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Newb-Friendly Linux Flavor For LAMP Server?

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the setting-the-bar-low dept.

Linux 382

First time accepted submitter bhcompy writes "I need to setup a system to serve 2500 users and I've been looking at a LAMP setup. This is not commercial, more of a personal side project for some friends. I've no experience configuring or administering a Linux server having worked with MS and PICK based solutions my whole life, so I'm looking for something that will be relatively straightforward to implement and not a chore to manage and preferably not completely CLI. I will be serving a forum(phpBB 3 suits my needs and seems adequate) and a variety of PHP driven content with a MySQL backend. Requirements are PHP 5.3.0+ and MySQL 5+. Suggestions?"

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first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37507864)

first post!!!

Bitnami (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 3 years ago | (#37508012)

Bitnami, Bitmami, Bitnami []

Re:Bitnami (2)

postbigbang (761081) | about 3 years ago | (#37508316) has great LAMP appliances, along with other loadable VMs. Free.

SME server (3, Funny)

Raleel (30913) | about 3 years ago | (#37507872)

I haven't verified that it has all the versions that you want, but I've used SME server on and off over the years for such things. It's quite newb friendly, and not completely command line. There are quite a few other options as well.

Easy. (1)

grim4593 (947789) | about 3 years ago | (#37507882)

Pick Debian or something Debian based like Ubuntu.

Re:Easy. (3, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 3 years ago | (#37507898)

Ubuntu has the largest mindshare, and the most nubie friendly support [] as well as paid support if you get in over your head. You can install the "Server" version, and with "sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop" you would have the full GUI. You you can run a server on the desktop version, but with that many users, you will want a server kernel.

Re:Easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37507944)

Server kernel?

Re:Easy. (2)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 3 years ago | (#37508108)

The default kernel installed with Ubuntu server id different from the default kernel installed with Ubuntu desktop. Short version is that the desktop kernel is optimized for a single user at the desktop, where the server kernel is optimized for lots of threads, but a slightly laggier desktop experience.

Re:Easy. (1)

drosboro (1046516) | about 3 years ago | (#37507954)

I agree with the suggestion to use Ubuntu, especially due to the massive amount of old forum posts online that will answer most questions. However, installing ubuntu-desktop will certainly give you a GUI, but that GUI won't particularly help you to administer your LAMP stack.

Going completely CLI isn't as bad as you might think - there's a relatively small number of commands you'd need to use. My advice is to find a tutorial or small book on setting up an Ubuntu LAMP server, and then keep a personal "cheat-sheet" of the commands you've been using, because you'll probably want them again at some point. And, on the plus side, you learn something new!

Re:Easy. (3, Informative)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 3 years ago | (#37508120)

Yes. Don't fear the CLI. As the GP says, UbuntuForums is a great resource, and in many cases you can cut-n-paste commands directly from there into your terminal. If the OP is completely new to the CLI, he/she will want to be cautious about this and do some research (RTFman-page) to make sure the commands do what's wanted.

From the summary, it sounds like the OP wants to set up a forum for some group. Therefore, most of the "hard" part (the CLI stuff) will be required during initial setup. Once phpBB is up and running, most of the admin stuff will be done within the native phpBB interface.

One suggestion: get familiar with one of the numerous backup/restore utilities available. Google around for a comparative review and you'll probably find one that fits your GUI requirements. Figure out how to use it (preferably before you go live with the server) so you can easily save your bacon in case of a catastrophic fuckup.

Re:Easy. (3, Interesting)

Walter White (1573805) | about 3 years ago | (#37508136)

I agree with the suggestion to use Ubuntu, especially due to the massive amount of old forum posts online that will answer most questions. However, installing ubuntu-desktop will certainly give you a GUI, but that GUI won't particularly help you to administer your LAMP stack.

I find it very useful to have a GUI when administering an Ubuntu system. It's great to have a couple CLI windows open in which commands can be typed. I can 'tail' a log file while I type commands in another terminal window. A web browser can be used to check the results of commands that will affect the outward facing parts of the system.

When you get to using the on line support forums to help deal with issues, it's great to be able to copy a command from the web browser into a term window. I do have CLI only Ubuntu installations but I administer by SSHing into the box and administering it from the GUI on another PC.

And WRT your suggestion to keep a cheat sheet of common commands, I do that as well. I keep them in a text file so I can cut and paste them into a terminal window.

Of course this can all be done using something like PuTTY from a Windows PC but is slightly more convenient on the system console using X copy/paste. (Highlight text and paste with or middle mouse button.)

Re:Easy. (1)

drosboro (1046516) | about 3 years ago | (#37508192)

Good points - I was thinking along the lines of a VPS where there's no physical access to the console (since that what I generally use for projects like this). I generally keep two to four SSH sessions running, along with my web browser and whatever other software I'd like on the client side (usually a text editor for keeping my cheat-sheet), so I do use a GUI - just not on the server itself.

If you were actually working on the server itself, it would make a lot of sense to have a GUI for exactly the reasons you suggest.

Re:Easy. (3, Insightful)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about 3 years ago | (#37508314)

I'm surprised that no one here has suggested Suse/OpenSUSE yet. It's extremely easy to install and set up, with a LAMP stack, ready to go off the disk. I realize that there are some philosophical reasons amongst the free software community against Suse, but I've never cared about those, just to be frank. And once you do get familiar with the CLI, Suse has an advantage that I haven't found in any other major distro: I can go in remotely with SSH and use the CLI Yast program. which uses an NCurses interface that duplicates the GUI version of Yast. Everything's in the same place. This is absolutely wonderful. :)

I've used Ubuntu, and the last thing I want to do is start a flame war. Ubuntu LTS is extremely stable and yes, the online support is excellent. However ... it is almost entirely CLI for administration (unless you install Webmin/Virtualmin, as someone else here suggested), and if you go into the Ubuntu forums with a problem, the help provided will almost certainly be CLI. Also, speaking from experience, if it's a really puzzling problem, you'll get two or three conflicting suggestions. (Again, speaking from experience.)

Remember, the original poster's experience is entirely with Microsoft-style stuff. That's where I was a decade ago, I can still remember how difficult it was to transition to Linux. Mandrake (now Mandriva) made my switch a breeze, even though others were screaming at me to use Red Hat or Debian (both of which I tried, and both of which almost soured me to Linux entirely). When you recommend something to the OP, keep that in mind. What's easy for YOU (going into /etc and editing a file, for example) might completely baffle him or her. Now add in the fact that most error reporting under Linux is via the log files, instead of pop-up screens.

Re:Easy. (1)

afabbro (33948) | about 3 years ago | (#37508406)

I'm surprised that no one here has suggested Suse/OpenSUSE yet.

SuSE is still around?

Re:Easy. (1, Informative)

Keruo (771880) | about 3 years ago | (#37507910)

Debian testing should fit those requirements nicely. It's stable enough to be run in non-profit production.

Re:Easy. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508206)

Debian testing should fit those requirements nicely. It's stable enough to be run in non-profit production.

Ignore this "advice". Never use Debian testing for anything other than playing around or personal usage. There is breakage all the time, something you do not want to deal with on a server. Just stick to stable.

Re:Easy. (1)

http (589131) | about 3 years ago | (#37508360)

Pay no attention to the troll, it lies. I notice you said this was personal, as in, not a non-profit. Anyways, non-profits have no lesser need of stability.
Debian's testing branch is something that they are, well, testing. As in, they're not sure it works. One offhand combination of installing scheme9 and apache-mod-lisp could bring things to a grinding halt. If anyone other than yourself is expecting it to be available in the morning, use debian stable. Heck, if you'd like it to be available in the morning without being up part of the night, use debian stable.

As for the CLI, I've got news you might think bad, but it's not. Administering a LAMP stack without basic familiarity with a shell is like using a web browser without knowing what a scrollbar is - you may be able to do stuff, but not a lot, and not well. The tools that debian includes are command line oriented (as in, no webmin) because point-and-click interfaces require pointing and clicking, and are truly resistant to automation. Automation makes life easier, freeing up time better spent with wine and women (and/or moonshine and men, depending).

The good news is, shells are not terribly difficult to learn the basics of, though it is possible to go into very intricate depth. If you settle on bash, I recommend visiting [] once in a while.

Re:Easy. (1)

oakgrove (845019) | about 3 years ago | (#37508402)

For historical reasons, it is generally better to go with unstable rather than testing due to the way packages are merged. From the Debian FAQ [] :

3.1.5 Could you tell me whether to install testing or unstable?

This is a rather subjective issue. There is no perfect answer but only a "wise guess" could be made while deciding between unstable and testing. My personal order of preference is Stable, Unstable and Testing. The issue is like this:

Stable is rock solid. It does not break.

Testing breaks less often than Unstable. But when it breaks, it takes a long time for things to get rectified. Sometimes this could be days and it could be months at times.

Unstable changes a lot, and it can break at any point. However, fixes get rectified in many occasions in a couple of days and it always has the latest releases of software packaged for Debian.

But there are times when tracking testing would be beneficial as opposed to unstable. The author such situation due to the gcc transition from gcc3 to gcc4. He was trying to install the labplot package on a machine tracking unstable and it could not be installed in unstable as some of its dependencies have undergone gcc4 transition and some have not. But the package in testing was installable on a testing machine as the gcc4 transitioned packages had not "trickled down" to testing.

Re:Easy. (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37508116)

1) rely on Debian and their 500 mirrors to keep your security up to date. The debian maintainer group outnumbers you, oh, about a hundred to one, so if you're planning on deploying your own hand compiled security patches you're doing it wrong... just "apt-get update" and "apt-get upgrade" on a regular basis and/or when you see something interesting on the security mailing list.

2) Speaking of #1 above, "apt-get install phpbb3". Its a maintained package... Unless you're a better maintainer than the package maintainer (sometimes this happens) you are better off using the standard supported package.

with a MySQL backend

Don the asbestos suit... I'm not going to flame you, but others will, especially since phpbb3 supposedly works fine with the php5-pgsql module.

MySQL is SO much easier to maintain (0)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 3 years ago | (#37508274)

Seriously, that's the issue with PGSQL. There's almost no comparison, having maintained both RDBMS for extended periods of time. For simple bulk indexed storage tasks with very high read/write ratios like most webapps have it just isn't worth the pain of dealing with the idiosyncracies of PGSQL. MySQL 'just works', is a lot easier to automate, requires less maintenance, and tasks like migrating to another server or making a simple replica is trivially easy. They are both good database servers, MySQL is just 5x easier to deal with.

Re:MySQL is SO much easier to maintain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508466)

Having done the same with PGSQL, and have zero maintenance aside from backups, what the fuck are you talking about. PostgreSQL requires little to no maintenance save only for very large and heavily loaded (r/w/u/i) DBs. PostgreSQL scales better, has vastly fewer idiosyncracies (which MySQL is extremely well known for), far more standards compliant, has a reputation for extremely high reliability and robustness, so on and so on. Seriously, there isn't any comparison. Unless you just want to go with what you know, ignoring everything else, picking MySQL for any new project over that of PostgreSQL is idiocy.

Re:Easy. (1)

johnmorganjr (960148) | about 3 years ago | (#37508390)

Debian is really the best way to go. It is so well maintained, I've been using it since Potato and am hooked for life. I have the kids computer set up with Ubuntu and it seems to work alright for them but if you ask me Debian is the way to go.

Wow (1, Offtopic)

asto21 (1797450) | about 3 years ago | (#37507888)

You sure have a lot of friends!

Re:Wow (0)

flinkflonk (573023) | about 3 years ago | (#37508186)

I bet with that number they're just "friends". As in facebook-friends.

Try Virtualmin (2)

fatgreek (453627) | about 3 years ago | (#37507894)

I suggest Virtualmin on top of Ubuntu. Its easy to configure and setup and maintain.

Fedora or RHEL/CentOS (1)

Karrde712 (125745) | about 3 years ago | (#37507906)

There's a nice article here on setting up the LAMP stack on Fedora (or its relatives, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS): []

Re:Fedora or RHEL/CentOS (1)

bahstid (927038) | about 3 years ago | (#37507986)

Don't have much to compare it with, but its easy on Fedora.... only commandline you need at least as far as LAMP goes is setting up your mysql root password. Although Ubuntu has historically been the noob-friendly version, changes with the latest version has been chasing a lot of people away. That said I'm a KDE user anyway, so don't know if the Gnome changes have affected Fedora too.

On any modern Linux, think LAMP is going to be pretty much part of the install process anyway... the part that might frustrate is getting your head around firewalls and permissions, but that doesn't necessarily involve commandline either. The Red Hat family has a good server reputation and you could pick up a bit of a marketable skill while you're at it...

turnkeylinux (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37507914)

LAMP Stack
Turnkey provide many popular stacks, dev environments etc on pre-configured virtual machines. Can be run from sny host linux/windows.

Highly recommended

Sorry, but go with what you know (4, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 years ago | (#37507928)

For a completely unknown platform I'd suggest mucking about with a very small project with just yourself as a user or maybe a couple of others that don't care if it's down or broken. Once you know your way around you can then move on to something else.
Making stupid mistakes in front of an audience of 2500 users would be embarrassing no matter how trivial the subject matter of the site is. You are better off making the stupid newbie mistakes where only you can see them. Having test and production environments only go so far if there is nobody in the project that really knows what you are testing for - if you don't know what you are doing your stupid stuff will go live.

Re:Sorry, but go with what you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508338)

I would still encourage going with a LAMP solution. Make a virtual environment first to cut your teeth on it -- use the forums and online help to gain some comfort level with it and implement what you learn into "production".

You avoid making mistakes for the 2500+ users by focusing any changes in the virtual test environment. This can be done for free with a number of options and provide a reasonable buffer between the learning curve and making changes in production.

Re:Sorry, but go with what you know (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 3 years ago | (#37508508)

I was thinking in those lines too. Why go for Linux when you have experience with Windows? And why doing your first-ever Linux deployment for a 2,500 user set-up?

The answer for the first is probably either cost or philosophy. But still I'd start much smaller when talking about a totally unknown system.

Wong Approach (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37507932)

Dear Slashdot,

I've been riding a bicycle for awhile, but lately some friends of mine need me to give them a ride around town. I've been looking at cars, preferably something where I don't have to learn how to drive. I just want to go from one place to another with it. Any suggestions?

Re:Wong Approach (0)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37508054)

Take the bus.

Re:Wong Approach (3) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508168)

I made a lrge cardboard cut-out of Mr Shuttleworth pointing towards the other wall nearer the door.
After a while I could often be heard saying, "Go-on Mark ... buy us a bus!"

Help solve the porn issue anyway.

Re:Wong Approach (0)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | about 3 years ago | (#37508244)

Dear Slashdot,

I've been riding a bicycle for awhile, but lately some friends of mine need me to give them a ride around town. I've been looking at cars, preferably something where I don't have to learn how to drive. I just want to go from one place to another with it. Any suggestions?

This is how thousands (millions?) of Wongs have approached your transportation problem: Cycle rickshaw. []

So, is "Newb-friendly Linus" is an oxymoron? Ouch.

Ubuntu and Virtualmin (1)

watermark (913726) | about 3 years ago | (#37507942)

Ubuntu 10.04 server with Virtualmin installed. Makes managing one or more websites dead simple. It has one click install for phpBB through virtualmin, has php5.3, and MySQL 5.x. I use this config in a small commercial setting and it's been working well for years. My boss is a MS junkie, so it had to be easy if I was going to deploy a LAMP stack. Without webmin/virtualmin, I'm not sure we'd have any Linux servers...

Re:Ubuntu and Virtualmin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508050)

Yep, I cant think of a more unpleasant way to administer a LAMP stack than Ubuntu and Virtualmin, it must be 'newb-friendly' then...

CentOS (3, Informative)

firegate (134408) | about 3 years ago | (#37507946)

CentOS and RHEL have become the industry standard for LAMP setups, for whatever its worth. Given that you probably don't need a support contract, CentOS 6 would fit the bill nicely. A free control panel like Webmin would probably make your life a bit easier in the configuration department.

Re:CentOS (1)

thechemic (1329333) | about 3 years ago | (#37508348)

I agree. I was asking myself the same question about LAMP stacks a couple years ago. I ended up choosing CentOS and Virtualmin/Webmin. It's been fairly painless to manage and it just runs forever.

Re:CentOS (1)

HTMLSpinnr (531389) | about 3 years ago | (#37508450)

Be very careful on how you expose Webmin though. It wields a lot of power - both for you and an attacker who discovers the open port and a weak password (or other exploit). Personally, if I were to use it at all, I'd only expose it on localhost, and require using SSH port forwarding to access it.

CentOS 6 is a good recommendation though if you have background with Red Hat, or want to pursue a future support career with a RHEL based environment. If not, Ubuntu is equally well supported.

Go mainstream: Ubuntu or RHEL (5, Informative)

Nemilar (173603) | about 3 years ago | (#37507948)

I'd suggest that you go with one of the mainstream/common Linux server distros: either RHEL (for which you can use CentOS, which is essentially the same, minus the RedHat-copyrighted bits) or Ubuntu Server.

Either of these can be configured to use a GUI. I'd actually pick RHEL/CentOS over Ubuntu, and during the install (which is graphical), you can select to install a web+database server along with a Desktop (GUI). The installation is fairly straightforward; the most complex part is arguably the partitioning, although you can use the guided partitioner to just use all free space on the disk. Partitioning isn't something that's linux-centric, although the partition scheme for Linux is perhaps a bit more complex than what'd you would expect coming from a Windows world (dedicated swap device, LVM to virtualize the partitions, etc..). If you use the guided "do it for me" option, you can avoid getting your hands wet with this complexity.

The primary reason I'd suggest going mainstream is that the support will be there. If you choose some OS that no one really uses, you'll be hard-pressed to find distro-centric documentation for it. If you go with Ubuntu or RedHat, you can use Google to get through any obstacles you may find. There are plenty of tutorials available when you google for a simple [do this task] on [this distribution]. For example: [] []

While you could probably use this documentation to complete a task on another distro, it's helpful to have a tutorial for the specific OS you're using; all the commands will be the same, and any dependency problems, etc... will all be accounted for.

Additionally, should you decide that you want to learn more and play around, having something mainstream installed means that your learning experience will be directly relevant to anything you want to do down the line.

As an alternative, you could go with a pre-built phpBB appliance. [] is a single ISO or VDK that is built on Ubuntu Server and comes pre-configured with phpBB (they have many other applications available as well - highly recommended!). It'll ask you a few questions during the install, and once complete, you'll boot up into a fully-functional Linux server with phpBB already running.

Re:Go mainstream: Ubuntu or RHEL (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 3 years ago | (#37508078)

Well, Ubuntu Server doesn't come with a GUI, so I would suggest normal desktop Ubuntu and then download the servers from the Software Center that you need. Also, go with LTS.

Re:Go mainstream: Ubuntu or RHEL (2)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 3 years ago | (#37508164)

Well, Ubuntu Server doesn't come with a GUI

Yes it does. [] Hell, when I started typing "Ubuntu Server" the suggestion on google was GUI... And you will want the server kernel, not the desktop kernel with a few thousand threads going on.

Re:Go mainstream: Ubuntu or RHEL (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 3 years ago | (#37508494)

Well, by default Ubuntu server doesn't have GUI, but you can install one if you want to.
Also, what is the difference between a server and a desktop kernel (guess mainly scheduling and paging strategies), and how significant is it? (I have not much experience running Linux servers.)

Side project for some friends, eh? (2, Funny)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | about 3 years ago | (#37507958)

Is that you, Zuckerberg? I'm not setting up any systems for you without a firm contract.

Re:Side project for some friends, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508292)

I did think of - you do it when you think of an ebook/washing your face in the bath, but alas my dad was to mean with the internet that I was unable to register the domain in 2002.
I use 123reg now.

Re:Side project for some friends, eh? (1)

fat_mike (71855) | about 3 years ago | (#37508350)

Yeah, like Zuckerberg and the OP actually have friends!

Debian (2)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 3 years ago | (#37507964)

The essential, and without any brown lipstick smeared all over.

CentOS or Debian(Ubuntu) (3, Informative)

opportunityisnowhere (1877452) | about 3 years ago | (#37507968)

These are arguably the best options for beginners. Both have great communities and any issue you have you can typically find a solution on Google in 5 minutes. Ubuntu even has a LAMP package that will setup everything(well, most everything) you need. Couple pointers: Disable root login via SSH as soon as possible. You're asking for a bruteforce attack if you leave that enabled. Set up something like fail2ban or OSSEC monitoring to help thwart bots that are trying to break into your server.

Re:CentOS or Debian(Ubuntu) (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 3 years ago | (#37508176)

Disable root login via SSH as soon as possible.

Already done on Ubuntu. There is no "root" account on Debian based systems unless you go to some trouble to make one.

But good pointer on fail2ban. Good thing to have.

Re:CentOS or Debian(Ubuntu) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508252)

Not true. Not even close. Ubuntu or Knoppix have little use for root, but Debian proper definitely has root. You can choose the 'login as root?' option at install time.

Re:CentOS or Debian(Ubuntu) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508326)

Perhaps Debian based systems don't have root accounts, I wouldn't know, but Debian itself does.

I stopped using fail2ban when botnets became so huge every attempt came from a different ip address, making fail2ban useless. Has something changed?

Re:CentOS or Debian(Ubuntu) (1)

opportunityisnowhere (1877452) | about 3 years ago | (#37508530)

I've only used OSSEC which I can configure to permanently ban any brute force attempts. By default it just puts a temporary ban which is better than nothing.

Re:CentOS or Debian(Ubuntu) (2)

hjf (703092) | about 3 years ago | (#37508322)

Disable root login via SSH as soon as possible.

How is this any safe than having a normal user be able to "su" anyway?

How is it any safer than having root access with only certificates and no keyboard-interactive?

Disabling SSH root acess is as stupid as blocking ICMP for "security". Man, all those ICMP-blocking fags are in for a surprise with IPv6...

Re:CentOS or Debian(Ubuntu) (2)

oakgrove (845019) | about 3 years ago | (#37508518)

I'm shooting entirely from the hip here but I'm guessing that if you allow logins via root, the crackers already have at least one half of your username/password combo whereas if you disable it, they have to guess them both.

Re:CentOS or Debian(Ubuntu) (1)

opportunityisnowhere (1877452) | about 3 years ago | (#37508520)

So two things with bruteforcing, you need to know a valid user and you need to get their password. If you leave root enabled, you just gave away half of that puzzle, and unless you have some sort of monitoring to smack down bruteforcers you can expect your server to get hacked eventually. It's safer just having su priv's in my account because someone has to guess my actual account name to get access. On that note, it's good to avoid using common names, just check the sshd logs on any public facing SSH server, brute force attempts happen 24/7. Cert/no keyboard is okay, but leaving root enabled with a password is dumb.

Re:CentOS or Debian(Ubuntu) (2)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 3 years ago | (#37508544)

It's not so much that it is "safer", per se. Forcing users to login as themselves and then use sudo allows you to restrict access to groups based on roles, as well as leaving an audit trail that allows for greater accountability. If everyone can go all willie-nilly around acting as root, then you're screwed when no one owns up to fucking something up. Of course, this also means needing to disable 'sudo su' for all but the lead admin or a couple of other seniors for the policy to be really enforced. However, it doesn't sound like this guy needs to do all of that, and in fact would probably take a while to figure out how to configure his sudoers file properly, since apparently he has no experience with Unix or Linux systems.

As to his question though, I really like RHEL and am using it a lot at work these days. I used to work at a web hosting company that ran on CentOS, and its ok, but they've really dropped the ball with the 6.x series. I have one CentOS 6 server at work running PostgreSQL and MongoDB for some projects, and the core system packages don't get updated when the RHEL systems do. Additionally, you'll want EPEL and RPMFusion added to your Yum repos to get most of the "good" stuff that gets left out of core packages, like tmux, which whips screen's ass so hard it isn't even funny. After so many years using Free/Open BSD and Red Hat (well before RHEL), I honestly can't stand Ubuntu server. It is completely counter-intuitive for me. If you don't have anything to unlearn, it's probably ok, and not needing to add additional repositories would be a bonus.

It really sounds like he should just buy some cheap shared hosting that has something like cPanel and automated software installers and skip all of this, unless he's really, really interested in learning and taking the time to do it right.

tkl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508024)

i 'm using TKL linux. Highly recommended.

Learn the CLI (3, Insightful)

pcjunky (517872) | about 3 years ago | (#37508030)

A simple Ubuntu or Debian 5 installation will fill the bill nicely. Webmin will take some of the sting out of having to learn the CLI. However any true IT professional should learn and use the CLI (Even newer MS servers can not be installed sans GUI). Once learned, it is quicker, simpler, more powerful way to do things than any other method I know.

Don't let the unfriendly reputation of NIX scare you away. I did 16 years ago when I started our ISP. Went entirely Windows NT servers. What a mistake! These things were constantly failing for various reasons. I began learning Linux and slowly replacing the failed servers with Linux systems and they just didn't fail unless some hardware failed (not nearly as frequent).

Life is much easer now and I spend very little time on server maintenance.

Re:Learn the CLI (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508126)

Debian 5 is outdated. Debian 6 ("Squeeze") is the new Stable.

2500 users? Not really (1)

Bazman (4849) | about 3 years ago | (#37508052)

I thought you meant you wanted 2500 users on the Linux system itself. That's a fairly big /etc/passwd file, and if they all log in at once then I suspect even a high-end system will crawl a bit.

What you really want is a system that can run a forum that can support 2500 users, but you don't say how many simultaneously, or anything else useful. For 2500 simultaneous users, all posting and reading, you might need more than one box...

So, proper requirements spec plzkthx.

Re:2500 users? Not really (2) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508420)

Well how this sound for anon's requirement.

The website is called

I would like at least 2000 registered users by next side of christmas '11.

I have a hp (amdXP) and a hp pavilion (amd chip unknown/ to be updated to your specs.) both system are pre-2006.

The idea is to use the 2nd updateable hp as the server, administering a wiki site. The wiki-site would be the basic wiki with one exception, the lingua-franca being MANX . The user would be able to log on and edit the various wiki-parts that the trisquel-user would find appropriate in an effort to bolster another language to the trisquel if not the Ubuntu family. The same aterations would apply as on the normal wiki-site with the mode of input being slightly different. The input-er would change/ or add a maximum of 300 words/ (Kb) jpeg (in Manx) and the user would hit the update button. A pop-up would occur saying that a bridge had been opened and that the upload would not take longer than the 300 second counter as displayed. After the upload is complete to the amdXP machine a-nother message would be left as to whether the upload had occured/ the upload was accepted as to be admitted to the wiki/the upload was to unrecognisable (too big) for the wiki ... then the system operator ("Hey" (let's face it Fonzy was crap)) would be able adopt the text/picture to the wiki by making the necessary changes to the server hp pavilion (plz suggest an iso here peeps!). The update from the first to the 2nd computer may well be done remotely if the server operator is pre-disposed due to hosp. etc
The system get updated and updated as the slashdot effect takes effect until cannonical which was originally a manx company (as of 1996) realises that we need inclusion not exclusion to the Ubuntu family there-by creating an important extension to the poor-man's armoury of things to do on an idle Sunday.

Oh here's the Spotify http link:

Warmest regards.

Maybe Amahi? (1)

dr2chase (653338) | about 3 years ago | (#37508060)

I am nearly equally Linux-ignorant, I set up Amahi as a "home cloud" (googling for that is what led me to it). It runs on Fedora by default. It's been mostly easy to install and maintain, and I even managed to install Trac on my own with not too much pain (given that I already have installed Trac on MacOS and Solaris).

phpBB is one of their apps that is in beta, where I suspect it will be for a while (it's volunteer-mostly), but the apps so far are click-and-go. I administer the box with webmin, which in practice means installing software updates from time-to-time, and watching the Smart status on one of my drives indicate that it is dangerously old and in need of replacement. No handy Linux app that I can see yet that replicates the user-friendly behavior of MacOS SuperDuper (sigh).

Go hosted? (1)

naelurec (552384) | about 3 years ago | (#37508066)

A forum and some custom LAMP pages ... soooo why not focus on that and leave the server/hosting/etc to someone else? There are a lot of LAMP hosting providers out there that you could use for a few $$ per month.. Go with a company that can give you SSH access so you can get familiar with some CLI management (or concurrently attempting to run the same stuff on a virtualbox linux setup) and perhaps down the road once your more comfortable with the LAMP config, then migrate the site to your own server.

Re:Go hosted? (1)

gladbach (527602) | about 3 years ago | (#37508104)

I'd agree with the hosted part. If you really want to roll your own, I'd personally go nginx and php5-fpm with mysql backend rather than apache. Its much more likely to perform well with a 2500 user phpbb than apache.

Re:Go hosted? (3, Informative)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 3 years ago | (#37508504)

I'd personally go nginx and php5-fpm with mysql backend rather than apache. Its much more likely to perform well with a 2500 user phpbb than apache.

That's really a side effect of not setting up the OS and Apache properly.

If you're expecting a large amount of simultaneous connections, configure the OS to provide that many file descriptors to Apache and configure Apache's MPM preforking accordingly to that ratio with mod_php. I suggest avoiding threaded MPM for security, recovery and stability reasons.

You will suddenly find that nginx's performance is not so great in comparison and doesn't have the disadvantage of PHP-FPM's additional usage of file descriptors.

Apache isn't very good against nginx when it's starved of file descriptors, but that's normally due to not configuring the system accordingly for the load expected. Regardless, by not configuring your system accordingly, you're generating additional CPU load as the software has to fall back on other more CPU intensive methods to deal with the lack of file descriptors. The extra load on the CPU usually costs more power as well as the potential capacity if it had more file descriptors available.

Re:Go hosted? (1)

Ariven (256118) | about 3 years ago | (#37508370)

Yup that was my thought as well, I use DreamHost for my hosting.. (just paid the bill so its on my mind).. not unreasonably priced, they have great tech support and you can do quite a bit with it.

Conflicting goals? (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37508074)

not a chore to manage and preferably not completely CLI.

Aren't these inherently directly conflicting goals?

Easy to manage, is you change one little thing in your puppet config and puppet magically makes it happen, instead of having to babysit everything.

Easy to manage is someone tells you "make /etc/apache2/apache2.conf look exactly like this" instead of "click on the 2nd icon from the right that looks like two mating centipedes, then look randomly about the screen until you find the icon that looks like a discarded kleenex, oh you're seeing an icon that looks like a black hole, well, then click two pages back" etc for about ten minutes.

An analogy is "teach me physics, without any of that tedious math stuff".

Re:Conflicting goals? (0)

melikamp (631205) | about 3 years ago | (#37508236)

"teach me physics, without any of that tedious math stuff"

Start by reading something on Intelligent Falling, and go from there.

If you're a Pickie.... (1)

TSpec (8858) | about 3 years ago | (#37508090)

Why not use ScarletDME? It's a fork of the open source OpenQM project and would handle your needs quite well. There's a couple of ways to access it via PHP as well. If you know Pick no reason not to stay with it. :) []

Why not WAMP? (3, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 years ago | (#37508106)

Have you even thought about a WAMP setup? A poorly admined Linux box is worse than a well managed Windows one. - from a *nix sysadmin

Re:Why not WAMP? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#37508154)

Have you even thought about a WAMP setup? A poorly admined Linux box is worse than a well managed Windows one. - from a *nix sysadmin

I've come across some WAMP setups, and in my experience, the AMP part is harder to maintain on Windows than on Linux... and, doesn't seem to run as well under load though part of that may be the poor administration of the AMP stack in the first place.

Re:Why not WAMP? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 3 years ago | (#37508548)

If you are smart enough to do Windows right, you don't need to use it as some sort of delusional crutch.

A poorly managed Windows box is far more dangerous than a poorly managed Linux one and that's exactly what you will get if you try to tell people that they can use Windows if they want to be lazy. They will be lazy and disaster will ensue.

I don't think I've seen anyone mention yet that the P in LAMP/WAMP is the most problematic thing here. It's not something to be trifled with. The new user needs to understand and respect the potential security implications of running someone else's PHP app and the need to keep security patches current.

The "I will run Windows because it will let me be an idiot" attitude is entirely inappropriate for any 3rd party PHP app you are going to expose the world.

This is just all we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508128)

... yet another server "admin" running a system he knows nothing about, just waiting to become the next spam server when his insecure installation get pwned (and it will be just a matter of time).

How about a web-hotel (3, Insightful)

TheSunborn (68004) | about 3 years ago | (#37508130)

How about just buying a webhotel instead of setting up a server?  I mean if you just need to run php5.3 and mysql there is really no need to setup your own server.

2500 Friends? (0)

mathimus1863 (1120437) | about 3 years ago | (#37508140)

Who is posting on slashdot who has 2500 friends?! Wait, does anyone have 2500 friends besides 16 year-old girls on facebook?

Get someone else to do it (1, Insightful)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 3 years ago | (#37508142)

If you don't understand Linux and won't/can't want to take the time to learn it properly, then it would make more sense to get a hosting account from a reputable web hoster. Or if you insist on running the machine yourself, hire someone to do the initial setup for you.

In todays environment, you need to understand a great deal about many OS level things, most of which revolve around security. Firewalls, mail configurations, etc. Not setting these things up correctly can have bad consequences. For example, your server IP address is blacklisted by RBLs because you left your SMTP port open and spammers started using it.

turnkey at bluehost (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508172)

if you have to ask this question, then don't do it. just have it hosted at bluehost. setting up a wordpress site at bluehost is so easy anyone can do it. and really, as easy as an ubuntu lamp server it to setup and administer, you're much better off just having the whole shebang hosted. if you really insist on doing it yourself, nothing is easier than ubuntu server. during install, you can automagically install a 'configured' lamp setup.

Add Webmin to your server (1)

seanmcgrath (112551) | about 3 years ago | (#37508180) is a web based system administration tool that is free and runs on most Linux and BSD based systems.
It will give you an easy way to see and manage all the subsystems on a server.

Security Security Security (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | about 3 years ago | (#37508200)

Make sure your installations are up-to-date and *easy* to upgrade, and follow any program-specific "security" FAQs, instructions, manual chapters, etc...

A LAMP System with common server applications and without careful configuration is basically begging to be cracked. Following the basic instructions for tightening it down (limiting system access of www-data user, limiting database permissions of the database user your web applications are accessing the database as, making sure strong input validation is used on anything you create personally and that all applications are up-to-date, etc...) will go along way toward reducing the risk and consequences of an attack, and will take much less time to do in the beginning than it will take to fix if the system gets compromised.

Besides, you'll learn a surprising amount doing it, if you've never done it before.

Re:Security Security Security (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | about 3 years ago | (#37508214)

And move SSH to a non-standard port, assuming you're running it. You'll cut SSH attacks in half.

rPATH - LAMP appliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508212)

Check out rPATH LAMP appliance [] I have used them several times and work very well and ready to run.

For that use case, stick with what you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508222)

As a Linux server admin, Mac OS X desktop user, and one who does not prefer Microsoft products (for the most part), I'd recommend going with what you know. While I personally could implement and administer that type of server with that type of workload using any Debian or RedHat derived distro, I would probably fail if I attempted that with Mac OS X server and I would fail in a very spectacular way with Microsoft products. If you're using this as a reason to learn Linux, I'd recommend doing that in a much smaller test environment, and implement any production scale project of that size using tech that you're familiar with.

If you must go with Linux though, like others say, go with a big distro - preferably RedHat or Debian derived (RHEL, Centos, Debian, Ubuntu server, SUSE, etc, not necessarily in this order), and find someone who is skilled with Linux and learn from them while they implement and administer this. Good Luck!

Another approach (4, Informative)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 3 years ago | (#37508224)

I am surprised that no one has mentioned XAMPP or Portable XAMPP yet.

I used Portable XAMPP under WinXP as a development environment for several years. It comes with a couple of GUI management tools and has an active community behind it. Advantages: you get a LAMP-like setup on a removable drive running under an OS you are already comfortable with. If things go totally weird, you can replace the XAMPP drive with one loaded with an earlier backup and be confident that none of the weirdness has been left in your system. I found that was a very comforting thought when I was going through the newbie jitters phase.

XAMPP is probably powerful enough to handle 2,500 users doing typical Internet stuff (avoiding serving out hundreds of full length movies, etc). So it might be suitable for your production environment as well as development: install it on a fast fixed HD using Ubuntu Server as the OS and you will have a bullet proof operation that is easy to manage and develop for. XAMPP is plain vanilla and seems to play well with any of the Linux servers.

Here is a link [] to one source of XAMPP goodness. Anyone who is still using Windows should think about exploring the PortableApps site, too. There are some FOSS gems there.

Sounds like you are hosting a website. (1)

salesgeek (263995) | about 3 years ago | (#37508268)

Ubuntu server is very good, but you really will have to deep-dive into Apache and the mail server of your choice which adds about 200% over just learning Linux. In your case, though, it sounds more like you are setting up to serve a few PHP apps. If that is the case, I'd recommend setting up on a Cpanel based hosting service (Cpanel runs on CentOS and has become a de-facto standard for serving PHP apps like PHPBB 3). If you need a dedicated server, you can find places where you can get a Cpanel server for $100/month-$200/month... or you can license it for your own server. There is a reason that Cpanel is so popular...

Ignore all the static here about "another admin who doesn't know what he/she is doing". Every one of us here knew nothing at one time. Yes, you'll learn a few lessons the hard way, but as long as you have regular backups and pay attention to ensuring users have strong passwords, you probably will not do anything you can't recover from.

Short answer (1)

xebecv (1027918) | about 3 years ago | (#37508288)

Just go with the crowd.

My newb experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508372)

I've just been playing around with LAMP using VirtualBox on Windows and this is the procedure I use to setup a test server.

For the record, I'm not recommending you use VirtualBox to host 2500 users, although it is an easy way to practice.

1. Install Linux Mint. I use Linux Mint because it's the most user friendly distro I've found, but any Ubuntu-based distro should do.

2. Use the Package Manager to install Apache, mySQL and PHP. The trick is to search for "apache meta", "mysql meta" and "php meta". Adding "meta" or "metapackage" in the search string restricts the search to metapackages, which are the currently recommended version of the associated package with the most common add-ons. I install both "mysql-server" and "mysql-client".

The installation of Apache, mySQL and PHP using the Package Manager is completely automated, except during the installation of mySQL it will stop and ask you for a root password for your installation.

3. I usually use the package manager to install "phpmyadmin" to admin my mySQL database. Note, there is no "metapackage" associated with "phpmyadmin".

4. Searching for "phpbb3" in the package manager turns up phpBB 3 as an installable package.

Having said all that, you're probably better off if you used one of the commonly available WAMP [] server packages.


Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37508412)

just be sure to tighten its security before letting it loose, by default its as secure as a wet paper bag ... it runs on windows as well if it makes you feel more at home

Try Gentoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508430)

Easiest setup of any distro.

Ubuntu + Zend Community Edition (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 3 years ago | (#37508438)

As other posters have pointed out -- Ubuntu is your best bet for a user friendly Linux distro, especially if you plan on using a GUI for administration.
For the LAMP stack, Zend Server is your best bet, it's a free, self contained environment (installs to /user/local/zend) with everything you need pre-configured and packed up with an installer. It even includes a service monitor for easy access to log files.

Re:Ubuntu + Zend Community Edition (1)

LordThyGod (1465887) | about 3 years ago | (#37508484)

Sorry ... strongly disagree. Ubuntu has a self contained LAMP environment already. No need to go outside the distro for core functionality. Its in the meta package called lamp-server. IIRC, its an option during the server installation, so its one stop shopping. If you miss it, then its 'sudo apt-get install lamp-server', or somesuch, and off you go. Also, you get integrated security updates with the built-in apt features. Stuff in /usr/local complicates all that and introduces the possibility of conflicts with native package management.

CentOS. (1)

rannmann (2348880) | about 3 years ago | (#37508454)

If you're going to be learning it, may as well learn it the correct way. CentOS (short for Community ENTerprise OS) is great for servers, and LAMP on red-hat based systems takes about two minutes to install and configure. Any Linux distro will be hard to learn at first, and CentOS isn't any harder than the other big names. Keep this in mind as you struggle through learning the command prompt. If you end up liking CentOS, you could try Fedora for a workstation to really lock down the Linux essentials. If you end up hating CentOS, you could try Ubuntu. Which brings me to the "avoids CLI" comment. While GUIs are nice and all, honestly, the CLI is much simpler. Even if you don't know what you're doing yet, you can copy-paste commands from guides and get things setup rather quickly. I'm not sure I've ever setup much of anything in Linux without use of the CLI. To give you an example of CentOS installing a LAMP server using YUM (package manager), you would type this at the command line: yum install httpd mysql mysql-server php php-mysql Now you have Apache, MySQL, and PHP all installed. If you want phpmyadmin, just throw "phpmyadmin" to the end of that line. If you really want to avoid the CLI, you can install "webmin" as well. It's worth looking into, at least: [] And then to start the services: service httpd start service mysqld start If you want these services to run every time at boot: chkconfig httpd on chkconfig mysqld on Everything will be running, and will startup with reboots. Your website will be located at /var/www/html and directory read/write permissions should be set to the new user, "Apache". See how short and simple that was from the CLI? It was five commands! Anyway, I digress... Some people have suggested Ubuntu, but Ubuntu isn't a server distro. It will work, but if you want to run a stable server from a Debian standpoint, you would probably use the original: Debian. I don't recommend this, however, because Debian can be a PITA, if memory serves correctly. A lot of people out there will try to tell you that Ubuntu can be, and is, used for servers. Well, it's true. Anything can be used for a server, and there are quite a few Ubuntu servers out there, but that doesn't mean it's right. I mean, deep-fried Twinkies are still food, but that doesn't make them /proper/ food. If all this distro talk is going a little over your head, I wrote an article a while back as part of a series I never finished, introducing people to Linux. It's short, but you may find this section useful: [] and this one, too, if you want to know more about the directory structure differences between Linux and Windows: []

Is this going to be on the public Internet? (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 3 years ago | (#37508458)

If this is going to be on the public Internet, I'd question the wisdom of managing it yourself when you've admitted it's not one of your core strengths. Instead, I'd set up a cheap & cheerful shared hosting account - it'll be locked down thoroughly, it'll have a pretty sophisticated set of management tools and if you install phpBB through the management tool there's every chance any security issues will be dealt with by your hosting company. Considering the security history of most PHP forums (dire), managing this yourself when you don't really know how and don't really need to seems to be asking for trouble.

Ubuntu Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508462)

As a fan of CentOS, I would tell any newbie who does not want to deal with actually getting under the hood for as long as possible, go with Ubuntu. Sooner or later with RedHat/CentOS you will need to compile/install something that is not part of the standard distro and you will not want to have to know anything about which library is installed where, how to configure a start script, or any such thing.

What are you serving these users?

Your best bet is to just go with some cheap PHP hosting site. You'll never need to deal with any admin issues. Ask each friend for a dollar apiece and you'll even have costs covered

SLAMPP (bootable CD) (2)

ItsPaPPy (1182035) | about 3 years ago | (#37508464)

SLAMPP will give you what you are looking for on a boot cd. []

Any main distro (1)

jdc18 (1654245) | about 3 years ago | (#37508474)

Just use Centos/RH/Fedora or Debian /Ubuntu, yum install httpd php php-mysql mysql-server, in centos or rh might be php53, In debian/ubuntu apt-get install apache2 php mysql php-mysql or something like that if you know the basic of how apache php and mysql work, they work the same in linux.

Ubuntu (1)

desertlama (2470018) | about 3 years ago | (#37508480)

You might look into Ubuntu Server running Virtualmin GPL. The Virtualmin installer script will install a LAMP stack. You can configure and management things via web browser.

Any flavour will do (1)

houghi (78078) | about 3 years ago | (#37508488)

After all, the installing of the server will be the main difference. Once it is installed, they will be basically the same.

I hope you did not bite of more then you could shew. With Apache and MySQL you wioll already have your hands full to make it secure. Add php on top of that, which you do not know and it will become a leaking basked when looking from a security point of view.

You are not even sure about phpBB as it only seems adequate.

The selection of the Linux Distro would be the least of your problems. In the 90-ies many managers asked who had Internet access and the chmuck who raised his hand was the Internet IT specialist from then on with all the responsibilities.

I would reconsider if you are the right person for the job.

I also know you won't listen, so here some tips. (Blatant distro plugging ahead.)
1) Use openSUSE. It installs very easy and has a GUI as well as a CLI to do the installation called YaST and an easy option to select a LAMP and anything else. Also easy to use YaST later for cvonfiguration of other parts, including basic configuration of Apache. Workable via ssh.
2) Also install phpMyAdmin as it is easy to do MySQL admin via the website
3) Learn all there is about securing you php site.
4) Learn to work via CLI
5) Make incremential daily or more often backups and know how to restore them
6) Look if there is somebody who can replace you while you are on a holiday or in hospital or worse, not interested anymore.

If 6) is nobody, don't even bother to start. It will be a short lived project that will die and you will be blamed for letting it die.

maybe you want a managed server? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37508524)

maybe what you're looking for is a small managed hosting. then you wouldn't need to configure the xamp stack. another good thing about this is the cost factor. a root server is quite expensive and propably a bit too much for such a project. i developed a a site with more than 50.000 page views a day on a small managed server for 15€.
hope that helps, martin

Tell me why oh why ubuntu ouch (1)

uM0p ap!sdn (2446386) | about 3 years ago | (#37508528)

Fuck ubuntu. Use the real thing --- DEBIAN. Ubuntu an ancient African word Meaning Debian for tots. Looking at the ubuntu forums and all the problems with ubuntu. Why the fuck would anyone use it ? especially for any type of server.
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