When you lease a dedicated server, your hosting provider makes available a server
installed with your choice of Linux distribution (Fedora, Centos, FreeBSD, etc.). An initial login
user (either root or a user name with root authority) and password is provided for your first secure
To manage a dedicated server yourself efficiently, you will need to set up the home directories,
transfer and organize data and application files for your web pages, start the required services
to support the secure transfer of data from a remote location to your server, set up the database
and email access, to name a few. It may sound like a lot of work but once it is set up, a Linux
dedicated server can run for months without manual intervention after all required administration
functions are automated.
You can become a skilled Linux administrator over time by learning and trying administrative commands
on your own. There are no fixed ways to get a task completed, so pick a method that makes sense to you.
There are many excellent examples and explanations for each command on the Internet. You need to
understand how each command works rather than just blindly copy and modify a provided example.
This section covers the basic administrative tasks that you are most likely encountered to set up a
working environment for your server.
Customize the console prompt.
Linux commands, programs and applications when properly installed are stored in the directory
/bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, /usr/sbin, /usr/local/bin, or /usr/local/sbin. If your initial shell does
not seem to be able to find the needed commands, you will need to append the appropriate path to
the environment variable PATH
as in the following example:
By default the command prompt displays the user name, the hostname, the current working directory
with a $ prompt. If this format is too long or annoying to you, you can change quickly the appearance
of the prompt, including the use of colors as following.
PS1='\! \u \w % '
PS1="\e[0;32m[\! \u \w]% \e[m "
For detailed explanations of the meaning of each above parameter, search the Internet using the keyword:
changing linux shell prompt
. You will find many excellent articles covering this topic.
Change the root password.
It is important that the root password must be carefully guarded, and all programs and scripts that
may expose the use of the root password must be protected as well. You need to change the original
root password supplied to connect to your server the very first time. You may also want to delete
any initial non-root user names supplied by your hosting provider.
In unavoidable cases when you must reveal your current root password to your hosting provider to
perform server maintenance functions, it is a good practice to change the root password immediately
after the maintenance is done. Your server integrity is protected and its files cannot be accessed
by anyone even if one has physical access to it.
The following commands create a new root password. The new password must be retyped to avoid mistyping.
Strong passwords should have at least seven or eight characters with no repetition of letters or numbers.
You should pick a password which is not dictionary-based, easy for you to remember but very difficult
for others to figure out. The user root should be disallowed to log in the server directly via the
secure shell (ssh).
[email@example.com ~]$ su
[firstname.lastname@example.org brucelee]# passwd
Changing password for user root.
New UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:
passwd: all authentication tokens updated successfully.