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.