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Date:      Mon, 5 Sep 2011 16:14:17 +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: <>
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On Mon, 05 Sep 2011 09:59:23 -0400, Pierre-Luc Drouin wrote:
> I just took a look at PBDir and the choice of PBIs for server-related 
> softwares seems to be rather limited.

Okay, that's understandable, as servers are not their
main target. In fact, what do you need a GUI for on a
server? - This is a typical question in such a setting,
even though it is _possible_ to run a desktop with
server functionality.

> They have a PBI for Apache, but I 
> could not even find one for PHP... To me it seems that if not all the 
> required softwares are available through PBI, it would be better to drop 
> the whole PBI idea all together and fall back to the FreeBSD 
> port/package system.

Yes, I would agree with that. PBIs are primarily used to
distribute desktop-oriented software in a fashion that
a web browser is involved in obtaining them (instead of
using comfortable tools like pkg_add or portmaster).

> But to go with the FreeBSD route, I will need to 
> convince my friend of using the command line at least to update the 
> packages and the OS.

That's not a problem! You can easily write a short script
that performs the required steps. Really, what's so hard
about entering "portmaster -a"? I know it's a bit more
complicated to update the system (i. e. following the
11 steps in /usr/src/Makefile), but it's also possible
to make a Tcl/Tk GUI wrapper for that. In fact, it's
even possible to make a desktop icon for a shell script
that performs the required steps.

Oh, and just in case you do not intend to update from
source, why not use freebsd-update? It's _very_ easy
to use, and it can also be included in a GUI wrapper.

That would be the way I'd suggest: Install desired
packages first with portmaster, keep the system up
to date using both portmaster (for ports) and freebsd-update
for the OS.

(Of course you can choose a different port management
tool if you like.)

> I am not sure if he will enjoy the usage of tools 
> such as mergemaster, given that this requires to have a good idea of 
> what is going on in the config files.

The person who runs and administers a server is supposed to
know what's going on on the system he is responsible for.
You may call me old-fashioned for having such an opinion. :-)

But as I mentioned above, you can omit mergemaster use if
you keep using the -RELEASE-pX OS branch and use the binary
method of freebsd-update. It's as simple as "pkg_add -r".

> This might make an OS like Ubuntu 
> easier to use for my friend, although this is probably not the most 
> stable and secure OS for a server.

There _are_ Linux distributions that provide a lot of GUI
even for their server systems. I'm not sure which one it
was... Red Hat maybe? Or SuSE? Their server and PC systems
are designed to be "compatible" (in terms of GUI presented
to the user and the administrator).

Regarding Ubuntu, it's a quite nice desktop Linux, but I'm
not sure how well it does _perform_ (see: performance) on
a server. Maybe you can do some research on Linux server
operating systems that emphasize an administration GUI?
As I said, I think SuSE or Red Hat has something like that.

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

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