The odd bit

Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

The odd bit - Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

Ubuntu? No thanks

It’s probably the most popular Linux distribution for home use now, but Ubuntu just isn’t my cup of tea.

I’m sure it’s pretty nice if you only need desktop features, but it just doesn’t feel right when you want to use it as a server. I usually need a couple of server programs on each operating system I install: at least a web and database server with some PHP glue. Ubuntu aims to make your desktop life in Linux simpler and it does that pretty well. But all those “features” have an adverse effect on the server role.

One of my major annoyances is that you can’t be root. That’s a security feature to prevent people from messing up, but it also prevents easy server administration. You can run things as root by using the sudo command, but it’s not quite the same. You always have to add it in front of the actual command and you also need to provide a password every 5 minutes or so.

A second annoyance is that you’re pretty much in the dark when you’re trying to do more advanced stuff in Ubuntu (read: when there isn’t a GUI for what you want to do). The location of configuration files is a bit weird if you’re coming from a non-Debian distribution so at least some hinting would be nice.

A third annoyance is the crappy “service” configuration GUI, or in other words: which program starts when at startup? The GUI only allows (un)ticking a box and that’s it.

And last but not least, the software versions that are available can’t follow my requirements. Debian stable has e.g. PHP 5.2.0 with some fixes backported from newer PHP 5.2.x releases. New small features of a point release are not backported and version numbers aren’t bumped either. This will cause version checks to fail.

When you go past the GUI, you’re left alone and sudo adds a couple of jumps to make your life a bit harder. Debian, Ubuntu’s big brother, scores better in the server department: you can be root and there’s documented runlevel changes, but it still isn’t ideal.

For some odd reason, I’m far more comfortable running Gentoo. The only disadvantage is that you need to compile practically everything, but that in turn also results in the fastest Linux I’ve ever used because everything is compiled for your machine. But I guess it’s each to his own.

Category: Gentoo, Linux
  • Jayson Rowe says:

    For the most part, Ubuntu simply takes Debian’s underpinnings and makes it more user friendly, and bundles “non-free” apps, plug-ins and drivers. If you can administer a Debian server, handling an Ubuntu server wouldn’t be much different. Adding those “non-free” bits is what turns a lot of free software purist away from Ubuntu. The great thing is, you don’t have to install them if you don’t want too, and there is also a completely FOSS version available.

    If you are used to a RHEL/CentOS environment or a SLES environment, I can see where Ubuntu could get frustrating. Personally, I’m more comfy in the Debian way of doing things, and I feel a bit lost on a Red Hat style system such as RHEL, Fedora or CentOS/Scientific Linux. The great thing about Linux is we all have the choice. You have the choice to use what feels the most comfortable too you, and I can use what is more comfortable for me.

    To help you out with a few of your problems:
    You stated that “you can’t login as root” – well that’s simply wrong. By default, you can’t you can only sudo, but if you want the ability to log into your system as root simply pull up a command line and type:

    $sudo passwd root

    You will be asked to give and comfirm a root password. I actually highly recommend this, because should you ever have to log in to your system’s recovery console, you’d be locked out w/o having set a root password.

    As for the “crappy” services config – I agree, it’s pretty crappy, but there is a very powerful command line based program I highly recommend if you’d like to try it: sysv-rc-conf. Simply type:

    $sudo apt-get install sysv-rc-conf

    It will allow you to configure your heart away :-)

    One great advantage that Ubuntu/Debian has is what is almost “information overload”. I can pretty much type in “anything I want to accomplish+Ubuntu” into google and find plenty of documentation, either from the official Ubuntu/Debian channels, or from many folk’s personal blogs.

    Have you tried Debian itself? It’s an awesome system too, and makes a great server.

    23 August 2008 at 04:10
  • wwrreecck says:

    what about sudo -s

    23 August 2008 at 12:10
  • DEEPTHI says:

    u are right man …nice overview of ubuntu thanx

    15 December 2008 at 20:55

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