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2014-12-19

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Introduction

Eisfair is a Linux based server system with the main target of easy installation and easy usage. The installation and the usage does not need Linux skills and is with simple and - very important - consistent tools possible.

Intention is the installation of an internet server with the main focus on the applications and services and not the operating system itself.

The average user is overstrained by the enormous functionality of modern Linux distributions like SuSE and already the first step on such a system, choose the packages to install, is mostly a challenge he can't solve. Exactly on this point should eisfair support the user. The available Linux or Unix applications features their well engineered state and stability during their usage on one side but on the other side they are all different in their installation procedures and of course their configuration. Every piece of software has it's own style. The applications for the eisfair server use always the same tool for their configuration. With this approach the effort on learning how to use the system is minimized.

To reach this aim with the available applications a configuration framework was designed which is located between the administration level and the applications itself. This framework transfers a eisfair style configuration into the format the application requires. With this procedure it is possible to use the available internet services without the need to read the whole documentation of a special application. The handicap of such a method is that maybe not every feature of a program is available or usable. But this could be accepted if the functionality of a typical server system is required. In fact it is possible to ask the author of a eisfair package for a special feature and with the target of developing the eisfair system the most wishes where fulfilled.

The eisfair configuration is mapped into ASCII files which use a consistent format. Any modification of these files is possible with a normal text editor like joe or vi, ECE (the eisfair configuration editor) or with the webfrontend which comes soon.

The demand on ressources is as low as possible to bring up the server in a minimal amount of time. The hardware requirement are low too. The guide for this is the partner project fli4l from which the concept of this came.

Characteristics of the operating system

  • Simple installation of the base system with an approximately 50MB (eisfair-1) or 150MB (eisfair-ng) CD-ROM
  • Installation and update of more packages via internet or CD-ROM possible
  • Installation and configuration of applications on the running system without breakdowns
  • Large documentation especially for Linux beginners
  • Large amount of server services available

Varianten

eisfair-1

... basiert auf aus dem Sourcecode selbst├╝bersetzten Programmen und Bibliotheken, alle Programm sind 32bit um einen Server mit verschiedensten Diensten bereitzustellen

eisfair-ng

... basiert auf den Paketen  der Distribution Alpinelinux sowohl in 32bit als auch 64bit und erweitert diese um die einfache eisfair-Konfigurationsschicht um einen Server mit verschiedensten Diensten bereitzustellen

eisXen

... basiert auf Ubuntu 8.04 und stellt nur Pakete zum Betrieb eines XEN basierten Virtualisierungshosts bereit.

Hardware requirements

  • CPU: Pentium 66
  • RAM: 32MB, better 64MB
  • Harddisc: at least 120MB, CompactFlashTM possible later
  • Miscellaneous: NIC for network connection
  • Optional: ISDN or additional NICs to connect to other services like xDSL

These requirements demonstrate the absolute minimum. A lot of packages, like databases, need a more powerful hardware depending on their planned usage. This could be a multiple of the listed facts above.

Internet connection

The recommended usage of eisfair is behind a router and/or a firewall. In not security critical areas the usage as a all-in-one system is possible too. This could be for instance a router or package filter. Features like monitoring and controlling with imond/imonc from the fli4l project are used then.

Routing functionality (optional):

  • Connect to DSL and/or ISDN (later)
  • Masquerading to connect a LAN

For more features look at http://www.fli4l.de.

But once again: Recommended usage is as a server, not router. For routing functionality the partner project fli4l is exactly the right solution.

Diagram chart with fli4l as internet router

Range of application

  • Internet-Server (private or for small business without own IT division)
  • Intranet-Server (Homenetwork, Divisions, et cetera)

Services

Installable applications are:

  • Web server
  • FTP server
  • Mail server
  • News server
  • Name server
  • Different database servers
  • Proxy services
  • Facsimile server
  • Answering machine
  • PBX
  • Samba fileserver
  • Print server

Available programming languages

  • Shell
  • Perl
  • PHP
  • Python
  • C, C++
  • Java

Characteristics

  • Easy installation of the base system through network
  • Installation and Configuration of applications without breakdown
  • Start and stop of services everytime
  • Installation and update of packages through internet

Installation

The installation is supposable easy: Create a boot floppy disc with Windows or Linux, boot the future server and install the neccessary server services on a local storage medium through internet, from a local fileserver or from CD-ROM. Another way is to use the downloadable CD-ROM image. This image is bootable and so the to-be eisfair server can be installed with booting from this CD-ROM.

In the next step the installed services are configured using one of the available editors. This is the ECE for the easy way of configuring. In the future the configuration with a browser will be possible too. This package is under development at the moment.

eisfair as Project

The enormous grown amount of server solutions for fli4l has shown that there is a huge need for a easy to configure (internet-) server system. Because of this and because of the fact that fli4l should never be a server system the project was split into two parts in spring 2001.

Now it is another project beside fli4l which extends the business activities in a perfect way. The main objective is to transfer a lot of user solutions from fli4l to eisfair. Another objective is the usage of other applications which can't be used on fli4l because of technical or other reasons. 

A main motive on this is to free fli4l from the server part which has nothing to do with a router. In some cases this could lead so security vulnerability and other problems.

Frank Meyer <frank [at] eisfair [dot] org>; Yves Schumann