I assume that Linux in general is an obtuse, ornery, and cruel operating system. I have been coddled by sweet, sweet GUIs in my old age, and wrestling with a command-line based OS is apparently almost beyond me nowadays.
And then there was icing on my Linux difficulties: my main problem was hardware. I read somewhere that when making a network-attached storage box using FreeNAS, it was best to put the OS on a compact flash so that you get the full usage of the hard drives. I eventually discarded the FreeNAS idea because it is ironically kind of closed; you can’t really do anything except use it for a NAS, and I need a Subversion and Wiki server more than the storage. Add in that FreeNAS is based on FreeBSD and I am IT-impaired at this point, and FreeNAS became a quite unattractive choice.
So I got the bright idea to make my company server based on Ubuntu server, but for some reason I was stuck on the compact flash boot drive idea. That was not a smart choice.
Ubuntu does something weird with a small boot drive (mine was 4GB, although it is really crazy to me to think that 4GB is small). I installed OpenSSH, LAMP, Printer Server, and Samba from the Ubuntu server CD and had relatively no problems. Well, except when you keep reinstalling after breaking everything beyond my meager Linux-fu to fix. I saw just about every weird thing you can imagine, from the bash script having an unknown left parenthesis to bad files to my ethernet port dying for some reason. People complain about Windows; how about “Segmentation Fault” for an error whenever you ifup eth0?
The really crippling problem, though, was that the CF drive kept filling up. I thought that all of the partitions Ubuntu created by default were large enough, but eventually an apt-get would fail due to lack of drive size. I would do apt-get clean and that would appear to free some space, but not enough. I think I was correctly moving MySQL to another drive and I know the Subversion repository was in the right place, and anyway, I hadn’t committed any data to either of those anyway. Filling up 1GB is easy for an operating system, but it seems like Ubuntu’s installer would warn me that trying to install anything more than system defaults is not a good idea with a 4GB main drive.
Another pain is that I was compelled to install with the compact flash as the only drive connected to start. Otherwise, the CF came up as sdc, but the Ubuntu installer would write grub to sda. Well, that hurt my OCD nodes to have booting happen on a drive that does not have the operating system. Silly, but my machines do what I say, not the other way around!
Oh, and I basically have to have OpenSSH. The first time Ubuntu server decides to put the monitor to sleep when the operating system is idle, the monitor won’t wake up forevermore. I am using the onboard graphics for the motherboard (an MSI 880GMA-35) and from the cryptic googles I googled, it is something with the hardware. But remote access through PuTTy is fine by me anyway. This server will head to my IT closet now that it appears that I don’t need to perform more surgery.
I don’t really blame Ubuntu/Linux, but rather my inexperience with things at this level. I am sure there is some startlingly insane sys admin out there who could make my (previous) setup work, but I am only insane after messing with Ubuntu. Hm, maybe I should try again…
So after two days, a spare 500GB hard drive pressed into service, and fighting an awful head cold I have 90% of my development infrastructure ready for war. That metaphor seems apt so far!