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I have multiple shapefile layers that I intend to use to create a WMS basemap with GeoServer.

What is the best approach for this?

I would first generate raster image from my shapefile layers, then I would generate raster basemap for multiple zoom levels: https://docs.qgis.org/2.8/en/docs/user_manual/processing_algs/gdalogr/gdal_miscellaneous/overviews.html

After that, I would load basemap to postgis database and serve it with geoserver.

Is this a good approach?

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Copy the shapefile vectors to PostGIS (shp2pg) and then add the tables to GeoServer, this allows you to style each layer. Create a layer group to make sure the layers are in the correct order in your basemap.

Connect your client to the layer group via GeoWebCache and your base map tiles will be created on demand. If you need to precache the tiles then you can run a "seeding" job from the GeoWebCache menu.

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