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KEYWORDS= Davrom Consulting Newsletter - Issue # 50 - Dated: 20 Feb 2012


From the desk of David Clark

Only seems like yesterday I released the last newsletter and we are
already towards the later part of February 2012. Is it just me or is time
speeding up?

This newsletter I have touched on using CentOS Linux as an alternative to
Fedora or Red Hat Linux and we have been installing CentOS servers for some
time now.

As always it is great to find good little products out there that help
enhance an existing server setup so I have talked about our
implementation of ownCloud. I also came across phpBB which I will test
before writing an article on this - phpBB is an open source free bulletin
board system for Linux.

Support has been everything you can think of including dealing with some
ISP changes to the way they handle bulk e-mail sends from
customers...grrr...

I would like to thank the reader for their time in reading this
newsletter.

David.M.Clark


UNIX Quote


Linux vs Mac - same underlying technology, one has a better price.


CentOS

For some time now you have seen me write and publish material on Fedora
Linux which is based on the Red Hat Linux releases. Over the past few
years I have also worked with CentOS which by comparison is based purely
on the official Red Hat Linux releases but is the free licence of their
product, as is Fedora.

My favourite quip in comparing Fedora to CentOS from a screen view
perspective is that if you take the logos out of the equation, they are
identical - which is correct being based on the core Red Hat.

So why would you use CentOS instead of Fedora? CentOS adheres to the
staged releases of the official Red Hat releases themselves and therefore
seldom change in any major part of the operating system packages. Fedora on
the other hand release updates quite often although still based on Red Hat.
Once you install Fedora it has a shorter supported life cycle for that
specific version (currently at Fedora 16 at the time of writing this
article) as compared to CentOS which is currently at version 6 (6.2 to be
exact).

At Davrom I run a Fedora 15 desktop (maybe going to 16 at some point) but
our e-mail/web server is running CentOS 6 and we have another internal
application server running CentOS 5.6. The two CentOS boxes, once set
up, do not need to change and here is the key - if you need a Linux that
is continually developed to suit the latest sound card, video card,
network adapter etc, then Fedora is more suited as there will be
someone out there hacking away at driver code to get it to run under
Fedora, whereas CentOS, is less likely to have the latest driver to
suit a very latest piece of hardware. To me this is the key difference.
So at Davrom I favour using CentOS for servers and Fedora for desktops.

Now before people from either Linux version start throwing sharp objects
at me, both versions do well as desktops and servers - the key for me is
in the overall role and need to change any major components that defines
their ultimate role. Both being based on Red Hat and an excellent free
open source alternative to the commercial versions.


ownCloud

Those who have spoken to me regarding cloud based solutions know that I
am against storing company data on anything other than an internal, fully
within your control, server. To date I am not convinced that if you store
your private/confidential information on someone else's server that it
remains actually yours - who really owns the information?

While I appreciate the concept of sharing files and information in a
wider forum via web interface I recently stumbled across an article in
Linux-Magazine on ownCloud.

ownCloud is in its early days but I have already implemented it as a
solution for a committee I serve on for members to upload, download
and share files and other information. I was amazed at how quickly it
installs and administration is very simple. I am now going to possibly
implement ownCloud for a family genealogy setup I already have in place
as a method to further share information on-line between family members.

For my initial purposes, we are using the one single web login to share
everything however ownCloud is designed to use a user/group sharing
capability.

By default ownCloud presents you with Files, Contacts, Calendar, Music
and Gallery categories. These can be disabled through the Apps manager
but also support a couple of other plugins such as a Bookmarks manager.
For calendaring it has an interface for the WebDAV/CalDAV technology so
essentially uses the backend features that already exist in the Apache
web server.

This small footprint but feature filled "ready to go" solution has now
become one of our other supported product offerings to our customers.

I will now need to control myself and not install it everywhere :-)

Link for ownCloud: http://owncloud.org

From the Trenches
Some comic or not so comic relief from the support days gone by.

Just turn it off and back on again

A company that was still using faxing technology had an issue with the
modem not sending the faxes one day - the fax solution hanging off a UNIX
system.

When the customer phoned me I asked them to just turn off the modem and
then turn it back on again. They laughed and told me that was the same
support response used in the TV series the I.T Crowd.

What made the customer laugh all the more that following my suggestion,
faxing started working again.


Tech Tip

Recent bulk e-mail sending issues with some ISPs prompts me to cover
this.

Most ISPs monitor the amount of e-mail traffic coming from the links they
provide to the Internet and what you may find, unless your ISP provides a
bulk e-mail server to send through, your e-mails will be canceled from
sending if you send a large amounts of e-mail in one hit, such as an
invoice or statement run.

Spammers use access points to quickly send hundreds or thousands of
e-mail all at once and most ISPs are set to look for this pattern and
mark it as spamming. In such instances innocent business e-mail can also
be treated this way and results in frustration for the sender and the
customers/contacts they are sending to.

As a recommendation to get around this, I recommend customers approach
their application support houses and ask if they can have the e-mails
sent with a 20-30 second time delay between each one. While this is
slower it gets around triggering the ISP anti-spam mechanism.

On your Linux e-mail server you can then monitor your e-mail sending
with commands like:

mailq -v

or

mailq -v | more


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