My System admins friends swear by Debian, CentOS and even Ubuntu Server Edition.
I'm not able to answer your question precisely since I'm not an admin but regarding how to access the server then yes, SSH is definitely the way.
How to install it?
Every distro has a package manager, you should check the docs once you decided which distro to pick.
I'd pick a server (CentOS or Ubuntu by preference) and the google for "XXX perfect server setup"
I have used the ones from howtoforge before and they tend to work. I'd recommend CentOS 5.2 or Ubuntu 10.04 as the more stable options.
There are 3 major distro flavors presently favored for Linux servers:
1. Red Hat Enterprise/CentOS
2. Novell SuSe
Red Hat and SuSe were specifically targeted for servers. Debian is more desktop-oriented, although Mark Shuttleworth has been attempting to make the long-term-stable versions of Ubuntu be as server-friendly as possible. A job made somewhat harder because of the fact that Red Hat developed a lot of the Enterprise tools and neither their package installer or their networking setups are in line with what the Debian flavors prefer.
We have significant proponents for each of the above distros in my town. Plus one insane guy who compiles all his servers from scratch using Gentoo. I can work with any of them, but having been with Red Hat since the original Red Hat 5 or so (the REAL Red Hat 5, not RHEL 5!), I prefer it. SuSe makes me a little nervous because Novell's been going through transitions lately. Plus anyone who partners on open source with Microsoft is likely to find the earth missing from under themselves some day, I fear.
But ultimately, it's whatever flavor you feel comfortable with. LifeRay comes as a bundle with a Tomcat server, so the install is basically:
1. Install a Linux (your choice)
2. Install a JDK (NOT JRE)
3. Unzip LifeRay. Recommended possible locations to unzip to include /usr/local (popular, but now violates the LSB standard), /opt or /srv.
An IDE is no substitute for an Intelligent Developer.
John Todd wrote:Mr. Tim,
Isn't Debian used mostly/mainly for server installations?
Locally a lot of people do like to do that. But if you look at the available apps, you'll see that it tends to have more desktop apps and fewer enterprise apps than Red Hat. Also, unless they've finally gotten someone to complete that project, there's no built-in support for mass remote provisioning of Debian servers like Red Hat's KickStart facility.
Red Hat has things like GFS, which is massive overkill for home use, but excellent for Enterprise SANs. Ubuntu was trying to make it work, but because of the differences between file locations and packaging, it wasn't going well when I last looked at it (then again, that was 2-3 years ago).
Red Hat also added several applications that allow centralized administration of large server farms. Most of those apps aren't available on other distros (except CentOS, which uses the same codebase). Likewise, SuSe has some custom enterprise administration tools of its own.
Tim Holloway wrote: But if you look at the available apps, you'll see that it tends to have more desktop apps and fewer enterprise apps than Red Hat.
I'm not sure what Tim means by enterprise apps. Debian has all the expected stuff for bread and butter servers, bind, dhcpd, tomcat, apache httpd, postfix, sshd. Its all I need.
But I tend to run modest systems, ones that can grow to a dozen or so servers, but start at one. The Red Hat tools for provisioning lots and lots of identical do sound cool.
I run Ubuntu on my desktops and laptops, and Debian on my servers. Debian does not quickly add support for stuff that end-users expect, the latest WiFi dongle, video card, etc. which is just fine with me. Debian is on a slow release cycle, they don't do the massive changes every six months that Ubuntu users want -- I sure don't want that on e a server.
My advice is to run an OS on the server that you know. I know Ubuntu from daily use, and Debian is so similar (Debian is Ubuntu's parent) that managing the Debian servers is very easy.
"Enterprise Apps" are things like GFS and the "master control panel" that allow you to administer a whole farm of VMs from one single app. Nagios and Big Brother also qualify, although I think that you can apt-get Nagios at least. There's no hard dividing line between "Enterprise" and "non-Enterprise", except that Enterprise apps are typically used in larger installations where the equipment and apps are more commodities and less "each system is unique". Or in cases where there's a really massive workload. Red Hat has a specialized version of PostgreSQL, for example.