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hi all,

i hope this is in the right place. im a newbie and want to gain much experience with linux as server and maybe say 2 or 3 clients, all different OS's.

at my work we have lots of pc's laying around and I have the okay from my boss to setup a little test network with 3 or 4 pc's, one server and the rest clients. i want to know if some of the experienced users can give me ideas on how i can set up this test network. i want to create users and groups, set policies and make this like a normal corporate server would be like, just on a very small scale. any suggestions would be apperciated.

1. First of all, can Slackware be a server OS? if yes, can it install on a normal pc? same for CentOS, can it be installed on a normal desktop and run as a server?

2. Which distro should i use for the server OS? Is CentOS the industry favourite? I cant do RedHat, have to pay for it. Or Slackware?

3. On the clients side, can i install windows xp or 7 on one clients, maybe fedora on another and then ubuntu on another?is it possible to run a network like this? i want to gain as much experience as i can with setting up different distro's and a server.

4. how do i go about this project? do i just install the different OS's on each and connect them to a switch and see what happens and configure from there? is there anything important i should know before attempting to do this?

i know this thread sounds stupid but i am an entry level IT guy and am so darn eager to learn the whole network server industry but i lack so much in knowledge. i dont have a clue what im doing, i know i want to do it, but the method is unclear.

PS. i would like to make a diagram of the layout and some documentation when im done and everything runs smooth. maybe it iwll help someone else starting out like me.

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Last Post by Firewolf
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What do you want to do with the server? Mail server, file sharing, print server, DHCP, routing, ...? That defines the packages you will need to install / configure.

Perhaps, a good start is the following:
http://www.howtoforge.com/perfect-server-fedora-11-x86_64-ispconfig-2

Which distro is the best for a server? Don't know. I am using Fedora at home, at work and in my Linux server administration courses. Why? Because I am familiar with it...

Further... installation of the OS's 'server' version on the server and the 'client' versions on the clients, will do for learning and exploration... an then try out and configure as needed...

Edited by Firewolf: n/a

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What do you want to do with the server? Mail server, file sharing, print server, DHCP, routing, ...? That defines the packages you will need to install / configure.

Perhaps, a good start is the following:
http://www.howtoforge.com/perfect-server-fedora-11-x86_64-ispconfig-2

Which distro is the best for a server? Don't know. I am using Fedora at home, at work and in my Linux server administration courses. Why? Because I am familiar with it...

Further... installation of the OS's 'server' version on the server and the 'client' versions on the clients, will do for learning and exploration... an then try out and configure as needed...

thanks for your reply firewolf. couple more q's if that's okay.

1. should i maybe start and use all of them? then wipe all the drives and start from scratch and then configure for the next one? that way i get experience with all the different configurations?

2. can you install CentOS on a normal desktop and use it as a client? like ubuntu? you said you use fedora, so it sounds like your saying you can use any distro and use it as a server then? or is this a wrong assumption?

3.can you have all these different types of services on one server? in the link you gave me it looks like that is exactly what the guy is doing. is it a good idea in the industry?

can you suggest maybe any way i can start this? i have no idea where to start or what to do. should i start with CentOS or fedora? i don't have a personal taste coz i havent worked with anything yet. do you have any suggestions on how to start this training setup of mine?

thanks for being patient.:-)

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I try to answer each question separately...

1. should i maybe start and use all of them? then wipe all the drives and start from scratch and then configure for the next one? that way i get experience with all the different configurations?

Not sure what you mean. Test all the different distributions? Or test all the different servers (services)? That would be a very nice research, but very time consuming as you are a Linux starter.
I would suggest that you select one distribution for your server and play with that. You mentioned that you have 4 systems: 1 server and 3 clients.
Example setup: Fedora 12 on the server. For the clients you can use Windows XP, Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9. That would give you a very nice test network and you can learn the differences between Fedora & Ubuntu.

2. can you install CentOS on a normal desktop and use it as a client? like ubuntu? you said you use fedora, so it sounds like your saying you can use any distro and use it as a server then? or is this a wrong assumption?

Linux comes in many flavours. Basically you have 3 main families: RedHat, Debian & Slackware. They all started somewhere in 1993. The rest of the distributions you find are derivatives.
Check out: http://futurist.se/gldt/gldt93.png
The main differences between the 3 families is the package management.

  • RedHat: rpm-based systems, like Fedora, CentOS, ...
  • Debian: deb-based systems, like Ubuntu, Mint, ...
  • Slackware: tar-based systems, like Suse

These packages are not compatible, so if you choose a package type, you stick with it on that system.
The Slackware distro's (tar-based) do not have dependency checks; you have to do that manually. I would not recommend that for a starter.

Further, if you stay with big distro's as Fedora , CentOS, Ubuntu, ... yes, they can be used for a client and a server. The repositories offer several server software. In fact, you can make a server of any system. It is just a matter of installing the software and configuring it. The core system (kernel, ...) is the same for a desktop or server system.

3.can you have all these different types of services on one server? in the link you gave me it looks like that is exactly what the guy is doing. is it a good idea in the industry?

You can have all the different services on one system, yes. For learning, this is no problem. When you setup a server for professional use (industry use), it is possible, but not wanted due to performance and security issues. But then virtualisation might be a solution.
For my Linux courses, I have the students to setup several services on one system too (dhcp, dns, mail, file sharing, ssh, database, web, ftp, ...). During their project weeks, they split the services between different machines, but that is just a matter of availability of hardware. For learning purposes, this is not a requirement.

can you suggest maybe any way i can start this? i have no idea where to start or what to do. should i start with CentOS or fedora? i don't have a personal taste coz i havent worked with anything yet. do you have any suggestions on how to start this training setup of mine?

Just pick one: Fedora or Ubuntu. For these distro's, you will find a lot of information on the internet. Both have their forums. For specific Fedora problems I use http://forums.fedoraforum.org/

Suggestion: start with Fedora and use the link I put in the previous post. Follow the instructions and look how far you get. Perhaps you have to start over at some time, but that is just part of the game. In my early Linux days (1998), I messed up a lot of test systems... now I am a full-time Linux user (home & work) and I am a Linux teacher...

If you don't do, you won't make mistakes...
If you don't make mistakes, you won't learn...
So, just do... and learn...

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firewolf....thanks so much for your time. i think i'm gona start with the link you gave me. i have an external 80GB at home and now i have a test pc at work. i managed to get only one so far. the other "spare" ones are all without parts etc. it sucks. i have another idea though....

is it possible to use virtualbox or vmware server for virtualization? i can install fedora or ubuntu and then install the vmware server and then i can have guest OS's? i understand this takes some memory but i just want the bare minimum to work. so...

1. if i use vmware server(free), will it give me the same environment as if i had the actual hardware? a coworkers said that all the different guest OS's are like individual machines, is this true?

2. i would prefer to have the actual hardware, but if i cant find their parts i guess im forced to either drop it (WHICH I DON'T WANT TO) or see if vmware server will work. any suggestions on that?

3.firewolf...you say that you teach linux and your students configure servers etc, do you know of some material online that is free where i can do the same course material or atleast somewhat the same to what you teach? for my first system i would even consider one server and one client, anything will do. I JUST NEED TO GET MY HANDS ON.

my first system should be ready tomorrow, so i can install the sever part. any tips or suggestions? is CentOS a good distro to use too?

i would like it be as close to what i will encounter in the real world, im a bench tech now coz im a newbie to the IT industry, but i can't sit down and not do anything challenging. :-)

thanks again for your input.

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You can use Virtual Box or VMWare for setting up virtual machines in Linux. On my Fedora 12 laptop I use Virtual Box OSE (installed via repository). In there I have about 12 virtual machines configured (Windows / Linux, clients / servers).

I have no experience with VMWare, but I know there is a Linux version. You have to download and to install that yourself; there is no repository version.

You can simulate a client server/setup via virtual machines. You have to make sure you use 'local host' setting for your virtual netwerk adapters. NAT or bridged are not suitable for a private client/server network setup. Virtual Box has very good documentation about this.

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finallllyyyyy i got virtualbox installed and my first virtual machine, (after three tries). lol

okay. i have a question would you please tell me if it's possible?

I have Centos 5.4 installed as my virtual machine and my installation of Fedora12 is busy installing as I'm typing. so...i installed a gnome desktop to Centos coz im not sure how to use the cli at this time. i installed the server packages etc but now i want to "simulate" a server environment with CentOS and Fedora12 my client. both are independant machines so how do I set up the environment when my laptop is connected to the internet here at home, and i want my CentOS to act like an independant sever to Fedora? i want ot configure email on it, ftp etc. My Host os is Ubuntu 9.10. is this possible?
i hope im making sense.

i want to use my ubuntu host normally like i do surf the net etc, but when i start my two virtual mahcines, i want ot have a complete independant network between the two. i want to configure users and groups, do email etc. can i with this setup? or do i have to disconnect from my router?

thanks

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You can have a complete independent network in Virtual Machine and keep being connected to the internet with your host system at the same time. This is OS independent.

In the main screen of Virtual Box (where you see the list of VM's), you can select the desired VM. Then you select the network setting. In there you have the choice between NAT, Bridged and Host-Only.

You have to select host-only. Then you can configure your VM's in the same network. For example, you give them all a fixed ip address in the range 192.168.1.x. They will see each other then (try ping). They won't see your host system.

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You can have a complete independent network in Virtual Machine and keep being connected to the internet with your host system at the same time. This is OS independent.

In the main screen of Virtual Box (where you see the list of VM's), you can select the desired VM. Then you select the network setting. In there you have the choice between NAT, Bridged and Host-Only.

You have to select host-only. Then you can configure your VM's in the same network. For example, you give them all a fixed ip address in the range 192.168.1.x. They will see each other then (try ping). They won't see your host system.

thanks alot firewolf. this is awesome advice. i am now at a stage with ubuntu9.10 host, fedora12 guest, CentOS guest, and windows xp guest.

it seems to work fine, but i realised i need a bit more RAM now. lol. my pc is screaming when i fire up to virtual machines. i will post again when i have the RAM and i can ping my neighbors.

thanks so much for you patience and help. i really appreciate it.
keep well

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it seems to work fine, but i realised i need a bit more RAM now. lol. my pc is screaming when i fire up to virtual machines.

Yep, I know, there is a hardware limit of course... I can run 2 VM's on my laptop, but after a while I can start cooking an egg on it...

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hey firewolf,

tried to upgrade my ram today but my pc doesn't like it. gives me a blank screen on boot. don't know what the cause is since both sticks are pc5300s types. anyway...

my virtual machines seem to be in smaller windows. when i maximize the window, the actual OS window stays the same. i googled this and went on the ubuntu forums but i don't find a solution. people talk about the x system or something. do you know of a "newbie friendly" method to make my virtual OS's the same size as my screen? or respond to my resizing? in fullscreen mode the window stays the same, with black all along the sides. any ideas?

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Yes, this is possible. You have to install the Virtual Box Additions.

For this, your virtual machine must be running. In the Virtual Box menu 'Devices' you have to select 'Install Guest Additions'. A CD icon will appear on your VM desktop.

How I do it...
- open the CD in a window
- copy the correct (32/64bit) run file (VBoxLinuxAddition-*.run) to your VM desktop
- open a terminal
- cd Desktop
- become root user: 'su' in Fedora or 'sudo' in Ubuntu
- make the run file executable: 'chmod 777 VBoxLinuxAddition-*.run'
- run the installer: './VBoxLinuxAddition-*.run'
- the additions will be installed

On some systems, you might have to install the c++ compiler (gcc), the kernel-devel and kernel-header packages to continue.

Once the additions are installed, you can resize your screen. Also copy/paste actions between the host and guest systems will be possible.

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phew...thanks so much for your post firewolf, after two days of trial and error i got it right on my CentOS vm and my Windows XP system. but...

on Fedora12 it doesn't seem to work.i tried all the different formats like (just a few i tried) :

sh ./VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86
sh /VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86
sh VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86
VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86
./VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86

but nothing seem to work to execute the file. i even went on the desktop where it is and tried double clicking on it and say " run in terminal". nothing.

if that's not enough, two days ago i typed something and when it looks like it wants to start the installation, it says that my headers and stuff are not installed, although they are. i installed the kernel-devel and kernel-header and gcc i think. still nothing.

so what am idoing here? why doesn't it wana execute? i tried the chmod 777 thing too but it just bounces to the next line, like it didn't do anything.

any thoughts? by the way this is pretty cool.:-)

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You have to use the complete filename... including the 'run' extention...

I am not sure about Fedora 12. Only tried it with version 11 yet. I will test it later myself... if I find the time maybe this evening...

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