ServersTip of the Trade: Ubuntu's Prefab Server Stacks

Tip of the Trade: Ubuntu’s Prefab Server Stacks

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Ubuntu streamlines the server install process by offering a prebuilt server stack. With the latest version, a click of a mouse leads to a complete setup for whichever servers you want, including, DNS, mail server, PostgreSQL and OpenSSH.

While the Linux and Unix universes have always provided a wealth of high-quality, powerful servers for all occasions, putting all the pieces together has traditionally been a task for the seriously geeky. For example, assembling a mail server means collecting separate SMTP, POP3, and IMAP servers and knitting them together. Application servers and dynamic Web sites are even more challenging: Apache, Lighttpd, Perl, PHP, Python, Tomcat, JBoss, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and so forth — just figuring out the bits is half the battle.

Ubuntu entered the pre-fab server stack parade back in version 6.06 (Dapper Drake), and has been refining it with every release. With the latest release, 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon), the installer offers the option of installing the following servers along with it:

  • DNS server
  • LAMP server
  • Mail server
  • OpenSSH server
  • PostgreSQL server
  • Print server
  • Samba file server

So with the click of a mouse you’ll get the complete setup for whatever server or servers you want and can then get down to the business of configuring and fine-tuning, instead of driving yourself crazy over the installation process.

A noteworthy addition to Gutsy Gibbon is AppArmor, the security framework Novell formerly maintained. Now AppArmor is available to the world. Like SELinux, AppArmor overrides the traditional Unix model of discretionary access control by using mandatory access control. Unlike SELinux, AppArmor is supposed to be simpler to administer and modify.

One thing to keep in mind with Ubuntu is it pulls packages from all Debian repositories, including Experimental. It’s a great LAN server, but you’ll need to be extra-careful using it for any Internet-facing services.

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