Any reason not to use Debian as a server?

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Any reason not to use Debian as a server?

Postby OneSeventeen » 2005-08-22 20:02

I work at a small department at a University in the US, and we are getting ready to host our own web site. We currently have 2 webservers running: 1 windows 2000 server (ewww) and 1 Mandrake box.

We also have 3 other websites hosted by our University on 2 different webservers.

We are consolidating all of this down to one centralized webserver that we will have 100% control over.

I have a copy of Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9, along with Novell's "Red Carpet", but I don't like paying for free updates, hence the desire to switch to debian (go apt-get!)

The only concern my department has, is support.

I am used to using forums for personal support, but has anyone here had to pay for support? If so, how much does it usually run you?


Also, are there any other reasons not to use Debian as a server?
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Postby Harold » 2005-08-22 21:14

Periodically, all .rpm-based distros ship a newer version. I fought with Mandrake for three years and never had an update come close to working as promised. I see Red Hat/Fedora users in my local LUG pulling their hair out over version changes. SuSE users seem to be reasonably happy, both before and after the Novell buyout.

I installed Debian (Libranet, actually) during summer '02, just about the time that Woody was released. All my packages are now upgraded to Etch (except for XOrg, which I pulled out of Sid). .deb package installs and upgrades are a joy! Dist-upgrades have never failed to work as advertised! apt-get and dselect are better than peanut butter! (Sliced bread wasn't anything to get excited about until peanut butter came along.)

OneSeventeen> I have a copy of Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9...

Red Hat, SuSE and a couple of other distros are hawking exorbitantly-priced "server" versions. I am not impressed. As far as I am concerned, the only difference between a desktop OS and a server OS is the application software that the user has installed and the manner in which the user configures the OS.

Bottom line: Considering moving to Debian? Do it! Today!

Resources. Yep, in your position, that is a prime consideration.

Your first line of defense is one or more of the good Linux books published by No Starch and O'Reilly.

Your second line of defense is your local LUG. Wikipedia's Linux User Group page has pointers to a couple of good LUG locators.

Your third line of defense is this forum and one or more of the "official" Debian Mailing Lists.

Membership of your local LUG -- and "local" is relative -- will most certainly include contract/consulting IT pros who can do whatever you need to have done. If that should fail (highly unlikely! :-) There is a list of consultants on the Debian web page.

Choose your ISP carefully! I like to go to Netcraft to see what operating system an ISP is using. If an ISP is running Windows, I move on.
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Postby sprucio » 2005-08-24 14:39

The only reason why I might have a problem with a server might be if something broke and I couldn't find a way to fix it.

For example, let's say your are running a Web server and it crashes. You search all the forums and google the hell out if and still nothing.

If this is a mission critical server, now there might be harsh prices to pay.

That's the only thing that worries me about using Linux in general on a productive machine.
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Postby Jeroen » 2005-08-24 19:31

But of course, that can happen regardless of which software you're running, microsoft, Debian, or any other software. With open-source, at least you theoretically can find out the cause because you have the code available -- while you yourself might not be able to find out, others might -- so posting on some relevant mailinglist can yield results. With closed-source software, if you can't find out the problem via the GUI, only the vendor can help you, which might take a lot of money or is even impossible.
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Postby Roeland » 2005-08-30 10:06

sprucio wrote:The only reason why I might have a problem with a server might be if something broke and I couldn't find a way to fix it.

For example, let's say your are running a Web server and it crashes. You search all the forums and google the hell out if and still nothing.

If this is a mission critical server, now there might be harsh prices to pay.

That's the only thing that worries me about using Linux in general on a productive machine.


Well, we're talking about Linux here. Setting up a server without good knowledge and understanding of the software you're using is plain stupid.

So every sysadmin running Apache should know how to fix it when it borks. No need for a forum, really - if the rest of the web is silent about the things that happen to your configuration (no known bugs, problems, or whatsoever), chances are huge that you fcsk'd up. You should know your system and services well enough to fix problems like that.

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Postby sprucio » 2005-08-30 13:13

I understand that every software will have problems but my next point is one that I don't like but will bring up.

My company will never allow us to use Debian because it's licensing issues. Because it's deemed "free" software, the company doens't have anyone to sue incase something goes wrong and works comes to a dramatic halt.

I think that's one of the stupdest things I've heard but I suppose this is something that the lawyers conjured up to protect the company from a disaster.

Now, on the other hand, they don't have any problems using Red Hat or SuSE.

Because of that reason, I think most large corporations will probably stick to a more business oriented distro such as the two I've mentioned. On the other hand, I've never seen a distro like Debian that has been more stable in the making.

I always recommend Debian as a server when I'm doing small projects but for my company, it's a no go.
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Postby startx » 2005-10-02 07:07

My company will never allow us to use Debian because it's licensing issues. Because it's deemed "free" software, the company doens't have anyone to sue incase something goes wrong and works comes to a dramatic halt.

there are many companies around which offer commercial support for debian systems, so if your company looks for people taking legal "responsibility" they should just make a support contract with such a company.
debian squeeze for everyday life, many other versions for the rest
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Postby Guest » 2005-12-17 15:41

I completely agree with startx - hiring some kind of support company for Debian will give your own company someone to blame (and sue, if that's what they want).

But why don't you try to bring the benefits of not having someone to sue?
- Lowering of the costs, for a start, it's something I doubt they'd not like to hear.
- The possibility of having 'home support': hiring someone to expertise in the server's code, so the company will have it's own internal support.This way she won't have to depend on third parties. And as I don't think this guy will have much work to do after the server's up and running, he can spend his time helping improve the code which your company uses - this way not only your company gets constant improvements on her server, but also can call herself an "open-source community helper" or some shit like that - and nowadays it can improve (maybe greatly) your company's reputation.
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Postby tukkek » 2005-12-17 15:42

ooops, that was my post. Forgot to login.
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