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server administration

I want to become proficient in Linux and server/web server administration. Here are some tasks that I would like to attempt:

installing a Linux distribution
partitioning hard drives
installing Linux kernel
basic Linux configuration
working as root
configuring mail servers
configuring web servers
programming with bash
configuring DNS settings
installing a firewall such as APF or CSF
installing an intrusion detection system like snort or AIDE
installing backup software such as Acronis or Selfimage

Can I do all the tasks above by myself on a VPS, in the same way that I would have done them on a dedicated server? Is there anything which  can only be accomplished with a dedicated server?

thanks!
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netplus21
Asked:
netplus21
3 Solutions
 
XaelianCommented:
Yes you can. It's a virtual server. It's like a real server, but then virtualised by a cloud computing firm. You can install the same as if it was a dedicated server.

Below you'll find a link about the advantages and disadvantages about a Linux Virtual server.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux-VServer
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PaulNSWCommented:
You could also use virtualisation such as VirtualBox (free) if your main computer is powerful enough. Then you can try out linux with little cost

If you do go the VPS route, ensure you can get SSH terminal access to the server
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netplus21Author Commented:
thanks for the link, the following is found under disadvantages:

Requires that the host kernel be patched.
All virtual servers share the same kernel so all must be Linux. (Because of backwards compatibility in user-space API, this does not impair use of old Linux programs/distributions.)
Networking is based on isolation, not virtualization. This prevents each virtual server from creating its own internal routing or firewalling setup.

I'm not sure what the host kernel is. Will I not be able to install it the same way that I would with dedicated? Will I not have the same privileges to create/manage a firewall as I would with dedicated?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Question: This is linux you're asking about.  WHY are you wanting to use a VPS for LEARNING?  Why not just download a distribution or several and install and learn it on your own PC(s)?
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XaelianCommented:
Host kernel is just the kernel of Linux. It's the kernel that's used on the server where they create the VPS. So you can't install linux distributions on it with an older kernel.

So you need to ask at the company who is providing you the VPS, what host kernel they're using on there server. Normally you'll have to choose which Distribution you want to use, and they are all on the same kernel, so no worries for this.

So you're only able to install your distribution that's based on that kernel.
You'll have the same priviliges to create/manage a firewall as you would with a dedicated server. This just means that you CAN'T install specific programs that aren't updated to the kernel they are using. But if you've a good providor, they make sure everything can be installed and doesn't have a limitation.

So don't worry. You won't face any limitations. But it can be, that you can't work on the latest Linux kernel.
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madunixChief Information Security Officer Commented:
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ossecCommented:
Here's my advice:

#1 Set aside a spare system you can format regularly
#2 Download and install it, play with it locally
#3 Use the official help for your distro of choice as much as possible above all other sites
#4 Give yourself one task at a time to complete "install, configure, test a webserver"

The difference between a "Desktop" and a "Server" is simply the software you install/run on the system. If you plan on Linux as a career, then RHEL (Red Hat) / Centos is the way to go. RHEL is the defacto Enterprise Linux distribution for the business world and has a host of certifications you can obtain.

You'll want to seriously consider professional schooling / training if you plan on Linux as a career as well. "I learned it in my basement" won't go over too well in your job search unless you've developed some groundbreaking technology in your basement learning as well.

If it's simply for your own enrichment, then by all means install every distro you can, tinker with them, break them, re-install them, over and over and over. You'll learn many things.
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