I run a small server with Debian Woody (I upgraded it from Potato, but I am not planning to upgrade it to Sarge by now, as it works OK). As to date it shows an uptime of "21:34:53 up 236 days, 7:50, 2 users, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00".
It has been 4 years since I installed Debian on this Pentium III running at 750 MHz (no brand). Main uses for this server are (in no particular order):
- File and printer sharing via Samba.
- Dial-up internet sharing for my wife, my son and daughter, and me.
- Apache, Mysql and PHP, test system for my office work.
- Music repository where my sons save their (paid for) CDs.
- Automatic backup to CD for all members' info, which reside in a spare disk mounted as "home". CD is swapped every night in order to have a 6 day backup system.
Last time this server was down it was due to a Hard disk failure. But when the IDE CD recorder failed by last Christmass, I decided to try to replace it without bringing power down and, guess what? It worked! (Obviously, I took a series of steps in preparation for something going wrong).
I Use a Dell Latitude carrying a Pentium 3 500 MHz with 128 MB RAM and a 12 GB hard disk for work. It came with win2k preinstalled, so I shrank the windows partition to 2 GB and left the rest for Debian Sarge. I installed Icewm as my windows manager, and OpenOffice,Org plus Netscape 7.2 and Firefox 1.5. I use Vim for most of my programming (PHP, Perl, Bash), and I enjoy it very much. This machine also runs Apache, PHP, MySql and Samba, as I use it as a server in presentations for potential customers.
The rest of my family work with windows 98 and 2k in their machines, which I have managed to keep working for some years with almost no hassle. They use OpenOffice.Org 2.0 and Firefox 1.5.
Well, I own a small IT service providing shop and, to my satisfaction, I have set up over 20 servers running Debian with an assortment of services on top of it, from file sharing to database handling (MySql of course), and supporting somewhere between 6 and 120 users. They are very stable and applications never fail. Failures are always on the side of hardware. They don't require a lot of attention to keep working. Two of them are some 200 miles away from my location, and I pay them only two or three visits a year, in order to check everything is working OK. I always teach my customers to do maintenance tasks, such as software upgrades, by themselves.
By all means, I have refused to install, or even support windows servers (ok, that's what they call them, but for me, they are just malware distribution systems.) when my customers ask me to. I'd rather hide my customers all important data in a furnace, than trust it to microsoft. If I can't convince them to try Linux, I turn them to other service providers.
It has only been very recently that I started installing Linux for desktops. As of today, they account for no more than a dozen PCs. But, as often as I can, I give my friends and customers' employees copies of two of my favourite distros: Puppy Linux and Knoppix.
My experience with Linux dates from as recent as 4 years, so I still consider myself a newbie. Surely, there is always a lot to learn.