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Date:      Mon, 5 Sep 2011 15:43:58 +0200
From:      Polytropon <>
To:        Pierre-Luc Drouin <>
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 Mon, 05 Sep 2011 09:18:21 -0400, Pierre-Luc Drouin wrote:
> 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

Okay, in this case FreeBSD can provide an excellent OS
for that purpose.

> > 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...

I'm not sure about that as those are essential parts of
that FreeBSD derivate. It's like you would say to intend
to strip all GUI components from "Windows"... :-)

However, I think it would be much easier to start with
a FreeBSD install and then add those tools you want. I
assume this will consume less time (and will be less
complicated as you're not about to break something

> > 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 
> server?

What's a "'Windows' server"?

Really, I've not come to the conclusion that "Windows" is
to be used on _any_ servers, and as I'm not a "Windows"
person, I'm the wrong one to ask for details here.

>From my own experiences in dealing with the _problems_
"Windows" servers traditionally impose on a network
(consisting of UNIX and Linux primarily) that those who
have to administer those "Windows" boxes are either in
constant trouble (fixing things here and there, rebooting),
or just don't care (which often turns their systems into
targets for spammers, botnets and all the other unwanted
stuff that increases your costs).

The main problem of GUI in general is that it _might_
remove control you want, because it basically maps just
a subset of possibilities to a "point & grunt" interface.
A SUBset - this means that you can encounter a case where
you need something, but it can't be achieved per GUI

Oh, that's can also be a downside: With GUI, you are tied
to interactive management. You cannot script a GUI thing,
you can't automate things. You have to do them yourself,
in a linear way.

Depending on _what_ you want to do, this should be considered
in making an educated choice.

> > 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?

I also thought there would be a tool to manage PBIs from
the command line. However, you're free to use the standard
FreeBSD installation methods on FreeBSD, which are: binary
packages (pkg_add -r), ports subsystem and ports management
(like portmaster, portmanager, portupgrade).

> > 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?

Yes. They do updating per PBI, i. e. you download something
using a web browser (ouch!) and then "push da button". In
some regards, this is comparable to how Linux manages the
"system" (as it makes no difference between "the operating
system" and "installed 3rd party software", as _all_ of them
are packages, managed by the system's package installer tool).
Furthermore I assume there will be an automated notification.

So if you chosse to run PC-BSD, you encounter a typical
strength of FreeBSD (as a multi-functional OS): You end
up with a desktop system that exposes server functionality
(in your case: web server with PHP and MySQL), and that's
a completely valid approach, even though it _might_ cause
problems later on, as depending on GUI tools can lead you
to a point where functionality you need is dropped from
the "GUI abstraction layer" and you _have to_ deal with
the CLI in order to keep things running.

But time will tell you if this will happen, and how.

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

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