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  1. #1
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    Aug 2006
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    Best OS for Raq?

    What do people think the best OS for the Raq is? I have been doing some evaluation of alternatives, but want to get some other opinions.

    The options are (for x86 architecture Raqs -- MIPS systems are much more limited):

    *Original OS for your Raq (3/4/550/XTR)
    *Raq 4 OS on Raq3 or Raq4
    *Raq 550 OS on Raq 3, 4, or 550
    *Rackstar OS on Raq 3, 4, or 550 (does it work on XTR?) (http://www.rackstar.net)
    *CentOS + BlueQuartz on Raq 3, 4, or 550 (http://www.nuonce.net/bluequartz.php)
    *Strongbolt version of CentOS + BlueQuartz (http://www.osoffice.co.uk)

    The criteria (mine, you may have others) are:

    *Ease of installation
    *Compatibility with existing Raq websites
    *Open source and freely available
    *Modern versions of major components (Linux, Apache, PHP, Perl, Mysql, ...)
    *Good security (mostly via modern versions of software)
    *Easy to update major components
    *Easy to install new Linux software

    Some criteria others probably have might include:

    *Availability of support and packages for purchase from 3rd parties

    I will post my preliminary results soon, but I'd be interested in other people's experiences.

  2. #2
    Strongbolt was an easy choise for my RaQ 3 with
    AMD K6-III 500 MHz and 768 MB RAM. Since my
    primary webserver is a Tyan GS10 with CentOS
    and BlueQuartz I wanted something cross-
    compatible if something would happen to my
    GS10.

    Strongbolt is as easy as the original Cobalt CDs
    to install. I used OS 550 on my RaQ 3 before.

  3. #3
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    Some corrections to your post :

    *Original OS for your Raq (3/4/550/XTR)
    *Raq 4 OS on Raq3 or Raq4
    *Raq 550 OS on Raq 3, 4, or 550
    *Rackstar OS on Raq 3, 4, or 550 (does it work on XTR?) (http://www.rackstar.net)
    *CentOS + BlueQuartz on Normal White Box(http://www.nuonce.net/bluequartz.php)
    *Strongbolt version of CentOS + BlueQuartz on RaQ3, 4 or 550(http://www.osoffice.co.uk)

    Personally I would go for the RaQ4 OS Although I am converting to the Strongbolt, I personally have this thing for the RaQ4... It was my very first server Ahhh.... Memories.

    Anyway for the Criteria stated, I will say the Strongbolt. Since its CentOS, its very similiar to the RaQ550 OS. And running on Redhat Enterrise gives me a sense of security as opposed to Fedora Core which is more of a user based project.

    As for third parties, the CentOS + BlueQuartz has more support than the Rackstar OS.
    -=- GQ Hong -=-
    GalacNet WebMaster

  4. #4
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    Differences between Rackstar and StrongBolt

    I have just done a detailed comparison between the admin interface (/usr/sausalito) on the Rackstar and StrongBolt, and have started the comparison between the overall systems, and here is a first report:

    Base System:

    Both systems contain fairly up-to-date versions of the Linux kernel, Apache, PHP, Perl, and MySql, though in neither case is the most recent version installed. The StrongBolt system can be easily updated (for most things) with the "yum" utility, but it comes without such basics as gcc and the development libraries. I modified and updated my systems almost instantly, so I will have to post the various versions here later;


    Availability and Support:

    *StrongBolt - Strongbolt is distributed by "Open Source Office" (http://www.osoffice.co.uk), and they charge about US$50 for their installer, and they want a per-system license fee for it (anticipating use by big ISPs). While one could theoretically strip the CentOS+BlueQuartz build from this and distribute it differently, I don't know that this has been done. The base BlueQuartz+CentOS system (for white-box PCs, e.g.) is distributed by Nuonce Networks (http://www.nuonce.net), and Solarspeed has an installer that works like the Rackstar one (i.e. needs the drive9s) pulled - see below). Both CentOS and BlueQuartz are widely supported by fair-sized communities. Several companies, including Nuonce, Solarspeed, and RaqTweak (see below) provide commercial packages for this platform;

    *Rackstar -- Rackstar is an effort of the people behind Raqtweak (who also provide some BlueQuartz support). They "strongly encourage" Rackstar users to use their US$125 ROM upgrade, though the system ISO itself is distributed freely. Rackstar is newer than StrongBolt, and at this time doesn't have very broad-based support. Rackstar's own website forum has fewer than 50 registered users, and little activity. Commercial packages are not generally available for Rackstar, except from RaqTweak;


    Installation and Boot:

    *Both Systems - Both systems require a modern ROM in order to install and boot. The Cobalt ROM 2.10.3-ext3-1m on Sourceforge (and elsewhere) seem to work. Issues concerning ROM updates are beyond the scope of this note, but I will mention that this is the source of much scare-mongering by commercial sites.

    *Strongbolt - Strongbolt provides a standard net install, much like the original Raq net restore. On boot, Strongbolt starts up in a Wizard (a not-very useful one), somewhat like the original Raq wizard;

    *Rackstar - The standard Rackstar install involves removing the Raq disk(s) and installing them in a PC, booting a CD, and running the installer. This is (obviously) much less conveniant than a net install. One participant on their forum has described a way to do a net install, with some cleverness. The Rackstar system requires a larger minimum disk than StrongBolt (20Gb vs. 10Gb, not a big deal, I can't imagine installing on a 10Gb disk).


    UI Features:

    Both systems have tweaked the original 550 UI to some degree. The Rackstar interface is probably closest to the original (though this is not necessarily a good thing). Here are some added features

    *Python, ASP, and Webmail - Rackstar implements UI capabilities for turning these services on and off. Indeed, the base Strongbolt doesn't include integrated support for Open Webmail, though you can find packages that claim to implement it (haven't tried yet);
    *FrontPage and JSP - Rackstar includes the same Frontpage and JSP implementations that were on the 550, both of these are missing on the default CentOS/BlueQuartz install from StrongBolt
    *Preview - StrongBolt offers a "Preview" option that allows you to view a site before you install its DNS info, from an URL under the main server
    *AutoDNS - StrongBolt provides a sophisticated DNS interface, the details of which are beyond the scope of this description;
    *Email Disable - Strongbolt allows disabling of email for any user or domain;
    *Webalizer vs. Awstats - Rackstar dumps Webalizer for Awstats, while Strongbolt keeps it;

    Bugfixes & Misc:

    *Advertising - The Rackstar UI contains several not-so-subtle advertisements for its add-on packages, notably PHP and MySql upgrades (which any competent admin should be able to do without help), and for their Security, SpamAssassin, and MailScanner packages;
    *Security - The BlueQuartz implementation has added a bunch of minor security checks -- I can't tell how important they are;
    *Other bugfixes - Looking at the diffs, it appears (from a non-exhaustive analysis) that BlueQuartz (StrongBolt) has fixed some bugs from the 550 that continue to exist in the Rackstar;

    Recommendation:

    If you are looking for an upgrade with maximum compatibility with the 550, or if you are looking for an actual zero-cost solution, Rackstar might be for you. Count on getting only the support that RaqTweak/Rackstar decide to provide.

    While I have more research to do, the combination of ease of installation and the larger support community swing the decision to StrongBolt. The other benefit here is the ability to more closely track open-source software changes. However, I still need to ensure the viability of key add-ons for Frontpage, JSP, and Open Webmail. More anon.

    -- gnetwerker

  5. #5
    Nice Topic
    This is very usefull, thank you allot guys.
    From your summery, i summeraize that Rackstar is the best, apart from support.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by NuWeb.co.uk
    From your summery, i summeraize that Rackstar is the best, apart from support.
    Importantly, installation and support. And the support thing isn't trivial. The CentOS crowd has a lot of people working on it, BlueQuartz has quite a few, whereas RackStar have only themselves. Nonetheless, they've done a good job, except for installation.

  7. #7
    NuWeb:
    My recommendation is Strongbolt. 35 GBP isn't that much.
    Considering what you get.

  8. #8
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    There is at least one person running around who keeps telling newbies that the Raq 4 OS is the one to stick to. Can anyone come up with any good reasons why the Raq 4 OS is better than CentOS+BlueQuartz/StrongBolt, or even Rackstar? I'm curious as to the reasoning -- the versions of nearly everything on that system are way out of date!

  9. #9
    Sticking with RaQ 4 OS instead of Strongbolt is like driving a 50
    year-old Toyota in 160 KM/h and meeting a truck..

  10. #10
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    I also liked the old OS but due to functionality reasons I had to make the shift.
    You see, the old RaQ4 OS has some features that the new does not.

    For example :
    Add Storage
    -=- GQ Hong -=-
    GalacNet WebMaster

  11. #11
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    * CentOS SRPMS are available under http://mirror.centos.org/centos/4.4/
    * BlueQuartz SRPMS are available under http://bluequartz.org/source/index.html

    However, it is correct that both Rackstar and StrongBolt are kind of lame about distributing the full SRPMS for their specific packages, which they absolutely should do to be in compliance with the GNU GPL.

    Nuonce.net also distributes CentOS+BlueQuartz, though they don't have a network installer for it (that is what StrongBolt claims they're charging for). Brian at NuOnce is also pretty snippy about distributing source RPMS for his modified system.

    I've never purchased any add-on software from any of these vendors, so I do not know if one could get a source RPM for (e.g.) Zeffie's $150 Security package, or RaqTweak's $120 Mailscanner package, both built mostly from GPL software. My guess is not.

    I've always been upset that the Raq community doesn't seem to share this stuff, and assumed it was because the community was small and everyone felt they needed to be cutthroat in order to make money.

    Of course part of the problem is that the Sun "Sausalito" GUI was released under a BSD license which does not explicitly require redistribution, so that complicates the arguments with the individual vendors.

    But I am all in favor or geting everyone to distribute their SRPMS! The GNU license specifically requires it.

    (P.s. - I am currently putting together PHP5, MySql, and other upgrade PKG files for CentOS+BQ, which I will distribute for free when they're tested. I am not affiliated with any Cobalt software vendor and do not plan to ever try to make money from Raq service and support.)

  12. #12
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    Location
    London, UK
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    Installation?

    Iíve been reading this post with interest and wondered if someone could just clarify the position of CentOS + BlueQuartz and a RAQ4.

    Iíd like to install CentOS + BlueQuartz on my RAQ4, but Iím not sure if this can be done in that same way that you would do a Ďnormalí OS restore, i.e. via a cross-over network cable?

    Iíve downloaded the CentOS + BlueQuartz CD and when I boot from that in an old PC it seems to indicate itís going to install itself onto that PC Ė is that what happens? If so, how do you get in onto a RAQ4?

    Should I pull the HDD from the RAQ4, put it into the PC, then boot the PC from the CentOS + BlueQuartz CD disk?

    I also note that itís recommended to have the latest ROM update (2.10.3-ext3-1m). Is this a must have update? If so, can you install this after the CentOS + BlueQuartz install?

    Could I avoid all these problems by buying the StrongBolt CD, which it is suggested provides a standard net install, much like the original Raq net restore?

    Please excuse me if Iím missing something obvious here!

    Thanks

  13. #13
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    Iíve downloaded the CentOS + BlueQuartz CD and when I boot from that in an old PC it seems to indicate itís going to install itself onto that PC Ė is that what happens? If so, how do you get in onto a RAQ4?
    it's ment for a New pc only... not the RaQ4

    Could I avoid all these problems by buying the StrongBolt CD, which it is suggested provides a standard net install, much like the original Raq net restore?
    it's not as easy as the orig restore process and won't make a diffrence in reguards to the need to do a bios update. You will need the update reguardless.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by OBLtd
    Should I pull the HDD from the RAQ4, put it into the PC, then boot the PC from the CentOS + BlueQuartz CD disk?
    This is how the NuOnce CD works.

    Quote Originally Posted by OBLtd
    I also note that it’s recommended to have the latest ROM update (2.10.3-ext3-1m). Is this a must have update? If so, can you install this after the CentOS + BlueQuartz install?
    No, you need this to successfully install and boot the new system. It is easiest to flash the ROM from a running system, though in a pinch you can do it from the serial port.

    Quote Originally Posted by OBLtd
    Could I avoid all these problems by buying the StrongBolt CD, which it is suggested provides a standard net install, much like the original Raq net restore?
    Yes, that is what they ostensibly charge for -- the "ease of use" of their installer. It is just as easy as the original restore process. I think that if you were clever their are ways you could do a net install with TFTP, PXE, and so on, but it's a lot of work. There are some hints on the Rackstar site (which is not CentOS+BQ!) forum from one guy who was able to do this.

  15. #15

    Update on Front Page and JSP additions 2 Strongbolt?

    I found this dicussion very helpful.

    Has anyone been able to add support for Front Page and JSP to the Strongbolt distro?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by matejax2
    Has anyone been able to add support for Front Page and JSP to the Strongbolt distro?
    Nuonce Networks (www.nuonce.net) has a package file that installs FrontPage. I don't believe there is a JSP package, but I might be mistaken. It probably would take minimal hacking to get the 550 JSP package (from, e.g. Rackstar) to run on Strongbolt, but I haven't tried.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Interesting topic, and I have my question too


    "
    I also note that itís recommended to have the latest ROM update (2.10.3-ext3-1m). Is this a must have update? If so, can you install this after the CentOS + BlueQuartz install?"

    How will you update ROM to that version?
    I am currently running RAQ4 with 550 software, but would like to test the
    installation CentOS + BlueQuart on this hardware.

    Cheers,
    kowal
    www.apolloappsolutions.com
    Easy | Professional | Reliable
    Web & Apps Design, IT Consulting.

  18. #18
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    A stock Raq4 will require the ROM update in order to load CentOS+BQ, Rackstar, or the 550 OS. If you are already running the 550 OS, the CentOS+BQ/Strongnbolt or the others may load. There are ROM versions prior to 2.10.3 that work. The ROM update allows it to load a kernel of sufficient size, and no doubt corrects other bugs. Burning the new ROM from a running system is relatively easy and relatively safe. Be careful to: a) burn the right ROM; b) use the right ROM burning tool; and c) not let your system power off until the ROM burn is complete and verified. Warning: if you screw up, you may end up with a boat anchor. I never have, but others have. Full instructions are included with the ROM images on Sourceforge and elsewhere.

  19. #19

    * Packages for Blue Quartz

    The earlies discussion peaked my interest. So I installed the latest Blue Quartz + Centos on a test server to check it out. I want this machine to replace my main Web server that is running a 550 os.

    Time for stupid question. (This is a result of using a 550os for a couple of years)

    Can I install any 3rd Part Linux package on this OS? If not, what do I need to look for?

    Thanx.....

  20. #20
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    You can install almost any user- or web-oriented Linux app that does not expect to have a *VGA console (assuming you're installing on an actual Cobalt machine). As with any Linux installation, you need to be sure you have the pre-requisites.

    The key here is that the Sausalito/BlueQuartz GUI controls most everything in /etc (config files, etc), and other important kernel/networking stuff. Also, the stock CentOS+BQ systems have PHP4, so you can't install packages that require PHP5 (e.g. MediaWiki) without an upgrade. You also have to bear in mind that you're running in an Apache "vsite" (virtual site) environment, and the app must support this (not a Raq-specific issue).

    My process is this: I always start from source and recompile without installing, then run make -n install and see what files are getting installed. If the app doesn't poke around in the main system files, it is usually fine to install.

    If you don't consider yourself a Linux hacker (some here don't, that's OK :-)), then post the names of the packages here and someone will probably know.

    Good luck!

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