Creating a minimally viable Centos instance for SSH X11 Forwarding

I recently need to setup a CentOS 6.4 vm for development Java development. I wanted to be able to run Eclipse STS and on said vm and display the X11 Windows remotely on my Windows 7 desktop via XMing. I saw no reason for the CentOS VM to have a local X11 server. I’m quite comfortable with the Linux command line. I decided to share briefly on how to go from a CentOS minimal install to something actually useful for getting work done.

  • /usr/bin/man The minimal install installs man pages, but not the man command. This is an odd choice. yum install man will fix that.
  • vim There is a bare bones install of vim included by default that is only accessible via vi. If  you want a more robust version of vim, yum install vim.
  • X11 forwarding You need the xauth package and fonts. yum install xauth will allow X11 forwarding to work. yum groupinstall fonts will install a set of fonts.
  • A terminal for absolute minimal viability yum install xterm will give  you a terminal. I prefer terminator, which is available through rpmforge.
  • RpmForge (now repoforge) Centos is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Therefore it focuses on being a good production server, not a developer environment. You will probably need rpmforge to get some of the packages you want. The directions for adding Rpmforge to your yum repositories are here.
  • terminator This is my terminal emulator of choice. One you added rpmforge, yum install rpmforge
  • gcc, glibc, etc Honestly, you can usually live without these if you stick to precompiled rpms, and you’re not using gcc for development. If you need to build a kernel module, yum install kernel-devel gcc make should get you what out need.

From here, you can install the stuff you need for your development environment for your language, framework, and scm of choice.

A quick guide to installing PHP 5.3 on Redhat Enterprise or Centos 5 machine

I was tempted not to post this article since it is little more than a link to someone elses blog article. However, said article is so useful its worth sharing in a manner more permanent than a tweet.

A while back I was trying to get some PHP code to run on a Redhat Enterprise Linux server. Long story short, the code required PHP 5.3, RHEL does not package PHP 5.3, I didn’t feel like compiling PHP, and it was late Friday afternoon.  So I googled around and discovered that someone made a yum repo of PHP 5.3 binaries. For once things worked magically and I went home at a reasonable hour. Such things rarely happen to me so is worth noting.

I will add a final postscript. If you look at the blog article you will realize that this repo has been maintained for a while. The repo originally contained php 5.2.10, and now contains PHP 5.3.3. Therefore, it seems a safe bet that this repo will continue to be updated.