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How to set up an internet server using freeware

Posted on 2004-08-11
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Last Modified: 2010-04-21
Hi,

I work for a small business.  My boss wants me to set up an internet site using freeware, such as Linux or FreeBSD.  He doesn't want to spend money for someone to provide the service.  I look around but find no instruction or links to sites that show to set up the internet using freeware.  I think I will need at least 3 machines:  DNS server, sendmail server and Apache server.  Anyone has any idea about the steps to set up an internet site, such as where to register, etc.  At this moment I completed setting up an Apache server.  Thanks for any suggestion.
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Question by:tropicalparadise
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Expert Comment

by:Tintin
ID: 11778688
There's no reason why you can't run DNS, sendmail and Apache on the same server.  It all depends on what loads you are expecting and what type of security arrangements you have.

Do you have an existing Internet link?
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Author Comment

by:tropicalparadise
ID: 11778813
I plan to use DSL or some kinds of wireless internet.  I'm kind of new to Linux so it is a struggle to set things up.  
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Accepted Solution

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gheist earned 50 total points
ID: 11781189
For small business one server is enough.
For a bit larger business two servers with equivalent functions are enough ("highly available").
You do not need three machines, you are only considering three applications - DNS, Webserver and Internet mail, UNIX is not as limited as windows, where you can run one application perr server.

For DNS - BIND is internets most popular DNS server - look around www.isc.org if you do not find documentation in your Linux distribution.
It had quite bad security record, so for plain serving of few zones and not serving any users you can choose MaraDNS

Apache runs out of the box, no need to configure much, just upgrade to most recent.
If you get back to application again and all you need is to run few cgi scripts in adition to static pages then any http server lik thttpd will do
If you run PHP sonsider using some kind of accelerator for PHP

For mail - sendmail is standard everywhere, very insecure and hard to maintain, so I will suggest exim or postfix ( exim is default with Debian Linux, postfix - with NetBSD) - they have human readable/writable config files.
You will need some pop3 or other mailbox server in addition to SMTP server for users to read mail they receive.

So for higher availability I suggested two machines - DNS replicates by design, you can synch websites your ways, there are some apps which allow to synch mailboxes. All availability is that when one server is down half of users will need to press "reload" or "check mail" or so twice for three hours while dns records update.

Linux needs a lot of learning, FreeBSD is easier with better documentation ( http://www.freebsd.org/handbook/)
There is OpenBSD which has all the documentation in system in perfect shape.
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Assisted Solution

by:Gns
Gns earned 50 total points
ID: 11781560
About DNS: For such a small setup, you needn't bither setting something *public* up... Talk to your ISP about them hosting your PUBLIC entries (zone info, MX (mailexchanger... your mta), A record(s) for web&mail ... whatever).

If they're about to charge you exorbitantly, or if you (will) have a dynamic IP address, you'll need host that kind of entries with someone who will let you udate that info dynamically... Something like DynDNS (http://www.dyndns.org).

You might have a LOCAL DNS server too, for your clients machines, but there is strictly speaking no real need to expose it to the internet.

-- Glenn
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Expert Comment

by:Gns
ID: 11781576
Oh BTW, gheist... I'm sure the frenices are really nice, but... Linux isn't hard... Some distros are less intuitive, but generally... It's the same kind of work, the same kind of tools, the same kind of knowledge:-):-)

-- Glenn
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Expert Comment

by:Gns
ID: 11781587
bither -> bother
udate -> update
or your clients machines -> or your client machines
frenices -> freenices

-- Glenn (a.k.a. Le Grand Typo)
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:kmckinstry
ID: 11825986
I am in the process of writing an article on this exact subject.  If you contact me directly, I would be glad to send you what I have written so far.

I have done this for several companies, using FreeBSD, and it is actually a very easy and inexpensive process.

{{email addr removed by jmcg during cleanup}}

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