Thursday, February 28, 2008

Top 100 of the Best (Useful) OpenSource Applications?

Been toying with the idea of rolling my own server and adding the applications I am interesting in. I read a couple of articles today and thought the following applications my be worth considering if I go down this road:


Clam AntiVirus is an open source (GPL) anti-virus toolkit for UNIX, designed especially for e-mail scanning on mail gateways. It provides a number of utilities including a flexible and scalable multi-threaded daemon, a command line scanner and advanced tool for automatic database updates.


OpenSSH is a FREE version of the SSH connectivity tools that technical users of the Internet rely on. Users of telnet, rlogin, and ftp may not realize that their password is transmitted across the Internet unencrypted, but it is. OpenSSH encrypts all traffic (including passwords) to effectively eliminate eavesdropping, connection hijacking, and other attacks. Additionally, OpenSSH provides secure tunneling capabilities and several authentication methods, and supports all SSH protocol versions.


PuTTY is a free implementation of Telnet and SSH for Win32 and Unix platforms, along with an xterm terminal emulator.


VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing. It is, in essence, a remote display system which allows you to view a computing ‘desktop’ environment not only on the machine where it is running, but from anywhere on the Internet and from a wide variety of machine architectures.


Many people know from their own experience that it’s not easy to install an Apache web server and it gets harder if you want to add MySQL, PHP and Perl. XAMPP is an easy to install Apache distribution containing MySQL, PHP and Perl. XAMPP is really very easy to install and to use - just download, extract and start.

Some more potential solutions from as energetic article about home servers over at the Ferdy Christant blog:

A streaming server for MP3s, OGG vorbis files, movies and other media formats.

It is designed to be:

  • Small, stable, portable, self-contained, and secure.
  • Simple to install, configure, and use.
  • Portable across different varieties of Unix, the GNU Operating System, and Microsoft Windows platforms.
The Webalizer
A fast, free web server log file analysis program. It produces highly detailed, easily configurable usage reports in HTML format, for viewing with a standard web browser.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

So why care about Windows viruses on Linux?

An interesting piece on why Linux servers should be running anti-virus programs:

So why care about Windows viruses on Linux?

If you're running Linux, you are, in a practicality, immune from a Windows virus. So why would you want to bother scanning your files - files that won't work on your computer, anyway (except, for example, through Wine) - for viruses that have no effect on you? Well, the simple answer is, you wouldn't. But it is more complex than that. I'll explain.

Mail servers
The vast majority of Linux anti-virus programs run on mail servers. These are the computers that your mail client connects to when you want to send or receive an email. Since email is one of the main way viruses and trojan horses spread, these servers are the "front-line" in the battle to stop computer viruses. And, since so many of these servers run Linux, it's clear to see the need for a Linux program to detect Windows viruses. If you're running a mail server, whether it be for your home or office, you should definitely be using an anti-virus program to intercept any naughty files that might be trying to move in or out of your network via email.

File servers
Another place where you'd want to run an anti-virus program is on a file server shared my multiple users, even if you trust all of these users. File servers are basically repositories for data; some of that data might come to exist on your server through legitimate sources, but there's no way for you to know where each and every file originated. Running an anti-virus ensures that if someone uploads an infected file, say, downloaded from a Peer-to-Peer network, your file server will detect the threat and stop any other users from becoming infected.

It seems like ClamAV is the de facto standard when it come to open source anti-virus programs. I will have to take a look at it as a possible solution since windows boxes will have a need to connect to the file server.

More Support For RAID 10 (1+0)

I came across the best article I have read to date about RAID by Carla Schroder: Build Your Own RAID Storage Server with Linux

I enjoy her easy to read and understand writing style. She confirmed many of the the things I discovered about RAID in a very concise one page overview.

I like to look at the the Tuxmachines website (one of my favourites) on a daily basis and I came across a link to another Carla Schroder article about RAID: Linux RAID Smackdown: Crush RAID 5 with RAID 10

Some of the highlights from the article:

- Most Linux installers support RAID 0, 1, and 5, but not 10.

- RAID 10 support is still marked as "experimental" in the kernel.

- RAID 10 is shorthand for RAID1+0, a mirrored striped array. Linux RAID 10 needs a minimum of two disks, and you don't have to use pairs, but can have odd numbers

- RAID10 provides superior data security and can survive multiple disk failures

- RAID10 is fast

- RAID10 is considerably faster during recovery— RAID5 performance during a rebuild after replacing a failed disk bogs down as much as 80%, and it can take hours. RAID10 recovery is simple copying.

- RAID5 is susceptible to perpetuating parity and other errors

- RAID 10s main disadvantage is cost, because 50% of storage is duplication. The redundancy in RAID5 peaks at one-third in a three-disk array, and reduces proportionately as you add disks.

-You can use two disks for practice, though on production systems you need four disks to get any real benefit.

Link to article: Linux RAID Smackdown: Crush RAID 5 with RAID 10

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I ran a copy of SLAMPP in Virtual Box on Mule, my test computer, and ended up burning a copy of SLAMPP on CD. I loaded the live CD on an old 500Mhz PIII Dell machine I plucked out of the trash. It seems like it is a very nice Slackware distro with an older version of XFCE and some very heavy applications (Firefox being one of them). It is billed as a simple home server solution but other than a few add-on packages it seems like it would be no better than any other desktop based on Slackware for a dedicated server solution. I am going to poke around EnGarde next.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Four More Cow Abductions

File Servers:

Still In The Running:
  • Openfiler - Has not been updated in almost a year, not much traffic on support forums
  • OpenNA Linux - Could never find the free ISO file, Seems like the company is primarily pushing their paid solutions
  • StartCom - Too many RTFM type answers on the support boards



Thisk Server - Lack of documentation and support

Home Theatre Personal Computer

Out of these choices I am leaning toward a MythTV solution based on limited research. This may wind up being a stand alone computer in my living room (front end / back end) or a split with the back end on the home server. and the front end being on the computer in the living room.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Still Thinning The Herd

I still have been playing with virtualization software. I read a thread called Performance Evaluation of Xen Vs. OpenVZ on Slashdot that outlined some of the pro and cons of different virtualization software solutions.

There was a lot of bantering from the different software camps about how their chosen solution was better but one post stood out:

Linux has a lot of great VM options. VMware is a great free (cost) option, and KVM has become a great option very quickly. OpenVZ and VServer are interesting light weight OS "jail" virtualizations. They each have pros and cons, depending on your requirements and apps being used.

I'm setting up my "next generation" home linux server, and looking into the virtualization options for that. Probably a bigger factor than performance is the setup and manageability. I have found Xen to be pretty primitive compared to VMWare.. setup is a pain, documentation is spotty, and support is minimal. The one advantage of Xen is that you can (and often must) do everything with it from the command-line. The GUI tools are weak at best.

I am now leaning towards using VMWare server. But, I still need to do some testing with KVM.. articles I have read about it sound very impressive. KVM paravirtualization performance is supposed to be excellent. But, I don't know about management.

This pretty much sums up what I am looking for. I am looking for a KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) solution. I think this should be true for all potential solutions. I want to keep good documentation, friendly/helpful user community and ease of administration at the top of my selection criteria.

Scratch Xen off the List.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Some Random Notes

I still have not clearly defined what this server will need to perform. A good list of some things I may want to consider was found at the ClarkConnect Comparing Software Editions Page.

I took Openfiler off the file server list because I could not find a 32bit version. It also appears the last release was put out almost a year ago.

Applications with a web interface are very appealing from a ease of use and flexibility of administration aspect. I believe ClarkConnect, SME Server and FeeNAS have web interfaces.

Distributions like Ubunutu Server and Annvix have less appeal due to the amount of set-up and command line involved to get a working system. It would probably be a great Linux learning opportunity but I want to initially get something up and running that is simple before I more on to more complicated systems/projects.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mardi Gras, Cold and Virtual Machines

I took a break from posting so I could enjoy Mardi Gras. I have also been fighting a cold but had the energy to test a few things out.

I installed VMware and Virtual Box. Based on some limited tinkering I like Virtual Box better because it is pretty intuitive to use (no I did not read the manual :>). I really like the feature allowing you to use a downloaded ISO image without having to burn the image onto a CD/DVD. You can create a virtual drive and install the ISO image on the drive very easily.

I ran a few distributions like DSL and SME Server in Virtual Box and I was able to see an immediate impact on system resources by watching the system monitor in Ubuntu 7.10 on my test computer system I named "Mule".

Based on this I guess I am going to need a pretty beefy processor and lots of memory. I keep hearing running two virtual machines per processor core is the general rule of thumb. Quad core is looking pretty good or two separate dual core machines? I am guessing my starting point for memory is going to be 4 Gigabytes and a motherboard with four ram slots at a minimum.

Form following function?