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Solved: Which Distro to run on these servers?

Discussion in 'Linux and Unix' started by thebigguyconnor, Nov 28, 2011.

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  1. thebigguyconnor

    thebigguyconnor Thread Starter

    Aug 22, 2010
    I've got a couple of boxes (old off-lease type dell optiplex boxes, basic system specs, etc) that I'd like to use as home servers, running either windows or linux, and I'd like to know what you guys would recommend. I am going to run the servers headless most of the time, so I'd actually prefer that the OS I install not have pretty graphics, because it would just take up pointless resources.

    I would like the option of going into a GUI when I need to hook up a head because I am not totally comfortable with the CLI just yet (especially on linux).

    Ok here's the two machines:

    Dell OptiPlex GX240 Tower

    AGP Matrox Dual Head VGA Adapter
    4 or 5 PCI Slots, can't remember
    4 USB ports total (USB 1.1)
    100 MBPS Fast Ethernet
    40 GB IDE HDD
    1 GB PC133 RAM
    Pentium 4 - 1.8 GHz

    Dell OptiPlex GX270 Small Form Factor PC (for its time - 2003)

    Integrated VGA
    PCI Slot, and AGP 8X Slot, both unused (also they're both half-height expansion slots)
    8 USB ports total (USB 2.0)
    Gigabit Ethernet
    20 GB IDE HDD
    256 MB DDR RAM (may be able to
    Pentium 4 - 2.4 GHz

    Here is what I'd like to run on these two:

    Web Server (Apache or lighttpd)
    FTP File Server (FileZilla Server if on windows, I don't know which sort of FTP servers Linux has)
    Windows-Capable Networked Print Server (Both computers have Parallel Ports to work with my ancient 1990s era LaserJet 4P, want a print server that works with windows PCs, not just unix/linux)
    SSL Server (if it's a linux box, but if it's windows then I'll use RDP)
    Proxy Server (on windows I'd use Proxify, thru Hamachi, don't know of a linux alternative)
    Hamachi Server (I know how to set this up already on both)
    Video Game Server for a couple games (It wouldn't always be running but easy to launch - I know how to set this up on both windows and linux, but want to know which services I should run on which PCs based on their specs)
    Music Server (don't know how to set this up - was hoping to learn how and which software to use to accomplish that task - want to share music from one hard drive to whole family so they can sync it to their MP3 Players, etc)


    I want to know your recommendations on which above services in the list to assign to which computer, and which OS to run on each computer based on their specs. Right now I'm leaning towards running Windows XP on the first one and some sort of Linux for the second one.

    Hoping for some help,

    Connor McBrine-Ellis

  2. jiml8

    jiml8 Guest

    Jul 2, 2005
    Either box will run either OS. Given your overall requirements, I'd stick with Linux. You won't be able to do a very effective job of managing the XP box remotely unless you install 3rd party software, and that will likely be something with a GNU heritage anyway. Also, managing Linux from the command line is a breeze compared to Windows because the capabilities of Linux in the command line are light-years ahead of the capabilities of Windows.

    People here will recommend Ubuntu. Personally, I don't like Ubuntu. I'd suggest you look at Mageia or perhaps OpenSUSE.
  3. thebigguyconnor

    thebigguyconnor Thread Starter

    Aug 22, 2010
    Completely agree with everything you said.

    Yeah I tried Ubuntu and disliked it. I'm wondering if perhaps Debian would be more light-weight.
  4. admoore


    Aug 30, 2011
    I'd recommend Debian; it's my "standard OS" for servers, works a treat and has just about any package you want readily available.

    Install LXDE for the desktop if you want a GUI; its resource usage is negligible. You might want to install webmin for web-based administration, if the CLI is too daunting.

    Another possiblity is ClearOS, which is based on Centos but has a nice web interface built-in.
  5. thebigguyconnor

    thebigguyconnor Thread Starter

    Aug 22, 2010
    I now have debian running on both computers and it's running amazingly well. I think it's going to become a favorite of mine. Can't wait to try it out on a desktop system too!

    I have webmin installed too. Works pretty well. I don't think I'll bother installing X11 - it's just adds too much complexity to a system that is head-less most of the time anyways.

    Thanks for the help guys!
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