[opensource] Selecting a Linux server distro?

Silas Baronda silas.baronda at gmail.com
Mon Jan 19 15:27:48 EST 2009


On Sun, Jan 18, 2009 at 10:05 PM, Timothy Normand Miller
<millerti at cse.ohio-state.edu> 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.

If you like gentoo then I suggest ArchLinux.  Very popular for those
gentoo hackers that want something a little more stable but still very
much customizable.

> 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.

The only reason I would choose RHEL / Fedora system would be for the
slick admin interfaces but other than that I would choose debian or
ubuntu for getting a system up quickly.

> 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.

FreeBSD has the ports system which is similar to how gentoo packages work.

> 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.

Good luck on your project.

> Thanks!
> Timothy Normand Miller
> millerti at cse.ohio-state.edu
> http://www.cse.ohio-state.edu/~millerti
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