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My company's IT department would be better named the "computer purchasing and LAN cable maintenance department" because that's just about the limit of their abilities.

In my division we just had a guy quit, and our headcount has been reduced by one this year, so we've got a user-less DELL desktop sitting around.

Division director has asked me (hobby programmer) to turn it into a server for the division's internal use.

Target functionality would be:

  • MediaWiki
  • Collabtive
  • some sort of version control (maybe)

There is no budget for purchasing a proper server, hence the suggestion that we wipe the desktop and make do.

Went to talk to the "IT" Manager and he agreed to wipe it, install a fresh copy of WinXP, unlock the admin rights, give it a dedicated IP on the LAN, and then forget it existed.

In other words, if I break it that's my problem.

My server experience is limited to running unsecured XAMPP on a few home machines to test out PHP & JS code before updating my website. Refreshing my XAMPP understanding just now, I was struck by the constant WARNING: NOT MEANT FOR PRODUCTION USE disclaimers all over the place (both by the XAMPP team and others).

As XAMPP was my original plan (go with what you know...) I am now second-guessing the wisdom of that idea.

SO, I come, hat in hand, to serverfault for some advice.

If you were in my position (mid-range desktop, fresh WinXP, need to host PHP & MySQL-driven webapps on a LAN) how would you tackle this problem?

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5  
I would wipe it and install some flavor of Linux. Windows XP is a poor replacement for a server-grade OS and it's EOL is right around the corner. –  jscott Jul 19 '11 at 13:03
    
Install Ubuntu server (you get the chance to install LAMP automatically) and start playing with it. You'll learn fast (askubuntu.com) and you'll be proud of the final work :) –  Pitto Jul 19 '11 at 15:41

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Personally, if you are wanting to host PHP and mysql webapps, assuming the ones you want to host are compatible, I would install a flavor of Linux instead of XP on the box. Ubuntu Desktop edition would provide you what you need with a nice GUI so you don't have to do everything from a terminal session.

There are hundreds of walkthroughs online for doing LAMP servers.

Plus the OS is free, and most of the software will be free as well, so that handles your budget issues.

For the ones you listed:

Note that the links I provided are just examples...for instance on the subversion one you probably aren't going to be running Gutsy at this point. You'll need to search or tailor to what you run.

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5  
Agreed. Ditch XP. It is a desktop OS. Ubuntu would serve you much better for doing this kind of thing. Additionally I must say that getting a backup routine in place is critical for you, even more so due to the fact that you're running this on non-redundant desktop-class hardware. Make sure you've tested your backups as well, and are able to get data restored properly. –  EEAA Jul 19 '11 at 13:04
1  
Ubuntu is a good solution. You could also try a Turnkey appliance ... turnkeylinux.org They have a LAMP stack as well as one for mediawiki. You could run individual appliances on separate VMs as well, which could run from XP if you have some reason not to run Ubuntu. –  Daniel Ball Jul 19 '11 at 13:49
    
@TheCleaner - I guess I'm going to go this route. With no prior *nix experience, I'd feel more comfortable using Ubuntu Desktop. Now to convince that IT manager... –  Andrew H Jul 20 '11 at 0:47
    
Andrew, *nix work will definitely take you longer at first, but once you get it operational you'll be used to it. Plus, you'll learn something new and expand your resume' :) –  TheCleaner Jul 20 '11 at 15:26

If you ask me TheCleaner suggestion is just perfect and accurate. I'd just like to add a few words to make your effort "timeless" and not hooked to your hardware.

I'd install vmware ESXi on it. This way you'll have the chance to setup a virtual machine with Ubuntu Server (automatic LAMP setup when installing) or the Turnkey appliance suggested by Daniel Ball (turnkeylinux.org). Doing so you'll face a little more administrative effort but you'll build a virtual machine that will last forever, even if your physical pc will die. Tools like Vmx Explorer will allow you to back it up easily and be up and running in seconds if anything goes bad. Do not give up and look for help here on serverfault or on askubuntu.com

The community will help and you'll do it learning a lot. I did the same and I just can't go back :)

Ubuntu means: "I am what I am because of who we all are".

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3  
I thought Ubuntu meant "I really like apt but the guys on the Debian mailing lists are grumpy." –  Gerald Combs Jul 19 '11 at 16:40
    
That's definitely a point of view :D (and their distro is way uglier and less prone to changes :P :D ;) ) –  Pitto Jul 20 '11 at 16:26

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