Anyone Use Manjaro as a Server OS?

I currently use Widows Server 2016 Essentials at home. This made alot of sense many years ago up until recently as my whole household was Windows.

The the short of this post is, does anyone use Manjaro as a server at home? If not why? If so have you found any challenges with it or things it lacks vs other distros as a sever?

Following is the long story, should you care to read on...

I first chose Windows Server Essentials (at the time 2012 R2, later 2016) as I was most comfortable with Windows and wanted my server to be stable. In other words this wasn't a play-thing for me to tinker with, I wanted to set it up and then have it "just work". I also knew if something went wrong, I was much better equipped at the time to resolve it under Windows than Linux.

As some background, here is what I currently use my server for:

  • Domain Controller
  • Client Backups
  • Client/User File History
  • File Server
  • Media Server via Plex
  • Media "acquisition" in an automated fashion (I dont want to go into detail about this part, needless to say I know this can be done the same in Linux)
  • Automated VPN connection on Windows Clients allowing access to Server Shares (doesnt redirect internet traffic afaik) **I can live without this as my router is an OpenVPN server
  • Occasionally VM's, however this is something I would like to do much more of

So I am well aware most of this I can do on just about any flavor of Linux. To be honest, I dont really have a compelling reason to change, and likely wont for the short term. It basically boils down to not supporting MS anymore, shifting to something that may be more secure and reducing cost.

I would likely change the OS when I get new hardware. I currently run in a Fractal design node 304 (ITX case with 6x 3.5" HDD bays), Intel i5-4430, 8GB DDR3, 3x 1GB NIC's, 4x 4TB WD Reds, 1x 120GB mSATA SSD for OS.

I would likely go 8c/16t CPU or better when I rebuild, 32GB+ RAM, at least 2x 1GBe NIC's, reuse 4x HDD's. Likely an SSD for the OS.

The few hangups I have about moving to a Linux server are:

  • I currently use Stablebit Drivepool software to pool and duplicate some content across my 4x 4TB drives. I have found nothing remotely close to the quality of this software. It has 4 fundamental features/qualities that make it essential to me. 1) It is easy to use/setup, 2) Drives can go in and out of the pool without formatting...they are NTFS in the pool and NTFS out meaning any computer can read the drive if I need to pull it from the server, 3) Duplication can be done on a per folder basis AND be set for how many times to duplicate it as well. In other words 1x for movies (no dup) but 3x for pictures (copies on 3/4 drives) and maybe 2x for Documents 4) It has practically 0 overhead...it works to me, no different than if it was a single physical drive. No caching and writing later, no penalties in terms of read/write, etc.
  • While there are plenty of options for backup, I am not sure as I havent looked into imitating Windows File History. I am sure it could be done but in Windows its so simple to implement.
  • The best way to actually share folders with a mixed set of client machines (do I do SMB, etc)

I am also considering maybe doing ESXi as the base, and running VM's to handle different parts of my overall criteria. It would allow me to compartmentalize roles, reduce the downtime with failure (on the software side) and free up resources for things not actively in use. It would also complicate the setup and may be more expensive getting hardware compatible with ESXi.

So again, in ending would Manjaro be a good fit as a server OS at all, and if so for my needs/use case?

Thanks

There were already some threads with this topic. As Manjaro is a rolling release, it is not the best pick for a server OS. If the services running on it are not crtical and an outage of few days does not matter, you can give it a try anyway. Here some links to older topics, maybe you can read tgrough:


https://archived.forum.manjaro.org/t/can-manjaro-be-used-as-www-server/13231?u=phrosgone

I am sure if you use the search, you will find some more information as well.

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I appreciate the links, however my question wasnt "can it be done". Thats obvious, I know it can be. My question was more along the lines of anyone having practical experience doing so.

I also am aware it likely isnt the "best" option for doing a server, but I was wondering if despite that people did it anyway and what the take-away was; worth it, more trouble than it should be, x is better on Manjaro but y is better on other distro, works perfectly well as a server, etc.

I have the most exposure to CentOS in server environments but honestly find it to be a little archaic. I get that in some environments stability is #1 and its rock solid. In those environments its also usually paired with server grade hardware, well supported by the OEMs on Linux and typically not cutting edge either.

However at home I am not likely to use server grade hardware (unless maybe I go ESXi) and may benefit from some more "cutting edge" things like newer kernels/drivers/patches, etc that something like Manjaro may offer.

Some downtime is ok as it not for work but personal use, but I wouldn't want to do something like go unstable branch for it lol. Of course in a perfect world it would just work without issue, but reality is I expect to have to fix things from time to time.

The upside of the rolling release would be never needing to completely reinstall the OS to upgrade. Especially important as options for migrating data off the server and back on are limited and time consuming. As an example I have only had to do so 1 time since having my current server when I went from Server 2012 to 2016.

In any case I appreciate the links and will review them.

I will echo the matter that running a rolling release distro like Manjaro for a server is a bad idea.
Sure for a rolling distro Manjaro can be very solid but arch is what it is based on and arch can be well... unreliable.

As archaic as say CentOS or debian are they are the rock for many for a reason.

For a server personally I would choose debian, it is the Gibraltar of linux distros.

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You need lots of free time.

The problem I have with Manjaro/Arch on a Server is that you need to test everything after an update. And there are a lot of updates.
With an update you might get a new version, which might has a new function or do things a little bit differently. Sometimes you need to update your config or a service won't work. If you forget to change a config it might work but after the next update it might fail.
Also a program might stop working with another application. And you need to start to debug why noting is working as it was before a update.

RHEL/Debian/SUSE use older versions, but the important thing is they don't change within a release. You set it up and it will work even with updates. The updates are usually only security updates. No new versions or functions. So you set it up and it will work until you update the release, than you need often change some configs and need to do some test. But this every 3 or 5 or 10 years. Not every week.

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As exemple.. If you run nextcloud server on manjaro it was working fine until php was updated to php 7.2 as nextcloud don't run on it.. so your server application may stop working for few days or more after an update.. now Arch put php 7.1 as alternative but I don't know how many times it tooks.

So things like that may happen.
I have a server.. and I choosed Ubuntu for this kind of reason and also because I want my server to work without too much maintenance.. I just want it work and "forget" about it.

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I'll chime in with the rest and say I would use something long term stable rather than manjaro for a server. I love manjaro for my desktop, but I think it's the wrong tool for a server gig for the reasons already stated by others. Don't worry about having to reinstall to upgrade, I've run an ubuntu server since 2010 and it's still going strong. If push comes to shove and you HAVE to reinstall, you just disconnect your data drives to avoid accidents, pop a fresh OS on your root drive and mount the data drives again once everything looks nice. Normally you can get away with just doing a distro upgrade every 3-4 years or so without having to reinstall.

Looking at your hardware lists I'm a bit puzzled. What do you need all the muscle for? I would be looking at power consumption and the number of sata ports rather than a ton of ram and a monster cpu.

My file server runs on an old atom board with plenty of sata ports. The main objective is to be able to put plenty of hard drives in there, the atom cpu has plenty of power to fully saturate my gigabit lan so no need for anything more powerful than that. Ram isn't even much on a issue for basic file operations, downloading, streaming movies and stuff like that.

If you run a webshop with a huge database of items for sale THEN you need a powerful cpu and plenty of ram to quickly generate the lists your customers are looking for, but for home use the main bottleneck is the lan card.

Just to give you a couple of examples:

My file server runs on an atom d510 with 8 gigs of ram and has no issues saturating a gigabit connection.

I also have a small server with a Celeron N3150 and 8 gigs of ram that I use for a bit of virtualization. It runs Proxmox as a hypervisor and on that I run a webserver, server for torrenting, one running crashplan for backup, one that runs a tv recording server, a radius server and a ubiquity controller. Cpu load averages out at 13%.

My newest server is a Dell R210ii with a Xeon E3-1220 cpu and 16 gigs of ram, it's installed with Proxmox too and currently runs pfsense in a virtual machine to take care of my routing tasks. The cpu load barely registers, it's way overpowered for the task. It has a quad NIC card installed for a total of 6 x 1 GB network cards, I plan to have some fun setting up a proper DMZ and a vlan for my servers and stuff like that and in time it might also pick up some of the tasks from the N3150 machine so I can use that for something else. Migrating a virtual machine from one proxmox server to another is really easy, just do a backup of the vm on the original proxmox, shut the vm down, move the backup image to the new proxmox server, restore it and everything is exactly as it used to be.

The R210 draws around 30 Watts with an SSD and a HDD, the D510 with 6 x HDD is around 35 W and the N3150 is something like 15W which means it's no real problem to keep them running 24/7.

ESXi is really nice but costs money, I recommend taking a look at Proxmox, it's free and is basically KVM and QEMU on top of an ubuntu server installation, really easy to set up and manage.

So even though an 8c/16t cpu is nice and all, they usually come with a hefty power bill so unless you're getting into some seriously heavy lifting it really shouldn't be necessary - I'd look at power consumption and sata ports instead.

I use 2 laptops as mediacentres. TVHeadend on each with 2 USB-DVB-T2 cards each. That way I can record and watch TV anywhere (I sometimes watch the news in the bath with an android tablet running Kodi in a ziploc-bag).
With TVHeadend I can check all programs, program recordings etc. in a browser and this also works in mobile devices. However I have both blocked for access from outside my LAN.

I do have a NAS as well. I do not want a server, just gets too complicated.
For TVHeadend I think Manjaro is excellent.

Message received guys. I would be better off using a distro intended for use as a server OS.

I presume you mean the considerations for future hardware, not my current server?

Primarily its regarding running VM's. My current setup handles all my needs except running multiple VM's.

Nope its free for the base version (which should be enough for my use):
https://my.vmware.com/en/web/vmware/evalcenter?p=free-esxi6

I could however use KVM as I am comfortable working with it as well. Ill have to check out Proxmox though sounds interesting.

Thanks

While learning to set up servers, I trained on my manjaro installation. Setting up LEMP or LAMP stack for nextcloud was way easier than in centos, mostly because I'm more familiar with manjaro/arch, because centos repos were so small and because the software was so old that it caused compatibility issues.

Arch website runs on arch linux, so using rolling release for server is possible. Just

  1. minimize the points of breakage by having minimal installation. Server has no need for desktop environment, you can ssh into it from another machine if you want to manage it more comfortably
  2. do a bit of research before updating. If you know something is going to break (for an example, afore mentioned php7.2 nextcloud situation), hold the update until issue goes away, or ignore that package in update.
  3. change i/on scheduler. Manjaro is optimized for desktop responsiveness instead of pure performance, so you might want to optimize it for server workloads instead
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Manjaro is a fantastic desktop OS, but I would NEVER recommend a rolling release for a server. Older packages don’t always mean a bad system. Likewise newer packages don’t always mean the best.

I use CentOS for my home server simply because I work with RHEL. But really Debian would be almost as good and probably easier for most people to setup as a home server.

Same for me. However something about CentOS 7 being on kernel idk... 3.10 or something bothers me and seems to be problematic with newer hardware.

Is there a server OS thats stable on the latest 4.x LTS officially? I know I can update the CentOS kernel via 3rd party repos but wouldnt want to for a server.

I don’t know any off the top of my head. My home server is an old IBM X3200 server I managed to snag from work for free when we were doing upgrades on a site.

You could always enable the ELRepo, it’s pretty stable and I’ve never had issues with it in CentOS but I’ve never tried a kernel.

I know of a number of people using Arch, Manjaro's daddy-distro, in a client/server or file/server scenario. These are mostly all professional people. Their use-case is probably different from yours.

SuSE leap. It's the current free equivalent of sles, like centos is for rhel. It is also stable, but has noticeably newer software than centos.

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Okay, how many and what kind of VMs do you intent to run? I'm running 7-8 VMs on a puny Celeron N3150 so I would think your current quad core i5 would have that easily beaten, unless of course you run really heavy tasks on your VMs?

Don't get me wrong, an 8c/16t cpu is cool and all, I just struggle to see a scenario for home use where you get even close to using all that potential. I've been virtualizing everything I've ever fancied on much, much less powerful hardware.

Then again, building a beast of a server IS fun, so don't let me stop you.. :slightly_smiling_face:

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At one point I was making packages to automatically setup server just by installing a package (manjaro-lamp, manjaro-lemp). However, I was suggested to use ansible for this task instead.

I think you touch most direcrtly on the "home use" vs "beast of a server" i.e. "near professional" use. If the "server" is intended for home practice of professional solutions (i.e. with guaranteed uptime, possible SLAs etc.) than I'd go for one of the community versions of professionally used production environements (Debian, Red hat/Centos, Ubuntu or Opensuse). They all support keeping an LTS-version running 24/7 while patching/updating. Trade-off is that they limit freedom of ad-hoc interventions and run outdated client-software.

If you want to practice installing professional software, without the full setup you can just accept a Desktop install (like Manjaro and several others) and accept that the reliability will be lower. If I run updates I know that I can check if a may be interrupting a TV-recording, for example. I generally rely on a. if it is really important I'll remember it. b. although close to 100% uptime, I know I occasionally reboot after updates. I am also aware that occasionally I may need to intervene after updates or in exceptional circumstances (powerglitches, disks running low on space etc.).
Do you really need a server in the house? If it is that important do you have UPSs etc as well? Kensington locks to prevent theft? etc. etc.

I ran a desktop with a number of server vms for home use on Manjaro for over a year. Since it was not mission critical downtime was not an issue. I ran it on stable and had one laptop on testing, and one on unstable. i could track problems coming down the pike, and figure out a mitigation strategy ahead of time. It was certainly more time intensive than running Debian, but it was rewarding since I was using it as a learning platform and had limited resources that fit my needs for experimentation. I only stopped using it because I lucked into some donated hardware that is now a fairly decent desktop (FX8350 16gb RAM 512gb SSD) so my original desktop/server is now a 24/7 Freenas Rig. Everything else I have running on Manjaro. I have very few problems not resolved within days at worst.

So do I recommend it? It depends really on whether it is mixed use. Mixed use, I recommend it wholeheartedly. Latest GNS3, latest KVM, latest kernels, you are constantly able to do things that on a server distro like Debian or Centos you might be waiting a year, two, three or more. As a dedicated server, I don't know if I would, simply because of the additonal maintenance. As it is I am considering scaling back to Debian on some items I dont touch everyday or every week just due to the problems that can arise from not updating in a long time. The longer you go, the more likely problems will occur when you finally do.

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Why not have the best of both worlds? A rock solid, stable hypervisor as the main OS and then running the newest and the latest stuff in VMs?

If you install something like manjaro straight on the "metal" and then virtualize, you risk breaking everything including taking down your VMs when you update the main system.

If on the other hand you install something reliable and "boring" on the "metal", debian with kvm, esxi, something that "runs forever" you can virtualize a bunch of manjaro VMs and have them do all sorts of exciting stuff, hell you can even clone a VM before updating it, that way you can check out if the newest patch broke something and either keep the new version or shut it down and go back to the old while you figure out whats wrong with the new.

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