TheSSS: World's Smallest Server Suite


Staff Entrance

The distribution comes with scripts that start the individual services and applications. For example, httpd start launches the web server, whereas httpd stop shuts it down. The default web server here is Tiny Server (thttpd); its configuration file is located below /etc/httpd/thttpd.conf, and the files it serves are located below /srv/http.

Alternatively, administrators can switch to the BusyBox web server. For this purpose, you delete, or simply move, the configuration file for thttpd and call httpd restart. Settings for the BusyBox HTTP daemon, which is then enabled, are available in /etc/httpd/httpd.conf.

Following the same principle, you can launch all the other supported services. Table 1 gives an overview of the main services, their start commands, and the locations of the configuration files. Using serverd start starts all the supported services at once.

Table 1

TheSSS Services

Type Name Start Command Configuration File Website
Firewall 4M Firewall firewall start /etc/firewall/config
FTP server VSFTPD ftpd start /etc/vsftpd/vsftpd.conf (symbolic link to noupload.conf or upload.conf)
Proxy Polipo proxy start /etc/polipo/polipo.conf
SSH server SSHD from OpenSSH sshd start /etc/ssh/ssh-server.conf
Telnet Telnet service from BusyBox telnetd start
Database MariaDB Automatically with the web server /etc/my.cnf
Web server Tiny Server (thttpd) httpd start /etc/httpd/thttpd.conf
  BusyBox HTTP daemon httpd start /etc/httpd/httpd.conf

The Polipo proxy server listens by default on port 8123 and stores any cached pages in /var/cache/polipo. In addition to this in-memory operation mode, it can also swap out its data to the hard disk, as well as pass queries through to the outside via the Tor network. To do this, you simply set the mode in the configuration file to disk or tor.

The FTP server by default only supports file downloads. Uploading is only possible if you modify the configuration with the upload command. By default, the server allows anonymous access without a password and provides the files below /var/ftp/.

The PHP version of TheSSS also includes the MariaDB database, which is automatically launched with the web server. You can then access the Adminer web front end on http://localhost/adminer.php . Incidentally, the same startup scripts are available for all variants of TheSSS. If a service is missing in your flavor, the script just notifies you.


The antivir script automatically downloads the ClamAV antivirus program from an archive hosted on Dropbox and updates the signature data. After the install, you decide how ClamAV should deal with suspicious files; it then automatically starts a scan of all files. The starting point is the root directory /, and the virus scanner checks all connected hard drives.

TheSSS also offers a few well-known monitoring tools. Nmon provides general system information (Figure  3), and Netwatch observes network activity. The nmonitor script serves up this and all the other monitoring tools for you to choose from.

Figure 3: TheSSS comes with monitoring tools such as Nmon, which provides an overview of network traffic.

Midnight Commander simplifies the process of working with files; you can launch it by typing mc (Figure  4). Links is a rudimentary browser that runs in text mode, similar to Lynx.

Figure 4: Midnight Commander helps with file management on the console.

Typing backup starts a minimalist backup program, which first asks whether you want to store the files to be backed on a USB flash drive or an FTP server. Then, it simply starts Midnight Commander, in which the user then painstakingly copies the files to be backed up by hand. Using fsbackup simply backs up the content of one partition on another.

If you take a liking to TheSSS, you can install it on your hard disk with install2hd. You simply pass in an existing target partition to the script, in which it then creates a new ext4 filesystem – without any options for user intervention – and installs TheSSS. If you want to repartition your disk first, TheSSS provides the fdisk and cfdisk tools for this purpose. The target partition must be at least 1GB.

The bootloader TheSSS uses is the outdated LILO. If any other operating systems exist on your computer, the task of setting up a boot manager like GRUB is left to the user. The installation script installs LILO in the boot sector of the target partition.


TheSSS is the right choice if you need one of the services it provides in a hurry. Even if the THTTP web server cannot compete with Apache or Nginx, the range of functions is fine for most purposes on an intranet. In return, TheSSS – thanks to its small size – also runs on underpowered systems or systems working close to full load. Many administrators, however, are likely to miss their preferred tools.

The backup programs can also hardly be described as such; if you seriously want to back up your data, you would do better to choose a distribution that provides better support.

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