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Javaranch runs on Linux?
Hey, here a question for Javaranch itself. I believe you guys are running Linux. Why not solaris? I know Linux is supposed to be cheap, but I saw that Linux advanced server costs like $2500! I wonder if that is still cheaper than solaris. Also, I'm thinking of moving to Solaris 8 from my crappy windows box, any reason I should consider Linux instead? Oh, are you guys running Red hat too or what? Thanks, Prem
I saw that Linux advanced server costs like $2500
That must be a price including some sort of support contract (or solid gold media!) Linux itself is free. And Linux is most definately not just Red Hat - they are just a company who has spent a bundle on advertising, and wants to make some money from it.
Checkout http://www.linux.org/ for more information about Linux and the varius "distributions" you can get.
[ August 19, 2002: Message edited by: Frank Carver ]
Hey where can I find a free version of Linux? I know I can get the kernal but what the hell is that? Is that + open source software all I need? Does the kernal come with a GUI? If I wanted to start hosting of my machine could I use free linux? Did you guys use free linux? Thanks, Prem
I can't recall which version we use off the top of my head. But it doesn't really matter, because if you are interested in a GUI then you probably want a different distribution to one optimized for use as a web server anyway.
To recap. Linux "itself" is just a kernel. But hardly anybody bothers with downloading the kernel on its own and starting from there. What almost everyone does is get hold of a "distribution". A distribution is a Linux kernel together with a bundle of third party software which can be installed and be useful straight away.
Some distributions are small (there are Linux distributions which fit on a single floppy disk), some are specialized (there are Linux distributions which just do a single job such as a network gateway, web cache or MP3 player), some are large (I believe some even need multiple DVDs for all the extra software included), some only work on specific machine architectures (Sun SPARC processors, ARM chips, 68030 Macs etc.), some are intended for use on desktop machines, some are aimed at servers, and so on. There are hundreds to choose from.
For a good list of distributions, see http://www.linux.org/dist/index.html , but no list can ever hope to be complete.
The Linux kernel is free to download, the great majority of distributions are free to download. If you can't be bothered to download a typical large desktop distribution (say 500Mb), you can get most of the well-known ones on CD for next to nothing from the likes of cheapbytes.com linuxemporium.co.uk etc.
If you see someone apparently charging a lot of money for Linux, you are actually paying for something else. Read the small print. It might be that you are paying for extra proprietary software that you will never use (tape backup software if you don't have a tape drive, for example) or a fancy, mostly-empty, box which you don't need (anything at a "computer supermarket" such as PC World), or a corporate-level support contract.
If you are still baffled by the jungle of distributions, please let us know a bit more about what you intend to do with Linux, and we can probably help you with which to choose and where to get it.
As for Linux vs Solaris.
I haven't used Solaris in the last few years, but when I did I mostly liked it. I found that it came with much more well-structured and easily-usable documentation than Linux for most common tasks, so if you don't have internet access that might help.
On the other hand, Sun have had to make Solaris effectively free because of the competition from Linux. There are just so many more people who know Linux, and Linux often runs faster and on cheaper hardware. If you do have internet access (and I guess you have, to be asking here) you can find a solution to almost ant Linux problem with a web search, but for Solaris if it's not in the documentation, you are on your own.
Also, there is a lot more third party and free software support for Linux than Solaris. Even with well-known open source software projects, the solaris version often lags behind the Linux one.
If you are learning skills to build your resum´┐Ż, by all means have a play with Solaris, it might be handy to some employer somewhere. If you actually want to get things done, and you have the choice, Linux is probably a better bet.
Thanks so much Frank. I intend to do allot of homework on Solaris and Linux. I want to improve my resume but I also want to get things done. I'd like to get involved with web hosting. You know something small, like just my familly members and friends at first. If I can make the business grow then I'll follow it more. I know I can get Solaris 8 for $20 of a download. I don't know about the licensing issue though. I'm not sure how many machines I can install it on. I believe only 2. That's a problem for me, since I have limited funds and I would like to use mulitple machines without getting hit for licensing. Now, is linux 100% free? I mean can I download Redhat or Mandrake, and install it on any amount of machines I want? Thereafter use those machines for business etc, without any licensing issues? If this is the difference between Solaris and Linux, and linux is just as good then Linux it is. Also, a site called www.netcraft.com queries websites based on their url's and tell's you what web server and OS the site is running. For examply, amazon, is running Linux, and so is Google. These are 2 BIG BOYS. However, most academic institutions are running Solaris and allot of huge companies are running Solaris, for examply Ebay runs solaris, eventhough Netcraft says they run windows 98!. The surprise is that www.monster.com runs Windows and ASP! That was suprising. Anyhow, I feel somewhat loyal to sun, because if I learn solaris I feel it will strengthen Sun and hence the Java camp, only because if Solaris starts loosing, won't Sun start loosing? Thereafter, won't java start loosing? I don't know if that is fair reasoning but it's what I think. What do you think? I'm just a rookie anyhow, I'm probably wrong. Also, I know that IBM is pushing Linux in a big way, and you are right their is more software out there for linux then solaris, another big surprise, most notably, no KAZAA for Solaris! EEKS I'll have to try and create my own! Dreams.... So you think that the big guys may eventually move to Linux if it is free? I mean Solaris still costs right? Or is solaris cheap and sun hardware expensive? I have no idea, but I'll try to find out! Was javaranch ever on anything else besides Linux? Why did you guys pick linux? Sorry for the big post, I'm just a curious guy, who can't wait to get away from windows! I need a new OS! Unix SAVE ME! Thanks again, Prem
[ August 19, 2002: Message edited by: prem saggar ]
Now, is linux 100% free? I mean can I download Redhat or Mandrake, and install it on any amount of machines I want?
Yes. But I mean it about spending some time to choose one or more distributions.
I emphasize that you can happily get Linux running wellon any old 486 and upwards (it's slightly easier if it's a 486DX or pentium, but I have a network firewall/gateway happily running on a 486SX with 16MB and no HD, for example). Because of this it commonly makes sense to split tasks out to separate (much cheaper) machines. Then you can get to learn about networking, too. I've got at least six machines with their guts hanging out at any one time, plus a few that I rely on.
Don't fall into the "Windows" trap of assuming it all has to fit into one machine which has to have a hi-res GUI, big monitor, fancy graphics card, lots of memory, monster hard drive, sound card, mouse and so on.
If you want to learn about running Linux as a webserver, start with something like an old 133 or 200 pentium someone is throwing out. Then you won't be afraid to mess with it, rebuild kernels, install different programs or whole distributions, plug in wierd cards and so on. Start with a small distribution or a minimum install of a large one with no GUI. Don't get sucked into the KDE/Gnome/X/Window-Manager whirlpool until you can fix things over a serial cable or a telnet session from the other side of the world if you have to.
If you don't push the limits and screw up sometimes you'll never learn much. So keep your development and internet/JavaRanch machine separate and safe from late-night mistakes. Only a real stress-fanatic drives to work Monday morning in a car he had in pieces on the bench midnight Sunday. If you spill coffee or beer into your "experiment" machine while you are reaching to tweak that pesky ethernet cable, and it dies with a smell of burning TCP, put it aside until you have more time, and if you have to throw it, it was cheap, right?
Anyhow, I feel somewhat loyal to sun, because if I learn solaris I feel it will strengthen Sun and hence the Java camp, only because if Solaris starts loosing, won't Sun start loosing? Thereafter, won't java start loosing?
I don't think this holds up, even for Sun. Both Java and Solaris are really just "hearts and minds" these days to Sun. Their money comes from selling server hardware, and they feel they need a good reputation and a locally-owned OS/Language platform to ship with it. They would love to charge more for Solaris, though, but they know that us regular folks would just go to Linux straight away. Only corporates who value some sort of "vendor security" (or who have purchasing departments who like Sun's sales technique, I guess) buy things like Solaris.
Was javaranch ever on anything else besides Linux? Why did you guys pick linux?
We never explicitly chose it. What we chose were some cost-effective hosting companies. Those hosting companies couldn't have offered the deals we needed if they had to pay for OS licences and expensive hardware. Do the math
I'm just a curious guy, who can't wait to get away from windows!
While there are some people here who have successfully abandoned Microsoft completely, I typically have several Windows machines here to experiment with just as I have several Linux machines here to play with. I wouldn't trust my network infrastructure or file storage to it, but Windows is fine for web surfing, reading email and writing letters. For some things (like video editing) it's more affordable than Linux, at the moment, too.
Sorry for the big post
Big post, big reply, I guess.
Thanks again Frank. Your comments are very insightfull. I will spend allot of time at that link figuring out which linux to use. I have an old pc just sitting around so I guess I'll do my best to break it now! Thanks again Frank, Prem.

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