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  1. #1
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Linux based server - What SW/Distro should I use?

    So, I have a server for my home that has some decent HW, and I am currently using Windows SBS 2011, and I am so tired of all of the issues I am having. Everything from problems with RAM (it gradually clogs up) to my Email server (exchange) working like a drunk parrot, sometimes not sending mail at all, not understanding anything, or simply not receiving anything at all.*

    *Server set up properly, it's just acting funny when I use IMAP.

    Anyway, to my point:

    What would you recommend me to use, SW wise and related to distro, that is capable of doing the following things:

    1. Host a website. (HTTP/HTTPS, Database, front end (like JS etc.), back end (Capable of moving information from front end to a database, get information, content etc.)

    2. Host a local file server, unsure of what I am going use here, not sure if I want a UPnP server or FTP, all of my devices support both.

    3. LAN-based remote administration. (so all distros ever, essentially)

    4. Able to run some form of P2P software. (I use multiple machines on 5 different networks to host certain files, with a special script that essentially acts as a way of dropbox, just without relying on a third party.

    5. Being able to stand 100+ hours at a time without using up 8gb of RAM. (Thanks MS for doing that, no really, it's lovely that my SQL server uses 3gb of RAM doing nothing).

    I need server OS that is better than Windows SBS, and that can do standard website stuff and some file hosting and stuff.

    (Prior experience to Linux: a couple of years of small time side projects, but hey, searching the internet for a solution is what 90% of IT professionals use)


    8gb 1600Mhz RAM
    4 2tb drives in RAID (w. HW controller)
    ASUS P8Z68-V LX
    ASUS GT 240 Video card (just for the connectivity)

  2. #2
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Tucson AZ
    I have no idea what windows SBS is but what your describe should be without problems on most any full Linux distribution. The most commonly used for server purposes are CentOS (free version of Red Hat, Debian and maybe Opensuse. Slackware is very stable but would probably me more of a learning curve than the others. You could also use Red Hat which is probably the most used for that purpose of Linux distributions. You can download a free trial version but need to pay for support and updates after that. You can go to each distributions web site to get more detailed information.

  3. #3
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Thanks for the answer.

    1. Windows SBS is Windows Small Business Server, essentially an OS with all the things that a normal business owner needs. (Like SQL server SW, web site hosting SW, e-Mail host SW etc, etc.)

    2. I knew that most of the Linux distros would be able to do this, just wanted to know if anyone knew any distros that are quite good for this. (All of my earlier contacts are simply doing things related to windows/MS products so I didn't really have anyone I could ask this question personally)

    3. CentOS and Slackware look the most interesting, and I might move over to Red hat later.

    Btw, just a question, is most software for Linux usable in (nearly) all distros?

    But over to SW, what would you (or others at this forum) recommend me to use for the various applications that I listed above?

    Should I just roll the default route, like Apache, MySQL, etc. with a UPnP for files, or should I go a different direction. (Linux is a different OS after all...)

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    For the most part a lot of the software is common among distros. if a package is not available in a certain distro you could always compile it from source code but depending on which distro you choose, you may be able to find a binary package for pretty much anything you might need. Slackware for instance has a philosophy of one application per task so the official repository may not have as many packages as other distros like Debian or Ubuntu but there are third party repositories that you can use as well. Ubuntu and Debian will likely have a wider selection of software than CentOS as well and Ubuntu server's software will be more current then the other two. Ubuntu also has some decent online documentation and decent community support. Debian and CentOS however are known for their stability and probably won't break as easy.

    As far as software, I would go with what your more comfortable with and if your not comfortable with anything then I would go with whatever solution has the most documentation which would probably be the most commonly used software(i.e. Apache, MySQL, PHP etc...).

    Another thing to know about linux. Most linux admins believe that you shouldn't install a gui over a linux server and that it should be managed from the command line. It allows you to use less resources when doing everything from the cli. You can install a gui if you want to but what I would recommend is just installing a web based front end like webmin for example so that you can browse to the ip address of your server on a specific port number and just perform administration tasks from the web interface. Once you become more familiar with the cli, you may just want to manage your server through an ssh connection or directly at the console. You can also install phpmyadmin as a graphical front end to mysql.

    But all in all, at the web hosting company I work at, CentOS and ubuntu server are the most commonly used distros along with FreeBSD.

  6. #5
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Thanks a lot for the very informative answer.

    I have currently started moving over to CentOS already, and must say that I am satisfied, with my databases up and running in seconds, website functions beautifully with 0 errors, and my new E-mail server software actually works properly with IMAP.

    I just need to find the last small things, but for now it works wonderfully. I am currently using about 1gb of RAM where Windows SBS used about 3.

    Thanks a lot for all the answers, I may come back here in the future if I have any problems. Thanks so much for the help.


    I am mostly used to the Windows server tools, but I have prior to that used Apache, MySQL, PHP, Python etc. for these various applications, although learning new ones wont really be a problem.

    I have a GUI installed, but I am not currently using it, I just find it easier to transfer files over from my backups (like hosted folders, etc) in a GUI rather than a TUI.

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