[nSLUG] General Linux Question

Donald Teed dteed at artistic.ca
Sun Mar 23 14:28:21 AST 2003

On Sun, 23 Mar 2003, Mark Stevenson wrote:

> Thanks for your suggestions everyone. They were greatly appreciated.
> I have tried both Red Hat and Mandrake, not sure which one I like more out
> of the two though. What I am trying to do is migrate a website off of a
> Windows XP machine running Apache to a Linux-based box. Even though on the
> surface they are both very simple I am still finding it hard to setup
> certain things. For instance, sendmail (even though I know that setting this
> up is nasty at best times), I tried getting it to work correctly in Red Hat
> 8 for almost a week with no avail. I also found that the location of many
> files in Red Hat are non-standard, and even the files themselves are quite
> non-standard. SO I tried out Mandrake...

What technology does the web site require?  If only HTML serving, it
should be ready to run immediately with a standard Linux install
of any kind.

Sendmail can be configured with a file more simple than
the sendmail.cf file.  In the /etc/mail directory of Redhat 
you should find a file called sendmail.mc  It is like a macro file
for a high level way to configure sendmail.cf.  There are also
some features in /etc/mail such as the files access, domaintable,
mailertable, trusted-users and so on which can be used to compile
database files used by sendmail.  If that .mc file isn't there,
you might be missing an RPM package which you can likely find
on a Redhat CD.

What are the specifics of the failures in sendmail?  Someone here
might be able to help.  Keep in mind that many services like these
are now being shipped with a security conservative setup which
only allows connections only from and other such things.
You are required to configure how open you want sendmail to be.
So this won't get any easier to get up and running unless you
try an older or less security aware Linux distro which is wide
open for everything to work (and for spammers to abuse, etc.).

> So, I have another question for you all. How were your first experiences
> with Linux? Also, is there a good place with documentation that I can go to
> for a person like myself? Or maybe even a book or two? I am not a complete
> newbie to the world of computers, but I have been stuck in the Windows world
> ever since 3.11, and before that I was a DOS kiddy on a Tandy 1000! HELP!
> Haha.

Personally, I would suggest Running Linux by O'Reilly.  My own
start was a little book with CDROMs called Running Linux Companion CDROM
with Redhat 3.0.3.  It is enough to learn how to set up common
services and X Windows and so on.  Back in those days it didn't
include 3000 packages (as in Debian 3 today), and it was a little
easier to go through the packages one by one learning what each
did and figuring out whether I wanted them.

You might not find exactly the one I mention here, but something
like this - say Redhat 4.2 or Slackware 3 - might make an
interesting experience to install on an old Pentium 100 just to play
around with things and learn how to do stuff without a lot of point and click.

You don't get the best kernel and hardware support in those old Linux
distros, but I believe it is a good way to learn the core parts of *nix
and survival by command line interface.  After all, most of the people
who have been around *nix and are knowledgable of many things,
acquired their knowledge this way.  They learned Linux quite a
long time ago when the packages available and kernel support was a
much simpler place.  This is how they picked up their knowledge,
and focusing on the early history would allow a person to realize
the core parts of *nix.  By learning an older distro first (likely
on an older machine too), for example a person can quickly see
that perl, sh and sed are going to have more historical purpose
in scripting than ruby and python, whatever the radar is saying
about the latter two languages.

I asked in this group awhile ago whether there were any Linux
distros that handled everything in the so called "standard way"
for building from source.  When it comes to installation locations,
config file locations, etc., all ready to be used with the Make
from the software source, there were none.  The so called standard
is a myth.  Each distro has their own standard, loosely coupled
around a few key varieties that many are based on.

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