Linux/LAMP for dummies...
December 22, 2006 1:34 PM   Subscribe

i am a complete Linux Noob and i've decided to go a few rounds with a simple LAMP server. Where can i find helpful resources and suggestions?

i've decided to stop bullshtting around dive head first into Linux. i have 3 PCs of various ages.

1)i set up a LAMP server using this tutorial on a Compaq 750mh with one 6gb HDD and a 30gb HDD packed with MP3s i really wanna keep. the server is running fine.
2)i've installed Ubuntu desktop on a Dell optiplex GX240 with a 30gb HDD.
3)i have windows XP running on my Dell GX270, which has 80 gbs of space.

ok, so now i'm ready to shred and i have no idea what to do next. i read that its a web server. nothing i've found shows me how to actually serve, they just tell me how to do it better. i'm walking thru Unix for Beginning Mages. i'm using Torrent Flux (for legal content only, of course). i'm unfamiliar with the Apache, PHP and SQL stuff. i'm looking for basic ways to maximize my linux experience.

anyone been thru something similar and have better suggestion than google?

oh, and anyone know how to get the the info on the second LAMP drive beyond simply putting it in the XP machine?

thank, sorry for my noobieness.
posted by Davaal to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
On the LAMP server at the command line, type in ifconfig (might have to do /sbin/ifconfig). The IP address of your computer will be somewhere in that mess. It's 4 numbers separated by dots ( or similar). With a web browser on the same network, point it at or whatever the IP address is. If your web server is up and running you'll probably get something like "This is the default page".

Figure out where that page is on the LAMP server's hard drive, and at that point, you can put up static html pages into that directory and get to them.

You'll also need to locate the httpd.conf (apache config) file that lives in /etc (most likely).

At that point, you probably have everything set up right, and you should go read a beginner's tutorial on PHP. Do something in php without the database. Then upgrade to using the database. And at that point, you're limited by what you can code.
posted by cschneid at 2:10 PM on December 22, 2006

I've only ever heard LAMP = Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP(Python, Perl)...

Your post doesn't explain why you want to use this set of tools. You said you want to dive into Linux, but why are you adding Apache and the others in?

I don't understand what you are trying to accomplish...
posted by jesirose at 3:45 PM on December 22, 2006

Apache is a web server. MySQL is a database. PHP (and Python and Perl) are scripted programming langauges. They all integrate well together and are typically used to create dynamic web sites. These are all just tools though, they don't do anything on their own. It's kind of like you just unpacked a brand new tabletop saw and drill press in your garage and said "Now what?" Well, what do you want to do? Find some web scripts and install them, or build your own. There are millions of tutorials on learning PHP, just browse the computer aisle of any bookstore and you'll see what I mean. But without some kind of purpose or direction I don't see what we are going to be able to help you with.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:30 PM on December 22, 2006

Response by poster: well, what do you guys do with linux?
posted by Davaal at 8:06 PM on December 22, 2006

For some recent for instances:

Made calendars for 2007 with pcal. Previewed the Postscript output with gv. The printer's attached to my wife's computer, so I appropriately configured the CUPS server and firewall on her machine, as well as the HP drivers, and the CUPS client on my machine so I could print across the network.

Wrote a Perl script to traverse directories of audio FLAC files and build equivalent directories of OGGs.

To use my Rio Karma with Linux I built and installed the OMFS kernel module, and built the latest Amarok from source (the version packaged for my distribution was one release behind the latest, and lacked the Karma support) so I could transfer said oggs.

I'm working on setting up an OpenVPN server so I can connect to it from insecure wireless networks and route all my traffic, encrypted, through it. This one has eluded me so far -- it looks like I'll probably have to acquire some real understanding of networking and network interfaces to make it happen.

I've been learning TeX, and gaining some better understanding of the Debian package system and the related command line tools -- I custom build a lot of software, and it might be nice to package it for others.

Common thread: all these things were of interest or use to me.

Here are some generic suggestions:

Make backups. You say you really want to keep your MP3s. Don't do a lot of experimentation on a machine with the only copy of data you really want to keep -- that's a recipe for disaster. (This is a specific case of the more general rule that having only one copy of anything you really want to keep is a recipe for disaster.)

Start modestly -- making a static web page and serving it with Apache is plenty enough to start with.

If you want to maximize your Linux experience, I'd definitely recommend getting familiar with the command line and the standard UNIX commands.

I like checking out the Ubuntu Forums HOWTOs to see interesting things other people are doing with Linux. (Ubuntu's what I'm using now, but there are a million other websites that could serve the same purpose.)

Find an itch. Scratch it.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 8:59 PM on December 22, 2006 [2 favorites]

"what do you guys do with linux?"

I've had a Unixy box sat at the hub of my home network for the better part of a decade; I cut my teeth on Slackware 7 running on a second hand 486. As a noob, first priorities were learning basic command line use, networking, text editing etc -- Slackware doesn't hold your hand and shield your eyes, which I think is quite important if you want to actually understand the system.

Quite early on I went over Slackware's nice BSD-style init system; being quite straight forward to follow made it easy to learn how bootup and shell scripting works, which went a long way towards increasing my confidence. I learned basic ipchains use and wrote a firewall script to help secure my network, set up NAT etc.

I learned how to compile and install software manually, since Slackware didn't encourage hiding this stuff behind over-complex opaque packaging systems, and indeed Apache, PHP and MySQL made an appearance, along with things like squid (web proxy) and bind (caching recursive DNS server).

I moved my mail fetching to it, making my own spam filter using procmail, and eventually migrated all my mail use to it, building a nice fetchmail/exim/procmail/mutt setup much of which I still use today. Similarly my IRC client migrated to a text-mode app using screen so I could idle on IRC with the unlimited dialup some services were offering at the time.

Now I run FreeBSD on a dual Opteron in my cupboard and on a few dozen servers in a couple of data centers. What I've mentioned are largely routine and much of my efforts go into writing my own software to scratch my itches and make money.

As a noob, the most important thing is really to learn enough fundamentals to support yourself and find what interests you. That means starting with things like basic shell use, scripting and configuration, text editing, learning what basic services and tools do and how to configure them to do what you need. Jumping straight into "AMP" is getting ahead of yourself if you're even vaguely interested in the *ix elements -- if not you might be better off just running it in Windows.
posted by Freaky at 7:50 AM on December 23, 2006

Best answer: I have a headless Ubuntu Dapper server with 570GB of hard disks in it sitting in the corner of my front room and always on. It runs:

* Samba to serve files (including music and movies) to the other three machines here (two Windows desktops and my Ubuntu Edgy laptop)

* vsftpd to let me move big multimedia files around as fast as my 100mbit Ethernet connection will allow

* Squid to make web browsing, Windows Updates and antivirus updates go a bit faster

* sshd to let me call in from outside and set up firewall-traversing tunnels so I can rdesktop into work machines from home

Eventually I'm going to put Asterisk on it and turn it into a fancy voicemail engine as well.

My main computer is my laptop, which has only ever run Linux (it came with XP Home preinstalled, but the very first time I booted it, it had a Red Hat 9 installed CD in the drive).

IMO, your fastest path into learning Linux is not to stuff about with servers until you've made it your primary workstation environment for a year or so. By then you'll have been forced to come to grips with its funny little ways.

The Ubuntu distros are bloody good. Stick with those until you know them backwards and forwards and inside out.
posted by flabdablet at 7:51 AM on December 23, 2006 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: thanks ya'll. i was satisfied with my XP/Mac set up. i wanted to get a true understanding of the underbelly of computing. i'm much interested in everything listed here, and i'll be taking all your advise.

i like the idea of the hub, Flabdablet. so is your house wired for broadband, did you go wireless or some alternative. i'm using powerline-ethernet bridges for my mythbox, ect. it seems ok.
posted by Davaal at 8:31 PM on December 23, 2006

The two Windows boxes are in the same room with the Ubuntu server, the ADSL/WiFi/VoIP router and the 100mbit switch; my laptop has a PCMCIA wireless card.
posted by flabdablet at 5:08 PM on December 25, 2006

well, what do you guys do with linux?

Everything. It's my primary OS, both at home and at work. I write code. I serve up webpages. I download torrents. I serve up media. I edit audio and video. etc. etc.

Don't dance around with it - just use it. Just as with any other OS, with time you'll learn it's quirks and learn how to do troubleshooting and such. Check out the ubuntu guide and ubuntu forums for a great community that can help you get started with nearly any project.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:41 AM on April 9, 2007

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