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First, I plan on buying a new computer just for testing purposes. I don't have a lot of money available for this, so I'm looking to buy the cheapest machine possible that will run Linux. (I can build my own machine if someone can recommend good choices for mobo, processor and other hardware.) I want something good enough that I don't spend all day waiting on it, but it doesn't have to be a screamer either.
Second, I want to try to get started with Redhat. Are there any special steps I need to take, particular instructions, etc.?
Third, my main object in this is to learn how to operate my own dedicated server. With that in mind, is there any particular way to install or configure Redhat to be in line with the tools or interface I'll be using to administer a remote server?
Fourth, is there anything I should know that I haven't asked?
Many thanks for any pointers!
Getting started with Redhat is pretty easy- just download the ISOs for whichever flavor you like, burn 'em and boot up. The graphical installer does all the work. It will even tune the installation to your needs- you can choose the "Server" package to get all the usual server software.
There are two Redhat flavors these days: Fedora, the hobbyist/community distribution, and Redhat Enterprise (RHEL), the data-center oriented flavor. Which you pick might be informed by how you plan to use Linux in the future- less expensive hosting companies might provide Fedora, while the higher-end might provide RHEL. In terms of what you get, RHEL 4 and Fedora Core 3 are almost the same software. FC will grow rapidly, and RHEL will remain stable for many years to come.
If you do choose RHEL, you'll find that it is both free and commercial. The distribution itself is legally free, but you'll need a Redhat support contract to download it easily. Several third parties have their own free "versions" of RHEL; essentially the same software with the Redhat logos removed and their own in their place. A popular one is Centos (which is what is on my server), also WhiteBox and others.
If you want Red Hat, go for Fedora as it is very similar to RHEL, but has a better community support behind it. I assume you're talking about a web server, which is about as basic a task as it gets for a Linux machine. I haven't used Fedora, but usually you can install Apache, PHP, etc. automatically during the initial install process. You should also choose the development packages, including gcc (compiler) for when you want to roll your own Apache install. You'll need sshd to be able to connect remotely - which you'll want to do if you are to simulate running a truly remote server.
Other than that, go with the defaults - you can change stuff later. To start with, install the graphical interface - Gnome is the Red Hat default window manager, and it is a good one.
When I first installed Linux, I did it on my main machine, wiping Windows completely. The install went fine, and I've never looked back. It is easy to get a basic system running - after that, you can tweak things to your heart's content!
Besides, I'm happily runnung Gentoo on all my production servers with great success. There are some other benefits over redhat as well.
It is probably a good idea to start with Red Hat since you hope to sign up for a dedicated server and that's probably what they'll be offering. Try and get the latest version, because you'll want current (more secure) versions of Sendmail, OpenSSL, and other programs, and it's a challenge (to say the least) to upgrade those apps, sometimes.
A higher-performance distro would be one from Debian, but I haven't seen any being offered on dedicated servers, lately.
linuxiso.org can supply you with lots of different distros, but no RH Enterprise.
How well the installation goes will typically come down to hardware: if you have "normal" gear, almost any distro should install just fine. I have had issues wiping a drive and installing Linux when the box had the "Made for Windows XP" sticker on it, so watch for that.
I did have trouble with installing Fedora 1/2/3 on one system that contained a Samuels GigaPro CPU, where installation proceeded just fine until the system rebooted at the end, and the video never came up. Red Hat 9 installed smoothly, and has been running ever since.
Remember: THIS IS FUN! :) So if you need to go through the process a few times, take the opportunity to learn from it. It's not a bad thing to reformat your drive (which most distros handle for you during installation) and to see what's happening when/if problems occur. The more problems you solve, the more capable you will be of recognizing the solutions when you're halfway across the world, managing your dedicated server without a mouse. ENJOY!
I have never reinstalled my primary machine since I loaded it with Linux for the first time two years ago. Linux is not Windows: it remains stable pretty much whatever you throw at it. You don't need to reboot often either - apart from kernel upgrades, you can just restart the appropriate daemon.
Also, whilst Gentoo is a good distribution, most dedicated servers offer Red Hat only (or occasionally Suse or Debian), so I agree that Fedora or RHEL is a better choice.
I don't see why there should be a problem, particularly if it doesn't have to communicate with the other machines, but I thought I'd ask just to make sure.
I'm going to be taking the plunge myself in a few months (when my March adsense check comes in).
I heard the arguements for dual-booting, the that method is not for me.
The problem with dual booting is that I want to be able to learn linux slowly just by using it (organic learning). Dual booting doesn't let me go back and forth between what I am comfortable to do work with "windows" and what I am learning "linux".
My plan is to buy a $200-300 non-OS used laptop off ebay and slap linux on there. Non-OS laptops sell pretty cheap on ebay since the majority of users want it to work "out of box". I'll use this cheap(er) computer to allow me to work on content (leaving graphics and coding to my windows machine) anywhere around campus.
My main problem is that I cannot decide which linux distro to use! I am trying to find a distribution that is easy to install but doesn't baby me by being a windows clone.
Livenomadic: Gentoo has the smallest footprint, with a minimal install coming in at under 100MB. You can also burn yourself a Knoppix disk and run that from pretty much any computer, all by itself. (Actually, it doesn't run well from my ancient Micron laptop, but all the desktops I've tried it with respond nicely.)
Knoppix is a distro that runs entirely from the CD ... it boots up from the CD and gives you an amazing level of access to the system it's running over. It may be one of the better ways to check out a Linux OS with hardly any effort. You don't need a dedicated system, and you can experiment with all sorts of Linux toys. I use it pretty regularly to examine and fix corrupted Windows installations, make copies of hard drives and other techish stuff, but I probably wouldn't use it as my only Linux. I use Red Hat 7.2/7.3/9.0 and Fedora Core 1-3 on various production systems. What can be surprising is how fast Knoppix is, even running from the CD ... it puts some other OSs to shame, and illustrates the potential for a "real" Linux installation's performance.
At my home I installed a duat-boot Win98/RH9 machine for two reasons:
1: The Bank of America and Wells Fargo websites pretty much demand MSIE, which doesn't come preinstalled with Linux.
2: My wife has a few programs she need to occasionally run for her work that are old and have not been ported to Linux.
We successfully used Wine to run those apps from within Linux, but we can't get around the bank website issues. So we usually boot into Linux (the default), but occasionally we'll boot into Windows for a few minutes, get the banking done or do a little work, and then restart back into Linux.
Once they're both installed successfully, you'll hardly notice that Windows is there! ;)
I am trying to find a distribution that is easy to install but doesn't baby me by being a windows clone.
The "Windows clone" part comes more from the choice of Window Manager rather than the choice of distribution. Personally, I use XFCE (4.06) which is very lightweight (perfect for an older machine) and resembles more the CDE environment found in Solaris (however it is much better than CDE). KDE is the most "Windows-like" WM. The best bet is to choose a major distribution which includes a wide range of packages. I use Mandrake, but XFCE 4 is not included so I had to compile it from source, but Debian (testing/unstable), Gentoo and Fedora offer it. Fedora is the easiest to install of those three. Once you've picked your distro, stick with it and learn its foibles rather than switching all the time - they're all good, just in different ways.
[edited by: encyclo at 7:04 pm (utc) on Mar. 10, 2005]
When you start you will want a decent desktop (kde is great and ships with most distros)
Lets say you want to make a simple php page. Simple click the "start" icon, go to editors, select your editor of choice open it .. type your file text and "save as". Very very similar to windows. Once you have been using it for a whioe you will feel like getting brave.
"pico file.php" this will open the file...
type your text in shell interface
ctrl x to close
select yes to save changes
there are just so many ways to do the same thing. The constraints have been lifted and you are able to use the operating system the way you want to.
In terms of hardware I agree that the specification doesnt need to be the latest and greatest to run Linux, although having said that the better the system the better your experience will be. I run an AMD 3000mhz cpu and a gig of ram on my liux box and it is the best pc I have ever used.
If you do not have a full system to play around with them duel booting may well be the best option. Most of the instalation systems will have a wizard to help you get the system up and running in no time. If you install it on the same disk as windows you will actualy be able to access your windows PC from withn linux to view your documents. It can come in pretty usefull.
One thing I really like about using linux is you can set it up the same way your web host does. That way you can build all your scripts and application and be certain they will work when uploaded. Linux makes a great tool to be used as a test server.
And Mack's absolutely right: If you have a production server and a test machine that are configured the same way, you can play around with all sorts of stuff without worry, and then push the really good stuff into production with confidence.
Before hassling w/ CrossOver, you may want to check with your banks IT dept. My bank's website SAYS you must use IE, but when I asked specifically they sent me an email stating they do support Firefox and in fact many of their customers use Firefox to access their website. ;-)
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