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Old 01-06-2007, 05:42 PM   #1
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Question First-time server setup, distro questions, and security concerns

Hey there everyone,

First off: I want to build a server from a computer which was given to me. So I don't have all of the specs of the computer on hand, but I was able to gather the following.

Some facts:
Got a PIII 512K, Not sure on RAM, Maxtor Hard Drive DiamondMax 20VL Ultra ATA 66 with (I guess, according to web specs) 40.9 GB, 3D Blaster Banshee, AND a Quantum SCSI drive 9.1 GB with no cables or Host Adapter from what I can see.

A little more server details: I plan on using this for just data storage (For multiple OS files), nothing more. Don't have movies or music to put on it, so I'm not concerned about that. However, pictures, documents, audio files (Audacity), and my programs that I have written (java, c, c++, etc). I would like to get subversion on it, but never hosted a subversion site before, plus one of my friends wanted me to join a server group which comprises of 3 servers running Ubuntu.

I would like the server to be accessed by multiple friends, so I guess that subversion is necessary for security? Okay wait, let me address this all at once:

My Questions:
1. My friend (Tom just for the sack of it) told me that I should install Ubuntu on the server so not to create compatiability problems. I already tried putting Fedora on it, but wasn't sure about compatiability. Is Fedora incompatiable with Ubuntu? Should I take Tom's advice and switch to Ubuntu?

2. Security is also neccessary. I don't need some spammer/hacker to use my server to store his personal files. Can Fedora and/or Ubuntu handle this? Is there a better distro for said security? (I know that I can't block everyone, but I would at least like to make it difficult)

3. I played around with subversion a little, tried creating a respository, but wasn't sure if I was doing it right, or if I was setting myself up for disaster. Do I use subversion for all of my storage needs? How do I create multiple folders for my multiple categories (pictures, docs, programming projects, etc) and have security in place? (Sorry, tried reading the subversion docs, and was worried that I was doing things wrong. Would like advice.)

4. I have a small network at home, (got a Windows Desktop, and Windows laptop) and tried to connect my Fedora machine to the network, but wasn't able to view it from my other desktop or laptop. Is there a way to view the Fedora server (Ubuntu?) from my Windows machines?

5. Last but not least is getting the server to be accessible via the internet. I have no clue on this, other than needing an internet connection (DSL connect currently). What are the neccessary steps for this, if I just wanted the data storage? What do I need to consider if I want to put up a website?

Sorry for being so long on this, I tend to have a lot of questions when exploring the unknown. Being a newb to both server creation and Linux creates some interesting situations. Well, thank you for reading this. And I appreciate any help that can be provided.
Old 01-06-2007, 06:14 PM   #2
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Registered: Oct 2003
Location: New York City
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No distrobution of linux is safer for any purpose than another. They are all built a very similiar kernels, and run the exact same software (apache, vsftp, etc). Security comes down to what you set it to do, how you configure your firewalls, and things of that nature.

You sound like you are fairly confused about subversion. Subversion does share files, but that isn't what it is designed for. Subversion is designed to hold multiple (sub) versions of software that is being developed. Its advantage is that it holds all the code uploaded. So if you make a change to fileA, and your friend also makes changes (different changes) to fileA, both are held. If you just want to hold many files, you can do that just as easily with apache, or a file share service like NFS or samba.

Your individual questions -

1) What OS version the server holds makes no difference to what is held on it. It you run apache on slackware and Tom uses Ubuntu and I do the same on Debian, to the person looking at the site from a browser, they'll never see a difference. If however, you are trying to develop distro specific programs, then you will probably want to all run the same OS. Otherwise, run whatever you find is the most comfortable.

2) I covered that above. There is no inherant security difference, it is all in how you configure it. I'd force all sites to have password access, then unauthorized users can't get on (easily).

3) You don't want subversion. If you just want to store files, run a password protected ftp server, apache with some minor mods to list all files in directories, or some type of NFS to share across the web, or samba to share with windows machines on your LAN.

4) If you share through apache, then all you do is enter the linux server's local IP address (192.168.1.X or whatever) into your browser from the windows boxes, and it is shared. You can also use samba server to share files through what windows calls "network neighborhood" or some such thing.

5) You should have a firewall behind the DSL router if you are going to allow public internet access. At the very least, you can port forward port 80 from the outside to port 80 at the linux machines internal IP address to allow website access. This is covered all over the net and here at LQ, so I won't go into detail. It is done all the time, and you can find literally thousands of pages on it.


Last edited by JimBass; 01-06-2007 at 06:16 PM.
Old 01-06-2007, 06:19 PM   #3
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Location: France
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Well, Ubuntu is incompatible with Fedora in the sense that in homogeneous Ubuntu server set you can install bitwise same packages and configure them strictly identically - so having the same minor configuration problem once, instead of twice, because in Fedora they decided do tweak this like that, and in Ubuntu they decided to go another way. It happens...

About security: decide what should be exposed to Internet. Configure iptables (for example, with webmin web interface) to block any incoming connection to everything else. And for exposed servers always update - at least in stable branch - to have most known security holes fixed. These steps are trivial, but not using them is leading you to security disaster (after not doing security update, you leave a well-known disclosed hole open - it can bite you one day).
I do not know who follows upstream fixes quicker. Fedora is said to perform well, Ubuntu - I don't know, presumably also, but check (for example, by Apache versions arrival).

Subversion is to keep track of changes you do. It surely is not for everything, but for programs and text you can consider using it - if you still change it now, not if it is finished.

About rest I completely agree with JimBass, and Firefox crash (looks like it dislikes Beryl) allowed me to see that reply...


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