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> Linux Web Server Distro Recommendations
lussumo
post Mar 15 2004, 09:47 PM
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I am looking at moving from a history of Windows based web servers (*place flames here*) to a linux server. I'm an absolute newbie to Linux. I've been working on predominantly windows based platforms as a programmer - I even spent some time working at Microsoft in the asp.net division. I've never had anything against Linux or any of the *nix family - I've just never really been exposed to it in a professional capacity.

I am completely self taught in all of my technological background, so I have absolutely no fear with picking up an entirely new operating system and again starting from scratch. Everyone on earth knows that when it comes to web servers, *nix is where it's at. I picked up a few Linux books (*tips hat at book recommendations on this board*), and I have a pretty good understanding of the basic principles behind the OS.

One of the books I picked up was "Building Secure Servers with Linux" by O'Reilly. It's been a fantastic read so far, and I'm very eager to get started. However, the one thing they're vague with in the book is what distribution of Linux is best suited for a web server "out of the box"?

I have friends who swear by Gentoo. Most of the people I've read on message boards recommend Slackware or Debian. I happened upon Server Optimized Linux and was quite pleased with the ideas there.

What it comes down to is that I need a quick turn around on getting this server up and running. In the beginning I'm only really going to need http, and a scripting language to go with it like php - maybe later I'll add mysql. I've got a firewall set up (Linux based, thanks to the fine folks at Smoothwall), so I'm not too concerned about hardening the server just yet. I know that once I get my hands dirty, all of the other stuff will fall into place.

So, what distro's do you guys recommend to get a reliable web server up and running?

And finally: what sort of conventions do Linux users utilize when it comes to folder structures of their web applications (ie. where do the web apps go on the server)? This is something that has always been a pet peeve of mine on Windows servers. Does anyone have any recommendations for web server applications "best practices" for Linux?

Hoping I don't get flamed too bad,
A guy who wants to try something new
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Termina
post Mar 16 2004, 10:01 AM
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One of the many great things about this forum is the lack of zealots (that I've noticed), and the people who answer questions don't insult you. happy.gif (one of the things that kept me from acually using linux for quite some time) *cheers*

You could really use any distro, but I'd suggest Knoppix for several reasons.

1. Great hardware detection
2. Comes with most of the packages you need, so you don't often run into dependency problems, and you don't need to go back through your CD and get libraries you need, and other such stuff.
3. Has apt-get, which makes for unbelivably easy updating/upgrading and installatiation of packages
4. 2.4.x kernel, so comes with iptables (great for firewall)

You can get it from http://www.knoppix.net

Pop the 1 CD into your CD-Rom drive, and it comes up (live distro). You can test to make sure it identified your network card correctly. Go in to the console/terminal, and type "sudo knx-hdinstall". Make yourself a swap partition (2x the ram you have should be good), and make the rest a linux partition (unless you want to have several partitions for whatever reason, or want to keep a windows installation).

When you restart and boot up, you can press "control+alt+f1" to switch to console mode (if you'd rather not use GUI).

Follow this guide to install mysql, php, and apache2 running together all friendly like. happy.gif

http://www.madpenguin.org/modules.php?op=m...article&sid=751

Note: I'm a bit biased towards Knoppix, but hell, it's great. happy.gif

QUOTE
And finally: what sort of conventions do Linux users utilize when it comes to folder structures of their web applications (ie. where do the web apps go on the server)? This is something that has always been a pet peeve of mine on Windows servers. Does anyone have any recommendations for web server applications "best practices" for Linux?


Following the guide, you'll have your website files go in /usr/local/apache2/htdocs

You can always change that when you configure apache, though. smile.gif

Example:
#./configure –prefix=/root/www –enable-mods-shared=most
Would have all your website files be put in /root/www/htdocs, though I would recommend using the default.


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chrisw
post Mar 16 2004, 11:02 AM
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why in the world would you have the root of you webserver as
/root/www ? unless there is some specific reason that i have NEVER heard about
please inform me...otherwise i see that directory as an very BAD place if not possible
to put there...


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Robert83
post Mar 16 2004, 11:05 AM
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I've seen some sites put it in home

like this /home/www/

Whitebox 3.0 is also good for servers, I've did a proxy/nat server, and a few samba servers with it, and ran into no problems with it, using yum to get it uptodate...and it also detects a lot of stuff...I guess if you have the time, DO DOWNLOAD both, or even more Linux distros, and try them out, and use what suits you the best and you're system...

Sincerely
Robert B


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Termina
post Mar 16 2004, 11:10 AM
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Chris: That was hypothetical example, did you ignore the words "example"? biggrin.gif

Example:
#./configure –prefix=/root/www –enable-mods-shared=most
Would have all your website files be put in /root/www/htdocs, though I would recommend using the default.


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Robert83
post Mar 16 2004, 11:17 AM
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Termina...

I've seen you had problems with Ati Radeon cards in 3D just like me...

have you found a solution to this?, any 3D success in Knoppix, ...I'm downloading Fedora Core 1 right now, I'll play with it for a while...after that I will try Knoppix.

Sincerely
Robert B

smile.gif


--------------------
Robert Becskei
robert83@linuxhelp.net
--------------------
May the source be with us!
--------------------
AMD X2-3800 @ 2400Mhz
2048MB DDR 400Mhz
DFI Lanparty UT4 NF4 ULTRA-D
GeForce 7800GT
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chrisw
post Mar 16 2004, 11:36 AM
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but you must realize that putting BAD examples is not good..because some people
might think that even though it is an example that it is ok to use that particular path, option
etc.....


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Termina
post Mar 16 2004, 12:14 PM
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*shrugs*

Don't get me wrong, it's a bad example... but not a horrible example. Apache, in my example, is run by the nobody user and group. chgrp the htdocs directory to nobody (read only), and it should be fine


Robert: Nope. sad.gif I just bought a $50 nvidia card from pricewatch. XD


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lussumo
post Mar 16 2004, 04:46 PM
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Thanks to everyone so much for not flaming me to death. In my Windows development circles I've heard horror stories about *nix users being absurdly rude to newcomers. It's nice to see that the stereotype is not necessarily true in all cases :)

I'll certainly check out knoppix, whitebox, and the madpenguin guide. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions.

Side note: I love how a universal rule of message boards is that a thread can be completely derailed within two posts. Here I thought it was just on the boards that I've run :P
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hughesjr
post Mar 17 2004, 06:43 AM
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Like termina said ... just about any distro will work, I personally would recommend WhiteBox as well.

Debian is also good, and with the new installer ... sarge is fairly easy to get installed on most x86 machines.

---------------------
Some linux boards are not very nice to newbies ... and I have my moments as well laugh.gif ... but I try to make nice most of the time!

Joey, duende and chrisw are also good guys to work with ... which is why I kept coming back here after I initially joined in July 2003.


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Enterprise Alternatives: CentOS, WhiteBoxEL
Favorite Workstation Distros (in order): CentOS, Gentoo, Debian Sarge, Ubuntu, Mandrake, FedoraCore, Slackware, SUSE
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lussumo
post Mar 19 2004, 12:10 PM
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Update:

Over the last few days since I asked for your recommendations I was waiting for some parts to arrive for my server, so I took the time to go to all of the sites you suggested (And a few that friends suggested) and did a *lot* of reading.

Yesterday my parts arrived in the early evening, so I ripped my machine apart and rebuilt it with all of my nice new fans and whatnot. At about midnight (bad idea, I know) I decided to get started with the first distro I wanted to try out: Gentoo.

I quickly discovered that despite the volumes of documentation available, it all answers so few questions! There are just so many options that I couldn't even begin to think about documenting everything. From step 1 I had questions that couldn't be answered without googling. At 3am after building my first kernel, the portage tree failed somehow, and I gave up on Gentoo.

I then inserted the Debian installer that was linked in this discussion - talk about a breath of fresh air. I ran it last night very quickly (it *was* rather late at that point), and decided that I'd start from scratch this morning.

Today I got Debian set up and ran dselect - read about every single damn package available and picked the ones I wanted. It just finished installing a few moments ago.

I must say, I know that I haven't even scraped the surface yet, but I have a whole new respect for everyone here. Not only for the knowledge you have with regard to this type of thing, but for the PATIENCE you *must* have. Calm as Hindu Cows, you are.

Anyway, thanks for all of the advice.

learning.curve();
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moopman
post Mar 19 2004, 01:00 PM
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your situation sounds exactly like mine. i searched and searched and was extremely frustrated until i found this document on how to set up a LAMP server:


http://www.hut.fi/~tkarvine/lamp-linux-apa...-mysql-php.html

it saved my life. i used redhat 9 and followed the instructions ( very easy to follow as well. )
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lussumo
post Mar 20 2004, 02:09 PM
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Update:

I'm installing Debian for the 5th time right now. I am *this* close to resorting to Redhat.

After having the first install leaving me scratching my head (nothing seemed to load at all), I installed a number of different times *only* using tasksel to choose the things that I wanted. In the last install, which I was *sure* would work, I only chose the desktop environments in tasksel. It took a few hours, downloaded and installed everything. And at the last minute it tells me that there were dependency issues with gnome32. Not having the faintest idea how to repair the problem, I'm starting all over again.

This time I'm going to not choose ANYTHING in tasksel OR in dselect. Get the lowest of the low, and then try using apt-get after that to install anything else.

*polishes rifle*
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lussumo
post Mar 20 2004, 02:29 PM
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Okay, I did the basic install. I figure that if I can't get the gui's working, then screw them.

The first thing I did was sign in as root and type: apt-get update

Then I figured I'd try to install apache, so I typed: apt-get install apache

It prompted me to confirm the dependencies, and I did. It installed.

Now I wanted to go take a look at the apache configuration files, but I can't find where the damn thing installed apache.

Is there a default folder where these things are installed? I looked at the package listing on debian.org, but it doesn't give me any clue where the package would be installed.
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Robert83
post Mar 20 2004, 02:34 PM
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Hi,

the configuration files for apache are under /etc/httpd/

if you're runing linux in the non GUI mode, I think you would be much more effective with a Midnight Commander

do a apt-get install mc


then type mc , you can modify files with this copy them unpack them...etc....


Sincerely
Robert B


--------------------
Robert Becskei
robert83@linuxhelp.net
--------------------
May the source be with us!
--------------------
AMD X2-3800 @ 2400Mhz
2048MB DDR 400Mhz
DFI Lanparty UT4 NF4 ULTRA-D
GeForce 7800GT
250GB+250GB
Pioneer DVD-RW
17inch Samsung Syncmaster 757NF
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--------------------
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lussumo
post Mar 20 2004, 03:24 PM
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Hmmm, the config files *were* under the etc directory, but they were in an apache folder, not httpd. Wierd.

Wow, I haven't seen Midnight Commander in YEARS. I remember using it way back in college. Feels like forever ago smile.gif
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Robert83
post Mar 20 2004, 03:27 PM
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Hi,

that is ok, I've forogot the exact position [sorry], but you've found it, it's there where it should be.

Sincerely
Robert B


--------------------
Robert Becskei
robert83@linuxhelp.net
--------------------
May the source be with us!
--------------------
AMD X2-3800 @ 2400Mhz
2048MB DDR 400Mhz
DFI Lanparty UT4 NF4 ULTRA-D
GeForce 7800GT
250GB+250GB
Pioneer DVD-RW
17inch Samsung Syncmaster 757NF
WinXP Pro (SP2)/ CentOS 4.3
--------------------
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lussumo
post Mar 20 2004, 06:59 PM
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Thanks again for all the help. Midnight Commander is awesome. I'd totally forgotten ever using it (I used it on the unix servers at my campus back in '93 smile.gif)

Another question, however: I've been looking through the available packages (http://packages.debian.org/stable/) and I can't find the package for mysql Do you know of a faster way to search the package names?
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hughesjr
post Mar 20 2004, 07:45 PM
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If you installed SARGE the you need to look in testing not stable ... but sarge is going to be released as stable in a couple weeks.

To see for sure do this:

cat /etc/apt/sources.list

If the sources are similar to this:
QUOTE
deb http://mirrors.kernel.org/debian/ testing main
deb-src http://mirrors.kernel.org/debian/ testing main

deb http://security.debian.org/ stable/updates main

Then you are using sarge...

You can do this from the command line:

apt-cache search mysql

You shouldn't have a problem with dselect ... I just did an install with it today ... did you remember to run the update in deslect before you installed with it (it is similar to apt-get .... it needs to be updated before you start).

Try this:

dselect update

dselect select


first time, don't select anything ... just press enter to exit .... then run this command:

dselect install

(it will install all dependancies that are not currently installed for a base install) ...

If/when you decide to install gui, run dselect, select update, then after it is finished, select select ... then pick x-window-system (use the + key) only and inside the resolution screen, just pick the stuff you want from X (not Gnome and KDE...just X), then install ... now exit dselect and when you have X working, go back into dselect, (do update, then do select, and pick GNOME (with a +) then in the resoltijon sceen, pick all the gnome stuff you want ... then install and exit deselect ... when you have gnome working the way you want, move on to KDE (or whatever else you wnt to install)...


--------------------
Johnny Hughes
hughesjr@linuxhelp.net
Enterprise Alternatives: CentOS, WhiteBoxEL
Favorite Workstation Distros (in order): CentOS, Gentoo, Debian Sarge, Ubuntu, Mandrake, FedoraCore, Slackware, SUSE
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hughesjr
post Mar 20 2004, 08:17 PM
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To get a good LAMP server (Linux - Apache - MySQL - PHP), you are probably better off building them from source ... following the instructions:

http://www.sitepoint.com/books/Kevs-php-mysql.pdf

We also have one here:

http://www.linuxhelp.ca/guides/lamp2/

And here is an other...

http://www.brtnet.org/linux/lamp.htm

If you build it yourself, you know what all the features are....

I am going to do a LAMP server install with some newer components right now (MySQL 4.0.18 standard, Apache 2.0.49, php 4.3.4, debian SARGE) as a test ....

I'll try and document it as an article and post it later tonight....


--------------------
Johnny Hughes
hughesjr@linuxhelp.net
Enterprise Alternatives: CentOS, WhiteBoxEL
Favorite Workstation Distros (in order): CentOS, Gentoo, Debian Sarge, Ubuntu, Mandrake, FedoraCore, Slackware, SUSE
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