LinuxQuestions.org
Help answer threads with 0 replies.
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Newbie
User Name
Password
Linux - Newbie This Linux forum is for members that are new to Linux.
Just starting out and have a question? If it is not in the man pages or the how-to's this is the place!

Notices


Reply
  Search this Thread
Old 09-01-2011, 04:31 AM   #1
Syllinger
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Sep 2011
Posts: 22

Rep: Reputation: 1
How do I go about choosing a distro?


Hey folks,

So I'm planning to dabble with Linux for the first time. I've used the OS before, so I'm not completely new to it, but I haven't used it for a LONG time.

Basically, what I'm looking for is information on how to choose the right distro. What I am planning to set up is a simple home server with samba shares and mdadm. I also want to add in LAMP fucntionality, but I'll probalby approach that later. At first, I considered FreeNAS, but I would rather have something a little bit more robust.

My question is simple. How do I go about choosing the server distro that's right for me? I will probably end up installing a GUI, I figure that's easy enough, but can I remove it later? My understanding is that Linux is modular and you can add or remove packages at your leisure.

So I've narrowed down my choices to Ubuntu Server, Debian, and Arch. I know that Ubuntu is based on Debian, and there isn't really much difference between the two. But I've heard that there are some major differences with respect to the refresh cycle, as well as the package libraries that are available.

What is the significance of the refresh cycle? I've heard a lot of users talking about the pros and cons of a short vs. long refresh cycle. Saying that one is bleeding edge, while the other is stable. Coming from a Windows background, older software can be installed on all versions from Windows 98 to Windows 7, is this not the same for Linux? If I don't have the most up-to-date version, can I not run the latest software or something?

I've read tons of tutorials, and starter guides, but nothing seems to answer this simple question.
 
Old 09-01-2011, 06:09 AM   #2
spwnt
Member
 
Registered: Jun 2006
Distribution: Linux Mint/Debian/Arch
Posts: 78

Rep: Reputation: 12
basically i would recommend debian or ubuntu like you said. arch is good but its really bleeding edge and kinda difficult to set up especially if you don't know what you are doing.

if you're just going to set up a samba server and a lamp stack then i would recommend debian. but if you are going to be using it as a desktop i would recommend ubuntu or linux mint (linux mint is basically just ubuntu with codecs, flash and a different ui)

debian and ubuntu are both "stable" from what i've seen, but debian goes through a loooot more testing to make sure things won't break and that everything is compatible with everything else.

and what you say about installing old stuff on newer versions of windows... that isn't really true. try installing any game that came out for windows 95/98 on windows 7 and you will run into problems. there is usually work-arounds for it though. same goes for the other way... you can't install new programs on older windows without the kernel extender patch. windows vista broke compatibility with older versions of windows... hence why everyone decided that windows vista sucked (and for some reason forgot about it when windows 7 came out).

edit: and yes you can remove the gui whenever you want just make sure it doesn't remove a huuuge meta-package of all sorts of things. you can do all of this through the distro's package manager... for debian or ubuntu i would recommend synaptic if you're going to be using a gui.. if not then learn how to use apt-get.

Last edited by spwnt; 09-01-2011 at 06:11 AM.
 
Old 09-01-2011, 06:17 AM   #3
allwimb
Member
 
Registered: Aug 2011
Posts: 47

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
Personnaly I prefer Debian. But since that Ubuntu is based on Debian you can try it, it's a cool distro. Concerning new and old software under GNU/Linux we don't need old software for the reason is that why releasing a new version if users want to keep using the old version ? Most of the time new software fix bugs and include new features.

spring logout

Last edited by allwimb; 12-12-2011 at 06:53 AM.
 
Old 09-01-2011, 07:16 AM   #4
0men
Member
 
Registered: Mar 2011
Location: Brisbane
Distribution: Windows 10, Red Hat, Debian
Posts: 183

Rep: Reputation: 22
Your lucky there arnt any hardcore Debian fans reading this :P (saying that ubuntu and debian are alike, dare you to jump on Debian IRC and say that!! lol )

I personally don't believe Debian is anything like Ubuntu. Yeah i know its 'based' on Debian, but in my experience with Ubuntu, i've found it to be so bloated and slow, not to mention unstable. Your big servers distro's are Slackware, Debian (not any debian based alternatives) BSD, Gentoo and Red hat. They seem to be the most used anyways. If your new to linux then i can see the reason you could be pushing towards a more friendly distro like Ubuntu, however you will sacrifice stability and control. In my opinion, your better off learning Debian.

Jump onto distrowatch and have a look around, make sure you look into Slackware as well. I use Arch on my laptop, but since it's a rolling distro its broken on me a few times. Minor but still.....

The release cycle is up to you as well. I prefer, tested stable software on my server and desktop as i cant afford them to break down. My laptop and netbook however, run arch and LMDE. I love them both

Some people just like to be on the cutting edge (Arch users mainly) But Arch users are normally very good with Linux and know the way around their system. So if it breaks, they can fix it.

So it really depends, if something breaks, can you fix it?... Arch is geared towards a competent Linux user.

Software ? Lets say for example you downloaded Wireshark. All fine and dandy, you dont have to update it, but you'd be silly not too because of vulnerabilities and bug fixes. You can go to the Wireshark website and download the first ever Wireshark release if you want too..... In a nutshell, you can run which ever version of the software you want. (99% of the time)

Kindest regards and i wish you all the best
and Welcome to Linux Questions !!!
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 09-01-2011, 08:10 AM   #5
salasi
Senior Member
 
Registered: Jul 2007
Location: Directly above centre of the earth, UK
Distribution: SuSE, plus some hopping
Posts: 4,064

Rep: Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894
Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post

What is the significance of the refresh cycle? I've heard a lot of users talking about the pros and cons of a short vs. long refresh cycle. Saying that one is bleeding edge, while the other is stable.
What you want to know is how long a particular release is supported for; that is, whatever you install today, how long does the supplier say that they are going to supply patches, security patches specifically.

Now, obviously, something that has a long release cycle (ie, a new release every 5 years) is likely to give you a longer horizon until you next need to rebuild the server, but you have to examine on a case-by-case basis - a distro with a five year cycle, but for which the 'recent' release was four years and eleven months ago may not be the best choice, if you have to make that choice today.

You mention Ubuntu; in general Ubuntu has a six month release 'clock cycle', but there are specific Ubuntu releases that are LTS (Long Term Support), and, if a person had decided that Ubuntu was exactly what is required, I would definitely suggest looking at the most recent LTS rather than a six-month product.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
Coming from a Windows background, older software can be installed on all versions from Windows 98 to Windows 7, is this not the same for Linux? If I don't have the most up-to-date version, can I not run the latest software or something?

I've read tons of tutorials, and starter guides, but nothing seems to answer this simple question.
Forget all that you know about installing Windows software. It does not apply here (fortunately).
  • Most of what you want will be open source software, and the distribution supplier will make available a build of that software specifically for a version of that distribution release. While the differences between the versions made available for the most recent version and an earlier version may be trivial (...or not...), why not use the version that is intended to work with what you've got, rather than something that may or may not work, which won't have any support and which may have miscellaneous bugs?
  • In Linux, broadly, there is a package manager which deals with install and uninstall of software. Assuming that you have bandwidth to the net, just click a button, or make the relevant command line incantantion, and you have it installed (installed is not necessarily configured, though). Why do anything else?
  • Generally, for non-rolling release distros, if at the time of release of that version the distro, SuperApp 1.2.3.4 was what was available there is no necessary reason to suggest that when 1.2.3.5 is released it will be made directly available to you. However, if 1.2.3.5 contains security fixes, the distro should make it available (question about how quickly and whether that would still happen if the security impact was minimal or had an easy work around). If this was an issue, you could build 1.2.3.5 yourself (not advised, except when there is no other solution) or update to the latest version of the distro or using a rolling release distro.
  • On the same theme, if SuperApp 2.0.0.0 becomes available, it may be 'backported' to your release, or it may wait until the next release; depends on whether there is a security impact and the distro's policy; most will not do this as a matter of course, but may in particular circumstances
  • Even when an updated package is not made available by the distro itself, there are quite often 'personal packages' (or contribs, or something) that make it available; you have to consider the risks, but if all else fails and the risks are quantifiable and in control, this could be a way forward.
  • For commercial software (which, from what you have written, you probably don't need, but you may have other requirements that you haven't detailed), then it would be best to check with the supplier - usually suppliers are selective about which distros they supply versions for and if you need something specific, make sure that it is available.

(Just a note: The concerns would be completely different for a desktop machine, so the advice would be different.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
At first, I considered FreeNAS, but I would rather have something a little bit more robust.
I don't know much about FreeNAS specifically, but I have no reason to think that it isn't robust. Not flexible, maybe, or difficult to extend, but I haven't seen criticisms of its robustness.

To an extent, it depends what you want out of this. If you are doing it to learn Linux and you like getting your hands dirty (in as much as bits allow you to do that), go for a general purpose distro and configure the apps as you go, and for the more extreme version, a 'rolling release' might be appropriate.

If you just want an appliance, that you can fit and forget (until the release becomes unsupported), consider using something that does just that.

There is a page here from which you can get a list of all popular distros mentioning 'server' useage; something like Zentyal, Untangle, TurnKey, Trustix, tinysofa, SMS, SOL, OpenNA, Engarde, Alpine, would get you started more quickly than the 'standard distro' approach. (I haven't checked that list for currency of the distro (is development still underway?) or to what extent that they fulfil all of you requirements out of the box, but Zentyal, Engarde would be good possibles to start investigating.)

Last edited by salasi; 09-01-2011 at 08:13 AM. Reason: typo
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 09-01-2011, 08:10 AM   #6
cascade9
Senior Member
 
Registered: Mar 2011
Location: Brisneyland
Distribution: Debian, aptosid
Posts: 3,753

Rep: Reputation: 934Reputation: 934Reputation: 934Reputation: 934Reputation: 934Reputation: 934Reputation: 934Reputation: 934
If you install a GUI, your 'server' will pretty much work the same as a 'desktop' version with the server stuff installed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
You mention Ubuntu; in general Ubuntu has a six month release 'clock cycle', but there are specific Ubuntu releases that are LTSP (Long Term Support), and, if a person had decided that Ubuntu was exactly what is required, I would definitely suggest looking at the most recent LTSP rather than a six-month product.
Point, and I sort of agree, but one minor detail- if you install xxxx-desktop, eg xubuntu-desktop (or even Xfce4) then the '5 years support for server versions' that ubuntu has changes back to 3 year support of 'desktop' LTS versions.

The last LTS version was 10.04, and if you installed that now you will have support for 'desktop' releases till April 2013. 11.04 has support till October 2012, so you would only get an extra 6 months from the LTS version.

That said, if I was going to go to ubuntu, I would install 10.04.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0men View Post
Your lucky there arnt any hardcore Debian fans reading this :P (saying that ubuntu and debian are alike, dare you to jump on Debian IRC and say that!! lol )

I personally don't believe Debian is anything like Ubuntu. Yeah i know its 'based' on Debian, but in my experience with Ubuntu, i've found it to be so bloated and slow, not to mention unstable. Your big servers distro's are Slackware, Debian (not any debian based alternatives) BSD, Gentoo and Red hat. They seem to be the most used anyways. If your new to linux then i can see the reason you could be pushing towards a more friendly distro like Ubuntu, however you will sacrifice stability and control. In my opinion, your better off learning Debian.
+1. Though I see more of a difference in the way that debian operates and the packaging/dependancies than anything else (that is not saying I havent found that ubuntu can be unstable).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
My question is simple. How do I go about choosing the server distro that's right for me? I will probably end up installing a GUI, I figure that's easy enough, but can I remove it later? My understanding is that Linux is modular and you can add or remove packages at your leisure.
yeah, you can remove it later.

You cant change everything with linux though, and with some distros you get some very weird dependancies. Like 'plymouth' a grpahical bootloader. With ubuntu, plymouth is a dependancy for 'mountall', so without plymouth you cant mount any HDDs, etc..

Last edited by cascade9; 09-01-2011 at 08:20 AM.
 
Old 09-01-2011, 09:01 AM   #7
salasi
Senior Member
 
Registered: Jul 2007
Location: Directly above centre of the earth, UK
Distribution: SuSE, plus some hopping
Posts: 4,064

Rep: Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894
Quote:
Originally Posted by cascade9 View Post
Point, and I sort of agree, but one minor detail- if you install xxxx-desktop, eg xubuntu-desktop (or even Xfce4) then the '5 years support for server versions' that ubuntu has changes back to 3 year support of 'desktop' LTS versions.
Err, yeah, I knew that... I actually meant to include in the original (overlong) post a comment about why GUI's are generally undesired in servers.

You know, they chew up lots of memory and often cpu cycles (so making it more possible to crash the server by starving it of resources) and are such big lumbering things that they can't be entirely bug-free. Now, it is completely legitimate to say '...it isn't important in some particular case if the server is thoroughly walled off from the outside world by an external firewall and it doesn't contain any sensitive information...', although I think that it would be sensible to ask whether you are really, really sure.

Something like webmin, or the use of one of the server appliances which gives you a web interface for admin, would do the job of making the server easier to admin, without bringing in the problems of GUIs.

So, had I actually remembered to include that comment about GUIs, it would have seemed like less of a stupid oversight not to mention the decreased support horizon with a GUI. Still a good point, though...
 
Old 09-01-2011, 09:30 AM   #8
anomie
Senior Member
 
Registered: Nov 2004
Location: Texas
Distribution: RHEL, Scientific Linux, Debian, Fedora
Posts: 3,935
Blog Entries: 5

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger
So I've narrowed down my choices to Ubuntu Server, Debian, and Arch.
How did you narrow your choices down to those particular three? Based on that list, my own opinion is that Debian is best suited for a server OS.
  • Debian is widely used and well vetted in enterprise environments.
  • Its updates favor stability in its (aptly named) stable branch.
  • Its package repositories contain an impressive variety of applications.
  • It supports many hardware architectures (though, admittedly, that may not matter much if all you run is e.g. amd64 servers).
 
Old 09-01-2011, 01:58 PM   #9
wpeckham
Senior Member
 
Registered: Apr 2010
Location: Continental USA
Distribution: Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, RedHat, DSL, Puppy, CentOS, Knoppix, Mint-DE, Sparky, Vsido, tinycore, Q4OS
Posts: 2,367

Rep: Reputation: 957Reputation: 957Reputation: 957Reputation: 957Reputation: 957Reputation: 957Reputation: 957Reputation: 957
Debian

My recommendation between those three would also be Debian.
Ubuntu is nice for someone who wants most of the choices made for them (much like those other operating system).
Debian allows more leeway for YOU to choose.
And learn!

If this is not for a fairly new laptop (an older model laptop, desktop, or server) I would run Debian Stable. I run Testing on newer laptops for the updated hardware support, or sometimes for very recent features that make it worth the additional risk.
 
Old 09-01-2011, 03:15 PM   #10
Syllinger
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Sep 2011
Posts: 22

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 1
Gentlemen, I am overwhelmed, and I appreciate the support. With most forums I'm used to one or two vague responses, but you guys have managed to clear up a lot; breaking down some seemingly advanced concepts so that even a novice like me can understand them. That said, in light of new understanding, there are some new questions. This post ended up being a tad bit longer than I intended. So, if you don't care to read any of the background information you can skip to below the asterisks.

First, however, a few of you are unclear as to my purpose, and I guess I was a little bit vague in my original post. This server is for both home and professional use. I'm no network admin, but I aspire to delve as deeply as I am able to acquaint myself with the OS. From what I have read, things are not as complex as they may seem at first, but mastery of Linux can take quite a while. Even with 10+ years of experience, a lot of users still seem to consider themselves beginners. For the time being, this server will simply be a platform on which to learn and make my newbie mistakes. Once I have a better understanding of the OS I will rebuild it from scratch and migrate my data.

All things considered, I'm no stranger to, and do not shy away from, "getting my hands dirty" as salasi mentioned. I have no compunctions with jumping into something like Debian feet first and if I don't get a GUI, I'll just have to adapt to it. I plan to remotely administer the server anyway, and this is what I'm used to in my limited past experience with Red Hat; I did everything from the command line. Also, as was mentioned, I can always install a web-based GUI package to make administration easier. Nifty stuff, I must say.

In truth, this is as much of a pet project as it is functional at the moment. Windows already provides me with everything I need, and there is no tangible reason for me to switch to a Linux desktop at the moment. Especially if you consider that there has been a surge of open software development available on the Windows platform, and the fact that Iím restricted due to some expensive software licenses. But, to be fair, I've never given Linux a real chance and maybe it will wow me into wanting to make the switch. For now, setting up a Linux server will allow me to play around with the OS while holding onto my Windows roots; I get the best of both worlds. Regardless, I will always have a Windows workstation sitting around for professional purposes.

So, there it is, for the time being this is more of project than anything else. With respect to specifics, however, what I am looking to set up is a NAS, Web, and FTP server for home use and web/media development that I (and a few others) have access to via the internet. It will host all of my media (mainly video dev files), which I would like to make available anywhere I go. I have a MASSIVE cellular data plan, so bandwidth is not of any consequence even if I plan to use tethering for this purpose. I would essentially like to have all of my media at my fingertips anytime I need it, and with a 12ish TB NAS already saturated you can't exactly carry it all around on a USB stick or portable hard drive...yet. Also, having an older Intel Core 2 E6600 machine kicking around I figure it's cheaper to build it myself than buy an 8+ bay NAS from any vendor out there Ė they are asking for thousands! I'm not a large enough outfit to merit investment in a computer consultant, and I just darn want to learn how to do it myself for shits and giggles.

***

My first impressions of Linux, from what Iíve read, are bittersweet. On one hand I love the level of customization, on the other the development cycle seems like it might take a bit of getting used to. Iím a complete stranger when it comes to an OS breaking. Iíve never had my Windows platform ďbreakĒ as a result of doing a routine update. Expose a security loophole, maybe, but not to the point of it becoming a non-functional system. I loved playing with Lego as a kid, and in the same fashion, I am enamoured with how one is able to customize their operating system on a modular basis.

What I am not prepared for, is if the system breaks on me. I may not be understanding things correctly, but if you were to use a distro with a 6 month release cycle, would you have to reformat and rebuild your server every 6 months? If thatís the case, Iím not really a fan. Iím used to a Windows platform that is refreshed every 3 years or so, and supported for at least 6. Where Windows and Linux seem to differ is that with older versions of Linux you are restricted to a library of older but compatible packages, whereas with Windows I could install most current software on my windows 98 machine with few concerns. Am I missing something here? Because, if that is the case, it sounds like Linux is far more restrictive than Windows. Also, if I really wanted to, I could upgrade all the way from 98 to Win 7 using upgrade installations; I wouldnít need to reformat (albeit it goes without saying that is probably not recommended).

Quote:
Originally Posted by anomie View Post
How did you narrow your choices down to those particular three? Based on that list, my own opinion is that Debian is best suited for a server OS.
I have a friend that uses Linux and asked him for advice. He suggested Ubuntu, but actually uses Debian. That said, he runs an actual server, and obviously requires stability. He used to use Red Hat, but has since ditched it because they were acquired, and apparently RPM package management was a nightmare.

Not being afraid of making things hard on myself I also considered using Gentoo or Slackware, but I was informed that they are a pain to set up unless you are very familiar with Linux, and updates can cause major problems resulting you in having to re-compile a bunch of software yourself which allegedly can take several hours. I didnít really understand it all, but the general consensus was that itís bad. Also, a lot have seemed to make the switch from Gentoo to Debian or Ubuntu Server, stating that the differences really only come down to feel.

Iíve since given Arch the boot (not literally Ė har har har) because I was told that itís not a distro you want to use for a server. Apparently things are just too experimental and itís better suited as a desktop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
There is a page here from which you can get a list of all popular distros mentioning 'server' useage; something like Zentyal, Untangle, TurnKey, Trustix, tinysofa, SMS, SOL, OpenNA, Engarde, Alpine, would get you started more quickly than the 'standard distro' approach. (I haven't checked that list for currency of the distro (is development still underway?) or to what extent that they fulfil all of you requirements out of the box, but Zentyal, Engarde would be good possibles to start investigating.)
I originally considered Zentyal when also looking at FreeNAS, but there is A LOT of functionality in it that I donít need yet. I plan to eventually test it out, but only when I have a bit more experience. It looks really interesting if you wanted to create your own UTM (which is another project I want to undertake), but for now, baby steps, ya know?

All in all, I still havenít made up my mind. Iím open to suggestions, even something like FreeBSD. Someone steered me away from that though, stating that if I was looking to go the FreeBSD route, I might as well go with Debian. Like I said, Arch is out, and so Iím really looking at Debian vs. Ubuntu Server LTS. Iím leaning towards Debian because I figure that if Iím going to use the command line anyway there wonít be much of a benefit going the Ubuntu route. After all, Ubuntu was designed to make Linux user-friendly, was it not? If Iím not going to take advantage of the tools provided to accomplish that, like a pretty GUI, why not go with something more stable and prevalent in the enterprise environment? The main difference again comes down to community and the package libraries, it seems.

So, Iím now stuck asking myself: why someone would want to go with Debian over Ubuntu Server or vice-versa? Iíve read that Debianís packages are old, but is that really a hindrance? If they work, who cares when they were written? When Word 2010 came out, aside from the GUI, it didnít introduce a lot of changes that I take advantage of that werenít in the previous release (Word 2007). Also, the sheer volume of packages available for Debian makes it sound like a winner.

Also, if Debian has a 5 year release cycle, does that mean that I am REQUIRED to update it in 5 years? And does that mean that I have to rebuild the server from scratch every 5 years when a new edition is released? Do they purge the older archives? Or could I run an older version (like Debian 5) for as long as I want?

I am looking for something like Windows. I want to be able to run the latest software, but I donít want to have to upgrade the OS every 6 months to make that possible. Is something like this available, or is this impossible?
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 09-01-2011, 03:56 PM   #11
johnsfine
LQ Guru
 
Registered: Dec 2007
Distribution: Centos
Posts: 5,286

Rep: Reputation: 1190Reputation: 1190Reputation: 1190Reputation: 1190Reputation: 1190Reputation: 1190Reputation: 1190Reputation: 1190Reputation: 1190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
I plan to remotely administer the server
How remote is "remotely"?

Where I work, we administer most of our Linux systems from desktop systems on the same LAN. Other Linux administration is from the same VPN (which is like the same LAN but slower). You have a lot more and simpler options within a LAN or VPN than if you mean really "remotely".

Quote:
I can always install a web-based GUI package to make administration easier.
That sounds like you mean really remotely, but maybe you just don't know about simpler choices if you are within the same LAN or VPN.

Quote:
Iíve never had my Windows platform ďbreakĒ as a result of doing a routine update.
I've had that happen so often, I view each Windows update with terror (but my main Windows system has four CRTs divided between two old display controllers and almost all disasters during routine updates appear to be tied to that unusual configuration).

Quote:
but not to the point of it becoming a non-functional system.
Typically four CRTs at 1920x1440 each suddenly become one CRT at 1024x768 with no option to increase it. Some might say that isn't all the way to "non-functional", but if I thought one CRT at 1024x768 was a functional system, I wouldn't have gone to so much effort to set up 4x1920x1440. So my Windows updates are often followed by hours of using the non functional system to find download, install and tweak new video drivers.

Quote:
What I am not prepared for, is if the system breaks on me.
Even on more typical systems (not my four CRT system) I find Windows breaks more often.

More importantly, when a Windows or Linux system breaks, I boot up a Linux liveCD and poke around to start diagnosis or repair. I've tried things like the Windows version of Ultimate Boot CD, but they are too much of a struggle in too many ways.

So once I'm booted in Linux liveCD, it is a lot easier to fix a sick Linux system than a sick Windows system.

Quote:
I may not be understanding things correctly, but if you were to use a distro with a 6 month release cycle, would you have to reformat and rebuild your server every 6 months?
I use Mepis at home and it seems to require a total reinstall every major release (though that is a lot longer than 6 months). That is a pain at home and would be unacceptable at work.

At work, we mainly use Centos. Major releases are far apart and well supported for a long time afterward. The Centos gurus I work with also seem to know how to advance to a newer major release without disturbing much on the server (I don't understand that part myself).

Quote:
Am I missing something here?
Varies a lot by distro.

Quote:
apparently RPM package management was a nightmare.
Yum (a command line RPM package management tool) is really great. I generally hate command line, but despite that bias, I like Yum.

I've used a couple GUI RPM package management tools that are so totally lame that I think "worthless" would be too generous a description. The only GUI package management I've liked is Synaptic (for Debian based distributions).

Both Red Hat based and Debian based distributions offer some really terrible choices for package management. But they each also offer at least one really good choice.

Quote:
All in all, I still havenít made up my mind. Iím open to suggestions,
For a server, I personally wouldn't consider anything other than Centos.

Quote:
After all, Ubuntu was designed to make Linux user-friendly, was it not?
But that doesn't necessarily include server. Outside of the main variant of Ubuntu, there seems to be a big tendency to get things very wrong: miss the benefits of being Ubuntu by being something else but miss even further the benefits of that something else by being Ubuntu.
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 09-01-2011, 04:39 PM   #12
RockDoctor
Senior Member
 
Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Minnesota, US
Distribution: Fedora, Linux Mint, Ubuntu
Posts: 1,598

Rep: Reputation: 352Reputation: 352Reputation: 352Reputation: 352
Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
Basically, what I'm looking for is information on how to choose the right distro.
Eenie, meenie, minie, mo...

On a more serious note, my only advice is to bypass the rolling release distros (like Arch) and the distros that roll out a new release every six months (like Ubuntu non-LTS and my favorite, Fedora) unless you're willing to deal with OS breakage on a regular bases. As for rpm and yum vs. deb and apt, my experience over the past few years is that both systems work equally well.
 
Old 09-01-2011, 05:42 PM   #13
snowpine
Senior Member
 
Registered: Feb 2009
Posts: 4,244

Rep: Reputation: 1199Reputation: 1199Reputation: 1199Reputation: 1199Reputation: 1199Reputation: 1199Reputation: 1199Reputation: 1199Reputation: 1199
Welcome to the forums Syllinger!

First let me start by saying you can't go wrong with any of your choices! Any of the top 10 distros are more than capable of giving you a stable, customize-able, upgrade-able, education-able Linux experience. And all of them are capable of installing server/storage/media/LAMP components.

I think the biggest difference between distros is the development/release/refresh/support cycle. Do you want to have old software, new software, or somewhere in the middle? Do you want to release-upgrade every 6 months, 2-3 years, or in little increments (rolling release)? Do you want development/support from a big company or a small group of dedicated individuals?

Now at first you'll probably say "I want a distro with years and years of support, yeah!!!" but I'll tell you what will happen. You will fall prey to something called "distro hopping" and try a few other distros to see what you're missing. In other words, just pick one and go for it--if you're anything like ME--you'll start working your way down the list and discovering that ALL the top distros are actually pretty good!

All that being said, I think what you're looking for is: Ubuntu Server LTS 10.04 with the possible addition of "backports" and/or "PPA" repositories for newer applications. The server edition will be supported through April 2015 (probably longer than the current Debian Stable release!) and is very well documented in beginner-friendly terms. Plus the community is welcoming. And it was my first distro!

I personally use Debian and even Arch sometimes too; they are both very nice as well. Like I said, you can't go wrong.
 
Old 09-01-2011, 07:11 PM   #14
chrism01
LQ Guru
 
Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Sydney
Distribution: Centos 6.9, Centos 7.3
Posts: 17,411

Rep: Reputation: 2397Reputation: 2397Reputation: 2397Reputation: 2397Reputation: 2397Reputation: 2397Reputation: 2397Reputation: 2397Reputation: 2397Reputation: 2397Reputation: 2397
johnsfine makes some good comments. I'd go with Centos (free version of RH Enterprise); 5-7 yrs updates https://access.redhat.com/support/po...pdates/errata/.
The 'legends' about rpm are down to 2 things:
1. way back when, we didn't have a pkg mgr like yum, so handling pkg dependencies was a nightmare; rpms are separate pkgs, yum handles the issue for you.
This also applies to apt-get; basically although various pkg mgrs are avail, the 2 main ones are (as he said) pretty damn solid.
2. the other reason is because people get the wrong idea and try to install individual pkgs; don't do that unless you are a guru; always use the pkg mgr.
https://access.redhat.com/kb/docs/DOC-2531
 
Old 09-02-2011, 06:40 AM   #15
salasi
Senior Member
 
Registered: Jul 2007
Location: Directly above centre of the earth, UK
Distribution: SuSE, plus some hopping
Posts: 4,064

Rep: Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894Reputation: 894
Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
This server is for both home and professional use.
That changes things a bit...at least, from what I had assumed from the original post. For a professional server, I would get a bit more concerned about security, but that would primarily involve pointing you at the security forum and its stickies (I know that there is a lot of stuff in there, but just take a top level view of what is there, for the moment) and, in particular, firewalls.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
I'm no network admin, but I aspire to delve as deeply as I am able to acquaint myself with the OS.
Hmm, reading some stuff on the basics of networking would be an obvious place to start, then.
Linuxhomenetworking has what is in effect a how-to styled tutorial on everything that you are likely to need; see, for example this page on DNS. Also, the O'Reilly Ablitz & Liu book on DNS & Bind goes through networking reasonably thoroughly before it gets to configuring DNS.
(There are also networking tutorials on Yolinux.) But throw the words 'Linux networking tutorial' at your favourite search engine, and you'll get some good results.
And, of course, I should mention firewalls.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
From what I have read, things are not as complex as they may seem at first, but mastery of Linux can take quite a while. Even with 10+ years of experience, a lot of users still seem to consider themselves beginners.
Mostly a fair comment, but it does depend on whether you want to know all about every last detail of Linux, want to specialise in, say, networking, or just want an overview of everything. Those three will give you rather different learning curves and rather different perspectives after, say, ten years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
I have no compunctions with jumping into something like Debian feet first and if I don't get a GUI, I'll just have to adapt to it.
Whether you get a GUI is a choice, and you get one if you want and you don't, if you don't. In some cases, its the default condition and in other cases not having a GUI is the default condition. In neither case is it really difficult to change, but you'll have to get used to this choice thing. It is up to you to make sensible choices in your context. Some people find this liberating, some people miss the comfort blanket of a mega-corp making the decisions for them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
So, there it is, for the time being this is more of project than anything else. With respect to specifics, however, what I am looking to set up is a NAS, Web, and FTP server for home use and web/media development that I (and a few others) have access to via the internet.
It is the 'via the internet' bit that pushes the security part up the agenda; when I thought (incorrectly) that this was a typical home server environment which could be easily walled off from the 'net by the simplest external firewall, I didn't expect to worry about security at all, now it has become a little more of a concern.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
My first impressions of Linux, from what Iíve read, are bittersweet. On one hand I love the level of customization, on the other the development cycle seems like it might take a bit of getting used to. Iím a complete stranger when it comes to an OS breaking. Iíve never had my Windows platform ďbreakĒ as a result of doing a routine update. Expose a security loophole, maybe, but not to the point of it becoming a non-functional system. I loved playing with Lego as a kid, and in the same fashion, I am enamoured with how one is able to customize their operating system on a modular basis.
Breaking? If you upgrade to a new OS release, some stuff might break. Most of the time, most of the stuff won't, but it can happen with obscure requirements and poorly-supported chipsets, etc, etc.

On the other hand, if you have, say, a working configuration for the caching proxy squid 2.6, and the upgrade brings with it squid 3.1, expect to have to configure it again, because a 2.6 config file is unlikely to (read: won't) work, in most circumstances. If the upgrade had been from 2.6 to 2.6.1, that would have had a 99% chances of working, it is just that 3.x is almost completely different under the skin from 2.x . This is, of course, not 'the OS breaking'; it is an upgrade of an application from one major version to another major version, with no guarantee of backward compatibility, and it applies to major upgrades of applications.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
What I am not prepared for, is if the system breaks on me. I may not be understanding things correctly, but if you were to use a distro with a 6 month release cycle, would you have to reformat and rebuild your server every 6 months?
Sorry, but it is the lack of support for the old version not the availability of the new version that causes the problem, and it certainly isn't necessarily the case that the old version becomes unsupported just because a new version becomes available.
  • You don't have to - it is up to you, but unless you have all security risks covered off (and running the supported version isn't the only way of doing this, but it is the easiest) you are running risks, and one day you will be found out.
  • Even six-month cycle distros commonly have support for longer (say, 12 or 18 months)
  • It is up to you to pick a suitable distro; while it is true that you can take a desktop distro and use it as a server at some point in time, to do so builds in this 'support terminates too quickly' problem; if you have ignored that aspect in choosing a distro, you have made an unsuitable choice
  • You don't have to reformat; formatting is just irrelevant (there is an exception if, for some reason, you want to change the setup of your server to take advantage of, say, a different filesystem...but that's because you want to take advantage of a different filesystem)
I would advise that you put your content (all that stuff that the server serves) on a separate partition; you can then, in principle, leave your content in place through an upgrade (you'll still need a backup, but, if everything goes well, you won't need to use it)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
Also, if I really wanted to, I could upgrade all the way from 98 to Win 7 using upgrade installations; I wouldnít need to reformat (albeit it goes without saying that is probably not recommended).
For many distros, you could do the sequential update thing, but that's not advised. I'd bet money on it being easier to get a clean install working and configured correctly faster than half-a-dozen plus sequential updates. Backup all your config files for reference, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
I have a friend that uses Linux and asked him for advice. He suggested Ubuntu, but actually uses Debian. That said, he runs an actual server, and obviously requires stability. He used to use Red Hat, but has since ditched it because they were acquired, and apparently RPM package management was a nightmare.
As johnsfine has pointed out, using the rpm utility itself for package management can be a nightmare. I don't know any reason why anyone would choose to do that, given the better alternatives, except as part of some kind of a 'and this is how hard computing was in the old days' retro-pain-fest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
Not being afraid of making things hard on myself I also considered using Gentoo or Slackware, but I was informed that they are a pain to set up unless you are very familiar with Linux, and updates can cause major problems resulting you in having to re-compile a bunch of software yourself which allegedly can take several hours. I didnít really understand it all, but the general consensus was that itís bad.
'Bad' is a judgement call that I wouldn't quite make. It is certainly not going to be where I would suggest anyone new to Linux should start. It is certainly going to be more of a 'bare metal' feel to it. You could end up learning more this way, but the learning curve could be abrupt-to-impossible, depending. More likely to be recommended by me as a second step, rather than a first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllinger View Post
I am looking for something like Windows. I want to be able to run the latest software, but I donít want to have to upgrade the OS every 6 months to make that possible. Is something like this available, or is this impossible?
I believe that the latest version of Scientific Linux came out with a promise of seven year support; that should be long enough for anyone. But the basic problem here is that you are comparing everything to Windows. Linux works in a different way, and some of the things that you considered big problems under Windows aren't necessarily big problems for Linux (and vice versa, I suppose). Once you understand how to configure a particular app (and maybe you don't get much direct hand-holding through the initial configuration), you know how to configure it, and how it works. Having got that, with plain-text config files, it'll be easier to configure a second time, and this installation anxiety should subsume somewhat.

Of course, if you never did understand the app that you are configuring, (or, you forgot and didn't take notes) you'll still have the problem second time.
 
1 members found this post helpful.
  


Reply


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
Need some help choosing a distro Val-Ent Linux - General 4 12-28-2006 03:58 AM
need help choosing a distro Homer69 Linux - Newbie 17 11-11-2005 03:52 PM
Help in a choosing a distro dcsipe Linux - Newbie 23 07-17-2005 06:48 PM
Choosing a Distro Rick069 Linux - General 5 03-13-2005 11:37 AM
Help with choosing a Distro! Oricon Linux - General 18 12-22-2002 11:19 PM

LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Newbie

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:00 AM.

Main Menu
Advertisement
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
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration