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Dilemma

Nidhogg (161640) writes | more than 10 years ago

GNU is Not Unix 17

Alright gurus I have a little dilemma.

We need a server at each of our branches (I work for a Caterpillar dealer with 8 remote branches by the way) so we've decided after talking to another dealer to go with Dell servers with Red Hat Pro pre-installed.

The decision to go with Linux was based on a few things.

Alright gurus I have a little dilemma.

We need a server at each of our branches (I work for a Caterpillar dealer with 8 remote branches by the way) so we've decided after talking to another dealer to go with Dell servers with Red Hat Pro pre-installed.

The decision to go with Linux was based on a few things.

1. These are remote branches. I don't want to have to drive 120 miles just to reboot a forkin' box.
2. Stability. Enough said.
3. I don't want to have to give these things a great deal of attention like I have to do to the Windows farm. According to Cat all I need to do is install the application, set up a Samba share, make a DNS entry for each box according to the branch and I'm done. I'm willing to take their word on this but if it turns out to be true then it'll be the first time they've been right about pretty much... anything.

So anyways the dilemma.

I don't know a damned thing about RH. Nothing.

I've been a Slackware guy since the 3.x days. And I say a Slackware guy but really my experience with it has been to install it, configure it how I want, and then leave it alone with the exception of security patches that Volkerding releases. I'm not the kind of guy that sits and tweaks a box for weeks on end just to get some small percentage of performance increase out of it. My last Slackware box had an uptime of 19 months before some suicidal squirrel fried itself on a pole transformer.

And that's what I'm looking for. I know Slackware can do it but I don't know about RH never having tried it.

But I don't want to condemn RH Pro and remove it simply because I'm not familiar with it. There may be advantages to it that I'm not aware of and I'll lose those plus waste a lot of time changing distro's when I don't need to.

Opinions?

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Well... (1)

btlzu2 (99039) | more than 10 years ago | (#8153607)

Redhat sucks, but I can't explain why. I'm a SuSe man. Many people criticize suse because yast (sysadmin application) is a hog, but I say poppycock to that. Poppycock.

I guarantee you you'll be able to do everything you mentioned. Simply cd /etc and various subdirectories of /etc and configure. It's all in /etc.
  • For DNS, edit /etc/resolv.conf.
  • For samba, make sure it's installed (use rpm -i, simple, or configure it to install when installing the OS) and configure smb.conf and nmb.conf.
  • Use 'man' gratuitously.
  • Lock down/remove any services you don't need for security's sake (especially including telnet, but make sure sshd is running) by editing under the /etc/xinetd directory.
All Linuxes in my experience have the same core functionality and what you're asking RedHat to do is nothing special.
Oh, and most importantly, run rhupdate (I think that's the update command) when connected to the internet to patch any buffer-overflows in your various apps. ;)

Re:Well... (1)

Nidhogg (161640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8153904)

They're not going to be running DNS but thanks though. DNS will still be handled by the 2003 boxes at our main branch so that really isn't a concern.

I don't doubt that RH can do it but I'm more than a little concerned about what's going to be running on it out of the box. Telnet for one like you mentioned.

Which is why I like Slackware's minimalist nature. I know how to install only what I want with it. I don't know how to do it with RH.

Thanks again.

Some good friends... (1)

btlzu2 (99039) | more than 10 years ago | (#8154164)

One of these will tell you, network wise, what's running and available on *any* workstation/server: nmap [insecure.org] and/or netcat [freshmeat.net] . I use both on any machine I release onto the network. Basically, they're just port scanners, but they should give you some confidence as to what is running on your RedHat box.

Sorry if I'm missing the point as to what you're getting at. ;) The resolv.conf thing I stated is just for pointing the boxes to the DNS servers you mentioned. Also, you most likely should re-install RedHat then instead of accepting Dell's installation and perform a "minimal" install. I can't recall exactly what is installed, but there's not a lot there and then you can add in, using its package manager, whatever you need.... I know redhat supports a minimal install, as does SuSe, etc.

I mostly have RH experience (1)

SamTheButcher (574069) | more than 10 years ago | (#8153713)

and find it to be a fine distro, but that's without really getting into the nuts and bolts of other distros. I've used SuSe, Slack (a bit), perhaps some others. I find RPM (Redhat Package Manager) to be very easy to work with and use. Others might have more critical comments, and I haven't worked with it in a while to be able to offer more info. But FWIW, it's been fine and useful for me.

Re:I mostly have RH experience (1)

Nidhogg (161640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8153966)

Oh I don't doubt that a bit Sam. I'm sure there's a reason it's the most popular distro. I just don't what the reason is having never used it.

Package management doesn't concern me since the onset of swaret which is a godsend.

Thanks for the reply.

In great slashdot tradition: (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 10 years ago | (#8153742)

The answers should be:
  • Go Debian!
  • Go FreeBSD!
  • You really want Windows 2003 Sever, it is so much more easy to manage

I have never used RedHat either (well, yes, once back in 1995 or so). Anyways, if you feel most comfortable with Slackware, then take that. I for one know the slackware config files quite well, and anything like SuSE, RedHat, Debian just confuses me. If the machine is on a separate network, well protected from the internet, you can set it up and even don't worry too much about security patches. I'm pretty sure there are servers around that still are runninging some very ancient version of good old Slack.

The only other thing I could advise is to ask your boss to let you try out RedHat and investigate if you could manage. I'd do this if my boss wants RedHat or if you think that having a service contract with RedHat is the only way. The use of those machines sounds indeed quite simple, so a support contract might not be needed.

Re:In great slashdot tradition: (1)

Nidhogg (161640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8154023)

You really want Windows 2003 Sever, it is so much more easy to manage

Sever? Is that some kind of slip there JtS?

And it's not.

I've already moved us to a 2003 native AD domain and it's already bit me in the ass. Cat wants a one-way trust setup between us which I don't have a problem with except for the fact that I moved us to a *.local domain name. Cat's still on a 2000 AD domain. Wanna guess what their DNS can't resolve?

Bastards. Now I have to rename our domain.

My boss won't have a problem with giving me time to play with it. I'll probably decide fairly quickly what I'm going to do. I was just looking for input.

Thanks.

Re:In great slashdot tradition: (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 10 years ago | (#8154235)

Chill down man... The list was a joke, you know, like typical slashbots. It might of course be a freudian slip, since I don't hold Windows in very high regards for anything that touches serving. (Read: my *personal* servers both run OpenBSD and I am mucho contento with that) Look, I ssh into my machines all the time and edit the config files with plain old vi, and I like it that way. With Windows? Uhm? Terminal services, perhaps, but I've never seen it in action and must be a resource hog like none else.

My reply was actually just trying to be the voice of reason. Go what you are familiar with is reasonable in this context because we're just talking about two different Linux distribs.

My boss won't have a problem with giving me time to play with it.

You have luck to have a job like that. I'd post a rant about recent events at my job, but I fear they are reading my JE. I don't want to get in deeper shit than I already am: meaning, past the ears...
Then by all means: ask time, and try to understand how RH works. It's only a benefit for you to learn something new.

Re:In great slashdot tradition: (1)

Nidhogg (161640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8154492)

Heh. I know it was a joke man. I just needed to vent on the whole domain thing with Cat. But then bitching about Cat is one of my favorite pasttimes.

Slashbots don't bother me. I believe it was Em who had a rant containing the phrase "never spent in a minute in the business world". Pretty much summed it up for me.

Terminal services isn't that bad. I've got two servers running load-balanced Citrix Metaframe on top of it with 100 users connected at any one time on average. Once you get the profiles configured right it pretty much takes care of itself. I can setup a new user in under five minutes.

And that's a good point about learning something new. And I completely understand about not wanting to say anything. My boss might read /. but he doesn't know my nick. :^)

Re:In great slashdot tradition: (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 10 years ago | (#8163787)

My boss might read /. but he doesn't know my nick. :^)

Well my nick is so easy to guess that it isn't funny anymore (okay, I really did some brand-recognition marketing on my nickname). My company email gets forwared to an addres on jawtheshark.com, so some people must know about that nick. Also, I have a shark tattoo on my left arm, and many people know about it. Besides, my affinity for sharks is widely known in real life (hey, I'm wearing a tshirt with sharks on it right now).
This coupled with a bunch of (trusted) coworkers that I actually let read my journal, and the fact that the circuit board green is omnipresent on my desktop whenever I have an internet connection, makes my identification on slashdot rather easy [google.com] .
Besides... I've never really hidden my true identity. Jorg Willekens and jawtheshark are one and the same person.

Re:In great slashdot tradition: (1)

Organized Konfusion (700770) | more than 10 years ago | (#8154921)

HEY!!! TS rules even on 33.6 k dialup! (at which point ssh sucks without compression)

I've long been a Red Hat user (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 10 years ago | (#8153866)

and generally would have recommended it...but am still rather pissed about their EOLing Red Hat Linux and only supporting Enterprise Edition from now on (and jacking up the prices majorly).

I loathe SuSE -- or at least I loathe YaST and SuSE.Config, which irritate the hell out of me, and they tend to choke if you fiddle with conf files in a way that SuSE doesn't like and be resource hogs.

Nicest thing about Red Hat is, as far as Linux distros go, it's one that (relatively) tends to "just work" for me. I can't say that for any other distro that I've tried, including SuSE and Mandrake, and especially for Debian, all of which tend to take a lot more fiddling around in my (admittedly limited) experience.

However, being that you're an old Slack user, I'm not sure you'll be happy with either of them...I guess you'd probably be a bit happier with Red Hat, which is rather less finicky about playing with conf files and is a tad more similar to Slack's directory structure AFAICS. Maybe you should rather look into Gentoo or Debian? Or Slack again?

Other argument against Red Hat is that they're pretty ubiquitous and relatively uniform compared to Slack or Debian installs, which means that worms, etc. will most likely first be written for their flavor of Linux. I know, it's not much of an argument, but it's something to consider. (Me, I'm thinking of moving to some kind of BSD variant, possibly Darwin, on my server.)

Anyway, that's my two Euro-cents...which may well be about all it's worth.

Cheers,

Ethelred

Re:I've long been a Red Hat user (1)

Nidhogg (161640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8154058)

but am still rather pissed about their EOLing Red Hat Linux and only supporting Enterprise Edition from now on

That's one of my concerns too. If we were getting Enterprise with it then this wouldn't be an issue since support would more than likely come with it. I know I won't need support with Slack simply because I've used it for so long.

Other distro's and variants really aren't an option here. It's either RH or Slack. And if I stick with the pre-installed RH then I'll just have to tell my boss that I don't wanna hear any bitching about me having to take the time to learn and figure out if something goes wrong. He's a router guy anyways so what does he know?

Thanks Mr. Unraed.

Re:I've long been a Red Hat user (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 10 years ago | (#8154346)

Well, here's some pros and cons for you, shaken outta my sleeve:

Pros: if the RH install dies and goes to that great big /dev/null in the sky, you can always CYA and blame Red Hat. RH is more or less stable and easy enough to deal with (up2date works pretty well, though still not as good as ports; it uses xinetd for services; it has a fairly consistent, if technically non-standard, directory structure).

Cons: RHL does not like having stuff installed from source over its RPM dependencies. You can, if need be, make your own RPM spec files and do it that way, but it's unneeded hassle. You'd have a new learning curve. As noted above, up2date is not as flexible and powerful as ports or going from source like Slack or Gentoo. RH potentially has more security problems, both because of RH's default install and because of its ubiquity. And you never know when RH will kill off your distro.

So even as a Red Hat user, I'd lean towards recommending a Slack install if that's what you're familiar with and you want the stability and security. Otherwise, if you want Red Hat's warm blanket (which can suddenly go up in smoke), go that way. ;-)

HTH

Ethelred

Re:I've long been a Red Hat user (1)

Nidhogg (161640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8154510)

See that's what I was looking for really. How often does it go up in smoke and how much of a risk am I taking on that?

Because seriously... I want to set these things up, send them with one of the Help Desk guys to a branch, have them turn it on and not have to worry about it. Ever.

And for a RH user you're talking me into my beloved Slack. *sniff* Thanks brother...

Re:I've long been a Red Hat user (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157330)

See that's what I was looking for really. How often does it go up in smoke and how much of a risk am I taking on that?

Well...in terms of kernel panics or other serious problems, I've not had many to speak of. My main webserver (RH 7.x) has an uptime of 362 days, and even then the reboot was only because the server had to be physically moved; before that it was around 240 days IIRC. OTOH it did get hit with the SSL worm, and I have not had the chance to go re-install it, so I had to use Band-Aid-and-glue remote methods to try and resolve that (since it's now "compromised", strictly speaking...).

My local box is a Red Hat 9.0 install, and I don't have uptime stats on it because I don't leave it running all the time. Since it's a workstation, it's also not really all that relevant.

The server farm where my server is sitting used to mostly be RHL and SuSE installs; generally RH did better than SuSE for stability (the SuSE boxes seemed to get gummed up with high loads for strange reasons), but in the end the guy who owns and maintains that farm went over to FreeBSD, and since then has had far less problems. (The farm serves a major German news site, ergo the worries.)

But as for head-to-head comparisons of RH to Slack, I don't have any. I've only played with Slack a little, mainly out of curiosity, and decided RH was right for me because of the way it's a bit more idiot-proof for maintaining (same reason I chose not to go with Debian).

So I'm going from hunches -- and given your experience with Slack, and from what I've heard of Slack, I'd say you're probably better off with what you know -- and Slack generally has an good security reputation (even if it's mostly good old "security through obscurity").

As always, though, YMMV. ;-)

Because seriously... I want to set these things up, send them with one of the Help Desk guys to a branch, have them turn it on and not have to worry about it. Ever.

Well, that's the thing: if for any reason they end up maintaining the thing, RH would be better because of all the tools that come with it; and if you're run over by a truck (suspiciously with Washington plates and "MS" in the license number), good luck having anyone else find out what the deal is with your Slack install (unless you keep meticulous logs). At least in my experience, it's much easier finding my way around someone else's RH install than a Slack or Gentoo or BSD install, just because of the roll-your-own nature of the thing.

So there are advantages to each...

And for a RH user you're talking me into my beloved Slack. *sniff* Thanks brother...

*g* Hey, my attitude is "whatever works" -- I really am not that much of a jihadist for anything, so long as it isn't Windows (and even Windows has its uses...like for games *g*).

Besides, often it's best to stick with what you know, and in your case that's Slackware. If you were entirely a blank slate, I'd lean more towards Red Hat.

FWIW my main platform is Mac OS X, and I'm very happy with it -- but I'm not yet ready or willing to consider it as a server OS. I've been meaning to give Darwin/PPC a whirl on an old Mac of mine for testing, but have had trouble finding a version that works on it...so I may yet give NetBSD a try instead. (PPC Linux distros are all kinda crappy anymore. *sigh*)

Cheers,

Ethelred

Linux from Scratch (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 10 years ago | (#8156964)

Depending upon what you need, it is probably best to go with a hand-rolled distro. It'll take maybe a day of your time to make an image you can put on all of the boxes.

Both RH and Slack have problems. Slack's init style is particularly annoying to me. Ok, I take that back, Slack's init style is completely and abysmally stupid. However, you can compile things from source with Slack easily instead of it being like pulling teeth.

Redhat has this recent annoying habit of EOLing their products faily quickly. Slack has this annoying habit of never really supporting their products to begin with(at least compared to RedHat). Both kind of suck, so I would seriously consider rolling your own.

Upsides to rolling your own:
1. You are absolutely sure it has ONLY what it needs and nothing more.
2. Less to patch, you only need to patch services.
3. You can keep another distro on there as a backup and instruct helpdesk techs to boot the box and select option 2 off LILO.
4. No one is going to EOL it.
5. You'll know the system inside and out.
6. Every package is optimized for your system.
7. You can keep exacting documentation.

Since it looks like all you'll need is the GNU tools, SAMBA and SSL/SSH, I'd go that route. Less to worry about.

Remember one of the big things you'll need to keep up with is OpenSSL and ssh regardless of which distro you choose. But, since you read slashdot, you'll see articles on the main page whenever there's a possible root exploit. Expect to need to touch(not physically) the box about once every 3 months to keep it up to date unless you trust scripts. If it's well firewalled or not internet connected, then about once a year. Just for log-file grooming if nothing else.

I would go with Slack if it's an either or choice. Simply because it's easy-peasy to compile things from source for it without breaking everything, and RH support dries up.

Oh, and you will NEED to reboot the box at least once a year, either as a sacrifice to the uptime gods, or to upgrade the kernel.

You might want to play around with *BSD at some point if you like Slack, not for this mind you(although BSD would fit the bill). Slack and BSD are like siblings in my mind.
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