Installing and Configuring Servers

In the world of Linux, the word “server” has a broader meaning than you might be used to. For instance, the standard Red Hat Linux graphical user interface (GUI) requires a graphical layer called XFree86. This is a server. It can run even on a standalone machine with one user account. It must be configured. (Fortunately, Red Hat Linux has made this a simple and painless part of installation on all).

Similarly, printing in Linux takes place after you have configured a print server. Again, this has become so easy. In certain areas the client-server nomenclature can be confusing, though. While you cannot have a graphical desktop without a server, you can have World Wide Web access without a Web server, File transfer protocol (FTP) access without running an FTP server, and Internet e-mail capabilities without ever starting a mail server. You may want to use these servers, all of which are included in Red Hat Linux, but then again you may not. And whenever a server is connected to other machines outside your physical control (remotely), there are security implications — you want users to have easy access to the things they need, but you don’t want to open up the system you’re administering to the whole wide world.

Linux distributions used to be shipped with all imaginable servers turned on by default. This was earlier thinking. But the realities of a modern, more dangerous world have dictated that essential servers are off unless they are manually enabled and configured. This duty falls to the system administrator. Administrator need to know what servers you need and how to employ them, and to be aware that it is a potential security nightmare to enable services that the system isn’t using and doesn’t need.


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