Server Testing

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This page is our record of testing different distributions of Linux for use on our server. No GUI is running on any of these systems.



We wanted a server build that would be faster (fewer resources) than our current (As of June 16, 2011, we are running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, but the desktop edition). The motivation for this is that we wanted a clean install of our server, which provides a good opportunity for re-installation.

Ubuntu 11.04 Server edition

Finding the server edition was a little more difficult, since the Argonne National Laboratory mirror didn't have it quite where we thought it would be. Installation is easy (since we're used to it), since it's all apt-get based.


With the entire LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), htop shows 26 tasks, 175M RAM used, 0 swap used, and .7% of processor time used.


CentOS was easy to find, but the basic ISO is just a live disk. We decided to run the netInstall version, and then pull the correct version off of the Argonne National Laboratory mirror. There did not appear to be a "server" edition of 5.6, although there did seem to be one of 5.1 and 4.7 (Not sure about those numbers).

The biggest problem we've experienced with CentOS so far is that it does NOT run Grub config. The next time the machine boots it boots to the grub command prompt.

Find the menu.lst. For us, it was /grub/menu.lst. Normally, it's located in /boot/grub/menu.lst. The command you need to run is
configfile (hd0,0)/grub/menu.lst
Then, we had the problem that it pointed to the wrong HD, so hit "e" to go to the options, hit "e" again and change it from (hd1,0) to (hd0,0).

To install htop on CentOS requires the rpmforge repository. Follow the instructions here.

We also installed yum-priorities, since we're using more than just the base repositories.

Exploration of PHP

PHPMyAdmin seems to require Apache prefork to properly run, as we can get the page to display (albeit with an error that a passphrase needs to be set), but with worker, it won't even display.

We tried PHPMiniAdmin, but that will not do what we want because we cannot edit the databases from it.

SQLBuddy appears to work well with worker.


With LAMP installed, htop shows 99 tasks running, but there appear to be a number of blank lines. Memory usage is at 128M, swap is at 0. Processor usage was, once again, negligible idling.

Scientific Linux 6.0

We decided against Scientific Linux because while it might be a great OS for distributed computing and such, this is not a great OS for servers since it was not specifically built for that purpose. Also, SL is built on the RedHat core, same as CentOS.

I have rebuilt the USB installer three times as of this writing. It may be worth making an actual DVD for this. I finally settled on the netBoot disk, and after registering the computer's MAC address on the campus network, I could connect using the HTTP option in the boot menu to connect to the Argonne National Laboratory page.

Installation continued following the prompts.


Running the standard set (we cut out a lot, even from "Basic Server" config in the install), we had negligible CPU usage, 23 tasks, 190M RAM in use, and no swap in usage.

Packages We Installed

Software Ubuntu Package Name (apt-get) CentOS & Scientific Linux Package Name (yum)
Apache Webserver (Worker) apache2-mpm-worker httpd
MYSQL mysql-server mysql
PHP5 php5 php
Open SSH (SSH server) openssh-server openssh-server
Simple Network Management Protocol snmp net-snmp
PHP My Admin phpmyadmin phpmyadmin
Postfix (Mail protocol) postfix postfix
Perl Unsure perl
Perl SHA-1 Digest Unsure perl-Digest-SHA1
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