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  1. #1

    File Server- Questions before I start

    I have a project I want to do over my spring break and I'm starting by researching it now. I want to convert an older computer of mine (Gateway, Intel processors 1.8 gigahertz, 512mb RAM, one 40 gig hard drive and one 80 gig hard drive) into a server for my two other computers a Toshiba Laptop running xp, and a IMAC Intel Core Duo. I'd like to store my school and important /sentimental files, which would consist of microsoft office files, pictures, home movies, etc, on a server (the gateway) so that no matter what happens to my computers I'll still have my files, and I can access them from both computers with out having to have duplicate copies of them.

    This is the right reasons to want a server right?

    So I have the three computers, and I have a Netgear router. I have "experimented" with Linux in the past, and I've found it to be agreeable but I much prefer my Imac for my desktop, but I think if I could get it set up properly a linux distro would make a bang-up server.

    On to the Question

    What distro would be best for this?

    Is there a file system I could use for the server that make it readable by both the xp laptop and the Imac (OS X) machine?

    Would there be any way for me to "administrate" the server from the other computers (the xp laptop and the Imac) so I wouldn't have to plug it up to a monitor and keyboard everytime I needed to change something?

    Is there a way to configure it so that I wouldn't need to have a monitor hooked up the computer all the time? ex. I turn the "server" on and after it boots up it starts functioning as a file server without me having to type in any commands or click on anything.

    How much more complicated would it be to also make this an ftp server so I could access my files "on the road".

    Thanks if anybody replies, I'm just doing the research now, I'm not going to start this project until March.

    I am not well versused in using the command line.

    I'd be willing to buy a program that'd help me set this up, if the for money program is truely superior and easy but of course cost less than putting windows 2000 pro on the computer.

  2. #2
    Linux Guru Cabhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Seattle, WA, USA

    Regarding the filesystem, it depends. If you intend to write to it from Windows (like, say, mounting as a network drive), I assume that you'd need it formatted as FAT, such that all your OS's can access it. However, if you intend to SSH into it (see below for that), then you should be able to use the usual ext3, since it would be Linux that is doing the actual writing.

    As far as a distro, you're looking at a fairly minimal installation (as in, no X, no Internet, none of that jazz). I'd probably recommend Debian for a job like this, as there's not even a need to install a compiler. I'd just as quickly recommend Gentoo, except that its emphasis on customization would kind of be wasted on a storage machine. But it's up to you, really.

    As far as remotely administrating, just set up SSH and you should be able to do this easily.

    Running it without a monitor, just ensure that your bootloader has a timeout (even if that timeout is 0), such that it will turn on and boot properly without you needing to select what to boot into.

    I don't know much about FTP servers, so I'll stay out of that one.

    Hope this helps!

  3. #3
    Yes that helps.
    I just noticed that I put this in the applications thead and I meant to put it in the server thread...

    I 'm not exactly sure how to ask what I want. Most important thing I want to do is be able to access the files from either computer, easily. But I'd also like to be able to easily add files to the server from either computer. If SSH will let me do that then graeat.

    [noob]what is ssh?[/noob]

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Linux Guru Cabhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Seattle, WA, USA
    SSH is "Secure Shell", and is a way for a person to login remotely to a computer. It is very similar to telnet, except that telnet sends everything (including passwords) as plain text, while SSH uses encryption.

    As far as file transfers, you might look into SFTP as a means for doing this, which, as you might guess, is a secure FTP connection.

    As far as the actual implementation of this, OpenSSH is the one I hear of mostly. For the record, I've never actually set up SSH before, but I'm sure you can find guides on doing it around the Internet. OpenSSH comes with both ssh and sftp clients.

  6. #5
    Linux Guru AlexK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    You could also setup the gateway computer as a Samba Server, this way the server will appear like any other windows/Mac client on the workgroup. You can setup various shares on the server which will appear as shares on the Windows/mac computers.

    For filesystems, you can use any Linux filesystem and even FAT.

    For a distro, personally I just stick gentoo on my servers thus leaving a lot of free space. if this is your first time, you could try SUSE, Fedora, Mandriva and install samba on it, but be warned, these distros come with a lot of additional bloat, more suited for a desktop system rather than a server. Also, like Cabhan said, Debian would also suit your purposes.

    If you like idea of Samba server, here is a little howto on the subject of setting up a samba fileserver.

    For remote admin of the server, you could install and setup webmin.
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