Monday, May 25, 2009

Debian 5 (Lenny) - Hardware and preparation

This is work in progress. Do not link to this page, it might change!

Hardware and preparation | OS installation | Console and web monitoring | Network & services | Multimedia | Security

[update 2009-09-14]
I started writing to this article few months back (May 2009), planning to have a weblog of (nice) things I do to this server. This project evolved and it now (Sep 2009) has many parts which makes updating harder to maintain. Thus, I'm splitting it up and I will keep track of articles related. Links from above were added for convenience.

[update 2009-05-25]
I wish I didn't add to this list the BSD flavor. It looks like it's from Mart, it's totally a different species. I was very disappointed of the installer which is the same for centuries. Com'on guys, the world is changing, and it's changing for good and for better. Why would anyone in this world has to use the old fashion fdisk? If ones (/developers) decided that fdisk is the best choice for preparing hard drive, why do I get strange questions (regarding geometry) when my HDD has FAT/NTFS partitions on it? It works fine in Windows, DOS and other distros... Why do I need pen and paper for partitioning (as per installer's recommendation)? Why is so strange-strange-strange??... Anyways, I gave up using oldies. As I don't like bloat-ware and corporate made distros (that's what I feel in regards to RedHat/CentOS), Ubuntu/Debian seems to be the natural choice - I'll probably stay with one of them. [update: Debian chosen]

How it all began
Got appropriate hardware for my server and started planning to re-install this box. From the beginning I was wondering which distribution will best fit my needs. I'm going use this server for professional services such as hosting web services (DNS, HTTP, FTP, (web)mail etc.), VoIP server, as well as testing other services - media box (sharing, multimedia, streaming), wireless, backup. Researching, I decided that I will choose one of the following:
- Debian 5.0 (very close to Ubuntu to which I feel very familiar) *
- CentOS 5.3 (Enterprise-class of RedHat/Fedora at the cost of... open source)
- Gentoo 2008.0 (great for geeks who like to do things the hard way and stay with linux at its base)
- Slackware 12.2 (similar to Gentoo, look and feel of BSD)
- FreeBSD 7.2 (most popular BSD OS, very large support for hardware and applications, and base of MacOS-X)
- OpenBSD 4.5 (forked from FreeBSD, focused on security, correctness, and being as free as possible) - home of projects such as OpenSSH, OpenNTPD, OpenCVS, OpenBGPD, PF firewall and CARP; "secured by default" and integrated cryptography
- NetBSD 5 (a freely redistributable operating system which its main focus is portability)

* I chose Debian for this project, at least for now. Although I'm not entirely satisfied with the option, it is the best for me at this time.

Ubuntu vs. Debian
After several Ubuntu Server installations with bogus issues found over time (my experiences), I felt like Ubuntu is not suited for server installation yet ('though it uses latest software and lot of "ring & bells"). I see they're working to improve many things, and many things get broken. Take, for example, boot messages not shown at startup, for which there is a bug report (I'm not in the mood to look it up right now), and no resolution yet (as of this writing, May 2009). The Ubuntu community is not always available and responsive like it should. As I complete this blog entry, I will update with links - I don't have them at hand right now.

During this setup, I'm trying to follow "the Debian way", using software in the main repository. However, not everything in there suite my needs, thus I may use packages in other repositories, or hack the system somehow to get it to work the way I want.

Hardware I got for this baby:
Mobo - Intel Desktop Board D975XBX (ICH7, 3xPCIe, 2xPCI, 4xDDR2, 8xSATA)
CPU - Intel E4600 (Core 2 Duo @2400, EM64T, no hyperthreading, no virtualization)
RAM - Kingston HyperX DDR-800, 2 GB (2x1 GB)
HDD - WD Raptor SATA 74 GB + several others as share drives
RAID1/SATA-2 - Intel Matrix 82801GB/GR/GH ICH7 Family (built-in, 4 x SATA ports)
RAID2/SATA-1 - Silicon Image SiI 3114 (built-in, 4 x SATA ports)
Optical - DVD+/-RW Asus IDE
Sound - SigmaTel /Intel 975X Express Chipset 8-channel HDA (built-in)
LAN1 - internal, Intel PRO/1000, 82573L (built-in)
LAN2 - Intel PRO/1000 MT (dual-port, PCI, 32/64 bit)
LAN3/Wireless - D-Link DWL-G520 rev.B4 (PCI, Atheros AR2414) [support]
VGA - Asus EN7300GT (PCIe)
eSata port (for external SATA HDD rack)
Genius ColorPage-HR7 (USB)
Webcam Philips SPC 200NC (USB) [hard-time to set it up]
Printer HP K5400n (via LAN)
Hardware I may/should add, sometimes in the future:
MODEM (PCIe or USB - no more PCI slots available)
LAN card (PCIe)

I found the following links of great help: Table of PCI device supported by debian, How To Identify A Device.

Update BIOS (new mobo).
In BIOS, set AHCI mode for Intel Matrix SATA controller (modes: IDE/RAID/AHCI).
Interesting links: Debian HCL Intel D975XBX, Speed Up Linux Installation (using hdparm).

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Updated / Actualizat: 2009-10-05.


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