Re: Tech Writers Running Servers

Subject: Re: Tech Writers Running Servers
From: Sandy Harris <sandy -at- storm -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 20:08:10 -0500

"Buss, Jason A" wrote:

> Before you agree to anything, make sure the persons asking you to take this
> on understand that this will eat a good chunk of production time (at first,
> anyway). Just make sure you realize what you are committing yourself to,
> and be careful not to spread yourself too thin.

Yes.

You may also need to talk about security issues. If someone breaking into
that server would be a major disaster, then either they shouldn't use an
inexperienced admin, or you'll need a lot of help. Look at www.sans.org
for some training courses and other good info.

If at all possible, try to get your server installed behind a firewall run
by experts. Ask them to lock down the firewall so nothing except web stuff
and SSH (for your admin work and file transfers) reaches your server. This
takes a lot of the security worry off you.

If security is important and they expect you to do this without help, don't
take the responsibility. Something will almost certainly hit that fan at
some point, so don't stand next to it.

> If this is an NT file server, that is about the easiest server to set up and
> maintain. Find any good book on NT server and have at it.

Perhaps, if you're familar with Windows and security isn't a big issue.
Otherwise, I'd say use Unix.

> If it's an inexpensive Unix server your needing, I might suggest FreeBSD
> over Linux. Linux gets more hype, definitely, but FreeBSD is, in my opinion
> anyway, a more stable server platform

I'd have said Linux because it is more widespread and easier to get help on
(a weak argument; anyone who can work on one Unix can learn another easily)
and because I prefer it. However, if you need stability, avoid the bleeding
edge. Don't use Redhat 7 or 2.4 kernels.

OpenBSD, FreeBSD or NetBSD should be fine too. Of those, I'd choose OpenBSD
because they are really serious about security.

> (the sources are still based on the old System V code from the 60s).

No. System V was an early 80s AT&T product. BSD 4.2 users at the time sold
posters saying "4.2 > V". I still have one on my wall.

Neither Linux nor any of the *BSD's are based on any AT&T code. If anything,
Linux is closer to System V in design than the *BSDs are.

> Yahoo runs on FreeBSD.

Yes, as do some other large sites like cdrom.com.

> If you are going this route, and intend to use Samba for file service, get
> the O'Reilly book on Samba.

I'm not sure this is relevant.

Samba is a Linux implementation of SMB, the windows protocol for file, printer,
etc. sharing. It might be relevant if you're in a Windows shop, but even there
you can transfer files in other ways.

However, "get the O'Reilly book" is excellent advice for almost anything you
need to do on Unix and some things on other systems.

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