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Ubuntu vs RH 9

Mike London
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 12, 2002
Posts: 1075
I'm getting ready to setup a Linux server and have heard all the great buzz on Ubuntu 7.0.4.

However, Red Hat 9 is also attractive, but is now out of date (an old release), right? To update this software to current versions via auto-update, you now have to have a "Subscription"...at least this is my understanding now that RH is commercial.

My basic question is that considering how difficult it is for a person to setup an entire server for the first time, would either of these distributions make sense or would someone recommend another distro?

There are lots of good books for both of these...

Thanks in advance for any replies.

-- M
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8927
    
    9

In my opinion, Red Hat is not an option:
Red Hat Linux 9, the final release, hit its official end-of-life on April 30, 2004, although updates were published for it through 2006 by the Fedora Legacy project until that shut down in early 2007.

wikipedia

Not to mention that Red Hat Linux was a desktop-oriented distribution. If you are setting up a server, you should look at Red Hat Enterprise Linux or one of the derivative distributions, like CentOS.
I have not used RedHat since RHL9 so I cannot speak to ease-of-use.
I use Ubuntu desktop and if the Server Edition is anything like it, it will be very easy to set up and maintain.
Really, there is no substitute for hands-on experience. Only when you've set up a server a couple of times will you be confident to do it "for real". Use vmware to test installing and configuring on your desktop.


"blabbing like a narcissistic fool with a superiority complex" ~ N.A.
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Mike London
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 12, 2002
Posts: 1075
Thanks Joe for your reply.

I was hoping to find a good free distro, like Ubuntu server to host my commercial clients with. After installing the Ubuntu server CD, I'm just at a blank screen with no idea what to do next (buy a Ubuntu "bible" book I guess...).

But, with what the DSL companies charge for a business "connection" meaning static IPs (around $150/month), I should probably stay with my hosting company.

It seems quite difficult to really set up a server...you really have to want to do it.

As another example, just getting Tomcat and Apache to talk to each other (for JSPs and Servlets) is largely undocumented, from what I've found. I saw an article that discussed using Tomcat 4 and Apache, but using those techniques, Tomcat wouldn't even start. I have no idea how to do this or even where to turn for help.

This is all beginner frustration and trepidation as to whether hosting my own server is worth it...

From a cost point of view, no way.

From a backup/power/support point of view, no way.

But, from having control and the pleasure of being able to say..."hey, that's my server", ahhhh, way! Plus, there's the pleasure of having gotten a server up and running.

Don't seem to be any courses on setting up servers at the local community colleges either.

sigh.

Thanks again.

-- M
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8927
    
    9

Originally posted by Mike London:
I was hoping to find a good free distro, like Ubuntu server to host my commercial clients with. After installing the Ubuntu server CD, I'm just at a blank screen with no idea what to do next (buy a Ubuntu "bible" book I guess...).


You should start by reading the documentation for your distribution.

As for apache/tomcat, the place to start is the Apache Tomcat Connector page

You have to remember that Linux is much more configurable than Windows, but the price for that power is a lot of reading/configuring/testing.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16142
    
  21

I really hope that the Ubuntu server screen isn't totally blank. If the thing installed correctly, there should at least be a login prompt after it had finished booting.

There are 2 ways to run servers - graphical and non-graphical. I prefer non-graphical, since running a GUI desktop is expensive, and access to the GUI desktop when the machine's locked in the server room can be a problem. On the other hand, a lot of otherwise competent sysadmins these days are pretty much paid to point and click, but nothing much more, so a lot of production servers do have desktops.

Forget Red Hat 9. It's history, and it never was one of the more widely-adopted releases (I skipped it and RH8 entirely) As was mentioned, current server systems are Red Hat Enterprise and CentOS. For a full desktop system on the Red Hat architecture, Fedora is the successor - the latest release is Fedora 7.


Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
Mike London
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 12, 2002
Posts: 1075
Wow, great replies.

Looking at the paid Red Hat Enterprise options, I'm not sure which option I'd pick. I'm also wondering if "support" means they'd help with technical issues (like getting Apache and Tomcat working together) or if it's mostly for software updates (well, you wouldn't need an 1-800 number for that).

I plan to host about 10 commercial sites to start. Of course, need Apache, Tomcat (for servlets/JSPs), (Web) email, FTP, etc..

Perhaps the supported version (Red Hat Enterprise) would help me take the plunge instead of having just a login prompt (yes, sorry, the screen wasn't totally blank ).

Look forward to any additional info. I'll call Red Hat Enterprise in the meantime.

-- M
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8927
    
    9

Any linux distribution you choose will have a serious learning curve. And yes, if you are going to be a commercial host, you will want a supported OS, if only to have someone to blame when things go bad.
On a related note, are you planning on hosting commercial web sites off a residential DSL line? Probably a bad idea. Your ISP will pull the plug if they get wind of it unless you have prior approval in writing. How will you register domains without a static IP? no-ip addresses are not very professional. Furthermore, residential DSL is usually asymetric, so you won't have much bandwidth to serve content.
Mike London
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 12, 2002
Posts: 1075
Hi Joe,

I would probably go with Verizon "Business Class" DSL.

It includes 2 static IPs for, as I recall, $79.95 / month. Hooking up a Web Server is no problem with Business Class (more expensive, however).

Then, using, as I currently understand it, Apache's httpd.conf file, I would set up Virtual hosts so that as each Web client comes into the box (DNS for all clients points to the same IP I think), Apache figures out which client it is.

I may try Ubuntu server and an old PC for one of the test Websites that I host. Since any distro will have a huge learning curve, why not try the one that seems to be the hottest right now. Lots of good reviews on Ubuntu server.

Does this sound correct and mitigate the concerns you raised in your last posting?

Look forward to hearing back.

-- M
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8927
    
    9

Originally posted by Mike London:

Does this sound correct and mitigate the concerns you raised in your last posting?


Is 768K enough throughput for your websites? Ten people hit your server at the same time and it's kaput (see Slashdot Effect). I have my home Ubuntu desktop running Tomcat on the end of a DSL line with a static IP, but I'm just hosting my resume and pics of my kids. I'm employed to maintain a web site and we have excess capacity in abundance: dedicated, redundant Solaris servers, fat pipes direct to an internet backbone, generator power backup and so on. This experience has taught me one thing: if you go pro, go big.
Are you permitted by the ISP to resell that particular product? I doubt it. It looks more for business to provide access for their (1-10) employees. Best go over their Terms Of Service with a fine-toothed comb.
If I were going to host a commercial site, this disclaimer would trouble me: "Verizon Online cannot guarantee that the service will be uninterrupted or error-free, or guarantee the speed of service". If you are serious about reselling, you should probably contact an ISP about colocation or dedicated server hosting.
As for Ubuntu, the desktop is hot. I doubt people are wiping their RHEL installs for Ubuntu Server. It pays to be conservative with servers. That said, you can purchase support through Canonical.
Mike London
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 12, 2002
Posts: 1075
Hi Joe,

Wow, I really appreciate your candidness.

My situation is that my current hosting company is EXCELLENT. I have no real reason to leave it. I pay less than $500 per year for 10 static IPs, full root access, WHM, cPanel, .... and tech support that always responds in less than 30 minutes.

This week I had a little downtime and thought "Hey, maybe I should host my own stuff". (uh huh)

Aside from the good info you included above, other negatives of hosting my own stuff includes:

1. Verizon is a lot more expensive (2X at least for business class svc).

2. With my own server, nobody's there to help me do stuff. My current vendor will install things for me (like Tomcat Upgrades) free and it always works (maybe that's partly Linux too!)

3. Power problems! My neighborhood is notorious for losing power. I can hook up a UPS to the computer, but I can only drag out a portable UPS to power part of the house *if I'm home!*.

4. PC dies, then what? Yikes!

----

It really sounds like I'm better off staying put with my current Linux hosting company.

For me to even approximate what I have with my hosting company, I'd have to spend BIG bucks *and suffer lots of frustration along the way.

I appreciate the gentle way you brought me to the conclusion I kept thinking about -- at the end of the day with DSL, I'd be spending 2X, at least, and getting less for my $.

Now, if only I could replace QuickBooks and other XML tools that only run on 'doze, I'd be happy installing the desktop edition (I have, but rarely use, Linspire 5).

Thanks again very much!!!

JavaRanch Rocks!



-- M
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

I don't see any good reason for switching. To get "really up" stuff, you need a co-location service with multiple fiber connections to the major cross connect vendors. I've never seen it below $100 per 1U server, and you have to buy the server. Many places are more expensive, into a couple hundred bucks per 1U.

Back to the original topic, I'd completely reject RedHat unless you want to pay for Enterprise version. For servers, I am starting to like pure debian. Its got the gui tools, but has far less eye candy than Ubuntu. debian installs quickly from a small image, using the 'net for everything else.

Ubuntu and many other distributions are based on debian. This means they are debian under the cover, with assorted other packages added. As delivered, it works just fine.
Mike London
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 12, 2002
Posts: 1075
Thanks Pat for your reply.

I agree, as appealing as "having my own server" might be, when you get right down to it and examine all the issues (connection speed being paramount), it's really not worth it.

If only I could run quickbooks and a couple other Windows applications under Linux, I could dump it for good on the client side.

Thanks again.

-- M
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8927
    
    9

Check and see if Quickbooks will run on Linux throughWine (the app database appears to be down right now). You could also use vmware to run Windows as a virtual machine on a Linux system.
Mike London
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 12, 2002
Posts: 1075
Thanks Joe!

I'll check them out.

The last time I checked, Wine didn't completely handle quickbooks. If I have to install VMWare, then I still have to install Windows (pay for it, etc.).

Maybe Wine is up to date now. QB has always been a tough one.

Thanks again.

- M
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16142
    
  21

QuickBooks is supposed to support Linux now - or at least soon. I read the press release about a month ago. Apparently Inuit had a lot of annoyed Linux clients who resented having to install and maintain Windows machine just to be the QuickBooks server.
Mike London
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 12, 2002
Posts: 1075
That will be excellent, thank you for that info.

Cool.

-- M
 
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subject: Ubuntu vs RH 9