Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Linux Love

Rainy day, no skydiving. A good time to make the old computer into the server I need.

I had downloaded the Fedora disk images during the week and after one last check that all the data was backed up I ran the install. It was painless. Simple. Computer doing what I expect it to. I like that. Ample help screens and descriptions. I didn't exactly watch the clock but it was under an hour of inserting the next disk and watching the status bar.

The new OS booted beautifully. Even though I only need some server components I made sure to install the snazzy KDE desktop plus the Open Office suite plus games and toys. I've always wanted a Linux box to tinker with, now I've got it. I gotta say, KDE is nice. Easy to move to from a Windows mindset plus extra features that make things ever so much nicer.

Getting the box to hit the internet was easy. Because I intend to use it mainly as a server I pulled it off the DHCP and gave it a static IP. That caused all my DNS lookups to slow way down. Over the course of the day futzing with it I realized I needed to feed it my ISP's DNS IP's instead of the routers IP. That helped. It took me a while to figure out the Red Hat package updater thingy. I eventually gathered that there are some packages that I needed updates for and some that are just fluff or things I won't use. Hard to tell the difference sometimes. I took my best guesses but I fear there are some things I ought to update that I missed. Along the way I began climbing the learning curve on the file system and starting, stopping, restarting processes.

The Samba server was easy at first glance and I had a Samba share set up in no time. Windows turned into the bitch on this one. Let me just say that I hate the way Windows XP does it's networking. I liked Win 2000 a lot better but I'm afraid there is no turning back now. For some bizarre reason it takes WinXP almost three minutes to realize it is on the network itself, never mind all those other computers out there I want it to talk to. I ended up renaming and rebuilding the workgroup from scratch just to make sure I had everything set up right. I did. Let me just say at this point that Windows XP is a G0dd@&# F`(% P13(3 of $h17 operating system and I hope to never ever give Microsoft another damn dime of my money. Windows does however run quite a few programs that I use a lot so I may be screwed on that score. After an hour of jumping through all the hoops to rebuild my windows network, the Win boxes did finally recognize the Samba server but refused to log on to it. I think I may be missing some little niggle. A password or a user setting or some such. I was getting tired of re-reading smb.inf at this point so I put it aside.

The web server just worked. I made sure it was running, typed the IP into the browser bar and there it was. Gotta love Apache. One of the finest pieces of software I have used. It probably needs a few more niggles in its conf file, but I need to move files onto it first. That means Samba or FTP or something.

Next up was the MySQL server. With this bad daddy I learned that the version shipped with the Fedora install is out of date and the version available from the Red Hat package updater thingy was out of date too. It took a couple hours of RTFM, plus downloading the latest greatest, (oops, downloaded the wrong package, try again), I climbed the coolest part of the learning curve yet. I successfully rpm'd new software onto a Linux box. Woot. (Hint, logging in as root solves some installation problems.) I jumped through the config hoops and changed the default passwords and confirmed the little bugger was running and responding. But then when I hopped back to the Windows box and tried to log into MySql from there, it choked. I couldn't get in. I don't know what is going on with that, but I am going to blame Windows until I learn different.

This is where I threw in the towel and went for beer. It had been a long day of RTFM and my eyes felt like they were gonna start bleeding. The Samba server is fubar 'cause Windows won't talk to it. The MySql server is fubar 'cause Windows won't talk to it. The Web server works but I have no way of putting my files on it. Next up I guess will be the FTP server. What could possibly go wrong? I am guessing that it will take some coaxing for Windows to talk to it.

There is a part of me that wishes some Linux geek was on hand to show me how to do some of this stuff, but I know I will learn better by RTFM and doing it myself. Linux has come a long way from the first times I tried using it. The installation, desktop, web surfing, E-mailing, word processing parts of it are every bit as good as the commercial software out there. But when you have to make it do just a little bit more there is still an ugly learning curve. That is why I never adopted it back in the day. The learning curve always conflicted with my need to get something done NOW.

Oh, and have I mentioned… When it comes to working and playing well with others Windows is a F\/(51#& P13(3 of $h17 operating system.

Wish I could help you but I don't have my Windows box talk to my Linux box, it's just to hard. I agree the Windows stuff just doesn't play well with others. I at one time had Samba working but it was such a nightmare I quit.

I will tell you something that really sped up my DNS lookups was to install djbdns and use the dnscache funtion in it. It caches all the DNS lookups so it doesn't have to go out looking for them as often. Really sped things up for me.

Good luck figuring Samba, you'll need it.
There's a neat little guide to getting samba server running over here. Good luck!
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