Daily Archives: 2 May 2006

PC-BSD 1.0

My long-term goal is to have my own web server at home to
host my site. I’m headed down this road because I’m having
problems with my present hosting company, pair.com.
MovebleType (MT), the application that manages my blog page, is
apparently taking too much memory when it creates its web
pages. As a temporary measure, I’ve switched to dynamic
creation of part of my site. This, for now, seems to keep
things stable. But as the number of posts increase, I will
need to switch more of my site to dynamic creation. This is
not something I want to do because it creates a single point
of failure. Namely, the database that holds all the posts.
Under a static system, it doesn’t matter what happens to
MovebleType or the database where posts are stored. If I
choose to switch to something else, the pages created are
still there (although back end stuff like searching wouldn’t

There are, of course, downsides to hosting your own site.
I don’t have the time to go into them but it comes down to
time, reliability, and security. Speaking of which, I don’t
have a lot of time so I’m going to dive right in.

Last night, I downloaded and installed
PC-BSD version 1.0. This is a version of Unix based on
FreeBSD. As you may remember, I’ve been looking for an industrial
strength operating system to host a website and mail server.
I decided to start with what my current web host, pair.com,
uses. Namely, FreeBSD.

But in installing FreeBSD, I found a very barren
landscape. After installing the latest version, I sat there
staring at a blinking command line cursor. That was it.
Nothing was mounted. No applications installed. No KDE or
Gnome. Just an operating system. That’s when I decided I
needed something a little more user friendly if I was to ever
get my own server up and running.

Thus my search for something else. PC-BSD version 1.0 is
one of two efforts (the other being
Desktop BSD, which I will try sometime in the future) to configure
with an more user friendly interface.

I downloaded the single image file and burned it to a CD.
Once done, I installed it to an old 850MHz Celeron system
with 256MB of RAM. The install process took about 35 minutes
(your time may vary), most of which is taken up by the
default install of packages. Once completed, you boot into
the familiar KDE GUI.

While KDE is much better than the command line, you still
have to download and install the applications you plan to run
on your server. In my case, I started with the
Apache web server
. PC-BSD has a version (2.0.54) that you can download, double
click on, and have it installed for you. While this is a very
easy way to install the software, the downside is this is not
the most current version. Thus, you will be missing security
updates that have been made since the release of this
version. Although using the pre-configured PC-BSD version
certainly is user friendly, I have a nagging feeling I will
end up trying to compile the latest Apache server from source
code so I can keep it up-to-date.

But for now, I’ll be spending my time learning how to run
this version of Apache. Once I get past that, I’ll move on to
installing MySQL and MT. Next up after that will be a mail

As mentioned, I don’t have a lot of time to work on this
project so reports on this will come as and when I can.

UPDATE: Who knew? There is a ready made file called PAMP that includes Apache, MySQL, and PHP all in one clickable install file for PC-BSD. Now, all I have to do is uninstall Apache and then install PAMP.