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Administering a Dedicated Linux Server

I've been hosting my sites on a shared Linux server at Hostway, where system administrators there took care of the server.   SiteMail was already set up and whenever I wanted to host a new domain they would give me a username and password so that FTP could upload the site to an area on the server.  And they gave me a couple of DNS addresses to point the domain to.  Pretty good for $10.mo.

Then I decided to try a dedicated server for better performance so I signed up for a "FlexCloud Server" where for $150/mo they carve a virtual server out of the cloud for me alone. But this server seems to be just that and nothing more - a Linux server running Linux, Apache, MySQL and (I hope) PHP.  No one is administering it.  If I want SiteMail so my domains can have email addresses I need to get the software and install it myself.   And it's not clear where I point DNS to or how I would host multiple domains from this server.  Probably a lot of other things are missing that my administered shared server had that I'm not even aware of.

Perhaps someone could explain what I'm getting into with this dedicated server and what I need to make it all work like my shared server did.

Thanks for any help.
Steve
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steva
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steva
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2 Solutions
 
rindiCommented:
Do you know what distro is running on that server or can you choose? If you can choose I would ask them to install something like Zentyal or ClearOS (I prefer Zentyal):

http://www.zentyal.com/

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=clearos

They are simple to setup and use, you manage them via your web-browser, and you can add modules you need or don't need easily.
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stevaAuthor Commented:
I'm not sure what you mean by "distro."  The version of Linux it's running is Centos 5, though I could have chosen RedHat for $20 more a month. I don't think there's anything extra, like zentyal or clearos.  They're telling me that I have to install anything like that myself.
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rindiCommented:
There are 100dreds of Linux distributions, among them RedHat and CentOS, Ubuntu and Debian, Zentyal and ClearOS etc.

RedHat is a company and it's distribution, unlike other Linux distro's, isn't free. You have to buy a subscription and for that you then get access to the software repositories and updates, and as far as I know you also get access to their support.

CentOS on the other hand is a clone of RedHat and completely free, when needing help you'll have check on their or other forums, or look for a company that sells support for CentOS. Of course, like all free distro's, they don't say no to donations. Also on CentOS you have access to their software repositories, which host the same software and updates as redhat. Also ClearOS is based on CentOS, but it includes additional tools which make setting up a server and maintaining it really easy for beginners. RedHat and CentOS don't have such options. But as these 3 distro's are very similar and have the same base, they are similar to use.

Other distro's like Ubuntu are a bit different, and so there are some things you do differently from distro to distro.

As CentOS is free and available, and if you can't install one of the simpler server distro's, I suggest you download a CentOS iso, install it on a PC of yours, and start learning, playing around with it, and testing it. You'll also find many documentations on the CentOS site which explain how to install and setup the different tools and services you need, and how to manage and use them.

http://centos.org/

But generally I'm afraid you'll have to learn and take your time...
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AggieTexCommented:
You are probably getting in over your head if you want this done relatively soon.  If you are not that familiar with Linux you can install webmin.  I don't usually recommend putting it on public web servers if you don't know how to secure it properly, but it will allow you to configure a lot of what you need with a gui and not having to know where the configuration files are.

For the e-mail domains, you would need to log into whoever is the registrar of the IP addresses and change the mail MX records to point to the new IP address of your dedicated server.

You would also want to configure SELinux and your firewalls correctly  for everything to work.

The DNS settings are usually located in your /etc/resolv.conf file.  Or you can use the network manager in the gui if you have that installed.
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stevaAuthor Commented:
Thanks.

One of the options while building the server is to include a Plesk control panel and someone suggested that that would let me do the things I want.  So I deleted the existing server instance and built one with the Plesk software to see what that does for me.

I'll let you know.

Thanks for your interest.
Steve
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rindiCommented:
The thing is that plesk as far as I know isn't free either, and that alone won't help to install software, it only is of some help to configure things. Webmin on the other hand is free and does the same thing.

But as I mentioned you should start by getting an iso of CentOS and do some testing at your location, not on the remote server. That's the best way of getting the hang and learning.

Also, with plesk, since it is proprietary it can be more difficult to get help with it on forums (I for example normally only use free software and so only can help with those tools).
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stevaAuthor Commented:
They're charging me $5/mo for Plesk, but it doesn't seem to do everything I want either.

While it would be lots of fun to become a Linux system admin and figure all this out, the time is just not in the schedule now. I need to find a hosting provider that will give me a dedicated server that has a Site Control panel that let's me click a button to add a database, another button to bring up phpMyAdmin, a button for FTP access, a button to add another site, etc.,    AND has system administrators on call to support the server by adding things like mod_deflate to Apache if I ask for it.  

Thanks for your help, guys.  I split the points.

Steve
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