Which linux Distro for me? Debian or CentOS? With or without Control Panel?

Discussion in 'Installation/Configuration' started by Brook, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. Brook

    Brook New Member

    Firstly, I would like to say thanks for a brilliant resource here at How-to-forge! I think I am going to spend a lot of time here :)


    I have run dedicated servers for several years on CentOS - but for the most part I have been shielded from the OS as they had cPanel. Earlier this year I thought I would make the move away from cPanel and tried Virtualmin. However, I am now thinking about going without a control panel altogether - because I need to use the latest versions of Ruby and PostgreSQL, and it seems control panels like Virtualmin can get in the way a bit. For example I removed postgres from my server and yum decided to remove virtualmin-base as well... which screwed up my install (now my postfix and dovcot are not working).

    (I looked at ISPConfg but it seems most people were recommending Virtualmin on webhostingtalk, so gave that a go (sorry!). I now have virtualbox so am going to try it - already tried openpanel).

    Server requirements

    I need a server to host / run:

    • Apache or Nginx - don't mind
    • PHP/Mysql - my older sites (PHP 5.2 as that's what my older sites need)
    • Ruby/Postgres - latest versions (1.9.3 & 9.1) for my newer sites (Rails)
    • Ability to send and receive email for each domain (smtp/pop - and set up SPF/DKIM records etc)
    • Secure the server (perhaps with configserver firewall)

    I don't need stats, mailmanagers, virus/spam checking of emails etc

    Debian or CentOS

    Although I have used CentOS for several years on my servers (I haven't' really done that much command line stuff) I am considering Debian as it seems to accommodate the more recent packages I want (of Postgres anyway) via backports. I also like the Debian philosophy. So I'm happy to learn all about aptitude (instead of yum). They both have great reputations as web server - so I really don't mind. I'd quess it would be between Debian Squeeze and Centos 6.2 (currently using 5.8).


    1. Should I try without a control panel? If not which do you recommend (bearing in mind I want to use the latest Ruby/Postgres etc)
    2. Debian or CentOS? I'm completely open-minded, and happy to learn more about either system (any links to easy-to-digest books or guides?)

    Thanks in advance for any help.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  2. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    I'd use Debian because apt is better than yum, and you don't have to mix third-party repositories because almost everything is available from the official Debian repos.
  3. Brook

    Brook New Member

    Thanks Falko. I must say I am drawn to Debian :)

    However I just up a new server and this time around I ended up going with what I was used to, CentOS - I didn't have enough time as my dedicated server renewal was up tomorrow, so I wanted to get a new server asap (to save me $120).

    I am also trialling a new server company (I think you use them too) if it goes well for a few months I will get a more powerful server... and then seriously consider Debian - and whether to use a control panel or not.

    What do you think? Would I be better off without a CP? Primarily because I want to use the latest versions of Ruby/Postgres etc. Is it easy enough to set-up emails/SPF records etc without a control panel?

    Thanks in advance.
  4. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    This depends on your skills. It's not rocket science, but a control panel will still save you a lot of time. :)
  5. Brook

    Brook New Member

    I'm getting more comfortable with command line/linux :D

    I will spend some time playing around with Debian on virtualbox - as I'd really like to give it a try :)

    Which howtoforge guides would you recommend if I wanted to do the following?

    Set up web server for:

    • domains/websites (usual lamp (or with nginx))
    • emails (for smpt/pop access dovecot/postfix?)
  6. TiTex

    TiTex Member

  7. Brook

    Brook New Member

    But does that increase the chance of something breaking if I upgrade something? (With Virtualmin (on Debian) I upgraded Postgres but couldn't get it to play with virtualmin - also ended up breaking postfix/dovcot as yum decided to uninstall vritualmin-base when I uninstalled the old postgres). Hence I am a little reluctant lol.

    Also, do control panels use up resources?
    And do they add additional security risks?

    I would love to see a how-to guide that sets up the usual lamp along with email (with guidelines on how to configure and use such a set-up). I reckon it would be very popular :)
  8. till

    till Super Moderator Staff Member ISPConfig Developer

    No. ISPConfig is made to play nice with Debian system updates.

    ISPConfig does not use up any resources when you are not doing something. Webmin or virtualmin use resources.

    Every software that you install on a server add risks. But there are no known problems with ispconfig and you can also add a .htaccess protection on the interface as additional secirity protection if you want.
  9. Brook

    Brook New Member

    Thanks Till.

    I will definitely look at ISPconfig again - I have it installed on a debian VM just haven't had time to play with it.

    Is ISPC built in/dependent on php? At some point I want to port all of my sites over to Ruby/Rails and want to remove PHP altogether.
  10. till

    till Super Moderator Staff Member ISPConfig Developer

    ISPConfig ismostly written in php.

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