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  1. #1

    Worth installing Linux on "file server"?

    I (we) have: 2 desktop macs (osx 10.4) , 1 windows laptop (xp home) and a pentium 3 midtower i built years back (currently has old install of xp pro, don't have disks though)

    I want to: use midtower as a mini file server to store and backup my photography library for work as well as keep music and video centrally for entertainment purposes.

    problem is: the p3 machine runs slow with xp and needs restarting about every 2-3 days, I don't want to buy xp pro and reinstall, and I love the idea of linux as a free, stable, fast OS with good file sharing abilities. However, is it dumb to have 3 OSs trying to work together on my little home network? will sharing printers and files between all 4 computers be hell? How can i really tell if upgrades for the p3 will be linux compatible (i'll add HDDs, usb 2.0 card, gigabit card, possibly an IDE card)? and lastly, i have 2 usb HDDs which are ntfs and contain valuable files. Am i going to have to buy enough new HDD space to copy them onto the ext2 (or whichever) system before reformatting the disks and copying them back?

    my plan is to try a cd based linux, then install suse on an old spare HDD on the p3 box to be sure its existing configuration isn't problematic for linux. how can i choose new cards though? i have a tight budget, so i can't be choosy on cards, and i can't find compatibility notes on the cheaper cards from newegg etc.

    finally, i assume the answer to this is no, but is there any (easy) way to run linux headless from a windows or mac machine? Or is it possible to connect via a cd-based linux OS? maybe any of the other distros besides suse?) i could also install linux as a dual boot on my laptop i suppose, but I really don't want to go through the trouble of partitioning then reinstalling all the software i use on license from work. i know suse has a nice remote desktop connection, if i could run the midtower headless and keep its whiny hard drives and windtunnel power supply in another room it would make certain females happier...

    if it makes any difference, the machine is:
    P3 733mhz
    2x80gb HDD (before adding more storage)

    sorry that got so long, but thanks for any advice!

  2. #2
    Just Joined! zachm's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Minneapolis, MN
    yes, this will most likely work for you, In fact, I would reccomend it. I run a setup similar to what you want to do and my three boxes, (OSX, FedoraCore4 64-bit, and Windows XP) chat with each other just fine. From my bit of experience, I have seen that older hardware tends to have more support and is easier to "plug and play" due to the drivers being included in the distro ("depending on the distro" )

    Though Linux does not support NTFS as far as I know, it is capable of seeing, reading, and writing to it on another system without fuss. And as far as drive space goes, not to diverge from the point, but I would definitely get as much space as you can. It's getting cheaper to get alot of space, and it's always better to need it and have it than vice versa.

    As far as "cards" go, don't buy anything bleeding edge for it and you should have support. I just installed Nvidia drivers for my system the other day and they went in smoother than some of the rpms that I had to use to update my distro. :C)

    Now the fun part. As far as running it headless goes, You might want to have a monitor handy when you are setting up, but once you got it running smoothly, all you have to do to run it is hop on your mac, open up a terminal and type

    ssh -l "your username" "the linux box's ip address"
    ex: ssh -l zachm

    you will be prompted for your password, and to add the address to your keychain.
    do these two steps, and you're in. You will notice that your name in the shell will change to yourname@localhost or something similar. From there you can configure anything you need to.

    Good luck to you man, I hope this helped a bit.

  3. #3
    Linux Guru AlexK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    It is a good idea, I have a similar box to yours running as my Samba/NFS file and Print server.

    You would want to check out Samba and install it to your server as it allows Windows and Mac computers to access the storage space on the server. Also since you say you want to run the server headless, check out webmin, using this you can configure the server from any computer over the local network.

    The usb drives, you can just attach to your server and Linux can read it, but not write to it. As for compatibility, only thing I can recommend is to google around a bit.
    Life is complex, it has a real part and an imaginary part.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    that mac tip is great, that will definitely make things easy. I dug out a monitor etc and tested the old box with knoppix, worked great, i'll dl suse this week and install it this weekend. thanks for all the input!

  6. #5
    You can use samba along with either nfs or the software to share a mac based network file system(forgot name). Any way i see the cd testing went well but i wouldent recomend it. You could also use SSH(free client avilible for windows and a client comes with mac os) as well as web min to maintain the system.

    It may be a bit too late but ive found openfiler this seems to be a purely dedicated NAS solution
    All i want for christmas is a new liver....a second chance to get afflicted with Cirrhosis

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