Last weekend I setup up a server with Ubuntu Linux, and it has just blown me away! Not so much as a server operating system, but as a desktop.
I needed to get an Internet web server up for a demonstration of bid-based cost estimation. I was away from the office, so I didn’t have time to give IT any notice of the need. So I figured I’d use my own Internet server to host it. But there were problems. Really, just one problem: the demo needed to use MySql, and I couldn’t compile it on my OpenBSD server. There is a MySql binary package available that I could have installed… if I were on a more current version of OpenBSD. And I didn’t like to idea of upgrading the operating system on a public server that’s already in use.
I’d bought a really inexpensive Gateway server a couple of months ago ($199 plus shipping!) so I finally unpacked it and started to set it up. I burned an OpenBSD boot CD-ROM, since I’m comfortable with that OS, and its security, and started the installation. But OpenBSD couldn’t see my Serial ATA hard drive. I could have fiddled with the BIOS to make the drive look different to the OS, but after a few tries, I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere. So I decided to install Linux.
I’d read people raving about Ubuntu, so I downloaded and burned an installation CD, and fired it up on the new server. The installer asked me about three questions, then installed everything perfectly. Not only did I have the core OS, I had a really nice GUI and a full set of applications (Firefox web browser, Evolution e-mail, OpenOffice suite, and many others).
It’s really easy to use, and I think it’s suitable for non-technical users. And it runs my demonstration really well, even though the server has only 256MB of RAM. The application is faster than on my Windows PC with 1GB of RAM.
I highly recommend Ubuntu to anyone who wants to set up an easy to use, stable, and inexpensive PC.