UBUNTU 4.10, LOVINGLY KNOWN AS WARTY WARTHOG, was the first public version of Ubuntu. Its installation media provided no obvious way to install the bare-bones OS without a full desktop environment. The system administrator crowds, easily irritable and feisty by nature, were greatly annoyed: They proclaimed Ubuntu was just a desktop distribution and sauntered back to their caves in contempt.
The next release of Ubuntu that came out, Hoary Hedgehog, rectified the problem and allowed for trivial installation of a minimal Ubuntu version suitable for servers. Yet the myth of Ubuntu as a purely desktop-oriented distribution stuck.
Luckily, the sentiment is just that -- a myth. Ubuntu is a world-class server platform today, providing everything you'd expect from a server OS and with the human flavor that makes Ubuntu different. The dedicated hackers on the Ubuntu Server Team that tends to the minutiae of hardware support and testing mercilessly beat on the latest version of server software to make sure it's up to snuff for inclusion in the distribution, and the members of the team are available to users like you to field feedback, questions, and cries of anguish.
That said, setting up a server is no small task. Server administrators constantly deal with complex issues such as system security, fault tolerance, and data safety, and while Ubuntu makes these issues more pleasant to deal with, they're not to be taken lightly. The aim of this chapter is thus not to teach you how to be a system administrator—we could easily fill a dozen books attempting to do that—but to give you a quick crash course. We'll also highlight the specific details that set Ubuntu Server apart from other server platforms, offer tips on some of the most common server uses, and give you pointers on where to find other relevant information. Let the mischief begin!
What Is Ubuntu Server?
By far the most common reaction from users first encountering Ubuntu Server is one of utter and hopeless confusion. People are foggy on whether Ubuntu Server is a whole new distribution or an Ubuntu derivative like Kubuntu (only for servers) or perhaps something else entirely. Let's clear things up a bit. The primary software store for Ubuntu and official derivatives is called the Ubuntu archive. The archive is merely a collection of software packages in Debian "deb" format, and it contains every single package that makes up distributions such as Ubuntu, Edubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, and Ubuntu Server. What makes Kubuntu separate from Ubuntu, then, is only the set of packages from the archive that its installer installs by default and that its CDs carry.