Server Rebuild

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Due to some dissatifaction with our current Zyxell 2602HWL-61C ADSL2+ router I’ve replaced it with our old Netgear DM602 ADSL1 modem and a borrowed Linksys BEFW11S4 broadband router. The Zyxell will be going back for replacement or service due to it continually dropping out and not reconnecting. Also it’s VOIP is unstable and not to be trusted.

So while rebuilding the local area network (LAN) I took the opportunity to build up an old server donated by Graham and move our web facing services across to it. This will free up my usual server to not run 24/7 for a while and maybe return to it’s previous life as a development box.

The new server is a 600MHz Pentium III with 512MB RAM and a 8GB SCSI HDD. Quite a drop down in spec from the 1.8GHz AMD that we were running, but hopefully fewer active services will allow response times to be similar.

The new box, built a couple of weeks ago then untouched until last Saturday, is running Ubuntu 6.06 LTS. Quite different from the OpenSuse I had been running and hopefully a little less interfering to the config files.

I would have been happy to have this server running on Debian, as their reputation for stability and low problems is enviable, but their version numbers on released programs are just too low to run up to date web programs on.

Ubuntu 6.06Debian 3.1OpenSuse 10.1Centos 4.4
Apache2.0.552.0.542.2.02.0.52
Bind9.3.29.2.49.3.29.2.4
MySQL5.0.214.0.245.0.184.1.20
Php5.1.24.3.105.1.24.3.9
Postfix2.2.102.1.52.2.92.2.10

The other distribution I was thinking of installing was CentOS. It is a free and debranded version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) which would also be suitable for a server install. It probably would have had the same interfering ways as the OpenSuse install though and was also a few versions behind the bleeding edge.

One day I’d like to get an OpenBSD machine up and running, but it’s going to be more than a weekend project. Just being unfamiliar with the BSD style of UNIX slows me down a fair bit.

The Ubuntu install went well. The new LAMP server install didn’t work for me – something to do with the CDRW I had burned it to, I think, so I did a regular server install, then entered:

# sudo apt-get install apache2 php5-mysql libapache2-mod-php5 mysql-server

Apparently that is all that is contained within the LAMP seed file.

Once up and running I installed and configured Postfix (email), Bind (dns) and got the webserver up and running. A new feature I’ve recently discovered is CaCerts for generating security certificates that aren’t self-signed, but still free.

I transferred the forwarded ports over to the new machine on Sunday and pretty much everything seems to have come over okay. If you spot any faults, other than some of the missing dev sites, let me know.

I can heartily recommend Ubuntu as distro of choice for anyone thinking of trying out linux. They will ship you some CD’s for free – mine came from Switzerland – and it will happily dual boot with your current Windows or Mac install. Even better, you can just run it off the live-cd without touching anything on your hard drive. This is the first time I’ve tried using Ubuntu as a server and the experience was trouble free and speedy.

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