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  1. #1
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    Best *free* Linux distribution for a home server?

    Hi,

    I'm planning on using my old PC (which I no longer use) as a server for personal use.
    I'm looking for opinions on which *free* distribution of Linux would be good for me.

  2. #2
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    either Fedora Core or CentOS would probbably do the job for you, depending on your "servers" specs.

  3. #3
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    Well, the basic specs of my PC are:
    Pentium III 450MHz
    96MB SDRAM
    10.2GB HD

  4. #4
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    Hmmm.... in that case, I'd say your probbably fine with either of the recommendations I made previously.

  5. #5
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    Have you ever considered perhaps FreeBSD? It is very stable and secure and has had one of the best track records around. It has a slightly higher learning curve but it is very good and is known for its excellent stability, security, and reliability. Take a look at it at www.freebsd.org if you are interested.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Senad
    Have you ever considered perhaps FreeBSD? It is very stable and secure and has had one of the best track records around. It has a slightly higher learning curve but it is very good and is known for its excellent stability, security, and reliability. Take a look at it at www.freebsd.org if you are interested.
    FreeBSD has quite a bit of a learning curve (I use it myself), though I don't know if I'd recommend it to a new user

    To the OP: (you might want to try subscribing to the freebsd-newbies list and see how the waters are)

  7. #7
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    I'd also recommend centOS
    David
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  8. #8
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    fedora debian or centos should go nicely

  9. #9
    CentOS is a good option.

  10. #10
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    I would suggest Centos 4.x

  11. #11
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    I suggest Gentoo Linux - http://www.gentoo.org

  12. #12
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    Do you have any Linux experience?

    I'd go with Debian but again, it depends on what you are more comfortable with.
    Beer is Good.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by asianinvasion
    Well, the basic specs of my PC are:
    Pentium III 450MHz
    96MB SDRAM
    10.2GB HD
    With that amount of RAM, a modern GUI will run like a dog. Whatever you decide to go with, I would reccomend skipping X and a desktop environment alltogether. That being said, I'm a Debianista so of course I reccoemnd Debian or Ubuntu server.

  14. #14
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    96 MiB is really very little memory--is Windows 95 even usable on that machine?

    You are NOT going to have much fun running a modern, "heavy," "consumer" distributions like CentOS.

    I'm not sure what to recommend, other than get more RAM. Besides that, stick with a distribution using kernel 2.2 (OLD) or 2.4--those kernels are a bit more adept on systems with low memory.

  15. #15
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    osunix,

    With any server: why install a GUI?
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mripguru
    FreeBSD has quite a bit of a learning curve (I use it myself), though I don't know if I'd recommend it to a new user

    To the OP: (you might want to try subscribing to the freebsd-newbies list and see how the waters are)
    I'd disagree. It doesn't have a pretty installation interface, but just going with defaults right off the bat is pretty safe. I find it less fussy and easier to keep updated than most Linux distros I've used. I don't mean this as a flame starter, but I don't see FreeBSD as being difficult.

  17. #17
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    I vote for freeBSD as well for the system. It may not be as "user friendly" as centOS, but its definitely as friendly as debian...

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by David
    osunix,

    With any server: why install a GUI?
    The vast majority of times you shouldn't of course. However, someone just starting out may not know that and fall into the trap of learning only how to use the Pointy - clicky tools built into distros like RHEL (CentOS) or SuSE EL.

    That being said, 96MB is fine for a small home server that won't be doing much. If all you need is filesharing or similar, then it should be fine. I would *not* use a 2.2 kernel though. 2.4 would work fine, and if your machine supports it the 2.6 series has several enhancements in memory and task handling/scheduling that may add a bit of a speed bump.

  19. #19
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    I use for my development box/file server and recommend Ubuntu. It's basically Debian with its own set of more frequently updated packages and its own community.

    I'm not sure what you're planning on doing with your server, but 96 megs of RAM should suffice for basic filesharing and static web serving—but not too much else. Use the 2.4 kernel if you can, as it's less resource-intensive than the new 2.6 one.

  20. #20
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    I wonder about the comment regarding 96 MB or RAM and kernel 2.4...

    I run a file server, two 250 GB drives, a PII-400 Mhz, 128 MB RAM. It's mainly a firewall and a file server. It saturates a 100 Mbps connection just fine serving files. Current memory usage: ~42 MB plus 80 MB buffers. It runs CentOS 4.1 with a 2.6 kernel. No X, obviously. I found much better latency and multi-tasking with the 2.6 kernel...
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  21. #21
    BSD has a veyr small footprint and is quite optomized for networking tasks, but i do ahve a version of windows 2003 that is only 73MB (appliance edition) that works so technically you could run that heh.

  22. #22
    Linux Owns freebsd in all performance applications.

    Is BSD more secure? Porbably by default.

    But the 2.6 kernel is simply a powerhouse.

  23. #23
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    Go with CentOS!

  24. #24
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    I sencond on CentOS
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by LxMxFxD
    Linux Owns freebsd in all performance applications.

    Is BSD more secure? Porbably by default.

    But the 2.6 kernel is simply a powerhouse.

    uuuhhh, right. Thats' why all the major webservers run FreeBSD right?

    That's also why fbsd kernel can push 1mpps, where as linux struggles at 100k. Get a clue zealot.

  26. #26
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    I'd strongly suggest the "Business Card" version of Debian.

    http://www.debian.org/CD/netinst/

    It's more or less as basic as you get, and you'll have loads of resources left over even with 96megs of ram. You could then easily do apt-get for any packages you require, keeping a clean basic system that'll run fast.

    Whatever you decide, with 96megs of ram make sure you don't install some giant distribution.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by seraph1
    uuuhhh, right. Thats' why all the major webservers run FreeBSD right?

    That's also why fbsd kernel can push 1mpps, where as linux struggles at 100k. Get a clue zealot.
    You are so wrong. I ran bsd for years man, I am a fan of its small footprint, etc.

    But the linux 2.6 kernel absolutely smashes bsd in mysql!!

    I converted to centOS about 2 months ago and saw about a 60% performance increase. I was amazed.

  28. #28
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    Fedora Core is good for home use, and is very user friendly IMO. I wouldnt exactly recommend it for Server use though.

    Debian is more of a technical O/S, which can be a good thing if your learning about Linux.

    CentOS is another RedHat based OS so not a whole lot diffrent, but as others have said, rock solid for Servers.
    Regards,
    datruesurfer

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by asianinvasion
    Hi,

    I'm planning on using my old PC (which I no longer use) as a server for personal use.
    I'm looking for opinions on which *free* distribution of Linux would be good for me.
    I like using Fedora Core. Its incredibly easy to install, has wide hardware support, and is quite stable. Fedora Core 4 is out and if you have a DVD drive, you can get a DVD version. So, no swapping required for installs and upgrades.

    Also, be sure to get the latest upgrades after you install! (That holds true for any Linux OS install.)

    HTH!
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by LxMxFxD
    You are so wrong. I ran bsd for years man, I am a fan of its small footprint, etc.

    But the linux 2.6 kernel absolutely smashes bsd in mysql!!

    I converted to centOS about 2 months ago and saw about a 60% performance increase. I was amazed.

    Let's see... you chose one app. Didn't describe the setup at all, and don't provide benchmarks. Sorry. First off, he's running a single cpu small footprint box, don't see a whole lot of large mysql db's being run on it.

    That being said, the 2.6 kernel hardly "smashes" fbsd. Hell, I have a feeling running ULE on the 6.x branch it won't beat it at all single cpu, and I KNOW it won't once you start throwing more into the mix. Not to mention, last I checked, 1 application does not a server make. Why don't we take a look at apache, mail servers, ftp servers, tcp stack, and overall memory footprint, since he does only have 96mb to work with...

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by seraph1
    Let's see... you chose one app. Didn't describe the setup at all, and don't provide benchmarks. Sorry. First off, he's running a single cpu small footprint box, don't see a whole lot of large mysql db's being run on it.

    That being said, the 2.6 kernel hardly "smashes" fbsd. Hell, I have a feeling running ULE on the 6.x branch it won't beat it at all single cpu, and I KNOW it won't once you start throwing more into the mix. Not to mention, last I checked, 1 application does not a server make. Why don't we take a look at apache, mail servers, ftp servers, tcp stack, and overall memory footprint, since he does only have 96mb to work with...
    With 96mb of ram I hope he doesn't look at apache . Hell I have a cluster with 10GBs of ram and I don't look at apache.
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  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by seraph1
    Let's see... you chose one app. Didn't describe the setup at all, and don't provide benchmarks. Sorry. First off, he's running a single cpu small footprint box, don't see a whole lot of large mysql db's being run on it.

    That being said, the 2.6 kernel hardly "smashes" fbsd. Hell, I have a feeling running ULE on the 6.x branch it won't beat it at all single cpu, and I KNOW it won't once you start throwing more into the mix. Not to mention, last I checked, 1 application does not a server make. Why don't we take a look at apache, mail servers, ftp servers, tcp stack, and overall memory footprint, since he does only have 96mb to work with...
    You make me laugh. All of ebay runs RedHat enterprise 4. I guess ebay must be run by idiots? Oh wait, your company is at least twice the size of ebay....LOL.

    I'm a fan of both OSes - but with 2.6 I made the switch. Some really good improvements over Freebsd.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by LxMxFxD
    You make me laugh. All of ebay runs RedHat enterprise 4. I guess ebay must be run by idiots? Oh wait, your company is at least twice the size of ebay....LOL.

    I'm a fan of both OSes - but with 2.6 I made the switch. Some really good improvements over Freebsd.

    Uhhh... no, no ebay doesn't run redhat at all.

    http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_rep...//www.ebay.com

    Their front end is running IIS. Their back end is all solaris boxes, I can tell you this for a fact as my company takes care of all their storage databases, try again

  34. #34
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    i find freebsd is actually quite easy and straightforward compared to linux...
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  35. #35
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    The biggest problem with FreeBSD is that it's more difficult for a newbie to keep updated. freebsd-update is not (yet?) an official part of the FreeBSD project, so if Colin gives up you're on your own. The best point for FreeBSD is that if you know what you're doing you can keep it updated for as long as RELENG supports your branch, and that's usually several years.

    I think it'll be easier for a newbie admin to keep Debian or CentOS Linux updated.

    Oh, and if I'm not mistaken, Google runs under Linux.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Werpon
    Oh, and if I'm not mistaken, Google runs under Linux.
    I thought Google developed something in-house as their OS for their appliances/webservers?.

  37. #37
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    Google does run linux, with their strange clustered webserver on top. IIRC, there's a page somewhere on their website with info on their architecture.

    What people need to realise is that there are benifits of using particular OS's, so the OS is chosen on a basis of what is actually required. Compare FreeBSD to Linux as much as you want, just realise that both have their good points and bad points.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Werpon
    The biggest problem with FreeBSD is that it's more difficult for a newbie to keep updated. freebsd-update is not (yet?) an official part of the FreeBSD project, so if Colin gives up you're on your own. The best point for FreeBSD is that if you know what you're doing you can keep it updated for as long as RELENG supports your branch, and that's usually several years.
    to each his own of course but if you say "you're on your own" with updating freebsd then you're clearly not experienced with it.

    Updating is a matter of a few simple commands than you can put into a script for easy button-pushing.

    cvsup stable-supfile (where you just have to make a couple simple edits to the default supfile)

    cd /usr/src

    make world && make kernel && mergemaster

    and reboot.

    it can be slightly intimidating at first but i do this all the time for hundreds of servers without any problems.

    On the other hand i find binary update processes like those for many linux distributions to be opaque at best. but to each his own.
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  39. #39
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    zettai.net, shouldn't your sig say "BAMP solutions" then?

  40. #40
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    onlamp.com considers freebsd part of LAMP and so do i.
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