Chances are, you have to look to open source to power some aspect of your business. If that aspect happens to be a server in the backend of your workflow, you’re in luck because there are a number of solid choices. One such choice is Ubuntu.

Many believe Ubuntu is only a desktop distribution, but they’re wrong. Ubuntu also comes in a very powerful server flavor that is well suited to aid you in the expansion of your company’s data center.

If you’ve never installed a Linux server, you might be surprised to learn that it’s quite easy. Although some distributions do not offer a fancy GUI-based installer for their servers, even the NCURSES installers make the task simple.

I’ll walk you through the process of installing a Ubuntu server. I hit the important steps of the process and offer screenshots where necessary, so that you can have a Linux server up and running in no time. We’ll also add the Webmin admin GUI to make managing your Ubuntu server much, much easier.

For this installation, I use VirtualBox running on an Elementary OS Freya host to install a guest Ubuntu 16.04. As I mentioned, the process is completely NCURSES.

SEE: Ubuntu Linux 16.04 is here (ZDNet)

Installing the Ubuntu server

The first thing you must do is download the Ubuntu Server ISO image. After that downloads, either burn it to a disk or to a bootable USB flash drive. Insert the media into your server and boot up. After selecting the language, you’ll be prompted to select from a number of options (Figure A).

Figure A

Kicking off the installation of Ubuntu server. Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic

The next few steps will require you to:

  1. Select the language for the installation.
  2. Select the location (for time zone purposes).
  3. Select the keyboard layout.

After entering that information, you’ll be asked to set a hostname for the server (Figure B). Do this and then tab down to Continue and hit the Enter key on your keyboard.

Figure B

Entering a hostname for your Ubuntu server. Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic

Following the hostname, you will be asked to:

  1. Type a full name for the non-root user.
  2. Type a username for the non-root user.
  3. Enter and confirm a password for the non-root user.
  4. Select if you want the new user’s home directory to be encrypted.
  5. Specify the time zone. If the installer guesses incorrectly (Figure C), hit the Tab key until No is highlighted and hit the Enter key.

Figure C

Correcting the pre-selected time zone for your server. Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic

You must select how you want the installer to partition the disks (Figure D). Unless you need to partition your drive in a non-traditional manner, I highly recommend selecting one of the Guided options.

Figure D

Selecting the guided disk partitioning option. Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic

I also recommend selecting one of the LVM (Logical Volume Management) options here, as it will make managing partitions quite a bit easier. Depending upon the option you select, your next steps will vary. For example, if you select one of the LVM options, you’ll have to enter a size for the installation volume (Figure E).

Figure E

Sizing the volume for the installation of the server. Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic

Next you’ll be asked if a proxy is necessary to access the outside world. If your company is behind a proxy, enter it here (Figure F). Then tab down to Continue and hit the Enter key on your keyboard.

Figure F

Setting up a proxy to access the outside world for the installation. Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic

The next step requires you to select how the system will be updated. You have three choices:

  • No Automatic Updates
  • Install Security Updates Automatically
  • Manage System With Landscape

What you select will depend upon how you plan on managing the server. The default choice is No Automatic Updates.

Now we get to the software selection process. You can either do a full-blown manual package selection, or you can select from the list (Figure G).

Figure G

Ubuntu server package selection process. Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic

The package selection process uses the tasksel tool. If you’re unsure which packages you want to install, you can always go back once the installation is complete and run tasksel from the terminal and install any packages necessary.

The final step before rebooting is to install the GRUB bootloader. Unless you’ve selected a non-traditional partitioning scheme, select Yes at this point, and the boot loader will be installed to the master boot record.

When prompted, reboot the system, and log in as the user you set up during installation.

Installing Webmin

Unfortunately, the Ubuntu server doesn’t include any form of GUI tool to use for administrative purposes. You can easily install Webmin to make the server admin task far easier. Here’s how.

  1. Log in to your Ubuntu server.
  2. Issue the command sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list.d/webmin.list.
  3. Add the following two lines to the file:
    deb sarge contrib
    deb sarge contrib
  4. Hit [CTRL][x] and save the file.
  5. Download the Webmin key with the command sudo wget
  6. Add the downloaded key with the command sudo apt-key add jcameron-key.asc.
  7. Update apt with the command sudo apt-get update.
  8. Install Webmin with the command sudo apt-get install webmin.

Once the installation completes, you can log in to your Ubuntu server’s Webmin panel by pointing a browser to https://IP_OF_UBUNTU_SERVER:10000 (IP_OF_UBUNTU_SERVER is the actual IP address of the server).

You’re ready to start configuring the Ubuntu server for your data center.