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I have a new server..what OS to put on it?

L Ron HowardL Ron Howard The duckMinnesotaRegistered User regular
edited July 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
So I went out and bought a new computer for like $250. It isn't too bad. My intentions are to make it into a file and web server.
Unfortunately, it has Win 7 Home Premium on it. That means that I can't do jack with it. I've tried to get IIS to work with it, but I need to be able to get magic permissions from utilities that aren't included and cannot be added in, as well as a host of other related issues. Not to mention it has weird issues with the LAN here, and how it shows up and shares things. It's obvious to me that it needs to go.

Now here is the main issue: I don't know what OS I should put on it.

I could throw the Win Server 2008 R2 trial on there, and reinstall it every 6 months when the trial expires.
Or I could do something else, I'm thinking something like FreeBSD.

The problem why I haven't made a decision is because I'm unemployed, and everyone's slobbering all over Microsoft's cock. I want to do something that will be somewhat relevant to getting a job, though I mainly want something for myself and have lots of time to do it. I'd imagine it would be easier to do FreeBSD, and cheaper, but Microsoft appears to be more relevant to how the world works.

I also worry about security. I think the FreeBSD can be a lot more secure and fixable by me, whereas with the Microsoft stuff I have to wait until they fix it. Though with the FreeBSd it will take a lot more time and effort on my part to get really proficient there. I obviously don't want it to be a portal into my home network.

I guess, I don't know what to do. Any advice?

L Ron Howard on

Posts

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I run a server for my research lab. I ended up going with Ubuntu server, not because I was in any delusions about it being the best option, but it was the easiest one to get going quickly, and there's tons of support documents.

    I don't ever need to reboot it, and set it to automatically apply updates and patches overnight (which is like the worst sysadmin crime you can make, but it makes my life easier).

    Lewisham on
  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    If you decide to go with some kind of Linux server, the host I use -- Slicehost -- has a spectacular tutorials section.

    admanb on
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2010
    Lewisham wrote: »
    I run a server for my research lab. I ended up going with Ubuntu server, not because I was in any delusions about it being the best option, but it was the easiest one to get going quickly, and there's tons of support documents.

    This. Like he said, it's not the "best" server OS, but you can get it configured and running in a snap.

    Doc on
  • soxboxsoxbox Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Definitely set up a linux (or freebsd) server. I would also heartily recommend running it 'headless' (ie, without any sort of gui). Being able to remotely administer a server through a command line (and script that administration) really really really helps you in the job world.

    Even if your job world is living with microsoft servers, all the individual services that run on a linux server map fairly well to windows equivalent, and while it's a big pain in the arse to remotely configure things on microsoft boxes, knowing how it's done in the linux world gives you a leg up on getting it to play nice.

    Also, if you're worried about your experiences translating to the job world, Linux skills are probably more widely desired than BSD skills (as in, if you have no say over what is on a given box, it's probably not going to be BSD).

    At work, I look after a few hundred web applications across a few dozen servers - the linux sys-admin across those boxes rarely takes any more than a couple of minutes a week by having an automation server (that we scripted up ourselves) that does pretty much everything for me.

    Security wise, if you just run a bare-bones machine with ONLY the software you need installed an running, it's pretty hard to get yourself hacked. (apache and ssh are the only network applications running on my server not bound to localhost - secure what you need and shut down that which you do not).

    soxbox on
  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Ubuntu will be fine for a home server. It gets you setup quickly and it's incredibly capable without being a crazy learning curve.

    Aridhol on
  • theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    The problem why I haven't made a decision is because I'm unemployed, and everyone's slobbering all over Microsoft's cock. I want to do something that will be somewhat relevant to getting a job, though I mainly want something for myself and have lots of time to do it. I'd imagine it would be easier to do FreeBSD, and cheaper, but Microsoft appears to be more relevant to how the world works.

    It may seem that way, a lot of non-IT businesses go for Windows Server, mostly because
    a) the bigwigs don't know any better
    b) Sharepoint

    But go up a level, and they're talking to Unix/Linux servers.

    Any serious IT work outside of Sharepoint and SQL Server will be done on a Linux server.

    Don't count Linux out yet, especially if you aren't used to it yet. There's plenty of Linux/Unix related work out there.

    theSquid on
  • useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    theSquid wrote: »
    Any serious IT work outside of Sharepoint and SQL Server will be done on a Linux server.

    Don't forget Exchange Server too.

    useless4 on
  • theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    useless4 wrote: »
    theSquid wrote: »
    Any serious IT work outside of Sharepoint and SQL Server will be done on a Linux server.

    Don't forget Exchange Server too.

    Right, of course. Still, you can see how the application of these are limited in scope. A dedicated IT company will need more than this to function.

    theSquid on
  • Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I don't work on the Windows side of things and all of the Windows guys I am friends with are software devs, not sys admins, so I can't provide any input there.

    I'm giving another vote for Linux of whatever flavor you prefer. We've got a mix of Red Hat, CentOS, Fedora, Debian, and Ubuntu LTS servers where I work. The paid RH ones are purely due to support requirements by IBM. The Fedora servers are mostly minor back end stuff that isn't critical. I believe the 1 or 2 Debian servers are too (run by a different team, so I'm not sure.). The Ubuntu servers are new, but are running customer facing, live stuff as are the CentOS servers.

    In theory any distro is going to give you enough knowledge or at least the opportunity to gain whatever knowledge you need to easily jump between distros. Most places I've interviewed didn't care too much if you had much experience their specific favorite flavor of Linux, especially if you had experience with multiple others. 95%-99% of skills and knowledge are transferable between distros. One of the BSDs is going to fall more or less into the same category where enough of the skills are transferable that most places will be perfectly happy with the experience, especially at the entry and mid level stuff. These skills also transfer over to the "real unix" side of things like Solaris, HP-UX, etc.(and technically the BSDs) and are much of why I got hired several years back in a primarily Solaris and HP-UX shop (big, stuffy corporate place, not a little shop which tend to be more relaxed about that kind of stuff).

    I would personally go with Debian or Ubuntu because I prefer their package management and choices of packages over Red Hat. Debian is very stable, but tends to be somewhat out of date since they don't upgrade major versions of apps within a release. Ubuntu is based off of Debian but uses packages from the Unstable repository or, in the case of the LTS editions, from the Testing repository so it is somewhat more up to date. Ubuntu also doesn't have the "OMG IT'S NOT FOSS!!!!! IT'S THE DEVIL!!!" attitude that Debian does, so some nice to have but proprietary apps are easier to get up and running at times.

    For the absolute most like you'll see in the business world, though, CentOS or Red Hat will be your choice. CentOS is just a rebuilt Red Hat with no expensive licensing restrictions and some minor changes to packages where the licensing is an issue. It's completely free, will get you used to the Red Hat way of doing things, etc.

    Jimmy King on
  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    If you've got a bunch of free time, I'm going to go both ways on this. Installing Win Server 2008 and learning the basics of IIS won't hurt you. Everyone in here's right that Linux is a ton more relevant, but if you've never used WinServer you might as well install it and learn the fundamentals...enough so that if you had to use it professionally, you could at least fake it long enough to get a book or something and get good at it on the fly.

    Once you get the fundamentals down pull it the fuck off and get good at Linux cause you'll definitely see that a lot more often on the server side.

    Scrublet on
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    I hear PC gaming is huge off the coast of Somalia right now.

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  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard The duck MinnesotaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Thanks for the input guys. I think I'll piddle around a lot with Linux first. Ubuntu sounds like it's a good place to start.

    L Ron Howard on
  • hawkboxhawkbox Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Install ESXi 4 on it and then just throw whatever you want on that.

    hawkbox on
  • theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I first experienced ESXi at work and it was a real eye opener on learning how to set up a computer solely for the purposes of doing insane experiments on it.

    theSquid on
  • darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I see alot of windows server 2003 still, with some 2008 and such, hate on MS all you want they still have the most exposure in the corporate world and more than likely will be what you run into when you look for jobs (depending on the field and company... I still see alot of IBM mainframes in use, lots of companies still use Novell and it hasnt had an update since 2006)

    my view is install whatever OS you want then go with other parts, lots of companies do have trials and test server stuff to allow you to play to give you exposure to the full suite. VMware I believe has a trial download and if I recall RIM has a free "trial" version of Blackberry Enterprise Server that has one trial user license so if you had a blackberry you could setup your own BES and fuck around with settings on the server.

    to add in on what people above are saying about ESXi, I agree 100%, virtualization is happening alot, server manufacturers are building there servers to be more and more friendly and optimized for virtualization (HP's Prolaint generation 6 for example, especially the blades) Apps are being virtualized with better and better results (just completed a project the other week where majority of the user applications were virutalized using VMware Thinapp it was quite interesting)

    darkmayo on
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  • hawkboxhawkbox Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I'm a bit biased as I am an ESX and windows admin but it really does give you a lot of wiggle room to do whatever you want on the box. Plus then you can have a seperate sharepoint and SQL box if you want to test them or something.

    hawkbox on
  • Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I'll third or fourth or whatever using ESXi and then running whatever you want in a VM. A lot of companies are going this route and while it's not super complex, it'll be helpful to be familiar with it. Our newest servers are running as VMs on VMWare ESXi on a single monster server.

    Jimmy King on
  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard The duck MinnesotaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Is it all that hard for a bonehead like me to configure?
    What's the difference between running that, and just reformatting and reinstalling a new OS?
    Why would I want to do a VM, is basically what I'm asking...

    L Ron Howard on
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Is it all that hard for a bonehead like me to configure?
    What's the difference between running that, and just reformatting and reinstalling a new OS?
    Why would I want to do a VM, is basically what I'm asking...

    Because more and more companies are. Virtualization allows server instances to be coupled from the hardware, making servers more or less hotswappable.

    AngelHedgie on
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  • darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Is it all that hard for a bonehead like me to configure?
    What's the difference between running that, and just reformatting and reinstalling a new OS?
    Why would I want to do a VM, is basically what I'm asking...

    Its pretty simple to setup,

    the jist is with a VM server you can create multiple servers, running different OS/Software using the same box. Another benefit is if you fuck up the server by mucking with you can revert to a snapshot and be up and running again within minutes. Makes a really nice sandbox for you to screw around with settings.

    darkmayo on
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  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard The duck MinnesotaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    This sounds like the best way to do things. I'll give it a shot.

    L Ron Howard on
  • hawkboxhawkbox Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    It really is. Having linux, 2003, and 2008 all running on the same box at the same time gives you a ton of options.

    We have a multi server cluster of ESX boxes here and we have 61 virtual machines running on 4 physical hosts. You can do a lot with that kind of flexibility. And it takes about 15 minutes to set up using ESXi.

    Click through the install, get the IP it has, web into it. Install the client it makes you download, connect to the IP and tell it to makea new server. And then just do it like a regular install.

    Plus if the machine cacks out on you the hard drive can just be moved to another box and the virtual machines don't even know the difference.

    hawkbox on
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