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What is the best production linux server

AbdellahT
AbdellahT asked
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Last Modified: 2013-12-16

We are evaluating few linux distor to select a new Linux OS for production. We used to have openSuse 10.2. it was stable and reliable,however it contains many unnecessary applications and services that we had to keep updating and patching.
We are looking for the more reliable Linux distro, a good support for java, tomcat, jboss, and apache, has the least non-production services and applications and of course secure.

I know you can't have a perfect Linux OS but which one is more meant for production as web application server?

So far I got Centos (recommended by gheist)

Thank you.
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sysadmin
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cjl7freelance for hire
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one of the concerns I have about ubuntu in general is it's support of architectures. as far as I know it only supports amd64, i386. we DELLs with intels 64bits and intel 32bits. I could not find a consistent explanation which platforms are supported by the ubuntu serve LTS.  Can anyone shed some light on this?

Thank you

AbdellahT
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cjl7freelance for hire

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About the supported plattforms:

http://www.ubuntu.com/products/whatisubuntu/serveredition/techspecs#804

States clearly that "Ubuntu Server Edition is meant to run on any Intel or AMD x86, AMD_64, EM_64T processors as well as Sun Sparc T1 processors."

And on
http://www.ubuntu.com/products/whatisubuntu/serveredition/validatedhardware

Some Dell servers are listed as "Compatible".

I have run Ubuntu on Dell/HP both 32 and 64 bit systems without a hitch.

You do not have to disqualify ubuntu for that reason! (IMO)

Author

Commented:

Thank you cjl7:

I agree with what you said, however the only ubuntu server 8.4 TLS is available is for amd64.

check out this link:    http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download

I don't see any 64bit for intel nor for x86, etc.

could you please direct me to where i can get the right installation file for x86_64?

Thank you

Abdellah
Michael EagerConsultant
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>Free distributions are not as reliably maintained as commercial distros, nor is support generally available for the programs you mention.  

I disagree with this statement.

CentOS certainly doesn't come under this description and I could well argue that debian is more reliable than RHEL and SuSE.
Michael EagerConsultant

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Tintin --

Who do you call to get a fix for a critical work-stopping problem with your CentOS system?  Or Tomcat running on Debian?
Maciej Ssysadmin
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I call myself usually ;) Do you think, engineers from redhat/novell have some secret documentation, which is not available for others?
Yes - you always have to pay, but you have three options.
1. pay redhat or some similar one for their knowledge
2. hire administrator, and pay him for his knowledge
3. manage the server by yourself - pay for courses, books, and spend a lot of time to gain some experiences.

If I choose third one, why should I also pay some other company for things I can do myself?

I can even say, that sometimes it's faster to get help from ubuntu/gentoo/etc community than from paid support.
Michael EagerConsultant

Commented:
oklit --

I do all my own support.  But I'm not running a production server with requirements for high reliability. I use open-source repositories of bug fixes and updates for CentOS, Fedora, and Ubuntu.  Most of the patches I get from open distros work, but not all, and finding fixes can take a significant amount of time.  

RedHat doesn't have secret documentation, but they do have a staff dedicated to pro-actively keeping on top of bug reports (especially security bugs) and creating patches.  Many of the people on RedHat's staff (or Novell, or other commercial distros) are not system administrators, they are package developers.  They do spend significantly more testing patches than the open distros, simply because they are on the hook for fixing patches which don't work.  

As I said, and you seem to echo, if you want a reliable and stable production server, as AbdellahT said, you have to pay for it in one form or another.  
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eager.

Have you ever had a case where you had a critical CentOS bug that would not have also been an issue with RHEL?

Michael EagerConsultant

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I'm not running a production server.  I don't run JBoss or Tomcat.  I don't run RHEL, so I can't compare it with CentOS on a bug for bug basis.  

As said, if you want a production quality system, you either need to pay in-house staff to maintain it or pay for commercial support.  
Eager:  that is the precise reason it has been said 'don't use bleeding edge distributions' as they will push to put the latest and greatest into their repositories just to get it out there, whilst others only use tried and tested packages.  I understand that sure, older packages can still have bugs in them, but isn't that more likely to be the package maintainer's problem rather than your distribution's buglist?

It's the same with anything really.. A lot of our customers desktop wise wouldn't change to Vista until it had been release for 1-2 years and/or a service pack had been released.  Why?  Because they don't want the risk of something new which could possibly have problems and be a big flop.

And just to put the cherry on the cake, I look after a few webservers for a customer and the only time apache gets restarted is when the server gets restarted (which is never), yet IIS gets a restart atleast once if not twice a week ;-)  


RE: the question
Whatever you/your administrator is most comfortable.  I'm a Gentoo fan.  I am biased as I come from a BSD background before changing to Linux and love Gentoo's portage collection.  But the bigger attraction for me is you build your box from bottom up.  Everything you install is there because you installed it, not because it was precompiled and bundled with your distribution.  It can be a little bit daunting the first time but there is great support in their IRC channel, forums and mailing list.  Another pull for me is you compile everything from source, meaning you can optimize your packages for your system and only compile support for what you need and not end up having support for 101 different packages you won't use but are compiled into binary package for 'just in case'.  Aswell, re: stable packages, Gentoo isn't at the forefront in their repository, but they do let you install the latest and greatest if you wish via what they call Overlays, although if you do generally you are on your own support-wise.  Finally, the upgrade path, Gentoo is a metadistribution meaning it doesn't really have a version.  The only thing you need to upgrade from time to time is your package manager.  

It sounds all great, but at the end of the day I've had my fair share of hair pulling moments.  If this is your first Linux server or no one is fully competent with Linux (although I'd imagine if they were, you wouldn't have posted this question), it might just pay off in the long run to either use a distribution with commercial support, or a local Linux outsource support company in your area and see what they use/support as at the end of the day, installing is nothing, it's the troubleshooting after the fact that is going to cause the most grey hair.

Commented:
CentOS, Ubuntu, Suse

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Commented:
We are going with SUSE Entreprise Linux over Red Hat Linux Enterprise Server because we are familiar with SUSE environments. The main reason we chose the commercial version of SUSE over the free version openSuse 10.3 is that SLES is garanteed to be supported for at least 5 years. while openSuse's  support ends in 2 years, you only can download updates and patches within the 2 years and that's about it, after those two years  you will have to upgrade to the next version, no patches or updates will be released for the old version. In Production environment where security standards and policies are big concern, we need a reliable system that is supported for longer time. Same thing applies to CenOS and Red Hat Server. Of course there is no perfect system, for us  SLES is a reliable linux system, provides means of security by default and comprable with most of software. I would not recommend using X Window Server (GUI) when running linux on production.

I thought this might help someone.

Thanks everyone

Abdellah.

Commented:
It really depends on th environment - the need for support, accountability, etc.
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Note that RHEL has a seven year life cycle.

See http://www.redhat.com/security/updates/errata/
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