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I just switched to a VPS after years of shared hosting, so I need to brush up on my administrative skills. Years ago I was a UNIX admin, but I'm rusty, and in particular don't know the details of managing a web stack (LAMP), with a little RoR thrown in.

Any suggestions on a good reference on getting up to speed on managing this stack? This is a personal site, so I don't need to be hardcore about security/performance.

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migrated from Jul 30 '09 at 21:23

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

Slicehost have a decent set of articles on getting up and running in their VPS environment, including guides to setting up the LAMP stack and RoR. They should be applicable to any virtual server provider. Find them here:

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For Apache, the thing you'll probably be dealing with the most is .htaccess files, so I recommend just keeping references for that in mind. This Wikipedia article has some good links to resources.

For Rails, check out the Rails Guides site, which has lots of tutorials.

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The one system administration reference that I go to more than any other is the Linux Administration Handbook, 2nd ed. by Nemeth, Snyder, Hein, et. al. It covers multiple Linux distros, including Red Hat, Fedora, SUSE, Debian, and Ubuntu. Even though it's focus isn't on LAMP, I believe that having a solid understanding of Linux administration allows me to use the online documentation for the other pieces in the LAMP stack--Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python--to accomplish what I need.

If you prefer books over online documentation, I've found Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL, 2nd ed. by Williams and Lane to be a good reference for that portion of the LAMP stack.

I am neither a Rails nor a Ruby person, so I won't even pretend to have the right answer there.

Even if you aren't using Slicehost as your VPS, I'd recommend checking out their wiki and articles in addition to utilizing ServerFault.

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re: Linux Administration Handbook - It looks as though there's a brand spanking new edition (one week old at time of posting): UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, 4th Edition:… – AgentConundrum Aug 2 '10 at 20:44

Jason - I've always found my interest to be most engaged by a site/task/tool that I had to have or make work. In other words, one that I actually needed, rather than a toy that would be nice to have. If you find this too, perhaps look for a tool that requires you to get the whole stack going and run with it until it's up.

You can then use resources like ServerFault and others to ask for answers to specific questions that you're stuck on, to which you'll get much more precise and targeted answers.

Plus you'll get the experience that building and admining something useful from scratch can only give you, which is much more valuable than following a guide or tutorial - because you had to figure it all out yourself ;-)

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I give a +1 to the Slicehost articles. They are what got me started with my VPS, even if you are not using Slicehost. Easy to follow.

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