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Old 12-12-2006, 10:57 AM   #1
Windchaser
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Location: Chicago, IL
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Opinions needed


I am in the process of setting up a server which will be hosting mail, ftp and web services. Possibly a few other services in the future such as voice mail.

Here is the machine that will be the server:
Intel Core Duo Processor E6400
4GB of dual channel DDR2 SDRAM
256 nVidia Geforce 7300LE TurboCache
1TB performance RAID 0 (2 x 500GB SATA 3Gb/s 7200 RPM HDDs)
16x CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW)
Integrated 7.1 channel audio

I was planning on using FC6 but wanted to see if there would be other distributions I should consider. I was thinking of using either Slackware 11.0 or Centos. I have worked with prior distributions of Fedora in the past. Would any of these distributions be preferred and if so, why?
 
Old 12-12-2006, 11:23 AM   #2
acid_kewpie
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fedora is *NOT* a server distribution. try centos instead if you're used to fedora.
 
Old 12-12-2006, 11:25 AM   #3
b0uncer
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Well if it's a server, things like "256 nVidia Geforce 7300LE TurboCache" are really not necessary (servers don't even need screens, they can be administered using other means if necessary; the less hardware, the less possible things that might break down). But to your question.

Fedora Core probably makes a good server, but it has quite a lot of software, i.e. a lot of possible security holes. I myself would prefer taking a distribution that has a minimum amount of software installed, just the ones that you really need; that way keeping it up to date, securing it and using it is easier (resources). Slackware is probably a great choice, if you can configure it to your needs. During setup, don't install anything you don't need.

I don't think it's really up to which distribution you pick up, any one of them can probably be made a good server. It's just the amount of configuration that you need to do before it's up and running -- security matters, hardening, possible kernel and/or drivers compilation for hardware that is not supported by the stock kernel (well, the kernel shouldn't have any unneeded stuff in it either) etc.. Fedora very probably works with your hardware out-of-the-box, or at least better than some extremely small distribution or one that is aimed at certain purpose only, but at the cost that you get more than you ask for, and waste harddisk space. Actually for a working server you don't need much more than security updates and what they need; "don't fix a working thing". This is why you shouldn't even update software that is known to work, unless you have a good reason to do so (like security updates and fixes). Having extra software (that is not needed) on board means having software that has possible security holes, and having files that you might backup even if you didn't need to, and..well, you just don't have a reason to have software that the server does not need (like KBounce).

Consider the stability of the system too; is Fedora Core or Slackware generally considered more stable than the other one? Why? Could you fix it to get a more stable system?

Fedora Core (I've been testing it now for a while, but only on desktop use) eats up somewhat much resources, but on the other hand I haven't tuned it much (I have no reason for now). But still it provides server stuff which is pretty easily available, and if you have time to trim it, take the unneeded software off it, harden it and configure it well, it's probably a good choice.

Quote:
fedora is *NOT* a server distribution. try centos instead if you're used to fedora.
I disagree. It is not up to the distribution, since nobody in his/her full understanding will put it do server job straight out of the box. And if configured, any distribution can be made whatever needed; the kernel is Linux anyway, if you want Linux, and the rest is software, init scripts, file system choices etc.. And since Fedora is a "test field" for those RH Enterprise Linuxes, it surely works as a server -- given enough work is made to turn it into a server.

Windows Server 2003 is the same thing; I wouldn't pick it up to be a server, but it can be used as one (even pretty well).

Last edited by b0uncer; 12-12-2006 at 11:28 AM.
 
Old 12-12-2006, 12:24 PM   #4
Windchaser
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I should mention that I will use the machine for some basic desktop work as well. It will not see heavy use, but it will see some basic desktop activity. This machine will be serving my personal domain which also supports most of my family spread throughout the U.S. From a server perspective the load should not be that great. The video card happened to be what came with the machine. I didn't spend the time to build the machine myself and this is more or less off the shelf with a few customizations.

Thanks for the feedback so far.
 
Old 12-12-2006, 12:31 PM   #5
acid_kewpie
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whilst i know what you mean in terms of deciding what is an isn't a server is down to how you use something. anyone who deploys fedora in a live server enviornment needs their head looking at. yes it naturally runs apache and everything, and there's no techincal reasons it can't run any sort of general server, fedora is *MEANT* to break. it's sole reason for existing is to make redhat's potentially customer losing, commerically critical mistakes for it. you can look at fedora as a community based project yadda yadda but really it's just about redhat wanting guinea pigs to test things out on. You've only got to look at the release model of fedora to see that redhat don't respect it really, and it's just a play thing they can ruin and have tno financial issues if that occurs. as such it's never going to be server grade, and isn't supposed to be.

so fedora does not make a good server. as it has a lot of *NEW* software it has a lot of *NEW* bugs and *NEW* exploits. compare this to RHEL or CentOS they use *OLD* software with a few bugs as is possible to get whilst ensuring a rock solid platform fine tuned for availability and overall reliability. you remember that (afaik) the standard relase for fc5 didn't even work with nvidia and ati graphics drivers as the default kernel blocked proprietary extensions? you really think that's the sort of purile mistake a server distro makes?

Last edited by acid_kewpie; 12-12-2006 at 12:35 PM.
 
Old 12-15-2006, 12:55 AM   #6
wartstew
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Registered: Apr 2002
Location: Albuquerque, NM USA
Distribution: Slackware, Ubuntu, Debian, Maemo
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I do agree with the previous concerns about Fedora being a "bleeding-edge" "beta" test-bed for Redhat's commercial products. That said, it probably could still be used as a server machine and I'm sure lots of people do.

Here is an additional concern and criteria you should consider when selecting a server distro: Attention to prompt security updates.

Some distro's are much slower at sending out security updates than others. I once saw a web based article where the leading (at the time) distros were compared on the speed which they got security updates to their users.

With a "bleeding-edge" distro like Fedora, expect the need to install more important security updates than with more conservative, better tested ones.


So what do I use for servers? Debian. Why? Reasons:

A) Good package management, which gives you:

1) Good ability to only install what you want, thus custom building a customized system with just what you want on it and nothing else.

2) The ability to keep the system up-to-date without needing to do complete re-installs to cleanly get from one major version of the distro to another. A common mantra of Debian is: "You only have to install it once"

3) Updates, Upgrades, and Software Additions usually install cleanly and easily, and without needing to reboot the system!

B) Very large repository of prepackaged software to choose from ready to install on a Debian system directly from the Internet.

C) Debian does not rely on a single commercial entity for its financial support (like Fedora, Slackware, CentOS, etc.). Instead it is the closest to a true [large] community/public supported distro. This means that it isn't likely to go away anytime soon, or get swallowed up by others. Thus you will likely be able to stay with Debian for many years if you want to.

Yes I know, Debian can sometimes be slow at security updates, and their "stable" distribution is typically obsolete most of the time, (I tend to use "testing" with the extra security updates myself). Just one reason why Debian is far from perfect, yet still my choice.

I also like Slackware for it's simplicity. Despite all the slick management mechanisms in Debian, Slackware still manages to give me less trouble overall. In fact its on my Slackware desktop where I am typing this reply right now. It has worked great for many years now.
 
  


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