Linux General Questions

I attempted to use CentOS (which is literally RHEL with branding removed, for those unaware) for an internal file server, just for the sake of being a bit heterogeneous and not running every server on Debian. But package management issues drove me back to Debian. I wish I had recorded what they were.

I'm sure they were solvable, but my primary job is development, not sysadmin, so I retreated to Debian, where I simply do not encounter serious package management problems, ever.

Part of the problem, no doubt, was trying to run CentOS like Debian: as a lean server build. I didn't install a desktop environment and so used no GUI management tools.

The growing popularity of Ubuntu on servers is a feather in Debian's cap, as Ubuntu's primary deviations from Debian are on the desktop. On the server, Ubuntu is Debian with a few little extras.

Debian recently swung back into the #1 spot for most popular Linux distro on servers. If you count Debian and Ubuntu together, then they'd run away with the title.

Malor wrote:
dovecot, by the way, is bloody outstanding. SUCH a nice IMAP server.

True that. I learned about it on Chess Griffin's Linux Reality podcast (episode 061). In the last year or so, I've switched to Gmail IMAP, for all its warts. I just didn't need to be running another server if all the mail I intend to answer comes from Gmail anyway.

Curiously enough, Chess started developing sbopkg, a now-quite-advanced bash script with an ncurses interface that pulls from a Slackbuild repo to allow on-the-fly compilation and installation of packages from outside the distribution. For purportedly easy dependency management, one can use slapt-get, which includes support for "recursive dependency resolution using slack-required meta-data...supporting hard, soft, and conditional dependencies."

I use only slackpkg for managing the base install for security updates and sbopkg for installing and updating elective stuff. I manage dependencies, but these tools allow for making the rest easy. I only maintain a single machine, so this fits perfectly. I worry that with aptitude, or even slapt-get, I would turn my platters into something befitting an episode of Hoarders. I mean, I might need that KML parser someday when I'm (never) making custom maps!

With free services, you're not the customer, you're the product, and I don't really want my email to be a product. It's easy to run a domain and server, and dovecot lets me trivially store all the email I've sent or received since early '98. It's almost instantly searchable, usable from any machine I have, and easily reachable on the road. I'm my own cloud service, basically. And because I use per-sender addresses in my own domain, and can shut them down if they get into the wrong hands, I get almost no spam....probably four or five a year. I got a fair bit when that email provider got hacked a few years ago, but that was an unusual case, quickly remedied. My junkmail user account gets tons, but I almost never see them.

I worry that with aptitude, or even slapt-get, I would turn my platters into something befitting an episode of Hoarders.

I recently did a fresh reinstall of my home server, and it's presently sporting 396 packages, 187 of which appear to be libraries of various sorts. The root and /usr filesystems use about 2.1 gigs of space. I wouldn't call that super-lightweight or anything, but that size is only going to be an issue for an embedded system. I think even most phones come with more than that, these days, though of course they also have GUIs.

muraii wrote:
I would turn my platters into something befitting an episode of Hoarders. I mean, I might need that KML parser someday when I'm (never) making custom maps!

I actually find the opposite -- because it's so easy to install (or reinstall) packages, I don't hesitate to uninstall something that I don't need. There's also the "deborphan" tool which can tell you about, and uninstall, any old library packages and such that are no longer needed to satisfy the dependencies of the other packages you currently have installed.

I really like Debian on servers -- it's light, it's easy to manage and maintain, it's rock-solid reliable, and the package archive is incredibly extensive and generally very well maintained. Ubuntu seems fairly close, and its predictable release times are definitely a boon, but it's important to remember that Canonical only supports and maintains the more important packages; universe is community-maintained, and I've found that their quality can lack a bit from time to time compared to the same packages in Debian.

I had some pretty severe problems with Debian in the 1998 timeframe, where they made some major mistake in packaging Perl, which ended up screwing up the packaging system so bad that I couldn't figure out how to fix it, with my limited knowledge at the time. And they kinda messed me up a few years ago by moving the KVM packages around in such a way that a production server would no longer boot its guests when I did an upgrade. The server itself was still up and running fine, but KVM was a real mess. Turned out they'd renamed a bunch of packages and reorganized everything, but hadn't made virtual packages covering the changes, and it took a fair bit of surgery to get the machine running again.

And, well, that's about it for really serious problems caused by their team, in at least 15 years of using it, across hundreds of systems. There may have been other little burps and hiccups, but nothing bad enough to really stand out. I've had WAY WAY more trouble with Windows.

edit: oh, upgrading dovecot in oldstable to the Wheezy version was kind of painful. When I did it, they didn't convert the old configuration files, so it flat wouldn't start until I did a bunch of alterations. But Wheezy's not out yet, and complaining about a beta is pretty unfair.

dovecot, by the way, is bloody outstanding. SUCH a nice IMAP server.

edit: fixed a typo.

Malor wrote:
I worry that with aptitude, or even slapt-get, I would turn my platters into something befitting an episode of Hoarders.

I recently did a fresh reinstall of my home server, and it's presently sporting 396 packages, 187 of which appear to be libraries of various sorts. The root and /usr filesystems use about 2.1 gigs of space. I wouldn't call that super-lightweight or anything, but that size is only going to be an issue for an embedded system. I think even most phones come with more than that, these days, though of course they also have GUIs.

Oh, certainly, one can run light. I found with Ubuntu Hoary Hedgehog that I would scan through Synaptic looking for interesting things to install. pneuman makes a good point, though:

pneuman wrote:
[B]ecause it's so easy to install (or reinstall) packages, I don't hesitate to uninstall something that I don't need.

I'll likely play with Debian on my next machine, in a VM. Luckily, I don't maintain any other Linux machines so I can be capricious.

Anybody super knowledgeable about OpenLDAP + ppolicy + PHP? Specifically regarding expiration of passwords and warnings thereof?
Trying to figure out the php part and having almost no Google fu.
Also not sure if Unix admin has everything set up right, but don't know how to tell.

I find Linux fascinating, and as someone who really fell in love with programming before using a GUI was a big deal, I'd love to actually learn more about the roots.

I've seen videos with Linus, and it just makes me want to learn more about it all. I use Windows because that's I've always used. It's what I'm able to do everything I need on, but outside of that, I really enjoy working within Linux, both at a GUI and command-line level. I've used the middle-ground that is (to me) OS X, but I honestly prefer Linux.

That being said, I'm really hesitant to do much with it outside of here-and-there uses (like my VPS I set up), googling for my specific needs and following simple guides. I'd like to understand it more, and get to the point where I can be comfortable and confident with it.

If anyone can provide some solid recommended reading, or watching,or even potential courses (whether online or elsewhere), I'd be truly appreciative.

trueheart78, depending on your preference and experience, you may want to try some different distributions. I've already blathered on about this, but succinctly, I found that Ubuntu let me be lazy but Slackware has required enough of me that I have a little bit of a clue. I still haven't successfully compiled a kernel and used it, so I've definitely got a lot to learn.

I've generally stayed within the Ubuntu camp, and have used versions as far back as 6, I believe. I have VirtualBox setup on my PC, so right now I'm getting to play with a few different flavors, but I'd like to find a way to learn more that's not just me learning from my mistakes or just random blog posts, though, because that's generally how it happens now. I'd really like to find something more structured.

trueheart78 wrote:
I find Linux fascinating, and as someone who really fell in love with programming before using a GUI was a big deal, I'd love to actually learn more about the roots.

I've seen videos with Linus, and it just makes me want to learn more about it all. I use Windows because that's I've always used. It's what I'm able to do everything I need on, but outside of that, I really enjoy working within Linux, both at a GUI and command-line level. I've used the middle-ground that is (to me) OS X, but I honestly prefer Linux.

That being said, I'm really hesitant to do much with it outside of here-and-there uses (like my VPS I set up), googling for my specific needs and following simple guides. I'd like to understand it more, and get to the point where I can be comfortable and confident with it.

If anyone can provide some solid recommended reading, or watching,or even potential courses (whether online or elsewhere), I'd be truly appreciative.

I've been pretty happy with Arch Linux, and finally started writing an article about using it with VirtualBox to run an SSH server on Windows. I'll send you a link once I finish, since it goes from zero to full SSH server with encrypted tunneling in about 20 minutes.

Along the same lines, I've figured out how to use it for developing in all those Linux-friendly languages that treat Windows as the red-headed stepchild, while doing your actual editing in Windows, using shared folders and some port forwarding. I can currently work on my Rails apps in PuTTY on my home PC from work, then have Firefox on my work PC go to http://localhost:3000, and see what's running at home. Much more efficient for remote development than what I have to do with Windows working from home over a slow remote desktop connection.

I'm also learning VIM for fun, because there's something wrong with me.

I understand where you're coming from. I've reviewed the various Linux "Bibles," even the "Unleashed" varieties, and there is just enough fracture due to distribution that I've found it hard to sift through them productively. The few Slackware online books/wikis vary in the degree to which they're updated, but the Slackbook project is still really helpful. Again, though, there are distribution-specific things to watch out for. Slackware uses lilo by default, instead of grub, and more importantly uses a BSD-style init startup system instead of System V-style. I don't full grok the implications, but it's what I'm used to.

You could do much worse than to browse the Arch Linux wiki. I've found answers to lots of stuff for general Linux usage, and often as not when I used LinuxQuestions.org frequently, helpful folks referred me to the Arch Wiki for details.

Neither of these is quite the resource I think you have in mind, and I'll be looking forward to other folks' answers.

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
trueheart78 wrote:
I find Linux fascinating, and as someone who really fell in love with programming before using a GUI was a big deal, I'd love to actually learn more about the roots.

I've seen videos with Linus, and it just makes me want to learn more about it all. I use Windows because that's I've always used. It's what I'm able to do everything I need on, but outside of that, I really enjoy working within Linux, both at a GUI and command-line level. I've used the middle-ground that is (to me) OS X, but I honestly prefer Linux.

That being said, I'm really hesitant to do much with it outside of here-and-there uses (like my VPS I set up), googling for my specific needs and following simple guides. I'd like to understand it more, and get to the point where I can be comfortable and confident with it.

If anyone can provide some solid recommended reading, or watching,or even potential courses (whether online or elsewhere), I'd be truly appreciative.

I've been pretty happy with Arch Linux, and finally started writing an article about using it with VirtualBox to run an SSH server on Windows. I'll send you a link once I finish, since it goes from zero to full SSH server with encrypted tunneling in about 20 minutes.

Along the same lines, I've figured out how to use it for developing in all those Linux-friendly languages that treat Windows as the red-headed stepchild, while doing your actual editing in Windows, using shared folders and some port forwarding. I can currently work on my Rails apps in PuTTY on my home PC from work, then have Firefox on my work PC go to http://localhost:3000, and see what's running at home. Much more efficient for remote development than what I have to do with Windows working from home over a slow remote desktop connection.

Me want link too. I resorted to Cygwin which I found fairly painless. A proper terminal with bash works better for me than PuTTY, which I used for years. I'm trying to cage some logic that will persuade my job to upgrade me from a 5-year-old Dell Latitude to a MBP, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm also learning VIM for fun, because there's something wrong with me.

There's something wrong with lots of us, then.

Also, orthogonal to the discussion but relevant on the Windows-Linux intersection: AutoHotKey. Check it if you haven't. I launch my terminal sessions and run some (Cygwin) bash scripts with a couple of keystrokes (combined with Samurize, which is like conky and that sort).

muraii wrote:
I understand where you're coming from. I've reviewed the various Linux "Bibles," even the "Unleashed" varieties, and there is just enough fracture due to distribution that I've found it hard to sift through them productively. The few Slackware online books/wikis vary in the degree to which they're updated, but the Slackbook project is still really helpful. Again, though, there are distribution-specific things to watch out for. Slackware uses lilo by default, instead of grub, and more importantly uses a BSD-style init startup system instead of System V-style. I don't full grok the implications, but it's what I'm used to.

You could do much worse than to browse the Arch Linux wiki. I've found answers to lots of stuff for general Linux usage, and often as not when I used LinuxQuestions.org frequently, helpful folks referred me to the Arch Wiki for details.

Neither of these is quite the resource I think you have in mind, and I'll be looking forward to other folks' answers.

I'll raise my minor flag of zealotry again and mention FreeBSD.

For learning purposes, it has the advantage of being one, well managed, coherent system, as opposed to the slighly wilder mis-mash of things that the average Linux distro is made up of (this has its upsides, but is mostly a minus when it comes attempting to learn *nix). The FreeBSD Handbook is, in my experience, the best piece of OS documentation out there. While the option to go and search random blogs for information (the FreeBSD Diary being one of the more useful examples), most of what you will need to learn how to run a unix box can be found in the Handbook. Depending on what kind of a learner you are it may or may not be relevant, but FreeBSD folks in general have always seemed to me to be more newbie-friendly.

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
I'm also learning VIM for fun, because there's something wrong with me.

A desire to use an editor that is considerably more powerful than whatever you're using now isn't a character flaw.

And Legion tosses a branch onto the eternal vim/emacs bonfire.

Malor wrote:
And Legion tosses a branch onto the eternal vim/emacs bonfire. :-)

At this point, Vim and Emacs users are almost unlikely allies in the face of people using "editors" that are basically glorified versions of Notepad.

Vim and Emacs at least reluctantly admit that each other are peers.

*Legion* wrote:
Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
I'm also learning VIM for fun, because there's something wrong with me.

A desire to use an editor that is considerably more powerful than whatever you're using now isn't a character flaw. :)

It's an amazing editor. So far my favorite feature is VsVim, which lets me use VIM keybindings in Visual Studio, so my team lead gets frustrated when he tries to use my computer. I will teach him to use his words, aside from "let me drive."

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
*Legion* wrote:
Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
I'm also learning VIM for fun, because there's something wrong with me.

A desire to use an editor that is considerably more powerful than whatever you're using now isn't a character flaw. :)

It's an amazing editor. So far my favorite feature is VsVim, which lets me use VIM keybindings in Visual Studio, so my team lead gets frustrated when he tries to use my computer. I will teach him to use his words, aside from "let me drive."

The chrome and firefox extensions for vim keybindings are pretty awesome as well. I really only use for basic navigation, but you can so some crazy stuff with some of them.

absurddoctor wrote:
Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
*Legion* wrote:
Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
I'm also learning VIM for fun, because there's something wrong with me.

A desire to use an editor that is considerably more powerful than whatever you're using now isn't a character flaw. :)

It's an amazing editor. So far my favorite feature is VsVim, which lets me use VIM keybindings in Visual Studio, so my team lead gets frustrated when he tries to use my computer. I will teach him to use his words, aside from "let me drive."

The chrome and firefox extensions for vim keybindings are pretty awesome as well. I really only use for basic navigation, but you can so some crazy stuff with some of them.

You just wasted the rest of my work day. Thanks.

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
absurddoctor wrote:
Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
*Legion* wrote:
Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
I'm also learning VIM for fun, because there's something wrong with me.

A desire to use an editor that is considerably more powerful than whatever you're using now isn't a character flaw. :)

It's an amazing editor. So far my favorite feature is VsVim, which lets me use VIM keybindings in Visual Studio, so my team lead gets frustrated when he tries to use my computer. I will teach him to use his words, aside from "let me drive."

The chrome and firefox extensions for vim keybindings are pretty awesome as well. I really only use for basic navigation, but you can so some crazy stuff with some of them.

You just wasted the rest of my work day. Thanks.

Ruining productivity since 2002, one vim addict at a time.

I really, really enjoyed this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Just-Fun-Story...

Also, Arch Linux has taught me more about Linux than I can recount. I have been running linux-only at work for about six months now.

I've been learning lots of neat little things from hak5.org lately.

Lex Cayman wrote:
I really, really enjoyed this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Just-Fun-Story...

Also, Arch Linux has taught me more about Linux than I can recount. I have been running linux-only at work for about six months now.

I've been learning lots of neat little things from hak5.org lately.

Couple questions:
First - No Kindle version!? Bleh...
Second - Any specific place to start with Arch Linux that you'd recommend?

trueheart78 wrote:
Second - Any specific place to start with Arch Linux that you'd recommend?

ArchWiki.

*Legion* wrote:
trueheart78 wrote:
Second - Any specific place to start with Arch Linux that you'd recommend?

ArchWiki.

Fantastic - thanks

Sorry about the book, but it is really good. I just stumbled on it in my library one day. It's worth a little bit of effort.

The ArchWiki is a marvel of community. I have been googling linux questions for years, and compared to other forums/sites/blogs, I find it vastly more helpful.

I think I finally figured out my desktop environment.

Arch Linux, running Cinnamon, using the Ubuntu icon set and Window/GTK theme.

The best of all possible worlds.

(I'll probably change my mind tomorrow)

What does Cinnamon bring specifically to your table? Now that I'm not buying a new computer anytime soon, I have committed to my low-overhead Openbox + light utilities environment, but eventually may want something slicker and more-integrated. Slackware doesn't mix well with Gnome or its derivatives right now, so going Cinnamon would require either lots of tinkering or jumping to another distro. Neither sounds promising, but I'll still consider it.

In my extensive (6 hours) time with cinnamon, I've found it to be nice balance between Gnome3 and xfce. It gives me the pretties and warm fuzzies of Gnome3, but it actually exposes a reasonable about of configuration options.

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a pretty desktop. I like animations, gradients, transparencies, etc. Cinnamon is definitely that.

I tried Open box, but I felt like I was reinventing the wheel when setting up all of the widgets, notifications, panels and such. I was okay with Gnome 3 for a while, but there were some things I just didn't like, and it was too hard to change them.

Xfce is definitely configurable, but I couldn't quite get the "feel" I was looking for.

This morning, I am happy.

What comes by default with Ubuntu 12.04? I am not liking it.