Newb Q: Can dedicated be purchased w/ pre-installed software?
I would like to consider a dedicated server, and even though I have moderate experience with Linux, I would prefer not to pre-install all the software (Linux/Apache/PHP/PHP libraries/MySQL/etc.) myself. Is it common to have a dedicated provider do the first install of requisite software, then turn it over to the customer (me) to update said software as I need to? I would like to hit the ground running with the dedicated server, and spend most of my time moving my sites over rather than spending a lot of time installing/configuring software.
It depends on your provider. If you get a control panel it's generally installed and not configured. Unless you get some kind of managed services or pay for a server setup (outsourced or through the company) it will take some extra time.
Dedicated providers normally just have 1 image or what a new server will have on it. All new machines get this same image.
The best thing would be to contact your provider and see what they can do or look for server admin/management companies to help you out
If you order Cpanel then the most information mentioned above is already installed. (if choosing redhat!)
A Cpanel server is no means production ready when a customer receives it. The machine has Cpanel installed, not configured. There is a big difference. You still need to setup a firewall, configure security, secure tmp, PHP, Apache settings and a lot more.
It's not just 1) receive the server 2) start loading on clients