs that I've got so far are:

AMD Sempron 2800+ (1.6ghz, 64-bit, HT enabled. 64-bit isn't much use to me but it seems to be a good chip for a good price so eh...)
Asustek ASUS Vintage-AE1 (case and motherboard, includes power-supply and 10/100 LAN connection plus other bits and pieces, integrated graphics)
2 x 256mb DDR 184-pin 400mhz RAM
2 x 20gb Seagate U Series X hard-drives (5400rpm, slow I know but a nice price =)

This comes just shy of 200 ($350) which makes it about as budget as a server is likely to get!

Anyway, my requirements from the OS are as follows:
- No bloat! I don't care if it has minesweeper included, all I need is whatever stuff is necessary for what I want to install
- Apache 2 ready
- PHP 5 ready
- [optional] MySQL ready (optional as I may see what SQLite has to offer if I can get it to run correctly)
- Should install from a CD or other device, preferably via a network. This will be the first OS installed on the machine (ie it will be blank to start with)
- Should allow for configuring the hard-drives into a mirrored RAID array (RAID-1?) before installation
- SSH support

Wishlist ("Would be nice if..." features, optional):
- GUI for main tasks (formatting and then installing onto the machine. Graphical installers for software are nice but not a must)
- Support for that new replacement to BIOS, though I expect my motherboard won't support it so it's probably a moot point

I don't think there's much else to say. The OS should be a nicely stripped down one, I found DSL (Damn Small Linux) which is quite nice and a manageable 50mb, but I can't get it to do a hard-drive install using Virtual PC to emulate Intel architecture, so I don't know how easy it is to install stuff once I'm up and running. It is however the kind of thing I'm looking for, except for the installer which I found to be quite pants as it required you to go and do all different things in the command line yourself rather than providing that functionality there.

Please bear in mind also, while I'm a Mac fanatic and fairly well-versed in command-line etc, I'm still a newbie to Linux and dislike installing things via command-line if I can avoid it, especially if it means I can do so without having to worry about making a mistake. However, if GUI is going to present large overheads on RAM requirements or overall performance then by all means, I'll go command-line only. If it's a reasonable overhead though then I'd sway in favour of having buttons and pictures

Any help or suggestions are appreciated!

P.S - although not exactly related, what do people think of the AMD-Sempron vs an Intel Celeron chip for a budget web-server? All reviews I found are for games and floating point performance mostly, which I'm not really interested in for this machine. Any reviews that better detail the performance comparison for web-serving (or similar to web-serving) tasks would be a bonus before I commit and buy the machine!

Last edited by Haravikk; 03-22-2006 at 11:54 AM.
 
Old 03-22-2006, 12:07 PM   #2
okmyx
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Debian would be a good recommendation, its has options for CD install or net install.

With the apt package manager installing apps is a doddle.

My debian box runs without a gui but with ssh, webmin and midnightcommander I don't really need one. Although theres nothing stopping you installing a nice lightweight window manager.

Looking at your specs theres nothing stopping you installing a full blown distro like FC4 or Suse to play around with first and then once your comfortable wipe and install debian.

Last edited by okmyx; 03-22-2006 at 12:09 PM.
 
Old 03-22-2006, 12:16 PM   #3
king111
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Debian is a solid server distro. You probably don't want to go through the trouble with gentoo/slackware or any of the heavier distros. I'm totally convinced that you could setup a Debian server in under an hour.
 
Old 03-22-2006, 12:39 PM   #4
ethics
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i've seen quite a few web hosts use fedora, not sure why, i use it as a desktop system, it's great but there are alot of others with less overhead in terms of resources. Maybe cause they associate it with Redhat, and therefore an established brand.

Anyway i use Debian as a file server, works brilliantly, no probs, you could do the same with a web server. Distros don't come with apache/PHP up and configured but most give the option to install it when installing your system, from there it's a few very well documented config edits and you're good to go.

If you're running a webserver it's worth bearing in mind your device connecting to the net needs port forwarding/NAT for it to work properly.

Good price on the hardware too, ebuyer?

good luck
 
Old 03-23-2006, 11:47 AM   #5
Haravikk
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Thanks for the replies, sounds like Debian is the one I'll be trying first then!

The hardware is actually from Dabs.com, it was one of the first UK sites that I found, and it had an interface much like that of newegg.com (for US users) which made it very easy to find parts that I needed and would work with the ones I'd already selected.
I'm still investigating whether there are more economical sites to get the same parts from, but I'd definitely recommend it for putting a system idea together

eBuyer I found to be a bit pricey, and they employed the rather annoying excluding VAT strategy. That and the options for sorting results seemed to be hard to find (sometimes they'd appear, sometimes not).

Meh, I'll figure out the best deal but I suspect those are the parts I'll be going with to get my simple box up and running with as little cost as possible


Oh, one other thing is, once I've got Linux all up and running, how hard would it be to attach multiple domains to it? My main reason for getting the box is to run my game on it, however I have a couple of low-traffic sites as well, my personal one and my store for a character that I draw. I would want to attach one or more of these domains to the machine, would I need something like cPanel software (I see that all over the place) to do this, or is it something relatively easy to do in Linux?

Last edited by Haravikk; 03-23-2006 at 11:54 AM.
 
Old 03-23-2006, 12:31 PM   #6
okmyx
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Multiple domains would be something that your ISP/domain name host would sort out.

Basically they would ammend the DNS entries for the web addresses to point to the IP address of your server.

You don't actually specify what kind of net connection you have, but you'll need at least one with a fixed IP address (or is this all being co-located?).
 
Old 03-23-2006, 12:45 PM   #7
TigerOC
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You'll find an excellent howto here. I used the Woody version of this to setup my server nearly 2 years ago.
To setup multiple domains use name based virtual hosting in apache. A simple method can be found here. I suggest doing some reading on security before you do this especially about firewalls and php protection.
 
Old 03-23-2006, 12:51 PM   #8
Emerson
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I have seen numerous threads like this one. People are talking about building servers and actually build desktop PC's. You are even not planning to use rgistered/ECC memory - and this is essential for a server. And CPU - 2800+. This means fan noise, heat ... you can play games on it. Is it really necessary for a web server? Did you know a 1 GHz P3 can serve 1000 web sites with php and SQL? It depends of course on what kind of web site you are running. This estimate is not for microsoft.com or some other kind of porn.
 
Old 03-23-2006, 01:08 PM   #9
Haravikk
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Registered: Mar 2006
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Well, it's a desktop PC essentially to run as a budget web-server. ECC memory isn't a requirement for me really.

I've been investigating older processors, namely 32-bit AMD ones, as the 64-bit Sempron seems like a waste as I don't need super-precise floating point or such. But the only ones I've found are second hand ones and I'd much rather have brand new parts still covered by warranties. If there's somewhere that sells aftermarket or refurbished older chips and motherboards in the UK then please point me in the right direction as that would be a cheaper alternative!

My web-application is a fairly complex/demanding browser-based game written in PHP. The average execution time for a page is about 0.1 seconds on my main machine (a dual 2.5ghz G5 PowerMac). The main reason for wanting a separate machine rather than running it from my main machine is so that I can set-up a crontab event to trigger a periodic PHP script which keeps the game events going at regular intervals. I can't do that on my main machine as it's too bloody noisy to sleep in the same room as, so having it switched off at night defeats the purpose of having regular events

Last edited by Haravikk; 03-23-2006 at 01:13 PM.
 
Old 03-23-2006, 01:17 PM   #10
jarod_123
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I would suggest Slackware. Its really stable, and quite configurable. I find the latest version user friendly.
 
Old 03-23-2006, 03:43 PM   #11
TigerOC
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If you want really cheap systems for this purpose try these starting at 15. My first server was an old PC100 266 which worked fine. I just needed more memory which it wouldn't take. Current system is built with an amd duron 600 of which I have a number lying around doing nothing. The total cost was about 20

Last edited by TigerOC; 03-23-2006 at 03:45 PM.
 
Old 03-23-2006, 05:14 PM   #12
Emerson
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Try a search on eBay for 'P3 1U server'. And you can see a long list of non-crashing, reliable hardware, single- and multi-CPU. I'm sure any of those can serve your purpose. Just my 2 cents
 
  


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