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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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Command line phobia?

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

You always end up needing a command line eventually even on Microsoft systems.

Just adding and removing users is pretty simple GUI stuff on almost any OS made today. However, if you are looking at ssh, apache, java, MySQL, etc., a command line will be needed at some point. None of that stuff works without some technical expertise.

As for Suse support costs, it is pretty cheap compared to Windows or AIX. Don't forget about continued upgrade costs, too.

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It goes deeper than that

by Justin James Contributor In reply to Command line phobia?

tmstone -

Yes, you are right, many/most sys admin functions in *Nix do have GUI alternatives. But the use of CLI on *Nix is not only preferred, but mandatory for many more tasks on *Nix than Windows.

More to the point, X (and the desktop managers built on top of it) is incredibly resource intensive, tends to be unstable with less-than-mainstream hardware, and is in general quite a pig. I would never in a million years run X on a server unless it was an X farm type setup, which is pretty rare now. I have never once found a valid need to install X on a *Nix server.

If the client demands a GUI because they do not feel comfortable with a CLI, they have no business touching a *Nix server. It also makes me wonder how they are managing their routers & switches...


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partial explanation

by DanLM In reply to It goes deeper than that

Cell/land line company that also had a publishing company breaks into two companies. Prior to the breakup, the methodology for their LAN and stuff was set that a central/corporate office maintained the LAN/switch's and mainframe. Where the local offices mostly take care of desk top. The publishing company had a few servers on site they maintained, but these small servers were the only things they had to worry about.

After the split of these companies, the publishing part of this is trying to get more control over their own IT destiny. Support basically sucks from the local/corporate office. Hard drive failures on support/development servers which ended up causing over a week of down time for these specific functions. The primary db servers are also controlled from this office. The publishing company is trying to get more control over this. They can't necessarily change what already is in place, but anything new they are trying to control. this server is specific to the publishing arm of the company. They don't want it controlled by people that haven't a clue what this arm's business requirements really are.

Basically, cutting out everything I just said above. It's politics. Publishing wants more control, and this is the only way they will get it.

If I knew for certain I was going to be here for good. I would push the BSD/command line nix, because I think I could maintain it. Specially with the requirements that I see now and into the future.


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by pgm554 In reply to Unix flavor for new serve ...

You can go free SuSE,but if you want support,I would go with the Novell/OES stuff.

You get all of the tools and apps you are looking for(Apache,MySQL)plus Novell makes sure the kernal and security patches are up to date.

Built in clustering,along with robust management tools(YAST and iManager)along with the best directory service(Edir) available,makes a very strong case for Novell.

Novell is a "no brainer".

You can download a 90 day eval.
And if it is to your liking,just buy a license file.
You don't have to reinstall anything.

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Why not FreeBSD?

by Bill_W In reply to Novell/OES

More to the point, why not FreeBSD with a tool like Webmin? We maintain (not that they need a lot...) our half-dozen FreeBSD servers via Webmin, which is a web-based graphical admin tool for FreeBSD. No real overhead on the server, at least compared to X or some GUI.

It could be argued that servers should be in a server room and not normally be accessed by the local keyboard and monitor anyway.

And if we do need command-line access, there's SSH.

However, Dan, it really looks like your issues there are political, not technical....

Good luck.

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your right bill

by DanLM In reply to Why not FreeBSD?

I never knew about the Winmin though. I am going to research this out.

These people seem to always want to be at the machine when they do things, where I always ssh in and su up. That is something I definitely want to change here if I possibly can. There is no reason for it. After an initial install of the OS, there really isn't a reason to ever sit at a machine again physically if it is set up right. Least, in my experience this has been the case.


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I *can't* do that

by Justin James Contributor In reply to your right bill

I have servers here without video cards! If it happens, it is SSH or nothing. :) If the server is down hard, I can rip a video card out of a desktop temporarily to get the machine up and running.

If I can run a "full boat" FreeBSD server solely thorugh SSH, anyone can.


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That's how I run mine

by DanLM In reply to I *can't* do that

Seriously, my home BSD system sits under a table with a table cloth on it. I do all installs, everything from ssh. The issue really isn't if I can run the machine straight from ssh. Shoot, I've been doing most of the installs on their Mac server like that. The problem is if I'm not there, can they? And the answer in my mind is no. This guy can figure it out, I don't doubt that. But, he ummmmmm scares me sometimes with what he does.

Let me put it this way, if I can work them into FreeBSD(no cost for OS or upgrades) which I know there are many forums to use for help(minimal support costs) by using winmant because he gets his pretty gui that he can click and install. I know that I provided them with a solid operating system that there are lots of help forums they can run to. Because, they are going to need the help. Shoot, I use the forums constantly. At least if I get him to use that winmant(web/perl), I stopped him from doing everything at the machine. God, that bugs me.

****, I need to teach these people about security. I would never, ever, ever have left someone that came in as a pl/sql coder(me) installing and setting up security on a server. Just the thought makes me shudder.

What I'm going to do is install winmant on my home machine from ports, get it working... Then show him from work what it looks and feels like.


ps. sorry, I got off topic there

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Thanks everyone, just wanted to let you know what I'm going to propose

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

I've done some reading, and some testing on my home machine. I learned along time ago to never go in with just one proposal. So, I going to present two options to him. Actually, I already have but I'll do it in a formal manner.

Option 1. FreeBSD with the webmin port installed.
Thanks bill_w, much appreciated. I didn't know about this port.
I am a FreeBSD fan from get go and know my way around it. I've tested the port to a certain extent on my own machine and pretty much like it. As long as the ports are kept up to date, this should meet his requirements of installs. And there is a lot of system functions that can be performed from this. I was putzen with my sendmail from the pages, and I hate sendmail. It was actually helpful to me, I have always been scared of sendmail just because of the possibilities of being used as a relay.
Also like that it has ssl log in. Even if it is on a LAN, I like that a lot. I still prefer command line, but that's the way I learned(the old main frame programmer in me). But, he should be able to get by. Also, there is a huge amount of online forums and tech area's for support issues if needed with FreeBSD. Free, this he should like.

Option 2. Mandriva.
Did a bit of reading on this, liked what I seen. Thanks Jaque, much appreciated your input. Your right, I was reading how they turned that company around. How Mandriva is becoming a large server OS in Latin America and Europe. The support options are flexible, and the GUI from what I seen via various web sites looks pretty idiot proof. Probably more so then the FreeBSD - webmin. Another established OS with a lot of following, should be a good amount of forums and how to online area's for assistance.

Again, I wanted to thank everyone and let you know what I was going to propose.


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