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shgadwa
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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 10:29 pm    Post subject: Gentoo vs. Debian for server??? Reply with quote

Years ago I ran gentoo as my primary OS for my laptop. I liked it. It took a lot of time to install and maintain, but all that work is what helped me learn linux.

I've since mostly used windows and haven't touched linux in 4-5 years. But right now I'm working on building a server. I need it to do several things. It needs to run a xenserver to host a couple virtual machines. I need a file server to store movies and such. And it needs to run a vpn server. I'm trying to decide if I want to use gentoo or debian. When I stopped using linux, I basically promised myself I'd never use gentoo again. Having gentoo as my desktop OS, there was a lot of packages. So there was a lot of time spent updating the system. If I would forget to keep it constantly updated, before you know it there's a couple hundred packages that need to be updated and often portage couldn't figure it out on its own. It became a huge headache.

So now, I want a simple server. It would be nice if it was up to date, but stability is more important. I am going to run it headless and likely won't have any graphics. I like how easy it is to configure a gentoo linux box to be just what I need and nothing more. That was why I've already ruled out Ubuntu Server, I don't want any extra bloatware.

Would you guys recommend Gentoo? Has anything improved since I've last used it?
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1clue
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't know how many years ago we're talking about, but:

  1. Gentoo has improved its package management in the years I've been here.
  2. You need to decide how critical downtime is before making any computer purchase/install.
  3. You need a list of priorities
  4. You need to decide how much effort you're willing or able to put into the project.
  5. You need a maintenance plan and stick to it for absolutely any critical server. This includes what to do when it's broken.
  6. Rolling releases (Gentoo) are inherently less stable than non-rolling distros. If your system is critical and your sysadmin judo is broken, then think twice.


A minimal Gentoo box with what you describe will not be nearly as complex to manage as a desktop system.

IMO there are 2 reasons to use Gentoo: You want something specific, and/or you want to learn more about Linux.

If "fire and forget" is at all a priority for your system, then forget Gentoo. It definitely is more hands-on than Debian. It also has more recent software and won't install as much junk you don't want.

Personally I use a bunch of distros in my installs. I do so because there is truly no "one size fits all" even in Linux. Define what's important for this box, and prioritize the list. Include things like availability and reliability and maintenance time. Personally if some distro like Debian or Ubuntu Server will work for me I use that just because of the maintenance time required. That said I still use Gentoo and am glad to do so where nothing else fits.
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't maintain any servers at the moment, but if my headless box and my laptop are any indication, running the stable branch also dramatically reduces the amount of package updates you have to deal with. My main desktop needs at least weekly updates to mostly avoid huge workloads, but those two boxes are closer to "hands-off" (although gentoo really needs keeping up with).
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

arnvidr wrote:
I don't maintain any servers at the moment, but if my headless box and my laptop are any indication, running the stable branch also dramatically reduces the amount of package updates you have to deal with. My main desktop needs at least weekly updates to mostly avoid huge workloads, but those two boxes are closer to "hands-off" (although gentoo really needs keeping up with).


I was on Gentoo from 2000 circa until 2008/9. I used for my systems, my laptops, ... After 2010 I moved (returned) to debian and (argh!) ubuntu.
Now, I decided to switch my htpc (intel n3700, 16G Ram, 3T + 3T + 1T + 1T disks all on Btrfs) to Gentoo in order to have the complete control. I'm using the stable amd64 with 4.6 kernel and few things on ~amd64.

Of course, the first install has been traumatic :) but my server now is providing Raid0 and Raid1 Samba shares, with snapper/"time machine" support, rsync server to backup the my wife's laptop (windows..), cron jobs to compress, move on an external disk the Raid1 partition (with photos and important stuffs), cron jobs to backup my VID (very important data) on Amazon S3 Glacier, and Plex server (I would like emby, but my WebOS tv doens't support it).

The result: I'm happy, I can add feature when I need and I needn't to update every two hours.

Luigi
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

arnvidr wrote:
I don't maintain any servers at the moment, but if my headless box and my laptop are any indication, running the stable branch also dramatically reduces the amount of package updates you have to deal with.

Yes stable should be quite low on update package count, i would recommend updating ~monthly so there won't be too much updates. I don't remember any major problems on stable either, on ~arch there can be some from time to time.

I switched my two headless Atom N2800 "servers" to Gentoo after Debian did go to systemd and overall i prefer running Gentoo even though compiling large packages is bit slow. If there is lots of updates i leave it running in screen session, even recompile everything is ready at morning if i leave it running over night.
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ct85711
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The biggest thing I would say on having a Gentoo server, is more of how much time you can afford to maintain/update the system on a regular basis. Updating any Gentoo system that is old (based on time since last update) is just asking for problems. As much as I like Gentoo, I do not recommend using it if you can't/won't do regular updates as you are going to encounter more problems that it's worth. Monthly updates for stable branch may be ok (can't say for sure, as I don't know), but stretching it out to every 3-6+ months, you are just going into deeper and rougher waters.
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comio
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ct85711 wrote:
The biggest thing I would say on having a Gentoo server, is more of how much time you can afford to maintain/update the system on a regular basis. Updating any Gentoo system that is old (based on time since last update) is just asking for problems. As much as I like Gentoo, I do not recommend using it if you can't/won't do regular updates as you are going to encounter more problems that it's worth. Monthly updates for stable branch may be ok (can't say for sure, as I don't know), but stretching it out to every 3-6+ months, you are just going into deeper and rougher waters.


Regarding long-term system upgrade, this is the only (big) fail that I recognize. Anyway, I switched to portage tree over git. Theoretically to move from an old to a new release, after a emerge --sync we can use git checkout <commit> to move over the time (6 month at time) in order to perform a step-by-step upgrading. I'm just reading on the forum about a guy that is trying an upgrade from a very old installation... Anyway the git support is really new feature.

ciao

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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shgadwa:

I used to run a Gentoo / iRedMail mail server as a VirtualBox guest on top of Gentoo until iRedMail dropped support of Gentoo.

Now it's Debian / ISPConfig as a VirtualBox Guest on top of Gentoo providing low trafic Web, Mail, DNS, and FTP services. The Gentoo Host also acts as local Gentoo rsync mirror, Samba server and a P2P server.

The Gentoo Host, a Laptop and serveral other Gentoo Desktop boxes and Laptops on the Lan are updated daily using a small cron script except for kernel upgrades. The Debian Server is updated once a week.
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comio
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

C5ace wrote:
shgadwa:

I used to run a Gentoo / iRedMail mail server as a VirtualBox guest on top of Gentoo until iRedMail dropped support of Gentoo.

Now it's Debian / ISPConfig as a VirtualBox Guest on top of Gentoo providing low trafic Web, Mail, DNS, and FTP services. The Gentoo Host also acts as local Gentoo rsync mirror, Samba server and a P2P server.

The Gentoo Host, a Laptop and serveral other Gentoo Desktop boxes and Laptops on the Lan are updated daily using a small cron script except for kernel upgrades. The Debian Server is updated once a week.


Why don't you use docker et simila instead a pure virtualization?

ciao

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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

comio wrote:
C5ace wrote:
shgadwa:

I used to run a Gentoo / iRedMail mail server as a VirtualBox guest on top of Gentoo until iRedMail dropped support of Gentoo.

Now it's Debian / ISPConfig as a VirtualBox Guest on top of Gentoo providing low trafic Web, Mail, DNS, and FTP services. The Gentoo Host also acts as local Gentoo rsync mirror, Samba server and a P2P server.

The Gentoo Host, a Laptop and serveral other Gentoo Desktop boxes and Laptops on the Lan are updated daily using a small cron script except for kernel upgrades. The Debian Server is updated once a week.


Why don't you use docker et simila instead a pure virtualization?

ciao

luigi


I use VirtualBox because:

1.) I can move the Debian server within a few minutes from it's Gentoo host on a laptop to a Gentoo or OpenSuse host on a desktop or to a Win$ host on a laptop by just copying the directory holding the *.vbox and *.vdi files to other system.

2.) I know VirtualBox and don't need to search through manuals to install or fix problems.

3.) I can run several Linux and Win$ guest at the same time on the same host connected to my local network.

The box I am using to write this is at this moment a host for the Debian Server, and Win$ XP, Win7 32bit and Win 7 64bit guests.
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want long term security updates and absolutely minimal maintenance overhead, I'd go for CentOS. I've used Debian on many machines since the 90s but have never found it a good compromise for me. CentOS gives really decent support lifecycles and is good at not breaking things with updates - you will find that you end up with more bloat than with Gentoo for sure though.

I have used Gentoo on my successive personal desktop PCs for ever and a day (fifteen or sixteen years now) and nothing else provides that degree of flexibility (though regular updates are essential to minimise hassle); on servers though, it's just a bit too much of a headache in my experience (I have tried it.)
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Tony0945
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because Debian uses systemd, I would avoid it.
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tony0945 wrote:
Because Debian uses systemd, I would avoid it.


The latest CentOS does too, but CentOS 6 doesn't and has years of support remaining. I do feel a little bad recommending something other than Gentoo on a server on the Gentoo forums, particularly when it's served me so well in so many other cases but if low maintenance effort is a priority it's really not the one for you.
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szatox
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I do feel a little bad recommending something other than Gentoo on a server on the Gentoo forums, particularly when it's served me so well in so many other cases but if low maintenance effort is a priority it's really not the one for you.
I don't, but my maintenance has been limited mostly to 'emerge -auDN @world' and replacing kernels now and then for almost 2 years by now, and it's a desktop system which means a lot of stuff you usually don't put on a server. I wouldn't say it's that much of effort (once you get past installation of course -> it needs a bit of time for the duct tape to bind at full strength :) ) for a single server. With a sever farm I'd go for some nice management tool, regardless of the distro in use.
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

szatox wrote:
Quote:
I do feel a little bad recommending something other than Gentoo on a server on the Gentoo forums, particularly when it's served me so well in so many other cases but if low maintenance effort is a priority it's really not the one for you.
I don't, but my maintenance has been limited mostly to 'emerge -auDN @world' and replacing kernels now and then for almost 2 years by now, and it's a desktop system which means a lot of stuff you usually don't put on a server. I wouldn't say it's that much of effort (once you get past installation of course -> it needs a bit of time for the duct tape to bind at full strength :) ) for a single server. With a sever farm I'd go for some nice management tool, regardless of the distro in use.


I don't feel bad about it at all. I use several distributions based on what the purpose of the box is. Gentoo has a significant part in that.

I seriously do not understand brand loyalty when applied to Linux. We are not paid to use a specific distro, and neither we nor Gentoo get extra points if some user is solely on Gentoo for all installations.

In my strong opinion we as users get much more out of Linux in general by using multiple distros concurrently. Each distro has its strong points and its weaknesses. Use them when they're strong, don't when they're weak. Decide which distro fits best for your current project, each time. Don't hesitate to learn a new distro.

IMO if you go at it with this approach, you will probably never NOT have a Gentoo box or 3.
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AJM wrote:
Tony0945 wrote:
Because Debian uses systemd, I would avoid it.


The latest CentOS does too, but CentOS 6 doesn't and has years of support remaining. I do feel a little bad recommending something other than Gentoo on a server on the Gentoo forums, particularly when it's served me so well in so many other cases but if low maintenance effort is a priority it's really not the one for you.

s/bi/vu/ :D

I'm forced tu use CentOS (6 and 7) at work, and I encounter lots of problems because of the "Redhat-knows-better-than-you-how-to-use-linux" spirit : if you don't use it exactly how they plan to use it (in other terms, if you don't make dumb copy-pastes of their documented commands and config files), something wrong regulary happens. And I find yum rigid and poor.
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AJM wrote:
Tony0945 wrote:
Because Debian uses systemd, I would avoid it.

The latest CentOS does too, but CentOS 6 doesn't and has years of support remaining.

This highlights the huge dilemma with the existing Linux landscape. Whatever anyone thinks of systemd otherwise, you have to be patently insane to want it on a server. However it's getting to where that limits the choices of binary distributions to about none.

My company delivers our product as a VM appliance currently on CentOS 6. I have no clue what we'd replace it with. Hopefully by the time support ends for CentOS 6 some sanity will have descended onto the situation...one can only hope.
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't really understand why Gentoo should be higher maintenance than a binary distro which is updated every six months or so (maybe). You don't actually have to do updates if you don't want to and you can always re-install on top of the existing installation if you want. Of course, it's better to get your security updates, so some updating is a good idea. On my local server I sync nightly and do an automatic emerge -fuvND world to fetch the sources, but manually install about once a week or as needed. There are rarely any blockers so actual keyboard time is a minimum. If there is an apache or php upgrade it runs without taking down the webpage as the binarys are already in memory and are updated at the end with a simple /etc/init.d/apache2 restart.

Updating Windows with it's hotpatches and service packs that broke other stuff was much more of a pain and led to an increasingly fragile system. Just use a stable installation and leave unstable for desktops and laptops.
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tld wrote:
My company delivers our product as a VM appliance currently on CentOS 6. I have no clue what we'd replace it with. Hopefully by the time support ends for CentOS 6 some sanity will have descended onto the situation...one can only hope.
Arch Linux? A custom Gentoo binary install? The latter would give your company maximum control and probably discourage client tinkering
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
don't really understand why Gentoo should be higher maintenance than a binary distro which is updated every six months or so (maybe).


Part of the reason why Gentoo is more maintenance prone than binary distros is specifically because Gentoo is a source based rolling distro. Almost everything on Gentoo is compiled by source, and a lot of the maintenance time goes into keeping a stable compile environment. On binary distro's, when a new version comes out, they simply remove the old files and put in the new files and go on and forget about it until next time. However for source based distros, you need to maintain your compiler and all of the libraries needed for the program. With Gentoo being a rolling distro, the compile environment is constantly updating as new versions come out (and get stabilized/tested) making the base compile environment more liquid.
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ct85711 wrote:
Quote:
don't really understand why Gentoo should be higher maintenance than a binary distro which is updated every six months or so (maybe).


Part of the reason why Gentoo is more maintenance prone than binary distros is specifically because Gentoo is a source based rolling distro. Almost everything on Gentoo is compiled by source, and a lot of the maintenance time goes into keeping a stable compile environment. On binary distro's, when a new version comes out, they simply remove the old files and put in the new files and go on and forget about it until next time. However for source based distros, you need to maintain your compiler and all of the libraries needed for the program. With Gentoo being a rolling distro, the compile environment is constantly updating as new versions come out (and get stabilized/tested) making the base compile environment more liquid.


You can always mask gcc upgrades and the like. they don't really occur that often anyway.
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your not understanding, it's not just GCC, it's all of the build time dependencies that makes up the compile environment. Sure, GCC and glibc makes up a large portion of it, it it doesn't exclude all the other libraries that packages need, like boost, and stuff, and everything else (assuming the package needs/uses them)...
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Syl20 wrote:


I'm forced tu use CentOS (6 and 7) at work, and I encounter lots of problems because of the "Redhat-knows-better-than-you-how-to-use-linux" spirit : if you don't use it exactly how they plan to use it (in other terms, if you don't make dumb copy-pastes of their documented commands and config files), something wrong regulary happens. And I find yum rigid and poor.


I agree, it's a pain once you deviate even a little bit from the one true way ( I'd certainly never want to use a YUM or APT based distro again for my desktop) - but for many (most?) servers which are running standard open source software it's not really an issue in my experience.

Tony0945 wrote:

I don't really understand why Gentoo should be higher maintenance than a binary distro which is updated every six months or so (maybe). You don't actually have to do updates if you don't want to and you can always re-install on top of the existing installation if you want. Of course, it's better to get your security updates, so some updating is a good idea.


Security updates _are_ of course a good idea and, for most people, once they've rolled out a server they don't want to be doing anything other than applying security updates for the deployed life of the machine. Certainly not reinstalling on top of existing installations! The "problem" with Gentoo in this (very standard) scenario is that there's effectively no simple way to roll out only security updates. Dealing with the results of a snarled up emerge on a PC by your desk is one thing, dealing with a broken server hundreds of miles away with agitated users breathing down your neck (OK, phone) is a totally different game!
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ct85711 wrote:
Your not understanding, it's not just GCC, it's all of the build time dependencies that makes up the compile environment. Sure, GCC and glibc makes up a large portion of it, it it doesn't exclude all the other libraries that packages need, like boost, and stuff, and everything else (assuming the package needs/uses them)...


Don't want to have a flame war here but I only occasionally have a problem and when there is a problem upgrading the old system is not trashed as I remember happening with Redhat when upgrading individual packages. Also with these binary distros you have to look for upgrades yourself while portage wraps them all up (mostly) neatly for you. If you just ait for the binary distro release schedule, you could do the same with Gentoo and re-installing just like the binary. But if you want some other company loading unknown binaries, it's your business.
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tony0945 wrote:
tld wrote:
My company delivers our product as a VM appliance currently on CentOS 6. I have no clue what we'd replace it with. Hopefully by the time support ends for CentOS 6 some sanity will have descended onto the situation...one can only hope.
Arch Linux? A custom Gentoo binary install? The latter would give your company maximum control and probably discourage client tinkering
Personally I'd probably be fine with several different options. However you'd be surprised how many big customers only even allow Redhat, and more or less begrudgingly allow Cent because it's more or less RH. It really sucks how systemd has just thrown a wrench into the server landscape. I have to wonder what will happen with RH and Cent 6 start getting close to EOL though. I have to think there are at least some pretty big players who don't want to go the systemd route...like those who realize how insane it is for a server.
Although it's the worst...it's far from the only thing Redhat's done that flies in the face of what a server should be. One of the first things you have to do on RHEL and CentOS 6 is to replace cronie-anacron with cronie-noanacron so your cron jubs can actually be scheduled for specific times. What the hell were they thinking with that one??
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