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Help with Setting up Linux Server

By rkuhn ·

I have a old, spare server that I want to play around with to learn Linux.


Pentium III Duel 450 Mhz
512 MB RAM
5 9GB Hard Drives in RAID 5

I know, pretty old but it currently has MS Server 2003 on it and runs pretty well aside from taking forever to boot up. But once booted up, it actually runs pretty well.

I know nothing about Linux. So, I need something that will run well on old equipment and an easy install, GUI that is user friendly, and plenty of wizards.

I guess what I need is a Linux for Dummies but a server version.

I plan on running it at home next to my other 3 servers...domain controller running MS Server 2003, game server running Win XP (America's Army), and a web server running MS Server 2000.

Any ideas or suggestions?

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Command Line is the best way to learn Linux

by Navy Moose In reply to Thanks for the Advice

At my shop, none of the Linux servers have GNOME or KBE installed, CLI is the only way to get things done. The people in the Linux team specifically recommended to me not to install any GUI because it will increase performance.

If you check the two books I mentioned, you will be guided step by step with plenty of screen shots so you know what the output should be.

I'm a Windows Admin, but I am learning Linux by the CLI to expand my knowledge base and make me more valulable to my employer.

The CLI is more powerful than the GUI. Learning Linux by using the CLI will make you more proficient with Windows at the command line.

Just my $0.02

Navy Moose

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Do you want to learn, or do you want to use?

by Justin James Contributor In reply to Thanks for the Advice

If you just want to use Linux, go ahead, install the GUI. If you want to learn Linux, avoid it. It *is* a crutch, a crutch that rpevents you from learning a thing. I first installed BSD a few years ago, knowing only the basics of the UNIX command line, and a few of the more typical utilities like grep. It looks me less than a day to get a full blown server up & running, using nothing but command line and documentation. It was not until almost two years later that I even saw GNOME running on BSD (I have been an onagain, off again X user for about 10 years, but never for much more than juggling multiple shell windows). My current BSD server at home does not even have a video card in it.

UNIX the opposite of Windows; in Windows, the command line can only do a fraction of what the GUI does. You cannot even emergency boot Windows to a useful command line. In UNIX, the GUI configuration tools are stripped, simplified, and dumbed down versions of the CLI. Half of the time, they are just a thin veneer over the configuration files anyways.

I am certainly no CLI zealot; I would give up Windows' GUI only under the threat of death (possibly because their CLI is so bad). But if you actually want to *learn* UNIX (opposed to using it), and are afraid of the CLI, you need to reconsider your decision. Being afraid of UNIX's CLI is like being afraid of snakes. It is a reasonable fear (snakes can kill you, after all), but if you're afraid of snakes you also have to accept that you will never work in the lizard house at the zoo.


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by pkr In reply to Thanks for the Advice

Forget about the CLI in the beginning. You'll feel like going back to DOS, but an extremely powerfull multiuser DOS.

For looking into Linux for the first time use the help and crutches available. After all you don't start learning how to drive on a 145HP Suzuki motorcycle, you start with something that your skills can handle. Use the GUI, install more than one and see which one suits you the best. Poke around in the system, be prepared to screw things up, use whatever help available online in newsgroups e.t.c

Enjoy, and don't be let off by purists. We all know that cars can work without powersteering, automatic gearboxes and powerassisted brakes, but nobody would deselect it for normal use.

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Why can't both the CLI & GUI be used together??

by RayJeff In reply to Wrong

If it's a matter of learning, why can't he use the GUI and then whenever he wants to try using the CLI, then just bring it up? The GUI would be like the "training wheels" for the CLI...right? Sounds reasonable, know?

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I truly wish that I could agree

You are 100% right about that. But think about it like this... if you learned intergrals first, would have have bothered to learn to calculate the area under a function using a series? Probably not. Sure, there are things you can do with a series that you can't do with an integral, but the integral is so much easier, you will never learn how to use a series.

Systems administration (as well as progamming, heck, anything!) tends to be an 80/20 proposition. If you don't maximize your learning up front in the initial learning period, chances are, for most people, they will almost never go beyond what they know.

I have met way too many people who thought that they would ease themselves in Linux with a GUI, and learn CLI later, who are still basically Windows users on a different platform, to beleive that people can do this. Sure, there may be the occassional person who has the motivation to ease their way into it. But I just have not met this person, including myself.

I didn't truly learn UNIX (always had to use X, and know the basics of CLI for ages) until a Windows server died, I had 3 days to replace it, and I didn't have the cash to buy a Windows Server liscense (the liscensing was a long story, in a nutshell, the Windows liscense was a bit "grey" and I wanted to be fully legit). When someone has a contractual gun to your head, you learn, it's that simple.

Again, yes, it can be done like that. But most people will not. The GUI is friendly, it is comfortable. It's like if you lived at home and your parents fed you and bought you cars and paid the bills and bought you beer, would you bother finding a job?


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Exactly What I Was Thinking

by rkuhn In reply to Why can't both the CLI & ...

I keep running into Linux purists who think that the CLI is the only way to go.

But then again, those people exist in the Windows world too.

I just want the right tool for the job. In this case and maybe I'm wrong since I don't know a lot about Linux, it seems in the beginning the GUI is the right tool for me.

I'm sure that will change over time.

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maybe, but

by Jaqui In reply to Exactly What I Was Thinki ...

with the speed of change in linux being so high, the differences between gui and cli are increasing dramatically all the time.

I used both to learn, back when the gui was 75% functional wrappers to cli tools, now the gui tools are only 40% functional wrappers, making the gui much more like windows gui tools in look and feel, but not keeping the access to the full functionality.

Most linux distros release a new version on a 6 month schedule, some it is annual schedule. The real issue with gui on a server is the bloat in the gui isn't needed for a server at all.

RH v7 used on a webserver, tracking data transfer usage for 3D graphics community members websites, it averaged 18 gigs of data transfer a day, peaked at 35 gigs a day. this was for 10 websites. The cli only RH based server used an average of 5% of cpu time, and 7% of ram to do this.

the same sites on a windows box, with iis used 75% of cpu time and 80% of ram.

static pages on both, just being used to host files for downloading.

edited for typo

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Not training wheel,s a wheelchair

by ~Omega~ In reply to Why can't both the CLI & ...

Seriously... a lot of functionality is removed from the GUI... nobody ever bothered to put it in... Really, *Especially* when it comes to server modules, the GUI configuration tools are front ends to the configuration files, and most of the time, they don't even scratch the surface of the true functionality of their respective software.

Linux config files are written for the lay person. Almost all that I have seen have had very clear "this line does this", and half the time, you have to work in the command line to fix some configuration issue with X anyway. You aren't doing yourself any favors by not knowing how to configure X to run.

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by pkr In reply to Not training wheel,s a wh ...

"and half the time, you have to work in the command line to fix some configuration issue with X anyway."

Strange, I never did that. 5 years ago I put in my Redhat CD and said 'go' and an hour later I was up and running - everything worked, updated until RH wanted to go corporate, no problems.

Then I switched to Suse 8 and I did the same - insert the CD and select whatever SW you want and don't want, and an hour later everything worked, although I had to backup all data first due to a change in filesystem. Bought a Suse 9.1 pro CD set, and upgraded with no effort at all, installed Mplayer and a set of codecs found on the net, and everything worked. Upgraded from 9.1 to 9.2 via the internet, same story, and finally upgraded to 10.0, same story.

What did I do wrong since I only ONCE had to use a command line, typing in characters from a 'how to' manual, and NEVER had to edit a configuration file or configure X ?

I don't want to play with fixing my PC, I just want to use it. And I don't want to use anything Mircosoft anymore.

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I Disagree,

by mjwx In reply to Wrong

Rickk for your first foray into Linux you should not install a GUI, but pick something simple to do. Build a Linux server (Takes under a hour) familiarise yourself with the CLI commands as these rarely change between distros. Without the GUI installed you will take in a great deal more about how to run linux than if you had the GUI (which looks far better than windows or mac) to distract you.

Anyway I suggest you pick something simple as your first assignment in Linux like setting up a simple web site in Apache. After that you can re-install (Like I said under an hour) Linux with the GUI and keep exploring.

As any Linux Admin will tell you, when you log in the first thing you do is open 8 terminal windows because that is where the work really gets done.

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