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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    Kaneohe, HI USA
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    Questions concerning OS selection

    Hi,

    I've been going through this forum/google for the past few days trying to find answers to all of my questions. So far, I've gotten a lot of information, but nothing that clearly defines what I should do, so I thought I would toss out a question and see what all the gurus here had to say.

    I'm looking at doing webhosting (including my own DC setup, but that's another issue entirely) for a niche group of people. The business is there, so I'm not asking for advice in terms of finances, business operation, and such. I just need technical suggestions. At least some pointers in the right directions would be very helpful, and very appreciated.

    I've been fairly impressed with the Sun machines as of late, and I'm considering a purchase of v40zs and v20zs. I was looking through the supported OS list for each server, and see the following:

    Operating Systems supported by Sun Single Core Systems Dual Core Systems
    Solaris 10 on x64 Yes Yes
    Solaris 9 Operating System (x86 Platform Edition) 32-bit Yes Yes*
    Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 (32-bit/64-bit) Yes Pending
    Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0 (32-bit) Pending Pending
    SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8.0 (64-bit) Yes No
    SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.0 (64-bit) Yes Pending


    Now, with all the reviews I've seen, Solaris 10 looks to be the best choice (if possible). Zones, and so forth, look really slick. I've installed 10 on a machine for testing, and was really impressed with DTrace and the like. However, installing/keeping software up to date on it looks to be atrocious right now. Unless my customers would be happy running two year old versions of software, I don't believe that I would be sticking to the sun provided applications. I could build everything from source, and track all the updates for everything manually, rebuilding the dependancies and such every time there is a security update, but that seems really, really tedious when we're talking about dozens of servers or more. No, blastwave/sunfreeware won't work, I don't really trust them as safe sources.

    That being said, one thing I am needing is some kind of user management system/billing system/etc. I dug around in the forums for quite some time looking at all the options, H-Sphere looks to be the best for complete integration, but Cpanel looks like an alternative, with a collection of other tools added to it. Unfortunately, neither look to support any of the recent sun supported OSs for the servers. Uhg! Not only that, but I see H-Sphere has no 64 bit support, and the developers haven't replied about the issue either. Solaris support is absolutely not in their list of TODO, according to the devs. Cpanel on the other hand looks like is being developed for Solaris, but as the forums suggested, it's been in limbo for a long time. So, maybe it really won't ever be out for Solaris. Uhg again. RHEL 4 is not supported by sun (only 3) and tbh, I don't care much for RH nor their pricing scheme.

    All of this being said, I hope you all understand what I'm looking for/asking, and I would greatly appreciate any input you could give. I'd love a single vendor solution, I was looking at the java enterprise system, but it looks like it's geared to corporate use, not geared to webhosting/etc, which is my primary need. I just need something that handles billing (of course there will be a person assigned to it, but I'd like to automate all that is safe to automate to eleminate user error), I'd like a support system for users, I'd like to have some kind of system in place to keep servers up to date in terms of security patches (much like freebsd's ports sytem, redhat's up2date, etc) and feature updates (aka having the ability to grab php5 and get it up and running without having to download every single source for it's dependancies, compiling and installing them all by hand). Finally, I'd like something that would automate/at least help with the management experience, aka cpanel/h-sphere's control panels which allow the admins to look at BW usage, charge based on overages (i think h-sphere does this automatically, cool!) and so forth. I'm sure the users would want a control panel too, so they could work with things.

    So, I'm kind of stuck right now, I'm really not sure what to do, nor which direction to look, etc. Does anybody have any suggestions? Maybe there's a way to do all this in Solaris 10 (my ideal solution)?

    Thank you for all of your help!

    Cheers,
    David

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    NC
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    3,080
    I am not at all familiar with sun/solaris so I am not really going to comment on that issue.

    You said that you were interested in RHEL3 but not in the pricing scheme, have you considered using centos? The centos project takes the source rpms provided by redhat, as per the GPL, and then recompiles them into regular rpms as well as entire ISO images. The end result is centos is basically the same thing as redhat, without the vendor support. Centos has a very large community backing it and it does not seem like this project is going to stop doing what it is doing any time soon.

    On top of that cPanel, probably hsphere as well I am just not as familiar with it, supports centos 3.x and 4.x. I would not begin to hold my breath about waiting for sun support in cPanel....

    If you go the route of centos/redhat the major control panels to consider are plesk, ensim, cPanel, and hsphere. I personally like cPanel but every person you ask is going to have a different opinion it is just like the old *nix vs windows debate

    I hope this gives you some more ideas and points you towards a possible solution. I think that centos would be ideally suited for you as it essentially redhat using yum. The only drawback is the lack of official support but aside from a vendor like redhat that charges for support you are not really going to be able to find anything anyways.
    John W, CISSP, C|EH
    MS Information Security and Assurance
    ITEagleEye.com - Server Administration and Security
    Yawig.com - Managed VPS and Dedicated Servers with VIP Service

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Kaneohe, HI USA
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    17
    Originally posted by eth00
    I am not at all familiar with sun/solaris so I am not really going to comment on that issue.

    You said that you were interested in RHEL3 but not in the pricing scheme, have you considered using centos? The centos project takes the source rpms provided by redhat, as per the GPL, and then recompiles them into regular rpms as well as entire ISO images. The end result is centos is basically the same thing as redhat, without the vendor support. Centos has a very large community backing it and it does not seem like this project is going to stop doing what it is doing any time soon.

    On top of that cPanel, probably hsphere as well I am just not as familiar with it, supports centos 3.x and 4.x. I would not begin to hold my breath about waiting for sun support in cPanel....

    If you go the route of centos/redhat the major control panels to consider are plesk, ensim, cPanel, and hsphere. I personally like cPanel but every person you ask is going to have a different opinion it is just like the old *nix vs windows debate

    I hope this gives you some more ideas and points you towards a possible solution. I think that centos would be ideally suited for you as it essentially redhat using yum. The only drawback is the lack of official support but aside from a vendor like redhat that charges for support you are not really going to be able to find anything anyways.
    Sorry, I don't think I was clear enough, I apologize. I really don't like RH in general. I was looking for something Sun supported as an OS, RHEL3 is only partially supported, and RHEL4 is not supported. RHEL3 is fairly old, and I need newer technology for customers/clients. I looked at CentOS actually, and I'm downloading a copy to test, but I'd prefer something supported as an OS by Sun. That's the problem, I'm looking for a supported OS. RHEL4 is an option, just one I'd prefer to avoid if possible. If that's the only way to do all the above mentioned though, I'll get on the horn with Sun and see if they can't sort out RHEL4 support, then go that route with cpanel/h-sphere/whatever I choose. PS - I like opinions too, even though I've read a thousand already concerning the control panels.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,080
    Ah ok yes I did misunderstand you, what I was reading about is that you just did not like the way the redhat did the licensing.

    I know that you stated you were really looking at the sun servers but is there some reason in particular that you were intersted in them? I am not sure if you have your heart set on using a sun server but if you are just looking at them because of a few features maybe somebody could suggest a good alternative. It seems like most of the webhosting industry revolves around 86 processors, and now starting to move into 64bit, so you may be hard pressed to find the ideal solution using sun. By sticking with a more conventional server, in terms of webhosting, it would be a lot easier to find what you are looking for.

    That being said maybe somebody will come along that is very familiar with using sun servers to webhost Good luck!
    John W, CISSP, C|EH
    MS Information Security and Assurance
    ITEagleEye.com - Server Administration and Security
    Yawig.com - Managed VPS and Dedicated Servers with VIP Service

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    226
    The sun pricing for what are really just PCs is rather extreme.
    Ken

    CROWHOST hosting+colocation services | 877-CROWHOST | support at crowhost.com
    Independent remote-hands serving all Chicago data centers

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Kaneohe, HI USA
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    17
    I know that you stated you were really looking at the sun servers but is there some reason in particular that you were intersted in them? I am not sure if you have your heart set on using a sun server but if you are just looking at them because of a few features maybe somebody could suggest a good alternative. It seems like most of the webhosting industry revolves around 86 processors, and now starting to move into 64bit, so you may be hard pressed to find the ideal solution using sun. By sticking with a more conventional server, in terms of webhosting, it would be a lot easier to find what you are looking for.
    Originally posted by CROWHOST
    The sun pricing for what are really just PCs is rather extreme.
    Replying to you both, the reason I'm looking at Sun hardware (specifically the v40z and v20z) is they are AMD based 64-bit (eth00), and they are extremely competative in the server market in pricing (CROWHOST). Not to mention the absolutely outstanding reliability record.

    Anybody else have any ideas/input?

    PS - Thank you both for your feedback as well.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    1,082
    It really depends what you want to do with the machine. I don't have a lot of experience with Solaris, but it has a good reputation as a solid Unix. Just don't expect it to be Linux, don't expect Linux software to work on it, and don't expect bleeding-edge technology. If you just want to run a web host or whatever, I'd recommend against anything other than a well supported Linux (RH, CentOS, SuSE) or FreeBSD, unless you're going for advanced customers and don't plan to provide a control panel. If you need a solid *nix box for something else, Solaris might be a viable choice; you'll need to examine your requirements more closely. Keep in mind that Sun is in the middle of what seems to be a mass migration to Linux, and I expect Solaris x86 will get a lot less attention in coming years as a result. I'd probably not consider it on x86 hardware for that reason.

    Of the Linuxes in the list, both are good distributions. Personally I don't like RH either (Debian is my flavour) and SuSE has a very good reputation and some really nice administration tools. Given the choice of SuSE and RH, I'd take SuSE any day of the week, but I'd still prefer Debian or Gentoo, or even FreeBSD over either of them. Which you choose doesn't really matter too much in the long run. Choose the software that supports your needs and that your staff/you/available techs are comfortable working with. Probably that means RedHat in the US market.

    CentOS should work fine on that hardware, but if the issue is getting Sun's support team to actually deal with your hardware issues, it's a moot issue.

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