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What Are the Best Tips for Setting up a Linux® Server?

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  • Written By: N. Kalu
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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Linux is an open source operating system that is widely used on servers, desktops, and devices. It is especially popular in the server market, making up at least 32% of all web servers. Setting up a Linux server can be a daunting task, but recent advancements have made the process much easier than it used to be. For new users, it is probably a good idea to check out a book or a couple websites for information about Linux basics.

There are many various distributions of Linux, and many have different intended purposes. When setting up a Linux server, it is important to first choose an appropriate distribution. Distributions designed for servers include Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Debian, and Slackware. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is not free, but comes with commercial support and is suitable for large businesses. Debian contains almost completely open source software and is ideal for those wishing to use Linux for philosophical reasons. Slackware is well known for its stability and configurability.

While each distribution has its advantages, those who are new to using Linux or are setting up a Linux server for the first time may want to try the user-friendly Ubuntu Server. Installation can be accomplished by CD or USB Flash Drive. Installation media is generally available as a free download.

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Regardless of distribution, installation is the first step in setting up a Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl or PHP (LAMP) stack. Linux is the operating system, Apache is an HTTP server, MySQL is database software, and PHP and Perl are programming languages. Depending on which distribution has been selected, these items may already be present and fully or partially configured. If they are not present, they can generally be installed through the distribution's package management service.

This is typically a very simple process in which the user indicates which packages he or she would like to have on his or her computer. The package management service will then automatically download and install the appropriate version. Manual software installation is relatively uncommon on Linux systems, and it may be necessary to provide certain information during the install process, such as the domain the server is hosted at. After configuring Apache, many users use the package management system to install userdirmod, which makes it easy to set up multiple user accounts.

The last step in setting up a Linux server is to move any existing content to the new Linux server. If this content is stored remotely, the user may want to install OpenSSH-Server, which will allow for secure remote connections using OpenSSH. OpenSSH-Server will also make remotely managing the server much easier.

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