Linux Rites of Passage

For some strange reason (hey it’s past 4am and I’m playing with my freshly modded Xbox running xbox media center and going through some old videos stored on an old network share) I’m sitting here watching some linux cert training video. Or part of it at least.

WARNING— this post will probably go a long way out of the way before getting to where it’s going. oh, wait, that’s most of my rambling posts. nevermind… you’re welcome to skim.

Goodbye NAS distros

So anyway, I am playing with my Xbox Media Center which I just hooked to a network file server (network attached storage – NAS). I started putting this file server together last night. Just an old box with half a terrabyte of old drives put in it. This is all due to me setting up my MythTV DVR system this past weekend. (update on that coming soon)

At first I thought to instal one of the popular NAS distros made for setting up network file servers. My main choice in doing this was the minimalistic size and footprint of the distro. this box only has a 400mhz chip with not very much ram. I tried a couple and didn’t like them at all, then found openfiler. Openfiler looks and works much like I want it to, except it REQUIRES an LDAP server to work. yes, I have a few LDAP services running around here, but this is just going to hold media (dvr) files for my XBMC. I really liked the interface and disk management but why the makers couldn’t have put an option to use a simpler authentication method or heck, open it totally, for those of us who only need one user to share across a isolated lan.

rant over.

so, I got it all installed and my LVM/RAID configured and then found the requirement for LDAP. I decided to just remove the openfiler package and configure everything myself, leaving the the base of the install intact.

By the time I had removed openfiler and reinstalled samba, etc, I didn’t have much of the openfiler tailoring left. then I decided the kernal wasn’t quite cutting it for speed. a few hours later and an install of webmin and I have it up and running.

That made me decide one thing… I’m giving up on the NAS distos for the next couple of years. I’ve tried them all. I don’t like them. I can take a minimal gentoo or fedora install do everything I could with the premade distro and it’s all like I want it. The only reason I’ve been trying the nas distros was due to the nice pretty web GUI interface. But you heard me mention webmin. Webmin has all of the features, that any of the NAS distros have in them. Just download the minimal webmin package and install raid, lvm, mounts, fdisk, samba and a few other webmin pages (or download the whole ball of wax to begin with) and you’ll have a better NAS box than any premade distro will give you.

Linux Rites of Passage

I was recently having a conversation with a windows geek who is wanting to learn linux. This person is the reason I’m skimming through these videos. (I will probably recommend them to him).

He had all the typical questions, he really wants to use linux for his main computer but is having trouble making the commitment. He currently runs Ubuntu on a computer and has used live CDs on a few others but doesn’t yet have the grasp.

That got me thinking about the Rites of Passage a new recruit goes through on his/her way to linux geek status.

Ofcourse installing linux (not just using a liveCD) is the first step on the path away from the dark side.

most people think that recompiling a kernel is “The Rite of Passage into Linux” and I would agree it’s a huge step, you’ll remember the reason why and when you compiled you’re first kernel (maybe even the version number). But I don’t think it’s “the” step.

For those that don’t know (I do brag about it all the time) my wife runs linux. Better yet, she has installed it more than once. Did I mention her degree is in English, not computers. I get plenty of geek points for this in my circles when the “what’s your wife think of linux?” question comes up.

anyway back to the point… when I have people ask me if there is a crash course to linux, I tell them. Yes. Indeed there is.

I maintain that “The” Rite of Passage into sure linux geek status is building a complete linux system from source.

Now, the best way to do this in the past has been through gentoo. And it still is, except that it used to be the ONLY way to install gentoo. Now they have a graphical installer in the works.

Still, when asked about the crash course, my reply tends to be;
If you wan’t to learn alot about linux in a short amount of time, you need to do a from source install. Download the gentoo mimimal cd and do the text install. The gentoo site has step by step instructions that almost anyone can follow. If you complete the steps and the computer actually boots, well…. you can’t beat the satisfaction and you’ll have learned alot about the backend of things.
I’ve been thinking about coming out with a learning series based on installing linux from source. hmm… another day.

I just love the smell of freshly compiled code

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