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Author Topic: Another Linux Thread :-P  (Read 4480 times)

Jimdoria

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Another Linux Thread :-P
« on: January 18, 2009, 09:22:12 PM »
Hi everybody -

I'm working my way through some of the existing Linux threads here - there sure are a lot of them!  :-[ But I thought I'd post this anyway, in hopes of getting some direction on my specific project.

I'm fairly Windows and even DOS savvy, but a complete newb at Linux/Unix. I've been meaning to take the plunge for a while now, and I think I'm finally ready to do it.

I'm not so much interested in using Linux as a desktop replacement for Windows. Windows is a fine desktop environment as far as I'm concerned, and already runs most of the software that I would ever want or need. But I've long wanted a home server, and the prohibitive price and hardware requirements of M$' server software has kept me from setting one up. This is the task I'd like to put Linux to.

All my (fairly) recent hardware is occupied doing desktop work, but I have a couple of older machines I could dedicate to the task. One is a full featured Dell Pentium 3 laptop and docking station. The other is a dual-processor Pentium 2 desktop machine. So I guess my first question is, which would be a better platform? I know Linux can make use of multiple processors, but would 2 PIIs be better than 1 P3, other things being equal?

I'm not so much interested in doing streaming media or anything like that - simple file sharing via an external USB drive and some LAMP serving/development (Drupal, possibly Tomcat/OpenLaszlo) are all I have planned for this box right now - plus of course it would be my "learning Linux" machine. Although at some point I might want to try out Red 5 on it as well. I'd also eventually like to use it as a gateway into my home network from outside, to give me access to remote web proxy capabilities, remote desktop via VNC and the like. So something that can be exposed directly through my router and still be very secure would be a plus.

If anybody has gone down this path themselves, I'd also love to hear any war stories you might have. Forewarned is forearmed. Or any tips for Linux tech I should be on the watch for. I know Samba is the default way for setting up network shares for Windows boxen. Are there other alternatives? Any gotchas with particular distros? It may be heretical, but we're not giving up Windows anytime soon here, so I need to make the new kid play nice with the existing crowd. :D
- Jimdoria ~@>@

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide everybody into two kinds of people, and those who don't.

f0dder

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2009, 10:52:14 PM »
How CPU-intensive stuff do you plan on running on the server? And will it be running 24/7?

Both machines are going to be a bit on the slow end for running a compile-from-source distribution like gentoo, so you probably want to go for a binary distribution. If you're going to run the box 24/7 and don't need much CPU grunt, I'd do power measuring on the two machines and select the one that sucks the least power (probably going to be the laptop).
- carpe noctem

Jimdoria

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2009, 12:33:14 AM »
Thanks, f0dder -

I hadn't thought about power consumption, but it's a good point. The stuff I'm looking to run most of the time shouldn't be too CPU intensive. Tomcat & Red 5 could be, but they'll be mostly for playing around. Apache/MySQL/Drupal and Samba will probably get most of the work.

I've run XAMPP on my other Dell P3 laptop and performance was acceptable. I'm hoping on Linux it will be noticeably better since one of Linux's chief benefits is supposed to be better performance than Windows on a given CPU/memory setup.

I'm definitely going for a binary distro. My programming experience is exclusively with interpreted languages on DOS/Windows, and the thought of having to compile something from source code - on LINUX - makes me want to dive under the bed. Way too scary.
- Jimdoria ~@>@

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide everybody into two kinds of people, and those who don't.

f0dder

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2009, 10:30:38 AM »
I've run XAMPP on my other Dell P3 laptop and performance was acceptable. I'm hoping on Linux it will be noticeably better since one of Linux's chief benefits is supposed to be better performance than Windows on a given CPU/memory setup.
That's a bit of a myth, imho - the main advantage linux has is that it can boot to console-only without running a GUI, which obviously takes up less system resources... the "friendly" distros run in GUI mode by default, though. Oh, linux distros are also a lot smaller than Vista (and even XP), of course :)
- carpe noctem

Shades

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2009, 12:49:38 PM »
Tomcat is a bit of a resource hog, so maybe it is wiser to put the 2 PII PC to work as a server (one CPU dedicated to serving while the other CPU can do the other stuff).

Put as much ram in it as you can, in my experience a PII is not that weak. I used a 120 day version a windows 2000 SBS with Exchange server on one (single) PII CPU with 128Mb RAM and it still managed to encrypt/decrypt 400 messages a minute.

40hz

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2009, 02:03:49 PM »
First of all, welcome to the world of Linux! :Thmbsup:

I think you are going to be very happy with your decision to start exploring what the FOSS/GNU/Linux community has to offer. Marvels and wonders (along with the occasional annoyance) await you.

A Linux sever is basically a standard Linux installation stripped down to the bare essentials needed to perform its role. Because of that, the GUI and most of the convenience features get left out, which makes it more difficult for a newcomer to get comfortable with it.

One of the most common reasons why I see newcomers giving up on Linux is because they attempt to do too much too quickly. This is partially the fault of the Linux community, who tend to downplay the fact that you need to learn some things about Linux in order to use it effectively. While it is true that you don't need to learn a lot, you still need to learn something.

If you are planning on setting up a server, I would strongly suggest you first get familiar with Linux as a desktop environment. It will be time well spent, even if you have no plans to use Linux as your desktop going forward. (Just don't be too surprised should you discover you like it enough that you eventually switch to Linux as your primary OS. Quite a few people have.)

So, if you'd be interested in going the "start with the desktop" route, let me know and I'll post some additional suggestions and resources to get you started on the way to getting the background you'll need to run a server effectively.

Otherwise, pop on over to How-to Forge ( www.howtoforge.com ) for some cookbook solutions to what you're trying to do.

 8)
« Last Edit: January 19, 2009, 02:05:34 PM by 40hz »

40hz

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2009, 11:36:25 AM »
You might also want to look at the Amahi Linux Home Server.

It's a very nice package that just might be everything you need.

Link: http://www.amahi.org

Quote
Overview

The Amahi Linux Home Server makes your home networking simple. We like to call the Amahi servers HDAs, for "Home Digital Assistants." Each HDA delivers all the functionality you would want in a home server, while being as easy to use as a web browser.

The core functionality available in the base Amahi HDA install includes:

    * Protect Your Computers Backup all your networked PCs simply and easily on your home network. If one of your PCs "dies" you can easily restore it!
    * Organize Your Files Access, share and search your files from any machine on your network, making it easy to share and find your photos, music and videos.
    * Internet Wide Access Automatically setup your own VPN so you can access your network from anywhere: safely and securely.
    * Private Internet Applications Shared applications like calendaring, private wiki and more to come, will help you manage your home and your family!




zridling

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2009, 05:17:32 PM »
Jim, welcome to Linux, my man! I'll defer to the others here, since I'm still learning so much. However, there are a few websites to arm yourself with:

GrokDoc's Switching to Linux (A repository of Switching tips)
http://www.grokdoc.n...p/Switching_to_Linux

IBM's Windows-to-Linux Roadmap (A big picture of the larger process)
http://www.ibm.com/d...brary/l-roadmap.html

HowToForge Linux Tutorials (Step-by-step learning)
http://www.howtoforge.org/howtos/linux

Free Software Daily (THE source for news, tips, & articles, along with DIGG's Linux page)
http://www.fsdaily.com/

Linux Forums (Great news, tips, and user forum)
http://www.linuxforums.org/

LinuxCommand.org (Learn the command line and the shell)
http://www.linuxcommand.org/

Common command cheat sheet (Command line tips)
http://www.pixelbeat.org/cmdline.html

Jimdoria

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2009, 01:27:28 AM »
Wow, thanks for the replies everyone!  :Thmbsup:

Shades, I'm glad to hear you say that the dual P2 might fit the bill. It's a nice little box, but it's just been gathering dust since I "rescued" it.  ;) I think I'll put it to use for this project, and maybe later set up the laptop as a Linux desktop.

I'll definitely check in to Amahi. It looks like it might be just the thing I'm after.

And thanks for all the links, Zaine! Roadmaps are always good when entering foreign territory!

And f0dder - you get the prize for the quickest replies!  :drinksmiley:
- Jimdoria ~@>@

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide everybody into two kinds of people, and those who don't.

40hz

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2009, 06:51:51 AM »
I'll definitely check in to Amahi. It looks like it might be just the thing I'm after.

FYI: Amahi does require a copy of the Fedora 9 DVD (not the 'live' CD) to do the install properly. F9 is a pretty big download (3.33Gb. Yikes!)

I don't know what you have for a web connection, but if you want, I can just snail-mail you a freebie copy and save you some bandwidth. The USPS can usually hit most addresses within two business days. Pop me a mailing address via PM and I'll get one out to you pronto.

Much like zridling says, welcome aboard! :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:


40hz

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2009, 08:20:41 AM »
If you're going to use Ubuntu, you can get a legal and free electronic copy of Canonical's The Official Ubuntu Book at this link:

http://www3.vista-se.../24/958328512281.zip

(Thank you Mr. Shuttleworth! :Thmbsup:)

Quote
Copyright © 2007 Canonical, Ltd.

This book is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 open publication license,   http://creativecommo.../licenses/by-sa/2.0/.

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This publication is protected by copyright, and permission must be obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or likewise unless permitted under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license 2.0. ...



Jimdoria

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Re: Another Linux Thread :-P
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2009, 07:46:50 AM »
Thanks, 40Hz - I did download the whole Fedora 9 DVD. It sucked up all my bandwidth for a while, but I've got it now. I appreciate the offer, though!

I've registered with the Amahi site, but the issue is now the box I need to put it on. If I go with the dual P2 box, I 've got to assemble the hardware from scratch, which may require some duct tape and baling wire, and I'll need to appropriate some precious shelf space for a monitor. I don't have a flat panel lying around, so that means a humongous CRT, at least until I get things running to the point where I can use the machine over the network...

Hmmm - I think I just talked myself into using the laptop after all. :D

Anyway, I think I'll post updates to this thread periodically as the project goes along. Thanks for all the great help.

P.S. - Amahi says they have an Ubuntu version in the works, but it's not ready yet. So I'm going with Fedora for now.
- Jimdoria ~@>@

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide everybody into two kinds of people, and those who don't.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 07:49:08 AM by Jimdoria »