Preferred Linux Distro.

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#1 Wed, 07/29/2009 - 11:40
bamajr

Preferred Linux Distro.

I know about the list of Supported Linux Distros found at https://www.virtualmin.com/os-support

I'm curious to know if there is any one OS/Distro/Version, which is considered to be better for the use of Virtualmin Pro? (I.E. Does Debian 4 or 5 provide a better platform than say Ubuntu or Kubuntu?)

I know Ubuntu is based off Debian and Kubuntu is just Ubuntu with the KDE GUI, but thought there may be a distinct advantage of one vs the other as it relates to running/maintaining a Virtualmin Pro Server.

Wed, 07/29/2009 - 12:46
ronald
ronald's picture

my personal opinion:
centos 5.3 is generally the best OS for servers as it is a Red Hat clone and very stable. It also is best supported for virtualmin pro although other distro's are also well supported.

Ubuntu is a great desktop OS, Debian does things the Debian way. I wouldn't choose any Debian OS for a server.
If going for Ubuntu then the 8.04 LTS

Wed, 07/29/2009 - 14:26
andreychek

Joe and Jamie suggest that CentOS gets the most Virtualmin testing, since the majority of the folks here are using that.

Beyond that -- so long as it's a Grade A supported distro, it comes down to personal preference.

Whichever you go with, I'd suggest using the most recent supported version. For example, if you go with Debian, I'd use Debian 5, rather than 4.

As a personal preference, I happen to like Ubuntu, and use Ubuntu 8.04 LTS where I can on the server :-)

-Eric

Wed, 07/29/2009 - 14:29 (Reply to #3)
bamajr

Is there a specific reason why Joe and Jamie use CentOS for the most Virtualmin testing?

Is the CentOS just a preference, or is there a specific reason related to performance, management or etc?

Wed, 07/29/2009 - 14:35 (Reply to #4)
andreychek

Well, it's not just that Joe and Jamie using it for testing -- the majority of Virtualmin users use CentOS, so it gets a lot of usage and testing by Virtualmin users.

As for why people like CentOS? I imagine it's largely related to what Ronald offered above, that being a RedHat derivative, it's considered a stable platform that will be around for awhile.

-Eric

Wed, 07/29/2009 - 15:00 (Reply to #5)
bamajr

I would think being a RedHat derivative would make it less popular, not more popular. (I'm not trying to start the "My Linux is better than your Linux" debate - Just my opinion!)

I can tell you, I'm not a big fan of the Debian fight over the meaning of "FREE" software.

I can also tell you I don't like the fact that Debian is almost dead last when it comes to implementing the latest software/GUI updates. However, this specific reason is also, why I see Debian as one of best options (if not the best option) for a server. There is very extensive and exhausting process to move software into the "STABLE" package archive.

I have never used CentOS, though I used RedHat many years ago. Can I expect CentOS to be as dependable and stable as a Debian system (using only "STABLE" package archives)?

As a comfortable Debian (and Ubuntu/Kubuntu) user, what major things would I find to be different in CentOS (other than the obvious package/installation methods)?

Wed, 07/29/2009 - 16:47 (Reply to #6)
Joe
Joe's picture

I would think being a RedHat derivative would make it less popular, not more popular.

CentOS accounts for about 80% of Virtualmin installations. Your disdain for Red Hat seems to not be widespread. ;-)

I can also tell you I don't like the fact that Debian is almost dead last when it comes to implementing the latest software/GUI updates.

I'm not sure I agree with you on this count. GUI isn't the core focus of the Debian project (while it is of Ubuntu), and it shows. But, that has no bearing on how good, or how well-maintained, it is for server usage.

I would choose Debian over Ubuntu for servers at this point in time.

But, we use CentOS on our world-facing servers, both because it is what most of our customers are using, and because it has a very good history for stability and security. Debian and Ubuntu occasionally break things (mod_php, for example, is the latest victim of that, getting automatically removed when upgrading other components).

As a comfortable Debian (and Ubuntu/Kubuntu) user, what major things would I find to be different in CentOS (other than the obvious package/installation methods)?

We tend to recommend folks use what they are comfortable with from amongst the Grade A supported operating systems. If you are familiar with Debian, use it. It works great. I have a few little complaints, but mostly I think either CentOS or Debian are great choices (certainly superior to the Grade B, C, and other systems that either have really short lifecycle like Fedora, or have piss poor package management like Solaris or FreeBSD).

CentOS is, in my experience, a wee bit more predictable than Debian. Breakage is less common, as the package version policy is more strictly enforced in CentOS/RHEL than in Debian or Ubuntu. Ubuntu, even in the LTS version, seems to be the worst amongst these three systems. They actually changed a configuration file option name for saslauthd a couple of months back; breaking existing installations. That was just stupid and pointless.

It's possible to break any of them, and there is a tendency among new users to CentOS to enable a bunch of third party repositories without understanding the impact of such a decision (enabling a third party yum repo is effectively granting a third party root access to your system, and should be done with extreme caution). Third party repos also don't generally have the same packaging policies and QC requirements that CentOS/RHEL core packages have...and so, if coming from Debian you find yourself wanting that huge array of available software found in the apt repositories, you might make bad decisions in order to get that feeling of having everything under the sun available for instant installation.

Anyway, I think you can expect CentOS to be at least as stable as Debian STABLE. But, nobody is encouraging you to use a new system, if you're already comfortable with Debian.

--

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Sun, 08/02/2009 - 23:19 (Reply to #7)
bamajr

Joe:

I know that Debian doesn't have the GUI as it's core focus, but I like to use one Linux Flavor across the board. (I.E. for server, workstation and laptop) This doesn't mean I have too.

Debian does a great job of making sure software packages are stable before incorporating them into the "STABLE" releases of the OS. This makes Debian more appealing to be used as a server. Yet if you need a GUI for productivity such as Desktop Publishing, Web Design/Programing, and so on, it is nice to have a GUI with all the bells and whistles.

I get my experience with Ubuntu/Kubuntu when trying to use the "Cutting Edge" in GUI developments. I'm not saying this is good for a server environment. I get good use out of the MAC OS X GUI while utilizing the *NIX back-end for managing my Linux equipment. I would like to see better support for Virtualmin Pro on the MAC OS X platform. (This would be the best of both worlds to me; a superior GUI environment and a stable server platform.)

Also, I don't dislike Redhat. Actually, I worked for an ISP for over 2 years which utilized Redhat (among others). This was a long time back, but it is where I first got Unix/Linux experience.

Tue, 08/11/2009 - 17:47
bamajr

I have some other curiosities about Virtualmin and Linux Distros.

Are there any known problems installing Virtualmin Pro on a 64 bit Debian installation?

Does one gain anything to use a 64 bit OS to run Virtualmin Pro?

Tue, 08/11/2009 - 21:53
andreychek

Well, Virtualmin does support 64 bit Debian -- it's considered Grade A support.

I'm not aware of any issues, though perhaps others will offer their experiences.

As far as what's gained by using a 64bit OS/distro -- Virtualmin itself isn't what will benefit.

Beyond that, the benefits of 64bit seem to be subject to some debate, so I'll let someone else chime in on that :-)

To get you started though, there's some thoughts described here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/64_bit#32_vs_64_bit

However, what I'd suggest doing is finding some benchmarks that test the apps you'll be using to determine if 64bit Linux will benefit you.

-Eric

Thu, 08/13/2009 - 12:35 (Reply to #10)
bamajr

I've read several schools of thought and many different debate (discussion) sites, about the benefits of 64 bit architecture.

A LOT of what I'm reading, leans very heavily on M$ Windoz... (You know, the M$ Operating Systems don't support over 4 Gigs of RAM w/o migrating to a M$ OS with 64 bit architecture!)

However, when I'm setting up a system to be used as a server, I put Debian GNU/Linux on it (Some people may not prefer Debian, but I do. I like it more than just about every other distro I have tried!). The 32 bit Debian seems to see more than 4 Gigs of RAM...

Other than specific software, created for 64 bit architecture, I don't see any proof showing cut and dry advantages to switching to 64 bit. There are even some benchmarks that show slower performance on 64 bit architecture than on 32 bit (I'm guessing this is when using 4 Gigs of RAM or LESS).

I've purchased several new servers which will be used for web hosting and web development only. These machines feature 2 x Dual Core Intel Xeon processors and 6 Gigs of RAM (Pretty solid machines for dedicated web servers).

I have an older server running Debian (32 bit) now, with only a single core P4 processor and 2 Gigs of RAM. It is running Virtualmin Pro. I'm going to decommission this older server and replace it with one of the new ones. I will re-install Debian and Virtualmin Pro. In addition, every other web server I bring online will have a new license for Virtualmin Pro (can you tell I like Virtualmin?) installed on it and that is it.

If all the features of Virtualmin Pro will work fine regardless of whether or not I use 32 bit or 64 bit, then does Debian's 64 bit architecture benefit me or the Virtualmin Pro Packages at all?

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 05:52
sgrayban

Debian hands down wins this. The debian teams are really good and getting updates out faster then any other distro out there, in fact in security they have updates out in a matter of hours where the others can take days or even weeks like CentOS.

CentOS is a runner-up but certainly not my first choice as a server OS. Debian is built to be a server distro and they do a damn good job of it.... in fact many distro's watch the debian people intensively because of there better performance and copy many security patches that they come up with, Mandriva and CentOS being the 2 major players that do this but are slow to react.

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 06:01
sgrayban

Oh and as for 32bit or 64bit.... dont waste your time. 64bit isnt all that after I did a bench test for client.... 32bit out performed 92% of the time and switching to 64bit didnt justify that 8%.

For memory over the 4gigs just install the bigmem kernel for debian and you will get better performance. For CentOS use the PAE kernel.

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 11:46 (Reply to #13)
bamajr

Your comments resemble a lot of what I'm reading elsewhere.

Personally, I use Debian because of their consistent update/patch releases. I know Debian isn't focused on GUI enhancements, but sometimes I wish Debian was a little quicker to adapt to GUI improvements (Specifically KDE - my GUI of choice!) Though, I understand for Debian developers to continue to offer one of the most stable DISTROS available, they need to spend their time addressing stability and security, where many GUI improvements can significantly prohibit this.

I'm familiar with the BIGMEM kernel for debian, but I have never installed it. Can I install Debian's BIGMEM and still use the standard Debian installation for KDE?

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 12:25 (Reply to #14)
sgrayban

Do a search for KDE repo's - you might find something.

You can install any kernel you want and the desktop wont care. Just install the right one ! If you use more then 4gigs use the bigmem one. If you have less then use the normal ones.

Just remember that debian is and always has been a server distro. It didn't even support a gui install until a few years ago and even then that was limited, now they are getting better at it buut debian will always be a server distro.

Tue, 09/22/2009 - 17:12 (Reply to #15)
bamajr

I now have my new server up and running.

My new server has 2 x Dual Core Xeon Processors, 6 Gigs of RAM and a 400 Gig (7200 RPM) SATA Hard Drive.

  • I started by installing Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 with KDE. With 6 Gigs of RAM and a 400 Gig hard drive, I left 95% of the hard drive space to the system, and used 5% (around 20 - 22 Gigs) for swap!

  • After the initial install, I checked the system memory to see how much was being recognized by the OS (using the debian:~# free -m). The standard kernel recognized just under 4 Gigs of RAM!

  • I installed lshw to check each memory location to ensure each RAM chip was properly being identified. After installing lshw i ran it (using debian:~# lshw -C memory). Each chip was showing the proper RAM chip size and speed, but the OS was only seeing the 4 Gig RAM limit.

  • To properly utilize all the RAM, I installed the Linux 2.6.26-1-686-bigmem kernel, and configured GRUB to load the bigmem kernel by default at boot.

  • After installing the bigmem kernel, I checked the system memory to see how much was being recognized by the OS. The bigmem kernel now recognizes all 6 Gigs of RAM!

  • Then I ran the "wget" install command copied straight from the Virtualmin website, to install Virtualmin.

I've had it up for a while now. It seems to be running smoothly.

The Virtualmin UI correctly displays the Debian 5.0 OS and the bigmem kernel. It also shows Real memory (RAM) of 5.95 GB total and Virtual memory (swap) of 21.04 GB total. This is all right on track with what should be listed!

Now, all I have to do is migrate the virtual servers from the current Virtualmin server to this new one!

Thanks all!

Tue, 09/22/2009 - 17:20 (Reply to #16)
sgrayban

21GB for swap ? That is a waste and you will never use it - not even 1% of it.

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 13:01
ronald
ronald's picture

you can always take debian based Ubuntu for the desktop, which I think is a winner for that environment.