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Unix flavor for new server being researched

By DanLM ·
We are currently looking to purchase a new server which has the following requirements.
1). Host some web/java applications which have MYsql back end data base's.
2). Be a backup server for Crystal reports which were are currently deployed on a Microsoft Server.
* Research is occurring to change these over to native database drivers so they can function on different Os's.
3). Most likely, the CVS repositories I put in place will end up here.
4). There are some future java development occurring that will most likely find it's home on this server.
5). This server will be on an internal LAN, and not open to the world.

What they are trying to decide on is what flavor OS to run. The person that is doing this in charge of the purchase does not want to go with Microsoft. This is not because he is a Microsoft bash er, his requirements is to find an OS that does not have support and upgrade costs. He feels that a UNIX flavor can provide this and also be more reliable then MS.
Also, he is looking for an Unix OS that has a good GUI with low overhead because of the various daemons that he wishes to run on this server. I seriously doubt I'm going to be here forever, so there will be nobody with command line experience like I do(And I'm not even that bloody good). He is looking for the GUI that is straight forward in helping him maintain the OS and installed daemons(Apache, ssh, ssl, java, MySQL, ...).
Now, my personal preference is to use FreeBSD, but I can not in all honesty present an argument for using this as the OS. I have never dealt with FreeBSD in a production environment that maintained the types of applications that he wants to support. Truthfully, I think it could do it with out issue but I am unsure that his simplicity factor would be met. I've only ever done command line with this OS, and truthfull thats all I want to do.
I have used AIX before, but I believe the cost factor rules this out based on this person's specifications. He has looked at Suse, and was happy with everything but the support costs. Do you have to purchase Suse? I didn't think you did now that I think about it. Do you need a license for various patch's and upgrades to your port/rpm/??? packages? I didn't think it was a requirement for this either, unless you wanted technical support hot line assistance.
Any suggestions here? What ever is suggested I'm going to use to go do some followup research on.

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purchase suse?

by Jaqui In reply to Unix flavor for new serve ...

nope opensuse is available free of charge.

Red Hat's Fedora Core is the free version of RHEL

Mandriva 200x Free is their free of cost version.

all three have full easy to use gui tools for running the software.
Mandriva's are a bit more idiot friendly

all linux distros have full gui tools, but the large "commercial" distros have a more polished set of tools. The drawback, the large "commercial" distros are also the least standards compliant.

for ease of use from a gui, stick with a kde based gui, so no Red Hat, no Debian [ majority of distros ] They default to G.N.O.M.E., which is designed to look and feel like Macos < 10 (X).
K.D.E. is designed to look and feel like windows, so it would be less stress for a from windows user to work with.

Suse requires that you have a large /opt partition, they decided that things like the gui, webserver, cvs server go there, instead of the standard /usr area. [ majorly stupid on their part ]
Mandriva changed the location of the GUI menu files, so that software for them doesn't install properly on another distro and visa versa.

Red Hat is GNOME based, so it's a completely different look and feel for a MS admin to get used to.

since this is for internal lan, going with the security of the bsd options isn't really needed, though open bsd is probably a good choice otherwise.

You might want to use samba as well, since a samba enabled server box will improve windows client connectivity for most areas.

Mandriva's DrakX Wizards will configure every server for you if you want, so the wierd file locations aren't a problem if you pick them.

I would concider postgresql for enterprise use, it has better security than mysql, with very little performance difference. Also, with postgresql being under the bsd license, it can be used as you want with no issues.

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may I put a little 2(euro)cents in here?

by dawgit In reply to purchase suse?

...If this is truely a comericial use (business) they may 'have' to 'purchase' a licence (and soft-ware). Very touchy area in some locations in the world. In that case, Then SuSE or Red HAT would be the prefered way to go. (also depending on location as to which one) -d

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not really

by Jaqui In reply to may I put a little 2(euro ...

the majority of Mandriva is GNU-GPL, which doesn't allow for commercialisation of the software, but does allow for corporate use of the software.
[ v2 of gpl at least, v3 may be different. ]
Mandriva's own tools they created are all released under the GNU-GPL.

the "Boxed Sets" that you can buy have commercially licensed software, where you are right, licensing does come into play.
this is why the free versions are usually recommended for a single box, which will be minimally used as desktop, the commercial software is all desktop stuff, like Star Office, Crossover Office [ commercial version of wine ].

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Mandriva question please

by DanLM In reply to purchase suse?

Jaqui, I should have posted this question in the QA area so I could have reward points up. Sorry about that. I appreciate the in-site though.

I have been doing some reading on Mandriva(cnet, some it business reviews, Mandriva's web site) and everything I read and have forwarded to the purchasing person looks like this is what will work. I had a concern about hardware, because this individual was looking to purchase a 4 to 8 processor server and I seen in my reading that mandriva only supports up to 2 processors
, but this does not seem to be an issue because the actual hardware purchase has not been done yet. And he was looking to future requirements for multithreading purposes. Right now, I don't think the have the overhead to require that so a dual processor would be sufficient.

I have also went through some of the documentation on the madriva web site, and it looks like it is fairly straight forward to install. Considering I just might end up being the person, I appreciate that. I have never done anything with mandrake or mandriva, and my only Unix installs have been FreeBSD.

Because I am under contract, and I do not know how long this will last. I don't feel comfortable suggesting BSD as the operating system even if what I have read it is a more secure operating system. I don't want to leave these people high and dry when my contract runs out with regard to who can support the new server.

I think my biggest question is, do you feel they need to go with the Corporate Server? I would think not if the Lite(?) version can handle the db/applications that need to run. Which from what I read, I think it can. And they purchase hardware to support what they for see as their current and future needs. Enough guts under the hood type of deal.

Hmmm, and I wonder at the complexity of upgrading to Corporate if they need to at a later time.

Thanks again Jaqui, your help has been very much appreciated. As always, youve laid out a number of options which is what I was looking for.


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server vs lite

by Jaqui In reply to Mandriva question please

Mandriva has the server, Desktop, Community and clic as well as a live cd versions.

The server version is a single cd no gui install I beleive, the Desktop has full gui but no server software.
the Community [ Free ] version has both available.
the clic is a clustered version of Mandriva.

Purchase wise, I would say buy the Desktop version and add the servers you need from online repositories, or go with the free version.

Mandriva, was bleeding edge for most of their history, they found themselves in a bit of a financial bind and reversed that well enough to merge with another distro.
[ Mandrake Linux Sa + Connectiva Linux to Mandriva ]
The ability to get out of the financial straights within 2 years shows a company with reasonably responsive management. :)

Migrating from one version to another is a simple matter of copying the config files for most of the software to cd then back onto new version.
[ from regular workstation / server to clustered ]

the biggest changes for the cluster is in the kernel area not in the user software area.

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What about Mac OS X

by REM In reply to Unix flavor for new serve ...

I realize that Linux appears to be a good solution.
Have you considered Mac OS X. It is the largest distribution of UNIX and their are many people who support it. It meats the criteria of being easy to maintain and in expensive. An unlimited user licence version comes with Apples xServe and Apples xRaid is one of the most cost efficient way of adding storage to your system.

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Our proof of concept is a Mac OS X on a G4

by DanLM In reply to What about Mac OS X

This is the first time I have worked with Mac, and I have acquired a lot of respect for it. The box that we are currently using is a proof of concept machine only though. And doesn't have enough under the hood to suite the person that requested it. Plus, he feels that the overhead of Mac is a waist for what he wants from the server.

There really are two reasons he doesn't want to go with Mac, and stability is not one of them. But, they are the cost factor of Mac, and he feels that the overhead of the Gui which is tied into the OS(FreeBSD) is too high.

He doesn't want it, and I am not in a position to argue.

Good idea though, I'm impressed with what little experience I have with it. That's for sure.


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4 Suggestions

by vlondini In reply to Unix flavor for new serve ...

4 Suggestions

I like the simplified Web-based administrative interfaces offered by the first three:

1) Nitix -
Nitix is only 25MB. It bascially installs itself. Lots of cool features including auto-managed VPN.

2) ClarkConnect -
CC 4.0 includes a full groupware solution built on Kolab, Horde, and the Toltec connector - the price is excellent.

3) Collax Business Server -
A former CEO of SuSE and a former CTO of SuSE are now both with Collax. They just opened North American offices in Boston last month.

4) Xandros Server -
A very Windows-like GUI - at half the cost. Xandros offers a Desktop OS, Server OS, and Management tools. Xandros picked up the Corel Linux team and assets a few years ago and is doing a great job with it, imho.


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Collax is only sort of free

by Justin James Contributor In reply to 4 Suggestions

I am working on a review of Collax now, actually. It is free, but only partially so. Much of its functionality needs to be purchased.

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Pricing for the 4 Suggestions

by vlondini In reply to 4 Suggestions

These four are not free, though most supply a limited "home" edition for free.

ClarkConnect is the least expensive of the four.

Collax actually comes close to Microsoft's cost when you include the OpenExchange server. But, if I read Collax's Web site correctly, phone support is included with the purchase. Try $245 a call for Microsoft.

Nitix and Xandros almost are priced almost identically.

There's some really cool technology in this workgroup-server-that-brings-Linux-to-the-masses market space.

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