Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?

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Hello All,

I am about to buy a Mini-ITX fanless PC in order to use it as my
personal host machine. Apart from the mainboard and some RAM, I will
add a 40GB HD and a DVD/CDRW combo.

My intention is to keep it working 24x7 at some corner of my living
room, and use it as a web server with Apache + Tomcat (or even probably
Tomcat only, at least in the beginning). I may also use it to download
some things with Emule. I will not attach any screen or keyboard to it
(except for the initial setup process, of course) and would always
access it remotely via RealVNC or some other remote console.

My main question is:

- Which is the best Linux distribution for this? I am an advanced
Windows XP user but I have very basic skills on Linux, so I would need
some simple distribution that does not need the kernel to be recompiled
or some other manual installation steps. I would also need some
XWindows interface unless I can run that from my remote client.

- My ADSL router works also as a firewall. Are there any security risks
if I only open the required ports?

- Is there some freeware XWindows client that I can run from Windows
XP, instead of RealVNC, in order to improve the screen refresh speed
when I access it remotely?

Thank you very much. I am new to any Linux newsgroups so I don't know
if crossposting is not nice... if so, I am sorry, but I really don't
know which is the best group to ask this question.

Regards,

   Luis.


Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?


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Speaking from my experience with trying various linux distros on epia
mini-itx boards I can recommend ubuntu / kubuntu as the easiest to install
and everything working out of the box.

http://www.ubuntu.com /
http://www.kubuntu.org /

For a server with remote administration this is perfect.

To get the most horsepower out of an anemic cpu you can install gentoo,

http://www.gentoo.org /

where everything is compiled during the installation and therefore optimized
for your hardware.

However the Gentoo installation is not for the novice.
Be prepared for many nights of painful frustration.
I only got my Gentoo going with the help of a friend who has a PhD in
Gentooology :-)
Once it is running, administration is a breeze.

For security Debian is a good choice because it can automatilally download
and install all security updates every day.
That's what we're using for the web server where I work and we're happy with
it.

http://www.us.debian.org /

George



Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?

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Fanless is at best the 800Mhz board ! Is this wise ? The 1200Mhz board is
much faster....

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Emule works (amule works better I find) - remember it hashes the files,
this is both an I/O and CPU intensive operation - this sucks on the 800Mhz
via boards, Im using one for this at the moment so I know how much it
sucks !

 
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No "best"... Im using fedora core 3 on my via machine, Debian would be the
"best" choice for performance as its simpler to cut down to the core - but
personally I would save some time and go a simpler route.
 

 I am an advanced
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All Linux would need some manual steps. If you want a GUI driven solution
to do everything you want then best come back in ten years...... Its very
unlikely you would need to build a kernel though !

You will need to edit some files for the XVNC server, for amule you
would need to build and install wx libs and amule from source.

http://www.wxwidgets.org/dl_gtk.htm
http://www.amule.org /


 I would also need some XWindows
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With Xvnc server you can use the windows VNC client to connect.


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Always a risk, just not a large one.

Forward ports 4660 to 4680 and 36406 in tcp and udp - some of the docs
i've read are not complete, it will work with less ports - just much more
slowly !


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You can run X - but it wont be much faster, the 800Mhz via board its a
bit slow for this setup

From windows this works well as an X server.
http://x.cygwin.com /


If you have the time then go for, but only if you want to spend the
time.......

Jon





Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?

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Should be fine for a web server. I've been running an 800MHz box with 2-3
users with KDE :-(. The processor speed should only be an issue for
stuff like audio & video processing.

Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?

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He also wants to run a donkey client. As I stated the 800Mhz board is
painfully slow calculating the file hashes. For example downloading 20GB
of data with 600MB per file average - startup time with complete file
hashes 1.4Hrs on 800Mhz via, 12mins of 1Ghz athlon T/Bird, its not I/O
speed thats the bottleneck its CPU.

Jon






Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?

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I believe there are a couple of companies selling 1ghz fanless systems.

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IMHO - for a VIA mini-itx there is a 'best' - Gentoo from stage one. It is
significantly faster (being totally optimized for the hardware) than every
other distro I have tried - and I've tried a LOT.

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Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?
Here is an update:

I have been searching and have found that there is already a
distribution specifically oriented to the Epia processor:
http://www.epios.net /
This distribution is based on Gentoo, so it makes a lot of sense.

However by looking at the website it seems that it is still very green:
the website only contains a forum but no "home" or "about" page, and
after reading some of its posts I think that the distribution is still
in beta phase.

Regards,

    Luis.


Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?

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Have you already bought your system? If you haven't why don't you get a
AMD64 based system. With Cool & Quiet the cooling fan on the Athlon 64
hardly every runs, a Turion will run even cooler. If you get an A64 system
you'll be able to run any distribution you want.



Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?
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I've had a few.... adventures getting 64-bit versions of some applications,
and been publishing notes back to the driver and software authors on how to
get stuff to work under 64-bit for 18 months now. In general, they're pretty
sweet and I can recommend them for high performance systems with very modest
power demands.



Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?

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You don't need to run a 64 bit distro on a A64 system, I run 32 bit FC(4
& 5) on two of my A64s and 64 bit FC4 on my X2 4400+.




Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?
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Well, true, and I've done that when I've been in a rush to get an app
running on a 64-bit server and the app wasn't 64-bit compatible yet.
(Subversion 1.3.0 comes to mind!) But why waste the money/resources on a
64-bit system and then not use it for 64-bit? It's kind of throwing away a
lot of the power, and if you're doing anything computationally intensive
using 64-bit apps can help lower your power requirements and runtimes.



Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?

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It's not throwing away any power, the only reason to run 64 bits is if you
need more that 4G of memory which isn't even possible on an Athlon 64
system because you can't buy an unbuffered DIMM bigger than 1G
(2G registered DIMMs are available but those are for Opterons). 64 bit
programs are frequently slower than the 32 bit versions. If the data set
is primarily integer or pointers then there will be a significant slow
down when you run in 64 bits because the memory bandwidth is effectively
cut in half (think of the bandwidth in terms of integers/second as opposed
to bytes/second and you'll see that this is obviously true). If a
program is operating on floating point numbers then it can be faster in 64
bits then in 32 bits because the memory bandwidth for FP numbers is the
same for 32 and 64 bit modes and the 64 bit mode has extra registers which
will speed things up a little.


Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?



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Aren't FP numbers on X86 processors 80 bits, not 64 bits?


Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?



General Schvantzkoph wrote:
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Isn't it true that the native mode of all X86 coprocessors since the
original 8087 has always been 80 bit, and that programs have to jump
through hoops, see reduced performance, and suffer from less precision
and/or range if they force the X86 to use 64-bit floats?




Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?
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The 64 Bit AMD architecture (that has been licensed by Intel for the new
64 bit chips has a completely different CPU structure in 64 Bit mode: a
  RISK-like large flat 64 bit register set. So a programmer or compiler
can write code running much faster at the same clock that if using 32
Bit mode.

-Michael

Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?

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This is a misperception.  The cheapest Sempron 64s are now similarly
priced to the cheapest Celerons, and the motherboards for them are
generally slightly cheaper.

So the price advantage is with 64-bit, and you have the choice of OS
bytewidth.
--
mark south; echo snipped-for-privacy@lnubb.pb.hx|tr a-z n-za-m
"I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic
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Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?
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Excuse me: that's not what I meant. . I don't dispute that a 64-bit AMD CPU
may match a 32-bit Intel CPU in speed and 32-bit performance. But why not
enable the extra features, especially if you're doing graphics or floating
point processing? More bits tends to really help graphical and number
crunching performance, and if it's not too tough to get the operations
converted to 64-bit, it can take a bit of work, but go for it!



Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?
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Is it possible to run 64 Bit user programs in a 32 Bit OS ? (The OS
needs to save the 64 bit registers when scheduling ...)

-Michael

Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?
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Nope. You absolutely need to install a 64-bit kernel and glibc.



Re: Best Linux distribution for a Mini-ITX server?
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It's not a waste of money. A64 systems give much better 32-bit performance
than most 32-bit Athlon systems and are only slightly (if at all) more
costly -- and (almost conicidentally) offer an upgrade path to 64 bits
should it ever be needed.

Why not use 64 bits anyway? Because the software you want to use may not
yet exist in a reliable 64-bit form. Using a 64-bit system to run the
32-bit version gives you the flexibility to run with what works now, and to
upgrade in the future.

OTOH, for a low-traffic Apache server the relatively modest and very low
power consumption/low noise EPIA systems are ideal. A64 is definitely NOT
essential for such an application (though it might help when building the
system, if using Gentoo ... distcc is your friend).

Cheers,
 Daniel.
 


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