Good Server to learn with?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Michael Goff, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. Michael Goff macrumors G5

    Michael Goff

    Jul 5, 2012
    I was thinking of possibly buying it from the app store, and then playing around until I get a good idea about how it works. Is this a good idea? Would the self-taught skills be of use in a work environment? Would it mess up my normal Mountain Lion install?

    Is it actually a better server than a Linux or Windows version?
  2. Winni macrumors 68030


    Oct 15, 2008
    If you want to learn something that can be used in a work environment, install Ubuntu Server, CentOS, openSuSE, FreeBSD or Solaris in a virtual machine and play with that - those are REAL server platforms used in REAL business environments. Of course, Windows Server is also an important product to know; you can download 120 test versions somewhere from the Microsoft website.

    OS X Server is a toy for home users. Not even Apple use their own "server" version of OS X - they use Oracle Solaris in their data centers.
  3. ghellquist macrumors regular

    Aug 21, 2011
    Stockholm Sweden
    Definitely have to agree.

    Download and install Virtualbox. It might not be the best virtual machine host for every occasion but it is quite good for many things and free.

    Now download one or more variations of Linux and install them as virtual machines in Virtualbox. You can have as many as you want to, but the number of machines running at the same time is limited by RAM memory in your box.

    Now start working on the servers. I strongly suggest using command line as that will give you a deeper working knowledge of things.

    Next start filling your virtual servers with things. I suggest setting up a web site using Wordpress. This will force you to learn things about LAMP (Linux, Apache 2, MySql and PHP5) which are quite useful to know. And while you are at it, add things like Samba for file sharing and FTP and so on. Start another virtual server and get them to talk to each other.

    You might want to add all different kinds of things to your virtual servers, maybe even setting up a cluster of machines sharing the work. Another direction might be a server setting for handling internet pages, maybe one server running nginx for static pages, another running Apache+PHP5 for dynamic pages and a third running the MySql database. You will not get the performance benefit that is the purpose of doing this division of work, but you will learn a lot about how to setup things.

    The great part about virtual servers is that they are only there when you want them. Stop Virtualbox and all you see is some files on the hard disc, while your computer works normally.

    // Gunnar
  4. Michael Goff, Sep 4, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012

    Michael Goff thread starter macrumors G5

    Michael Goff

    Jul 5, 2012
    I actually already have Parallels, so I'll probably actually use that.

    Excellent ideas on how to self-teach, though.

    LAMP, eh?

    Wish me luck!

    Edit: Today I learned a valuable lesson about Parallels... it won't allow paste in Ubuntu server. Or, at least, it isn't working for me.

    Edit 2: And now I run into the lovely error where it won't even start because of some VT-x error. Lovely.
  5. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    Agree with the above.

    Current Mac Server is NOT the way to learn about servers.

    Download ubuntu (2nd favorite, currently on two of my office servers ) or find an old copy of solaris ( all time favorite, sadly no longer on any of my servers, because it is no longer open source ).

    I run MAMP for local php development. You could play around with that, it is a full stack and could be used in production. Ubuntu is just so much better suited for commercial deployment though. Download, install, type a few commands and you are up and running with a self updating server. Doesn't really take much more than that. A little googling to read about hardening your servers Vs would be hackers would be step two.

    just agreeing with everyone else
  6. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2009
    San Diego, CA
    I suggest ubuntu or SUSE, and a Linux+ book. It'll help you to self-learn the basics, and the cert won't look bad on a resume. From there you can look into getting RedHat certified; it's a tough and somewhat expensive little program, but looks very good when placed on a resume.
  7. ChristianVirtual, Sep 17, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012

    ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    My favorite is also the server version of Ubuntu. Very flexible and right now the 12.04 is Long Term Support, nice for a server as it means five years of support patches
  8. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    What an irony ... I joined the OS X customer base with 10.7 and left with 10.8. I still might use it for the iDevice Management capabilities; still need to learn a bit in that area. But VPN, DNS, DHCP, FW all moved back to Non-Mac (now on pfSense, a FreeBSD distribution)
  9. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    I agree. For the purpose of learning generally about servers, OS X server is not the way to go. Partially it is too different, partially too much based on GUI's.

    This I do not fully agree with. Many organisations use OS X Server in critical roles. For a workplace based largely on mac hardware, OS X Server is the optimal workgroup server and quite useful for minimizing workstation support workload. Naturally these environments may use other hardware-software combinations for specialist services (DB server, NAS etc.)

  10. phr0ze macrumors 6502a

    Jun 14, 2012
    Columbia, MD
    Get CentOS. In the real world I see CentOS and RedHat as the flavor of choice in datacenters.
  11. Jordz macrumors member


    Aug 16, 2008
    England, U.K
    If you're wanting to learn about servers I definitely agree with the above statements. It depends how far you want to go into it straight away though. Although someone above mentioned CentOS which is essentially RHEL (Community version of Red Hat - which is an enterprise distribution) I would recommend starting with ubuntu server just to get the basics down.

    Originally I built my own small server when I started out, just to get a solid start working in linux / unix server based environments. You'll find a lot if it ties in with OS X in cases (as it's based on unix).

    The issue you may run into with cent is something called SELinux (security enhanced linux) which to a new comer can be quite confusing and frustrating when certain simple things don't work how they should. Ubuntu doesn't have this enabled by default and I don't feel as dirty not having to disable it to start off with :p

    That's pretty much all I have to say, hope this helps.

    Good luck!
  12. StanleyYelnats macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2009
    What you can do....

    What you can do with mac mini server is learn to manage users.

    Learn about security of a server on a net work.

    Learn to manage shares. And several other services. These activities are common across many servers. The techniques and methods may be different but the ideas are the same.

    However, the mac mini has some issues. I purchased a server in August and I am now being introduced to these issues.

    Learn the basics and extrapolate to some of the other server software later.

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