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I HATE WINDOWS SO WHAT UNIX SHOULD I USE?

prem saggar
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 24, 2000
Posts: 66
Hi guys, I hate my windows 2000. Why? Well because they hate me. I'm a java guy. Also, it's crashing and it sucks. So I need to know, what Unix to move to.
I want to set up a server at home to host websites. Should I use Solaris 8 or move to Redhat linux? These are the 2 I'm leaning towards. Any suggestions?
I have used Solaris at school but very briefly. I have no expierence with Linux. Will knowing how to use Unix help me get a Java job? That's the big questinon for me . If so I'll learn Unix like crazy.
Also, is it me or is Linux taking over the Unix Market? I thought Solaris was king. I mean most of the big players use Solaris. E.g., most major universities use Solaris. However, I know that Google, Amazon, and Javaranch all use Linux! Those are some big sites. Also, Toyota.com runs linux. So what's up? Is linux the new king? Should we all try and get RedHat Certified? Thanks guys, Prem.
sridhar satuloori
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 05, 2001
Posts: 144
AFAIK, Solaris is still an industry player in commersial unix servers. and Linux is mostly for desktop environments.
I think you can switch between them very easily without any problems.
--Sridhar
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 15641
    
  15

Solaris is found most often on Sun (Sparc) hardware. Overall, it's enough like Linux that Linux is giving Sun indigestion, since not only is Linux free, but you don't even have any incentive to buy Sun hardware to run it.
RedHat is a more server/business oriented Linux. A lot of people prefer Mandrake for home use. In Europe, Suse is a favorite.
It doesn't HURT to know Unix to do Java, but people can -- and do -- live happily doing all their Java stuff in Windows.
Or at least as happy as you can be and still be running Windows


Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
As I try and point out here from time to time, Linux is not only RedHat. RedHat is just a company who bundles a Linux kernel with a load of other software in a way which is fairly straightforward to install on common hardware.
Maybe an analogy would help.
Imagine someone, somewhere, started making auto parts for free. You could mail order a motor ("kernel") or a transmission ("file system") or maybe the steering column and pedals ("GUI") and so on for just the cost of the postage.
Some people love home mechanics, and would spend months of weekends putting together their own favourite combination of parts. Others just want a truck for carrying furniture, or maybe a car to get them to work and back. So some people start selling pre-built vehicles. Imagine one of these is called Red Hat, another Mandrake, another SuSE and so on.
If you want a 4x4, it's no good getting a limousine from Mandrake or Red Hat, no matter how impressive the air conditioning or drinks cabinet. What you need is to find the right vehicle for your job. And one which fits in your garage.
Now also imagine that big player Sun Motors has been hit hard by all these free auto parts. For a while they just made the best of it, and fitted all sorts of free components to their own motor, transmission and chassis. Now people won't even pay full price for that, so they've had to slash the price of their popular "Solaris" flat bed truck. It's a good deal, but not if you don't need a truck ...

The most important thing you need to do is work out what you want to do with your system. Then get a distribution which does what you want. Linux (and Linux systems, generally) are so cheap and easy to connect that it often works out more effective to just set up an additional machine if you need to do anything else.
Can you give us an idea of the kind of things you currently use your Windows 2000 system for? Maybe we can help suggest an appropriate software distribution and/or hardware setup.


Read about me at frankcarver.me ~ Raspberry Alpha Omega ~ Frank's Punchbarrel Blog
prem saggar
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 24, 2000
Posts: 66
First off, thanks to everybody who took the time to reply to my nieve questions. You are all saints in a cut-throat world. Thank you guys.

My main thought to leaving windows is: if I get into hosting for real, and want to do things legally then I will get slammed on licensing the moment I use large vendor software, assuming I actually use multiple machines. This is a long term thought. Now Linux is free! I can install as many copies of Linux as I want along with all the other great free software out there. Moreover, most of this free software gives me what I need. E.g., Netscape, MySql, Forte, Linux, The Wine Project, Open Office and the like. So way pay for anything? I won't and I'll be honest by not using pirated software that might end me up in jail! I see Linux as the honest and cheap way out. I would have used solaris, but they have licensing restrictions with the amount of cpus you use per machine. So if one day I use multiple cpus I'll get hit. Why bother? Linux, from what I here is adequate. For this I think Sun and Solaris are in big trouble. I think MS will get hit too, but they are so big, that they can afford it. Also, just for spite, MS hates us Java guys. They invented .Net to stop us from writing great java software that runs everywhere java works, not just on windows. So I say, they have turned a kid who broke his back to learn java into a MS hater. You will not just do away with my time and effort for your insecurities. This is also a HUGE reason for wanting to leave MS. Also, I heard learning Linux is a great skill, and getting RCHE is very demanded. What do you guys think? You think getting Red Hat certified is worth it? I'm a software guy, so you think I should go to the certification level? Or you think I should just install and use linux, and concentrate on software? You tell me? :roll: So I thought that RCHE would be good for employment purposes also, since allot of people are moving to Red Hat or some form of linux. Therefore, to summarize, I want to move for the following reasons:
1) Host sites honestly and cheaply
2) Use something that has nothing to do with MS
3) Learn something that makes me more marketable
I hope this sums it up. Again, you guys are great to help me. I'm so confused about everything. Thanks, Prem.
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
1) Host sites honestly and cheaply
For this you will need one of the distributions optimised for simplicity, efficiency and (above all) security. You definately don't want one of the primarily "desktop" distributions (Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE, etc.).
Believe me, a typical "desktop" Linux installation is not secure enough for a hostile world. I used to run a Linux box based on a trimmed-down Red Hat installation for site hosting and it was "hacked" which not only forced me to shut it down, but cost me over �1500 (say USD2000+) in excess bandwidth charges
On the other hand, I use one of the specially-hardened Linux distributions as a firewall at home and (despite many attempts) it has never been breached.
2) Use something that has nothing to do with MS
That's a fine aim, good luck.
3) Learn something that makes me more marketable
Linux/Unix experience is definately marketable. I'm not sure how useful any particular certification program is, though. My sugegstion is to get a cheap PC box and put any old Linux system on it. Then do stuff: push the limits of what you know, try and set it up as a multi-domain web host with all the features you can think of; rebuild the kernel; install and uninstall software; write scripts in all the scripting languages; learn how the task scheduling system ("cron", "anacron", etc.) works; and so on.
Then put your experience on your resum�, and be prepared to "talk geek" at interview
The longer you hold off, the less time you will have to actually do it. The best time to decide which distribution you need for a particular task, is once you know enough about Linux to understand their differences.
achana chan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 29, 2002
Posts: 277
Hi.
Don't know if this thread is closed.
Have you considered FreeBSD - been around a whole lot longer ; used by most ISP ; robust - hard to break ; free courtesy of Berkeley etc
Should talk more about FreeBSD ..


humanum errare est.
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
BSD is great, too. Several of my sites are hosted on BSD systems, although I don't run any BSD at home at the moment.
If you want to host your own sites, BSD is a good choice, but from the point of getting good keywords on your resum� it doe4sn't seem as popular as Linux and Solaris, for example.
achana chan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 29, 2002
Posts: 277
Talking about hosting with FreeBSD, does FreeBSD use ipchains / iptables or something similar ?
If I have Apache on the gateway machine (to the DSL), will I be behind the firewall ie 'protected' ?
Adam Hardy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 09, 2001
Posts: 565
Are you sure that "gateway" is the correct term for the server with the DSL connection?
I'm sort of new to this, which is why I ask. I also wanted to ask - is freeBSD the same as BSD? Or does it mean that there are free and paid-for versions you can obtain?
Frank - your story of being hacked sounds frightening. I was wondering what sort of hacking you were the victim of.
I'm just setting up my Linux box run the pppoe interface for my DSL, but I'm not in danger of huge bandwidth charges with my current DSL setup.
Adam


I have seen things you people would not believe, attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, c-beams sparkling in the dark near the Tennhauser Gate. All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
I'm sort of new to this, which is why I ask. I also wanted to ask - is freeBSD the same as BSD? Or does it mean that there are free and paid-for versions you can obtain?
Just as with Unix and Linux, there are (or have been) several "BSD" unixes. The history goes roughly as follows:
Once upon a time, Unix was invented at Bell Labs. At the time it wasn't seen as a saleable product, just an oddity for internal development. After a while, a few customers became interested, so Bell/AT&T began to "productize" it. At around the same time, the source code was given to the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) for educational use only.
The keen geeks at UCB soon began to mess around with the source and add their own "improvements". This led to the first major split in the Unix community. Under the terms of their academic licence, UCB released their modified source code to other universities as a series of tapes, known as the "Berkeley Standard Distribution" (BSD). However, because it was based on Bell/AT&T's copyright source code, it was not supposed to be released to commercial users.
However, a lot of people liked some of the things which were part of BSD, and so several attempts were made to bring them in to the official main line of Unix development. Non-AT&T alternatives such as SCO, Xenix, Pyramid Unix and OSF/1 implemented strange hybrids of AT&T and BSD features. Then non-Unix lookalikes such as Coherent, Minix and Linux started to become popular and had yet more slightly-imcompatible ways of doing things.
All of this greatly irritated the BSD fans, who felt they had a solid, well-thought-out product which they were prevented from using due to licencing restrictions. So several projects were started to replace all the original Bell/AT&T code with fresh BSD re-implementations, to make an entirely clean code base. NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and so on.
These days, FreeBSD seems to be the most popular. It's highly regarded as a secure and robust system, due to the policy of multiple-checking every line of code before it is released in a distribution. The haphazard Linux development free-for-all may implement new and interesting features faster than the BSD team, but cutting-edge Linux distributions can be a lot more "flaky".
I use "BSD" as the generic term for this branch of Unix history. As far as I am aware, they are all free.
Frank - your story of being hacked sounds frightening. I was wondering what sort of hacking you were the victim of.
I had set up a machine at a public colocation facility to offer web space for hosting Java servlets, JSPs and so on. I was just reaching the end of my beta trial (with several of the Ranch bartenders and sheriffs as trial customers) and negotiating with my first paying customers, when it all blew up in my face.
Someone had found an "exploit" in one of the many pieces of software which go to make up a typical Linux distribution, and managed to gain "root" access. The intruder installed a "rootkit" which replaced or patched key executables to cover his/her tracks and leave things wide open for easy later access. The machine was then left and merely observed for a few weeks, I guess to make sure it wasn't a "honeypot" to catch hackers. At about 6pm one evening, the intruder gained access again and ran some of the hacking tools he/she had installed to scan and attempt to break other machines. This immediately "maxed" the 10Mbit network connection from my box to the colocation facility, blew away my 4GB/month bandwidth allowance in about an hour, and started running up excess bandwidth charges at a ferocious rate.
I first knew about this when the colocation facility staff called me at 9am the following morning. I immediatly shut down the machine, but the damage had been done.
I had run up a huge charge which I could not afford, and I could no longer trust any of the software on the machine. I brought the machine up just long enough to back up any user data, then shut it down completely. It's now sitting in my mother's spare bedroom a few hundred miles away waiting for me to go and bring it back for a complete rebuild.
For home use my suggestion is that you don't ever connect a workstation or internal server (Windows, Linux, Mac, or whatever) direct to the internet. Always use a dedicated firewall, lock it down as much as you can, and keep it as up-to-date as you can. Even if you won't incur large bandwidth charges, think what would happen if someone gained "root" or "Administrator" access to your system and all your data, and installed their own software to use your system for their own evil or illegal ends.
The crazy thing is that a firewall is so cheap and easy to do. Pretty much any old 386DX, 486 or pentium box with 8MB of RAM or more can be used. There are plenty of good Linux distributions designed as firewalls, which hold your hand through the installation, and include no extra software which might be compromized. All you have to do is put two network cards in the box, connect one to your DSL line and one to your internal network and you are laughing.
achana chan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 29, 2002
Posts: 277
Hi Adam.
My gateway machine is not a "server" as such.
It is an *old Celeron* , not much life left in it and would have been considered as boat anchor or paper weight.
You can load the most basic Linux level 3 (or FreeBSD) configuration and let it serve out the rest of its useful life in this capacity. Mine now has 2 nic's in it : eth0 to DSL and eth1 to n-way switch.
Something to do with old boxes on a rainy weekend.
Adam Hardy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 09, 2001
Posts: 565
Jeez, sorry Frank - that's incredibly bad luck. Who are these people who have time just to run around causing chaos like that? What a waste of brain power as well - the sick little geek who did it obviously needs a full frontal lobotomy. A salutory story indeed!
Adam Hardy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 09, 2001
Posts: 565
Mine now has 2 nic's in it : eth0 to DSL and eth1 to n-way switch.
Something to do with old boxes on a rainy weekend.

What's an n-way switch? A hub?
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
What's an n-way switch? A hub?
Almost.
A "hub" is a way of connecting several network devices, but only allows one connection to pass through it at once. Think of a city intersection.
A "switch" is also a way of connecting several network devices, but allows multiple connections at once. Think of a multi-level overpass.
If you only have two devices on your network, or you never need more than one pair of machines to communicate at the same time, a hub is just as good as a switch. In real, busy, multi-machine, networks a good switch is a vital piece of hardware.
Balaji Loganathan
author and deputy
Bartender

Joined: Jul 13, 2001
Posts: 3150
Originally posted by Frank Carver:
I used to run a Linux box based on a trimmed-down Red Hat installation for site hosting and it was "hacked" which not only forced me to shut it down, but cost me over �1500 (say USD2000+) in excess bandwidth charges

Frank!. Can you tell us in what way or for what they hacked your server,this could help us be cautious.
Regards
Balaji
[ October 09, 2002: Message edited by: Balaji Loganathan ]

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Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
I assume you've noticed the long story of what happened just a few posts above your question ?
I'm not sure what "back door" was used to gain access to my machine. I know I hadn't kept up to date on the all the software I had running.
As for what the hackers did it for, I'm pretty sure it was just as a jumping-off point for attacking more machines. But they ruined my business and cost me a lot of money while doing it.
 
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