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I am the web developer for my company, which pretty much makes me the IT guy too. (Wasn't my decision). Anyway we have an existing network and at the heart of the network is our server running Windows Small Business Server 2003.

I need to add a development server to the network, but I don't want to mess up the network. I have an older Dell box that I was going to use as the development server. It doesn't need to be anything special, it just needs to have PHP and MySQL running on it and have the ability for multiple users to remote connect to it.

Since it is older I feel like I'd get better performance if i went with a Linux distro. Since I'm not really familiar with server OS's, which OS would you recommend? And is there anything I need to do so that the webserver doesn't interfere with what is running on the Windows server, e.g. Exchange?

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4 Answers

Last thing first: As long as you don't reconfigure anything else in your network, about the only pieces of software that might interfere with your network are Samba and DHCP servers. In the general case, there is only one DHCP server allowed in a network so make sure you don't install this component on your dev box. Regarding Samba, you shouldn't configure it to be a domain controller for your Windows domain and also don't let it run as WINS server or master browser.

Regarding the distro: About every distro should work and if you have experience with one, use this. If not, I think OpenSUSE with it's yast tool is not a bad choice because it makes many tasks (like configuring Apache) quite simple. This comes with a price though: Many things work a little bit different and Yast can interfere with any configuration you might do manually. Also, you don't really learn how to really configure services and what's happening behind the scenes.

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thanks. I worked with a group back in college that used fedora, so i guess i can go that route –  heymrcarter Mar 16 '11 at 19:39
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As far as an OS i'd check out the Turnkey solutions. LAMP setups are all packaged nicely together so that you don't have to install each individually.

This is probably exactly what you are looking for.

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yes this is very helpful. thanks! –  heymrcarter Mar 16 '11 at 20:06
    
Please rep if you dont mind :) –  Split71 Mar 16 '11 at 20:43
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Because you have experience with Fedora, I would consider setting up a CentOS box. It is really closely related to Fedora and provides all of the functionality you are looking for.

When I setup a new LAMP box, I do the minimal install from the disk, then download all the necessary packages as needed. This cuts down attack vectors on the box and ensures that you are not running anything you don't need.

Take a look at some of the bulk install options as well for CentOS as these take care of needed packages and dependencies for you. Configuration is going to be easy enough, but because you are newish to the process, make sure you budget a couple of days to get everything squared away.

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As others have already stated, use what you're most familiar with and ensure things like the DHCP service are either not installed or disabled. Fedora or CentOS make sense in your case. I'm going to differ somewhat of my suggestions for setting it up though. I suggest installing what you need from source.

While as a web dev you may not think that makes a lot of sense, especially considering how easy it is to install one of the ready built packages. While a Linux admin may well disagree, my own experience as a Windows admin fiddling with Linux suggests that it is much easier to maintain and upgrade the software (Apache, PHP, etc.) when doing it from source.

On Centos at least, the ready made packages tend to get put in otherwise uncommon locations in the file system. Those packages also tend to be fairly out of date, making it difficult to test against the latest versions of the software. Upgrading a package installed component with one built from source is problematic if, like myself, you're not well versed in such things.

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