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Date:      Mon, 5 Sep 2011 14:31:02 +0200
From:      Polytropon <freebsd@edvax.de>
To:        Pierre-Luc Drouin <pldrouin@pldrouin.net>
Cc:        freebsd-questions@freebsd.org
Subject:   Re: Best Server OS for Someone That Does not Want to Touch a Shell on a Regular Basis?
Message-ID:  <20110905143102.68a797fa.freebsd@edvax.de>
In-Reply-To: <4E644637.1030500@pldrouin.net>
References:  <4E644637.1030500@pldrouin.net>

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On Sun, 04 Sep 2011 23:47:03 -0400, Pierre-Luc Drouin wrote:
> Hi,
> 
> so I have a friend who is looking for the best OS for a web server, that 
> allows to configure services (I guess HTTP, PHP, MySQL and web content) 
> and do the OS maintenance (OS & package updates, firewall configuration) 
> without having to touch a shell. I was wondering if something like 
> PC-BSD + CPanel would be the way to go. Would there be other BSD-based 
> alternatives? I always do upgrades and configure services through the 
> shell and I am not aware too much about the GUI alternatives...

There are webbased configuration tools that run on common
service combinations (like Apache + MySQL + PHP) that can
be installed. However _installing_ them requires a skilled
person who is able to administrate a server, which in turn
traditionally implies the ability to use the command line,
even if it's just for that "abstraction job".

FreeBSD can be the OS running such a combination.

PC-BSD primarily aims at desktop usage, so for example it
defaults to KDE, office applications, multimedia stuff and
all the things you traditionally won't want on a server.

Software solutions that come to mind are CPanel or WebMin.
Maybe there are others? I'm not sure as I void those mostly
inflexible, error-prone, overcomplicated and dangerous
piles of bloat whenever possible. :-)

For managing installed applications (ports), there are
KDE tools for that (at least _have been_ in the past,
not sure if they are still being maintained). The system
cannot be updated by a GUI tool (why should it?), but
it should be a job of max. 30 minutes to create a Tcl/Tk
GUI wrapper for those things. And firewall configuration:
I'm quite sure PC-BSD has something for that, except that
it probably won't give you the flexibility to automatically
change firewall rules depending on different kinds of
attacks the server will encounter.

Please keep in mind: If you're running a web server, you're
part of the target group of thousands of "villains" across
the Internet who will happily exploit any weakness you are
presenting to them, depending on the services and software
you run.

What's possible to run will also depend on what kind of
server you have. For example if you run a server without
any GPU, but PC-BSD depends on hardware-accellerated 3D
graphics for managing the firewall, then... you know. :-)

There still is a question that your friend should give an
answer to himself: Wouldn't it be worth investing in basic
UNIX skills and command line operations to gain knowledge
and experience to professionally administer a server instead
of relying on abstracted layers of abstracted abstractions
that GUIs provide here, maybe paying with speed and security
loss?

It's like driving a car; you _can_ pay a driver to drive
your car all the time, but maybe you should consider to learn
how to drive yourself. :-)



-- 
Polytropon
Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...



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