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Thread: Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

  1. #1
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    Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

    Hi people! I'm new here. I have been selling, servicing and supporting PC systems since 1985. I've played with Ubuntu since version 5.04 I believe it was but was never really serious about it. At this point in my business I have scaled down to wanting to support only businesses with 10 or fewer seats and a server if they have one. With all the upheaval in the economy many of my competitors have gone under so business for me is not bad. The only problem is I'm stuck with Windows servers in a few places and I must say I wholly dislike them! How many different screen and dialogs can they possibly come up with for something as simple as setting permissions or taking ownership of a file???!!! Not to mention a plethora of other issues. I really liked Netware until version 4.01 and had no problem supporting it. Soooooooo........ I took the plunge and installed 13.04 server on an old Dell system I had hanging around the shop. I've been beating it up pretty good for a week or so and it seems to perform beautifully. I installed Webmin because it's easy but I configured the server on the command line where I must say I feel at home to this day. Webmin is just kind of nice for quick additions especially if I'm too lazy to get up off my backside and walk over to the server. I think I'm on to something here since many of my clients don't need anything but a file server to keep data centralized, easy to backup, secure and so forth. At some point if they need a mail or web server it can be added so Ubuntu Server seems to be the way to fly. Most have balked at a server because of the cost of a Windows server and all the ongoing licensing issues and such. So, my questions are: Should I be somewhere else in the community since I really need to talk about servers but am still a beginner to Ubuntu pretty much? I have a server running on my shop network and at home and all seems well. Can it be this easy to set up? Do I dare drop 12.04 LTS into a business environment as a pure file server with little Ubuntu (Linux) experience?

  2. #2
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    Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

    If you are going to use Ubuntu Server on a production level, then I would use the most recent LTS(Long Term Support) version which is 12.03.04, since it's "more stable" than the non-LTS version. April 17th is when 14.04 LTS will be released with the new kernel and other newer stuff, so I would either wait until then or set yourself in such a position that you will be able to upgrade with ease.

    I would do more research on how to set up security and what your actual needs are from this server before you push it to production because if it fails, you are the only one to fix it.
    "Ignorance is short-lived, and knowledge is forever."


  3. #3
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    Re: Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

    To give you an idea of what it takes to harden a Linux Server. Most people don't do this sort of stuff and haven't seen any issues, but it all depends on the threat level for the server, network, etc ... Nobody forces anyone else to harden their servers.

    Just because something works, doesn't mean it is secure.

    OTOH, if you avoid running any internet facing services besides a VPN and ssh, then life is pretty easy. Securing ssh and setting up OpenVPN for customer access should cover pretty much everything you'd want on a self-hosted file server in a client location. If everything from outside has to go through OpenVPN, it is hard to fall under a successful remote attack. Just sayin'.
    Last edited by TheFu; February 13th, 2014 at 05:16 PM. Reason: s/thread/threat/

  4. #4
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    Re: Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

    Go for it and tell us your experiences. If you are really good, you will put yourself out of a job.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

    Are these servers going to be running primarily in office environments and not exposed to the Internet? Security in this case is still important, but not as difficult as with servers that are publicly visible. I wouldn't deploy a server on the Internet without a solid understanding of firewalls and packet filtering with iptables.

    As a simple file server running Samba or NFS in an office setting, Linux is pretty much set it and forget it. If the server will be located behind an office firewall, you can use OpenVPN with shared keys to have your server make a VPN connection back to you when it boots up. However if the server needs to be part of an Active Directory domain, things can get a bit more complex. Offices that use Exchange pose another complication if you're looking to replace a mail server. I have Linux machines in locations with Exchange that do things like virus and spam scanning of inbound email, but the messages are then forwarded to the Exchange server.

    One other common application in office settings is management of web browsing via the Squid proxy. While proxies can also improve performance by caching frequently-used objects, today they seem more commonly used to control where users' may go on the Internet. With some bells-and-whistles like SquidClamAV, you can scan every downloaded object for malware. As exploits migrate from email attachments to "drive-by" web downloads, scanning your web traffic makes more and more sense.
    Last edited by SeijiSensei; February 13th, 2014 at 04:35 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

    Quote Originally Posted by eborghi1 View Post
    Hi people! I'm new here.... [snip] I installed Webmin because it's easy but I configured the server on the command line where I must say I feel at home to this day. Webmin is just kind of nice for quick additions especially if I'm too lazy to get up off my backside and walk over to the server.
    Do yourself a favor. Don't use Webmin. Ubuntu does not officially support Webmin. You can get unexpected results while using Webmin.

    You should "never" need to physically connect keyboard/monitor to a server. You can use ssh on your lan, and you can even harden the connection to
    use it over WAN. Most folks will have two cables connected to there server.... LAN and Power!

    Quote Originally Posted by eborghi1 View Post
    So, my questions are: Should I be somewhere else in the community since I really need to talk about servers but am still a beginner to Ubuntu pretty much? I have a server running on my shop network and at home and all seems well. Can it be this easy to set up? Do I dare drop 12.04 LTS into a business environment as a pure file server with little Ubuntu (Linux) experience?
    Welcome to the Forums. I think you are in the right place.

    I suggest getting familiar with SAMBA4. It can be a Primary Domain Controller replacement. It is under heavy development and is currently fairly stable. For an office environment the following may be of interest.

    OpenSSH
    SAMBA This is version 3 More stable but won't replace Active Directory DC
    CUPS
    Apache2
    OpenVPN
    MySQL

    All the above can be administered via the command line.
    All links above are from the sticky at the top of this forum.

    Enjoy!
    Nothing is ever easy, but if it is difficult you must be doing it wrong.

  7. #7
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    Re: Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

    Quote Originally Posted by volkswagner View Post
    Do yourself a favor. Don't use Webmin. Ubuntu does not officially support Webmin. You can get unexpected results while using Webmin.

    You should "never" need to physically connect keyboard/monitor to a server. You can use ssh on your lan, and you can even harden the connection to
    use it over WAN. Most folks will have two cables connected to there server.... LAN and Power!



    Welcome to the Forums. I think you are in the right place.

    I suggest getting familiar with SAMBA4. It can be a Primary Domain Controller replacement. It is under heavy development and is currently fairly stable. For an office environment the following may be of interest.

    OpenSSH
    SAMBA This is version 3 More stable but won't replace Active Directory DC
    CUPS
    Apache2
    OpenVPN
    MySQL

    All the above can be administered via the command line.
    All links above are from the sticky at the top of this forum.

    Enjoy!
    I am "new" to Ubuntu/Linux, not concepts and certainly not servers in general. I supported some large Netware installations and a pile of peer to peer junk in the early days. I'm well aware as I have been told that Unix/Linux is a different animal. It sort of like Netware was different than Lantasic but, despite it all, I/we learned, we grew and we succeeded. As for cables, you have it right on. My little test server has 2 cables connected. My file servers would be in offices, not visible to the public but I do plan on learning about security PDQ so that when someone decides they want a web server or mail or whatever I won't be scrambling. Also, I have NO PROBLEM at all hiring experts where needed. That is one of the reason I was successful years ago. I knew what I didn't know or what I was weak on and hired experts to help. They taught me what I needed to know and I paid them well for their service and teaching. As for command line, I love it. vi, not so much but I'm smart enough to know that if you're stuck in a mess it might be the only editor you have so I'll learn it well. As with edlin in the old DOS/Win3 days when the chips were down and the local people couldn't edit config files the guys who knew edlin (me) came to the rescue. Linux is a new world for me but logic, learning and computers is not. I thank you all for your suggestions and I will heed your warnings. I look forward to more discussion and learning as much as I can.
    Last edited by eborghi1; February 13th, 2014 at 11:15 PM.

  8. #8
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    Re: Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

    Although vi is a very powerful editor, you may enjoy using nano. It may allow you to spend more time editing vs. Learning the editor
    Nothing is ever easy, but if it is difficult you must be doing it wrong.

  9. #9
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    Re: Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

    Don't put a "foreign" system in your most demanding customer's network. Learn on the happy and easy-going ones first.

    The basic principles are going to be the same. Protocols are protocols, and issues with RDP on Windows or Linux are going to be pretty much the same. CIFS is CIFS, the configuration tools are different but it's the same thing at the network level.

    Webmin: I personally don't buy the webmin hate. I don't use it for myself, but when you're dealing with non-Linux people who need to manage a server it's great. Don't expose it to the Internet. That said, lots of distros just randomly drop it without warning. That gets infuriating when you had everything configured that way, you do an update and suddenly webmin isn't there anymore.

    Security: Start by not exposing anything to the outside. Then go here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BasicSecurity

    FWIW most of the NAS devices out there are mostly Open Source software on a Linux or FreeBSD kernel with something very similar (sometimes indistinguishable from) webmin for configuration.

    Learning: You might want to set up virtual machines to learn this stuff. You can save the VM at each step, and if you mess up you can revert in less than 5 minutes. You can also save VMs at handy starting points so you can quickly clone it and customize for a customer.
    Help stamp out MBR partition tables. Use GPT instead!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    1,323

    Re: Know enough to be dangerous or am I crazy

    Another thing you might be worried about:

    Linux exists in server rooms all over the world. Small businesses, homes, and all the way up to fortune 500s. From embedded stuff to almost every one of the 500 fastest supercomputers. http://top500.org lets you search on operating system, look for the ones that are some sort of Linux and you get almost all of them.

    The days of Linux being naughty for business is gone. It seems that almost every small office/home office appliance has some sort of Linux or BSD on it, and LOTS of open source software.
    Help stamp out MBR partition tables. Use GPT instead!

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