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Old 11-21-2005, 12:30 PM   #1
geewildman
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Setting Up Server for Home Network


First time posting here. Just decided to take a look at Linux last week. TIA for your advice and help.

I just set up a new computer (#3) and would like to enlist the oldest one as a file server for the other two. I'm not interested in putting out the money for a third copy of Windows, and saw several on-line articles about Linux file servers, so I thought I'd look into Linux.

The server is for file and possibly for print serving. I have no plans to run it as a web or FTP server and I have a separate D-Link router/firewall that the three computers network to and connect to the Internet via DSL, so I don't need to use it as a router/firewall box. I'd like the server to have a shared drive, most likely to redirect the "My Documents" folders for multiple family members' Windows accounts so they can be accessed from both of the other two computers running Windows XP Home (will also set up folders for photos and MP3s to view/play from the Windows machines). If I set up the server as a print server, it would simply be the connect point to an HP inkjet printer.

The proposed file server is an ancient machine (AMD K6-2 400 MHz, 256 MB RAM). I have 4 GB and 6 GB hard drives that I could choose from for running the OS and a 80 GB hard drive for the shared drive.

Here are my questions:
a. For purposes of file/print serving, is there any need to have Windows running on the server, i.e., is there any reason to set it up as a dual-boot machine? (I'm assuming and hoping the answer is no.)
b. Since I'm not planning on running "non-OS" applications on the server (e.g., word processing, games, etc.), I shouldn't need to do a "complete" install of my chosen distro (still undecided, but leaning towards Mandrake). Based on my research, the 6 GB drive (and possibly the 4 GB one) should be more than adequate to hold the OS, but will it have enough additional space for whatever "overhead" hard drive space Linux requires (e.g., swap files)?
c. Is my approach to run Linux on the smaller drive and use the larger one just for file serving a reasonable one?
d. Since I won't need to access the OS drive from Windows, I can format it in a Linux file format, right?
e. Will I have to format the server drive in FAT32 or can I use NTFS? (I'm guessing FAT32 only, but since it's a separate drive just for the Windows shares, I'm thinking NTFS might be possible.)
f. Are there any major Linux modules other than Samba that I need to be looking into for this use?
g. Is a LiveCD operating mode suitable? I'm thinking that's not the way to go, but thought I'd ask anyways.
h. Should I be able to do all the installation and maintenance of this system via GUI? I'm not interested at this time in learning a lot of command line and scripting stuff. Maybe at a later date.
h. Any comments on the adequacy of this machine for the task? I've successfully run Knoppix LiveCD on it, so I'm hopeful that I'll not have significant compatibility issues between the hardware and Linux.
i. Anything I'm missing?

Thanks for reading this long post. I appreciate your inputs and hope the info can be useful to another noob!
 
Old 11-21-2005, 01:31 PM   #2
Tinkster
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Re: Setting Up Server for Home Network

Hi, and welcome to LQ!

Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman

Here are my questions:
a. For purposes of file/print serving, is there any need to have Windows running on the server, i.e., is there any reason to set it up as a dual-boot machine? (I'm assuming and hoping the answer is no.)
You're assuming right, no winDOHs required.


Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman

b. Since I'm not planning on running "non-OS" applications on the server (e.g., word processing, games, etc.), I shouldn't need to do a "complete" install of my chosen distro (still undecided, but leaning towards Mandrake). Based on my research, the 6 GB drive (and possibly the 4 GB one) should be more than adequate to hold the OS, but will it have enough additional space for whatever "overhead" hard drive space Linux requires (e.g., swap files)?
It's all a matter of what you install. For a Linux base install with
a couple of network options (samba, maybe ssh for maintenance
and the basic TCP stuff) you will probably find that a mere 400 MB
plus swap will do.


Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman

c. Is my approach to run Linux on the smaller drive and use the larger one just for file serving a reasonable one?
4G for the OS is overkill ;)


Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman

d. Since I won't need to access the OS drive from Windows, I can format it in a Linux file format, right?
Absolutely; in fact, not only can you, but you SHOULD.

Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman

e. Will I have to format the server drive in FAT32 or can I use NTFS? (I'm guessing FAT32 only, but since it's a separate drive just for the Windows shares, I'm thinking NTFS might be possible.)
Again, use Linux native file-systems.

Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman

f. Are there any major Linux modules other than Samba that I need to be looking into for this use?
No

Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman

g. Is a LiveCD operating mode suitable? I'm thinking that's not the way to go, but thought I'd ask anyways.
You conceivably could, but I wouldn't recommend it
unless you can fit the entire live-CD into RAM (that
is, the box has over ~700MB).

Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman

h. Should I be able to do all the installation and maintenance of this system via GUI? I'm not interested at this time in learning a lot of command line and scripting stuff. Maybe at a later date. :)
I wouldn't slap a GUI on it, if you're uncomfortable
at first have a look at webmin.

Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman

h. Any comments on the adequacy of this machine for the task? I've successfully run Knoppix LiveCD on it, so I'm hopeful that I'll not have significant compatibility issues between the hardware and Linux.
Well, as I said: LiveCDs need to have lots of RAM to
run smoothly.

Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman

i. Anything I'm missing?

Thanks for reading this long post. I appreciate your inputs and hope the info can be useful to another noob!
Hope my comments help,


Cheers,
Tink
 
Old 11-21-2005, 01:41 PM   #3
uopjohnson
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As stated earlier you should not run a GUI on this machine. There are some utilities like webmin that can help with maintenance if you are very uncomfortable at the command line. A GUI represents a significant overhead in terms of hard drive space and system resources. In linux all configuration is done via text files, all a GUI tool does is read these files and write back to them your changes. You will find it much easier to find help with any problems that crop up if you are using the command line as that is what most use to configure servers.
Also, to clarify the previous post. You will want to format the large 80GB drive with a linux file system because the windows computers will not be reading from it directly. SAMBA translates the data on the drive to be accessible to the windows machines. There are a couple of options for a FS that will change depending on your requirements. eg if you are making a lot of constant changes to the data on the drive, or if you are dealing with particularly large files.
 
Old 11-21-2005, 05:09 PM   #4
geewildman
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Tinkster and uopjohnson,

Thanks for your responses, they helped a lot. I think I understand the point about Samba. I was looking at it as more of a Linux-to-Windows user interface, whereas after reading your replies and doing a little more searching, I'm understanding it to be more of an interface protocol that enables the two OS's to communicate and transfer data. Therefore, the file system format on the hard drive is immaterial. Is that close to right?

Having established that I don't need to use a Windows-compatible file system, what is the downside to it? I'm thinking of a possible benefit of FAT32 for the server drive in that I could pull it out of the Linux box and put it in a Windows box without any changes (not sure if I'd ever need to, but I like to plan for contingencies).

uopjohnson, you mentioned several considerations for selecting what file system to use. Since the file server will hold "My Documents" folders, it will get frequent changes (files added/deleted/revised). As far as file size goes, there will routinely be files of 5-10 MB, and I can envision files of several 10's of MB, but less than 100MB (unless I use it to store downloads of demos or ISOs rather than burning them to CD). I won't be doing video work on it (wouldn't try that across a network, at least not this one), so nothing of that size. Can you make a recommendation and/or point me to a source of info regarding file system options and basis for which to select one?

Speaking of source of info, I've been doing a lot of Internet research and reading. Any specific websites or books you can recommend for a noob? I also picked up a copy of Linux For Dummies (6th Edition) by Dee-Ann LeBlanc, haven't had a chance to get into it yet.

One additional question I should have asked in my original post: what security measures should I take on the Linux box? As I stated originally, all machines will be behind a D-Link router/firewall (it's passed the on-line Norton security check). The network is strictly for home use with no need to restrict access between users. I understand that the virus risk is minimal with Linux. I think my main concern is protecting my data from the world outside of the firewall. On my Windows machines, my protection comes from the D-Link hardware and Windows software firewalls. Anything special I need to do on the Linux side?

Thanks again for the help.
 
Old 11-21-2005, 06:11 PM   #5
Tinkster
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Quote:
Originally posted by geewildman
Tinkster and uopjohnson,

Thanks for your responses, they helped a lot. I think I understand the point about Samba. I was looking at it as more of a Linux-to-Windows user interface, whereas after reading your replies and doing a little more searching, I'm understanding it to be more of an interface protocol that enables the two OS's to communicate and transfer data. Therefore, the file system format on the hard drive is immaterial. Is that close to right? :)

Having established that I don't need to use a Windows-compatible file system, what is the downside to it? I'm thinking of a possible benefit of FAT32 for the server drive in that I could pull it out of the Linux box and put it in a Windows box without any changes (not sure if I'd ever need to, but I like to plan for contingencies).
The problem with FAT32 would be that the file-system doesn't
know anything about ownerships and permissions in the sense
of Linux; it should be avoided at all cost.

In terms of contingency: if you had any Linux FS on it
you'd still be able to get to your data using a liveCD
if you stick the HDD into any Windows-Box that can
boot of CD-ROM.


Quote:

Speaking of source of info, I've been doing a lot of Internet research and reading. Any specific websites or books you can recommend for a noob? I also picked up a copy of Linux For Dummies (6th Edition) by Dee-Ann LeBlanc, haven't had a chance to get into it yet.
Have a look at rute, it's a Linux book, available to buy,
to read online or to download as PDF.

Quote:

One additional question I should have asked in my original post: what security measures should I take on the Linux box? As I stated originally, all machines will be behind a D-Link router/firewall (it's passed the on-line Norton security check). The network is strictly for home use with no need to restrict access between users. I understand that the virus risk is minimal with Linux. I think my main concern is protecting my data from the world outside of the firewall. On my Windows machines, my protection comes from the D-Link hardware and Windows software firewalls. Anything special I need to do on the Linux side?

Thanks again for the help.
That would depend on how the router/firewall thing is set-up.
If you made sure that no WindowsRPC stuff and netbios-ssn
stuff get out there won't be any precautions required on the
Linux box. The one thing to always do is: install/run only
what's actually required. The less is going on, the less is
potentially vulnerable.


Cheers,
Tink
 
Old 11-21-2005, 07:23 PM   #6
chrism01
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Here's some useful links:
http://www.usc.edu/~lhl/tutorials/unix/
http://rute.2038bug.com/index.html.gz
http://www.tldp.org/LDP/abs/html/index.html

HTH
 
Old 11-21-2005, 10:17 PM   #7
geewildman
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Tink -
I read you loud and clear on the FS. I like your idea on my contingency question. (I knew there was a reason to hang onto that Knoppix LiveCD!)

I took a look at rute, looks like a good reference (when I decide I'm ready to get into command line stuff!).

I'll be working on setting up the Linux box when I get home after Thanksgiving. I'll let y'all know how it works out for me.

Cheers!
 
  


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