[opensource] Selecting a Linux server distro?

Timothy Normand Miller millerti at cse.ohio-state.edu
Sun Jan 18 22:30:44 EST 2009

Thanks for the help.  I'll look into that.  Maybe my information is  
out of date, but I had come to understand that Debian tends do have a  
lot of older stuff for the sake of stability.  I'd like a lot of newer  
stuff.  In particularly, I want to have gcc 4.3.x so I can use the - 
march=core2 flag, for instance.

On Jan 18, 2009, at 10:23 PM, Shaun Brady wrote:

> I'd definitely recommend Debian.  Ubuntu has done wonders for  
> desktop distros, but it has to tip it's hat Debian.  Debian created  
> the god-send that is apt.  Debian net install defaults to bare bones  
> no X.  I think running Ubuntu "Server" just seems like Debian to  
> me.  I can't speak for the kernel internals (don't know 'em off  
> hand) but you could always custom compile, which there are Debian  
> packages to make your own, AND keep dpkg aware of them.   Let me  
> know if you have any questions in this regard, but that's my $.02
> SB
> Timothy Normand Miller wrote:
>> Hey, all.
>> I have a question about Linux server distros.  I have a quad core  
>> box here at my house that I use to do heavy computing, file  
>> serving, and a few other things that are best to run on a  
>> stationary system.  Right now, I'm running Gentoo, but while it's  
>> good for customizing a stripped-down system, keeping it up to date  
>> is turning out to be more of a pain than I had anticipated.  So I'm  
>> looking for a new OS to install.  Aaron suggested that I might get  
>> some good advice by asking on the list.
>> I'm looking at Ubuntu Server to start with.  Interesting  
>> differences from the desktop are that (I think) it doesn't start  
>> X11 by default, so you don't have that resource consumption when  
>> you don't need it, the userspace preemption timer is 100Hz instead  
>> of 250 or 1000, the use the deadline I/O scheduler instead of CFQ,  
>> and in-kernel preemption is turned off.  I can see how these things  
>> may be useful for maintaining higher throughput under some  
>> circumstances.
>> Interestingly, RHEL doesn't do all the same.  For instance, they  
>> use CFQ instead of deadline.  Most of my workloads are not disk  
>> bound, but one of them has a data set that is 11 gigs.  I have 8  
>> gigs of RAM.  I mmap the file into memory, so as I'm processing,  
>> pages that are not in memory get faulted in as needed, evicting  
>> others.  Maintaining a small memory footprint of system services  
>> and low I/O latency are important for this job.  I also want to  
>> minimize CPU overhead of system services.
>> I like using Ubuntu on the desktop.  I especially like apt-get and  
>> how it automatically manages dependencies, and downloads packages  
>> from the net.  While I'm pretty sure that Fedora and CentOS do  
>> something equivalent with yum, I've found that RHEL appears to be  
>> crippled in this regard.
>> I know nothing about SuSE, Mandriva, or anything else, but I'm not  
>> entirely opposed.  I'm also not entirely opposed to running a BSD,  
>> although I'm even more unfamiliar with those.
>> Can anyone help me with this decision?  I'd like to be able to  
>> basically just install and go, configure things like SAMBA with a  
>> minimal amount of effort, install packages with apt-get, and  
>> upgrade rarely but effortlessly.  I almost never sit at the  
>> console, although a graphical console (1280x1024 on the monitor  
>> gives me 160x64 text) is nice when I have to.  I want to have to  
>> start X11 on only the most rare occasions.  Mostly, I just login  
>> with ssh and use gnu screen for multiple virtual terminals.   
>> Sometimes, I'll run an X11 app on the server, with the X protocol  
>> directed over the ssh link to wherever I'm working from.
>> Thanks!
>> Timothy Normand Miller
>> millerti at cse.ohio-state.edu
>> http://www.cse.ohio-state.edu/~millerti
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Timothy Normand Miller
millerti at cse.ohio-state.edu

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