[arch-general] Arch Linux on servers?

Don deJuan donjuansjiz at gmail.com
Tue Jul 9 18:53:29 EDT 2013

On 07/09/2013 10:27 AM, Florian Dejonckheere wrote:
> On 9 July 2013 14:24, Florian Pritz <bluewind at xinu.at> wrote:
>> On 09.07.2013 12:13, M Saunders wrote:
>>> I'm still left wondering though: who uses it on production servers? I
>>> mean, the distro's overall simplicity and trimmed-down base
>>> installation are plus points here, but surely a rolling release poses
>>> problems. After installation you just want security and critical bug
>>> fix updates for software, and not major version bumps, right?
>> I've seen at least 2 or 3 kernel exploits that were mitigated by newer
>> kernel versions (which we had, debian didn't). Obviously there have been
>> other issues which could only be exploited in more recent kernel
>> versions which didn't affect debian.
>> Then there are those issues where there is a patch but no new release so
>> it might not get fixed in arch until the next release (no security team
>> nor policy for such patches).
>> In terms of updating breakage it doesn't matter what you use, updating
>> will eventually result in breakage, but if you know the system well
>> enough you will have a much easier time fixing it.
>> I had a case where a few debian servers got upgraded after something
>> like 1.5 years and spamassassin suddenly used a lot more resources.
>> Since basically every package jumped lots of versions finding the
>> package responsible for that was kind of impossible so they just bought
>> a bunch more servers to deal with the higher load.
>> On arch you could probably narrow it down and fix the software. Might
>> not be cheaper and might not be what you want (cool new feature causing
>> the issue maybe), but at least you aren't left in the dark.
>> I'm not sure if either distro is more time intensive, I think you will
>> just spend your time differently. Also investing time in anything will
>> result in knowledge so I'm not sure if that's a bad thing.
>> If you don't know what you are doing, don't run a server with arch. But
>> then you shouldn't be running a server in that case anyway. As Allan
>> once said: "If you have to ask, then no".
>> I'd say neither solution (rolling-release vs "stable and secure") is
>> better, they are just different. Get to know your tool (distro) and
>> decide for yourself.
> I have ran (home) servers on both Arch Linux and Debian, and found that the
> Arch Linux ones require more work to keep it up to date, but offer way more
> software (and closer to upstream). Stability is not garantueed however, and
> you are responsible for keeping each and every feature working.
> Debian, on the other hand, is more stable out of the box and requires less
> updating. Its software is nowhere near upstream, though. For example
> systemd (if you don't opt for the default outdated sysvinit) is still at
> version 88, missing a lot of crucial functionality from the later versions.
> Arch can be used as a server distro, but if you prefer low maintenance, use
> something else.
I honestly do not see Arch on a server as really that much "more work".
I run quite a few production servers on Amazon's Ec2 using the arch
image uplinklabs.net provides.

After successful use of a couple not as critical systems, I have now
moved 99% of my servers on there to Arch. The rest have not only due to
me not being done yet, not other reason. The only time it has bitten me
was when there was a change that I knew and read about that I did not
execute properly. So the update failed, image was borked. But that was
my fault for being in a rush and not thinking before pressing enter. The
fix was simple and pretty quick, even made me learn more things about Ec2.

While I see the merit in using more LTS solutions, like Chester I love
the fact that I am always up to date and have the fine grained control.
While I do update more frequently than he does, I am on a once a week
schedule unless there is something major that comes before then.

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