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FTP/SSH Server - Which OS Should I use?


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#1 lanzd

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 07:45 PM

Hello, I want to set up a file sharing server in my house. I would ultimately want to use SSH for any file transfers and retain the ability to host any websites that may come to mind in the future.

I'm at a loss for which OS to use. I have Windows Server 2008 currently installed on the machine and I hated all of the Cr*p that came with it. I followed online tutorials exactly and I did not get the expected results. It was just very frustrating, so I thought of the possibility of a Unix distro. Ive taken 1 or 2 unix classes from school so I can navigate and can write trivial scripts in vi-editor or Nano. But other than that I don't know much. I have a fear that by implementing such an OS and not knowing enough I would open myself to unwanted guests. So I was hoping some of you would be able to suggest which OS would be better for my purposes (Which I believe would probably be a Unix flavor).

Also If someone would be able to point me to some websites or tutorials that would show me how to secure myself? There was one thread I saw that had 2 links on it that I think explained some of this, I am going to look it up now and post a link to that thread here now.

Edit: Heres the thread I mentioned above. http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic396713.html

Edited by lanzd, 07 August 2011 - 07:47 PM.


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#2 Andrew

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 08:31 PM

SSH generally isn't used for file transfers. If you want secured file transfers you can use the SCP utility included with almost all Unix-like OSes.

I'm partial to Ubuntu Server myself. I run a server with Ubuntu Server 10.04. I have an HTTP server (LigHTTPd,) an SSH (OpenSSH,) an FTP server (VSFPTD,) an IRC server (UnrealIRC,) and a Minecraft multiplayer server running. It's done a great job in all these capacities.

Ubuntu 10.04 is a Long Term Support release so it will be supported on servers until April 2015.

For hardening it, I implemented most of the suggestions found here: http://www.andrewault.net/2010/05/17/securing-an-ubuntu-server/. In addition, all the servers listen on ports in the 20000 to 50000 range while still able to accept connections on the low order default ports (e.g. 80, 22, 21) through port redirection and SSH access requires key authentication rather than a password.

For headless servers that aren't running Windows-only applications running a Windows Server OS makes little sense to me. Windows just has too much stuff running that is not needed. For example the GUI in Windows Server can't be turned off so your server is stuck wasting system resources on drawing a desktop that no one looks at. This also affects security and stability since the attack surface and error propensity are both functions of the number of programs running (plus Windows' GUI subsystem is in the kernel which means that if it crashes it can bring the whole system down.)

Not to mention the added bonus that if you're unhappy with Ubuntu Server you can just go and grab some other Linux Server flavor like Fedora and all you've lost is time and a CD.

#3 lanzd

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 08:59 PM

Okay thank you, that was exactly the information I needed. Now I have a copy of Ubuntu on a disk and I'm not entire sure of the version but I think it is V11.04

Should I just use that or get a 10.04 version as you have? Would much have changed?
I Also would have to keep into consideration if 11.04 has the same amount of support and references on the internet as 10.04. If you do not believe so then I will definitely go with 10.04.

#4 Andrew

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 12:31 AM

11.04 or 10.04 will do fine and both have pretty much the same amount of info out there for them. Bear in mind that if you have the Ubuntu Desktop CD rather than the Ubuntu Server CD then some of the server-specific settings and programs aren't installed by default. You certainly can run a server on a desktop version of Ubuntu but it's not intended for it.

#5 lanzd

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 09:27 PM

All right, thank you. I just read your last post now but, in the mean time I downloaded the desktop version of 10.04 and installed it. Installation probably took 20 minutes, and without any drivers installed the default pictures are so vivid and clear and everything seems so fresh. Huge difference from windows 7. And the Internet worked immediately (again without drivers installed). Boot up is about 10 seconds. I love it so far. I am however downloading the server version now because I haven't done much on the computer and like you said all thats lost is some time and a DVD.

Now I don't want to clog the forum up with another thread for a yes/no question, but do you have to explicitly install your hardware's drivers with Ubuntu? Because it seems like everything is working at 100% at the moment and I haven't installed anything yet. If you do I assume you can/have to find them in the Ubuntu software library, correct? (The CD for my motherboard didn't seem to function properly, thats why I'm asking)

Thank you again, lanzd

#6 Andrew

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 01:19 AM

Generally, you don't need to install 30 billion drivers like with Windows. If available, the desktop version of Ubuntu should offer to download and install a better driver for your video card. Essentially, for a given device, if it's working then the driver is already installed. You might have some troubles with certain wifi USB dongles and webcams, but there are workarounds.

#7 lanzd

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 08:06 PM

Allright, cool. I'm liking this so far :lol:. I'm going to go read the unix/linix training guide type of thread now while I'm waiting for some posts.
Thank you again.

Lanzd




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