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Date:      Mon, 05 Sep 2011 09:18:21 -0400
From:      Pierre-Luc Drouin <>
Cc:        Polytropon <>
Subject:   Re: Best Server OS for Someone That Does not Want to Touch a Shell on a Regular Basis?
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <> <>

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On 09/05/2011 08:31 AM, Polytropon wrote:
> 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".

Well, this part is not an issue, as he will not be the one doing the 
initial install of the system
> 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.

But all these can be removed quite easily I guess...
> 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. :-)
How much security risk do these represent compared to using a Windows 
> 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).
Do the PC-BSD package management tools still require KDE? I though they 
were removing this dependency?

> 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.

Can PC-BSD OS be updated through a gui?

>   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?

Well, I know that. I can try convincing him...


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