In our business transactions benchmarking tests, Canonical's Ubuntu Server 9.0.4 was nearly as fast as the closest Linux cousin we've reviewed recently
- Free and open source, fast
- Doesn't give much information about how to enable additional authentication methods, doesn't enforce strong passwords
Ubuntu Server reminds us of the Xenix, UnixWare, and even early SunOS and Solaris version that were targeted toward VARs and vertical market 'solutions' platforms. There are a lot of choices that arrive in the Ubuntu distribution, and it's based on Debian, which is known to be less experimental than other Linux distributions. It's fast, utilitarian, and among the first Linux distros to link to clouds and clusters using standard components. Ubuntu Server's not so much lightweight, as just a little loose and fast in places.
Ubuntu Server: what we didn't like
Out of habit, we use strong passwords, but Ubuntu doesn't by default enforce them. We found it ironic that we could encrypt user 'home' directories, but their passwords could be junk.
Ubuntu Server does support the trend of not allowing a superuser/root to be run by default — meaning that root user tasks must be run by the sudo ('superuser do') root privilege command or a shell launched from it.
Ubuntu Server also features ufw, (the uncomplicated firewall) which can be controlled by the debianconf tool (not included but easily downloaded), and an OEM configuration can be 'pre-seeded' with allowed and rejected ports if desired.
However, more complicated rules (example: acceptance from specific IP ranges or host table sourcing for access rules) don't work until after installation. The upside is that ufw can use Linux iptables for its iptables reject (turn network traffic off to start), but this isn't the default.
Additional authentication methods are available, but Ubuntu doesn't really give much information about how to enable them; it's up to the skills of the installer to make biometric, or proxy authentication methods work. If you want a certificate authority and something like AES encryption with temporal keys, you have to install it yourself, unlike Ubuntu's larger cousins.
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