Switcher Guides

Recently, I had to futz with an Ubuntu server that was to run mail, web, and database services.

You slowly learn that Ubuntu as a desktop is easy to use, but as a server, its “different”, if you come from a Red Hat based background (especially if you’ve been using Red Hat-based distributions for the last thirteen years or so).

From example, while service httpd start works (well, the equivalent is service apache start), enabling things on boot using chkconfig (I wrote about it a while back) is replaced with update-rc.d.

In fact, if you’re an rpm aficionado, dpkg is a little different. I applaud the Ubuntu folk for creating an article such as Switching to Ubuntu from Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Fedora. Impressive. Switcher guides :)

OpenSolaris needs switcher guides. svcadm/smf is different for someone who’s coming from Linux-land.


  1. angch says:

    Different yes, but a with a number of convenient features for sysadmins imho. bash tab completion are more complete and intelligent; apache2 files are sanely split (c.f. Debian) in smaller files with a number of helper scripts to manage large number of vhosts.

    Apache2 config itself nicely documented at https://help.ubuntu.com/8.04/serverguide/C/httpd.html Note the a2(en|dis)(mod|site) helper scripts.

    Just tweaked the switch guide. Works great as a cheat sheet, learnt a few things myself.

  2. byte says:


    I do agree, apache2 on Ubuntu is a lot more complete… I especially like a2enmod (though I can obviously enable this on RHEL based systems with a little vim usage :P)

    Beauty of a wiki, you can edit it too! Go forth and make the switchers proud

  3. James says:

    Since Debian is the universal operating system, you can install chkconfig if you so desire.

  4. Ian says:

    Not quite right. A couple of gotchas from the manpage of update-rc.d:

    Please note that this program was designed for use in package maintainer scripts and, accordingly, has only the very limited functionality required by such scripts. System administrators are not encouraged to use update-rc.d to manage runlevels. They should edit the links directly or use runlevel editors such as sysv-rc-conf and bum instead.

    A common system administration error is to delete the links with the thought that this will “disable” the service, i.e., that this will prevent the service from being started. However, if all links have been deleted then the next time the package is upgraded, the package’s postinst script will run update-rc.d again and this will reinstall links at their factory default locations. The correct way to disable services is to configure the service as stopped in all runlevels in which it is started by default. In the System V init system this means renaming the service’s symbolic links from S to K.

  5. Adam Monsen says:

    Cool! Thanks for the heads-up about the switcher guide. I’m pretty excited about Upstart, too.