possibly a strange question - what state the server is 'delivered' in?
for dedicated servers from either rackshack.net or nocster.com:
My impression is that you get given your IP to SSH/telnet into and username for root.
So what state do you find the servers in, on say, the plain redhat linux from rackshack? What features are set up, configured, or installed even? Do you need to setup your email software for example? and if you chose an Ensim/Plesk/CPanel type manager, does that come pre-installed and ready to use?
Sorry about my naivity, all part of the learning process.
[a small tag-on question, I've been reading through a lot of the FAQs on rackshack.net and notice they refer to RaQs; what does RaQ stand for? Is it simply a type of Cobalt server, and therefore they only limit their FAQs to the cobalt raq range? ]
Can't say for RackShack, but my server @ fdcservers came with a sh*tload of RPMs all installed... They were I would guess almost all of the RPMs that were part of what is called 'Redhat 7.x', and I guess it would be the same elsewhere.
Most, if not all, of the software was in working order, but not necessarily working like I wanted. Of course, Bind didn't work, because it needed to be configured, but it was there. So were sendmail & apache and it's modules (perl, php, ...).
So in short, the server you should get is working, but not really optimised. The newest versions are not all installed either. I personnally recompiled Sendmail & Apache, for various reasons. It helped that I'd done it before, as Sendmail can be a real pain to get to work from scratch.