Looking for advice for creating a linux database server.

I have a MySQL database that I’d like to host on a LAN server using some kind of Linux distro but I’m not entirely sure where to start as I’ve not really used Linux before. I’d like the 2 hard drives to be in RAID 1 and encrypted, so in order to avoid the users having to do anything can I just use a pen drive with a keyfile on it and have the server automatically start up using that? The server is just a normal desktop computer, which will not have a monitor or keyboard/mouse connected to it so I need to be able to access it across the LAN, but I don’t have any terminal experience etc, is there a remote desktop like solution and is there is a particular distro that is best suited to my needs?

Do you NEED full disk encryption … or just the /home partition ?

There ARE remote desktop solutions.

Distro choice … If you’re just starting with Linux, I’d suggest something based on Ubuntu (tons of available help/documentation) but as it’s going to be headless probably not Ubuntu itself as it’s desktop UI is a bit heavy on resources.

I’ll probably get shot down for suggesting this as I’m a member of “Team Peppermint”, but Peppermint strikes me as a good solution here … it’s Ubuntu based, but has a very light desktop and doesn’t come with a ton of unnecessary applications pre-installed.
(I’d probably suggest Peppermint 3 rather than Peppermint 4 … simply because it’s based on an Ubuntu long term support release, so will be supported for longer)

That said, if the hardware can easily handle a heavier desktop UI, maybe Ubuntu itself would be a better solution … it comes with some extra bells and whistles (which is why its heavier) which may help with initial configuration.

I thought the OP was looking for a headless server solution.
Would the Ubuntu server edition not suffice?

Ubuntu server would be much better, running a GUI on a server is generally not ideal …

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It doesn’t need full disk encryption, but I do need the database to be encrypted and the server to automatically turn on in the morning and go into standby in the evening without any user intervention which is something I know full disk encryption allows for as I do the same thing on my home computer with truecrypt installed.

I’ve tried installing linux mint with the Xfce desktop (which I am told is lightweight) however it always fails to install the bootloader on the primary boot partition of the raid array, I’m told this is a problem that affects ubuntu installers in general with them not recognising raid arrays. Is peppermint easy to install in this respect?

As to the question of desktop or not on a headless server, I want this up and running as fast as possible without having to learn the linux terminal commands and syntax. Performance is not really an issue here as there are so few users on the site.

The Peppermint installer will be the same one as the Ubuntu one … but both will give you the option to encrypt the home folder and swap partition as part of the installation … so it’s a pity it won’t install to your RAID array.

The Ubuntu “alternate install” disk image may work with your array, but I’m not sure if that gives the option for encrypted home/swap during the installation.

I’m sure the newer Ubuntu installers can cope with RAID arrays now - but reading the OP again, it suggests that the OS should be installed to the pen drive, with the RAID array mounting at boot (possibly holding the /home partition). Problem is, you’d need to leave the pen drive in the machine at all times that way, unless you run from RAM, but you’d need a fair bit of RAM to do this without crashing. It’s safer to get a small cheap HDD/SSD just to hold the OS, outside of the RAID.

If this RAID hasn’t been created yet, are we looking at mdadm (Mark)? Not sure if the installer supports creating the RAID at install time…

Also, I’m thinking a LiveCD/USB would be best, but a remastered one. You could modify the fstab to mount the RAID on boot, and you could perform updates then remaster again, repeatedly. Although performance might be a bit crummy, unless you can set it to run from RAM (like you can with Puppy). Thoughts?

Ubuntu does handle RAID arrays from the installer … however you might not want to use the facility as the options is uses aren’t always as intelligent as you might hope … for example I always use RAID10 and always create from the command line following the installation after marking the relevant disks as “software RAID” devices as part of the install.

mdadm --create /dev/md0 --level 10 -n3 -pf2 --chunk=64k /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd

… if the installer allows for the critical “-pf2” now, then I’ve not seen it.