Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fedora 10 versus CentOS 5.3

My initial interest in starting a Blog was to record my attempts at setting up my home server to host my family website, possibly a mail service for family, and for home networking.

Previously, I had a DELL laptop with Vista Home Premium installed (AMD TK-53 processor, 4 GB RAM, 260Gb HDD). This laptop had given me a headache for a year, and DELL tech support is a joke!

After giving up on DELL tech support, I decided to slap some *nix flavor on the box and see if it would be more stable. I chose Fedora 10. This went extremely smooth and the laptop has been working great, and stable ever since. My only outstanding issue is that I need to get the wireless working (Broadcom 43XX). I was going to use NDIS wrapper to do so, but then found out that it does not allow for promisuous mode (that does not do me any good when I *need* to sniff traffic at Starbucks LOL).

Anyway, with Fedora 10 working great on my laptop, I decided it was time to move my server from (Windows OS name withheld to avoid jeers) to Fedora 10. Boy, was this a pain! The initial install would ONLY run in text mode. This was not a problem. The problem was that it would never boot into the GUI. Now, while I tend to prefer the command line, I still wanted the GUI available, and the fact that "init 5" only caused the box to hang, really caused me concern.

What I found out was that Fedora 10 has an issue with SCSI drives. There is a 'mkinitrd' work-around for this issue, but at this point, I decided to try something else. Enter CentOS 5.3!

The first thing I noticed about CentOS 5.3 was the installation was a breeze, although I didn't do too much customizing. The second I noticed was that the issue with SCSI drives was not present...i.e., I could boot into the GUI. The only reason why I wanted this was, and it may be bad form (but I really don't care) was so that I could perform any updates and maintenance on our webpage through an IDE directly on the server. Although I have been using a different box for development, it will be quicker in my busy life to be able to use the server directly for updates and maintenance.

The only issue I had with CentOS 5.3, so far, was getting my HP printer drivers installed. What I ended up doing was getting the HPLIP (HP Linux Imaging and Printer, see link below) driver pack. Although this has the option of using an auto-installer, I opted for manual. There were some dependencies that I had to yum search for, but the install was relatively quick and easy.
After the installation, I checked to make sure that the right services were running and then I *tried* to print....AAGGHH! Something wasn't working. I restarted the box and the printer worked perfectly.

It was at this point that I realized the importance of prior planning. Why would I want my web server to host my home network printer? I didn't! So, all that work for nothing, I moved the printer to another box. As I can not see a reason to print from the Server, I will not be configuring the box to use a network printer.

As soon as I decide how I want to design our families web page, I will be moving it to the server and will be using some service, probably DynDNS, to resolve. I plan on getting a lot deeper into SAMBA in the next week or so, but I still have some other things to test elsewhere in my world, such as an Ubuntu distro on my AMD box (mentioned above).

HPLIP CentOS install help:
http://hplipopensource.com/hplip-web/install/manual/distros/centos.html