> We have just (in the last month or so) leased a cobalt raq all for our own
> use.  Great.  However, the sites using this box are setup and maintained
> using a web interface that comes as default with the box.  when setting up
> sites (subs or otherwise), it adds sites (and you have to specify users
> those sites) with directory trees like this:

Yeah, getting those babies up and running is easy.  Figuring out where they
do things and how to change it without breaking everything is not so easy

> /home/sites/site1/web
> /home/sites/site2/web
> (etc)
> Obviously, this causes problems (like for the php scripts that are running
> on the current setup, where files are included / required as a part of the
> main directory, and out of the document root (/home/mainsite/includes
> be an example)).

This part is fairly easy and innocuous :-)

/home/sites/site1/web is the same as your old /home/mainsite/www
You can safely put your includes for mainsite in /home/sites/site1 or create
/home/sites/site1/includes and put them there.

Similarly, all your sub sites will have /home/sites/siteX/web and you can
put the include files in /home/sites/siteX/includes.

If you have some "commmon" includes that span all the sub sites, I'd put
them in /home/sites/includes/

But that's just me.  You can put them anywhere that makes sense.

You'll need to find php.ini (Use a <?php phpinfo();?> page to do that) and
change include_path

You may even want to make a chart of "old directory" | "new directory" for
the two boxes until you get the hang of it.

> So, I'd like to learn how to use linux (bearing in mind that I have very
> limited experience of unix based systems).  I can perform the very basic
> commands, but would like to learn how to use / mainpulate the box through
> shell access rather than over a web interface (which ultimately, I'm
> assuming, will give me more flexibility - for example, I'd rather know how
> to install the latest version of php onto the server following the
> installation instructions than to attempt to do it through another

What *I* did was to pretent it was a RedHat box and threw source code into
/usr/src/ and went on with life, but that's only cuz I was more familiar
with RedHat than because it was the right thing to do...

> I've bought a couple of books and hope to delve into them in the course of
> the weekend and the next few weeks to come.  I'm assuming that one of the
> first steps would be to install linux on my home machine and get a feel
> it (currently I'm running windows.... ouch).

Smart move.  RedHat is probably still the easiest to install...

> So, here come the questions.
> Where can I find the latest version of linux?  I have had a brief look at
> freshmeat.net and linux.com, but didn't find any download sections (I
> look too hard, for reasons soon to be explained).

Woof.  You're just asking for a Linux distro argument :-)

There are a dozen (or more) different distributions of Linux with varying
pros and cons.

The more commonly recommended include:

and others I forget.

I'm still gonna stick with the RedHat answer as "easiest" for newbies.  I'm
sure others will weigh in with other opinions.

> If I install linux, can I still use windows as a secondary OS (perhaps
> running over the top of linux?)

You *CAN*, indeed, re-partition your hard drive into two "halves" and
install Linux in the new "half" that you stole from Windows.

> If I can run windows as well as linux, am I best formatting my main drive,
> installing linux, then windows?

Well, if you don't have either on the box yet, I think you install Windows
first, cuz it's more stupid about installing, and would wipe out Linux.  (Or
maybe that's by evil design...)

At any rate, there's a http://www.Linux-HowTo.org or somesuch that will have
detailed instructions on dual-boot installation

> Is the httpdconf file one of the main files i need to confifure for sites,
> or are there many others (I've read a little about setting users up in vi
> and will read more on that, but are there mounds of files that you need to
> configure when setting up a new virtual site?)

Honestly, if you're using a Cobalt RaQ, you're *probably* best off to just
keep using that to add acounts/sites for now on the real server.

On your development box, you need to edit httpd.conf (and only httpd.conf)
to create a new Host.

You usually want to create a new user on the machine (or at least an FTP
user, if you don't provide shell access [ick!]) to associate with that site.

man adduser

will tell you all about that, and it's probably also in that Linux how to
site.  (Most everything is)

In fact, I'd suggest you bookmark that one, and use it.  Most of these
instructions there are targetted at your level :-)   Though you may find
that to do X, you need to do Y, which requires Z, and back track quite a bit
before you get to something that makes sense. :-)

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