This server would also:
act as a webserver for our online resource centre;
house the data for these projects;
connect to the organizations main network which runs Windows 2003 and has typo3 as its content management system (www.typo3.com);
It would be nice to create a poll here in addition to getting responses but what do you think would be the best distro to use?
I like Fedora as I am familiar with it, and it has the largest number of people working on it to get it better faster.
Debian comes with moodle pre-installed, which is very convenient;
Other distros of linux would perhaps less maintenance / security patching once set up...
What do you think? What are most people using here?
This is always a contentious issue as there are so many flavours of linux with their own advocates and despondants.
I use Mandrake 10.2. My reason for this was its active community and constant updates. More importantly, it's ease of use. For anyone contemplating getting into linux, this is definately the one to learn on. However it is not the most efficient or secure unless you tinker with it.
Fedora (and other redhat varieties) are meant to be the best for security and performance. But not as user friendly. They also are well maintained have an active community supporting them
Lastly I want to mention SUSE. Normaly I would not say this rated a mention except for the fact it is now owned by Novell and sits great within a Novell network and makes use of many novel features.
I use redhat 9 because there was a book with the disks at my local bookstore, and my university servers use free bsd.
If you want to use a Redhat based system either use Redhat Enterprise Linux ($50/year for education customers) or CentOS . CentOS is a free Linux server based on Redhat Enterprise Linux. They took the source code of Redhat Enterprise Linux and compiled it to create CentOS. WhiteBox Linux is another version of Linux similar to CentOS.
Debian comes with moodle pre-installed, which is very convenient;
Yes, and we could add that
- the NZVLE Moodle cluster (still the largest Moodle install?) is running on pure Debian
- Isaac Clerencia (the guy doing the Debian package) is very good
- some Moodle developers (Penny, me) collaborate with the packaging of Moodle for Debian
Debian upkeep is simpler than other distros, actually. All you have to do is edit /etc/apt/sources.list to read the security updates (I think this happens by default) and regularly do
apt-get update apt-get upgrade
Note, however, that if you use the Moodle included in Debian Sarge, it is going to be 1.4.x. You can track the 'latest' Moodle package manually, or just use Moodle off a downloaded zipfile or an anon CVS checkout.
Either way, Debian makes a wonderful server distro. Recommended!
There are several people that have shown (in the forums) that the stress put on the server by running the cron jobs this way (cli) is less than doing it through regular HTTP requests.
If you like Fedora/Red Hat, you might want to look at one of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux clones. I've had bad luck with Fedora -- it's stability is borderline. I am running one server with CentOS 4.1 (http://www.centos.org) and it's solid as a rock.
Debian is good ... the fact that Moodle is already in their package repository is a decided plus. The downside to Debian is that there aren't as many people, at least here in the USA, with Debian system administration skills as there are with Red Hat skills.
Security and maintenance are pretty much automatic with the major distros once you get them installed. Debian and CentOS are about the same in that respect.
We use Mandrake 10.2
There have been one or two slight problems when trying to do radical things on the server, but the installation and set-up are pretty straightforward.
The Club support and upgrades are great too.
As mentioned, there will be quite a few different opinions that might even you have more confused than before asking.
I guess that you should use a distro that you are comfortable with. That being said, there are some characteristics that set some of the distros apart.
Debian is noted for its stability and security. However, it is not supported by some of the major hosting services. As it is often controlled by the command line interface, it does not need the overhead of a 'Windows/Desktop' interface. The attraction to Debian is the almost flawless 'apt-get' command series that automatically updates and upgrades the server. If you are going to "roll your own" server, then this would be a good choice.
RedHat is what seems to be supported by major hosting services. It has the reputation of being 'the distro' for PHBs.
Mandriva (formally Mandrake) has a very good 'Windows/Desktop' interface and can install way too many packages for server needs if you are not careful. You would need to pick and choose your packages at installation time.
* It's not Red Hat / Fedora. You don't have to pay (or suffer stress) for updates.
* Looks like somebody tested it
* Not burdened by weird, arbitrary, and poorly documented 'security' features (Mandrake?).
* Excellent administration interface that works in both graphical and command line mode
* Big enough that you can get half decent support from the user community.
In the end it's just up to your personal preference and specific needs, choose what suits you best. Most modern mainstream distro's will contain 99.9% of what you need to run Moodle without any real problems.
I would turn around the logic, as some of the posters already have tried, and say
The best distribution (for you) is the one you are most famiier with!
Well I'm running Ubuntu on my desktop, and Ubuntu often gets pigeonholed as a desktop distribution, but it is after all based on Debian.
There is also a brand new entry to the field: Edubuntu, which is based on Ubuntu (and therefore Debian) but with an education focus and it aims to come with a variety of educational tools (including Moodle, I believe) out-of-the-box, with many more available with ease.
I'd suggest it's worth keeping an eye on though as it is totally brand new it might not be the safe option at the moment. I've not used Edubuntu myself, but I've been using Ubuntu now for three releases (one every six months) and I've been very impressed with its progress.
That's what I do. My thinking is generally that you do not install things which you don't need. Ubuntu's server install should do that for you. I'm not sure how much resources will really be saved though (as opposed to just logging out of gnome or even stopping the display manager).
I seem to recall that you need initially to access the site from the http://localhost/ address which means directly on the server. If you're expert enough to do it you can get around this (using w3m, lynx, a tunnel or running a browser over ssh) but this is not quite as easy as the normal install.
you don't need to be "on the server" to install moodle. It can be done from any client pointing to http://your.server.name/yourmoodledir
Fair enough. This was just something that I came across when setting it up. Moodle was initially configured to run on the localhost (perhaps this is a debian package feature) and going through the admin configuration process didn't work correctly. It's a few months ago now and I can't exactly recall, maybe I just needed to $CFG->wwwroot.
Anyone running a real world server is going to need general Linux skills regardless of distro, no magic tools fix everything all the time. Community support is an important consideration, more or less in inverse proportion to your Linux admin skills.
Personally, I prefer Slackware for servers but I couldn't recommend it to someone without fairly well developed Linux command line skills. With Slackware, I find it easy to build a lean, mean, robust and secure server that only runs what is absolutely necessary.
For clients that need/want to do some of their own system administration using GUI tools, I have used Fedora 3 without any problems. Moodle requires a fairly standard and well understood LAMP environment and not much more, so I don't see Fedora's stability as a major issue.
Again, Linux is Linux is Linux, no distro provides an automatic guarantee of problem-free sysadministration.