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I've recently acquired a rather nice little box that I wish to use as a home server, the exact requirements are further down.
The spec of the system is:
(Micro ATX Case)
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.66Ghz
2 x 160GB SATA Drives
DVD RW Drive
Netgear WN311T Wireless PCI Card (I need this working on Linux)
Now, I want to use this for personal Web development purposes (I.E Apache, PHP and MySQL) which is what I used to use an old box for. However I also want to use this as a backup for my Windows and Mac OS X computers. Not the whole systems, but just FTP and/or WEBDAV access (if possible with automated backups on a schedule).
I also want to (if this is even possible) have certain computers connect to it wirelessly for internet access so I can restrict their access to the internet (like a proxy).
The Server will not be connected directly to our wireless modem/router. Is it possible to have computer A connect to the server (wireless) which then connects to the router (wireless) to serve the web pages?
A web frontend would be good however if there isn't one I am quite happy to make my own simple one.
Other ideal extras (but not hugely important) would be:
-Dynamic DNS (I am on a provider that uses Dynamic DNS) so I could access the server remotely via the net.
-Network Traffic Statistics
I realize this is quite a lot to ask for, but I was looking for suggestions as to how I would go about doing this, especially the part about using it as a "middle man" for certain systems to control the internet access.
Just so you know, I am happy working in shell, I have several VPS servers and have used home servers in the past for web development. I've used CentOS and Fedora a fair amount so would prefer an option that uses one of these operating systems or another Red Hat based system.
All of that is very possible, although you will need to add a 2nd wireless card for it to both function as a wireless router/AP for the computers behind it, and to connect wirelessly to the internet router/modem.
The backup you are looking for is easy to accomplish. I am a huge fan of a project called BackupPC. It's webpage is http://backuppc.sourceforge.net. I use it at home and at work to backup linux and windows computers. The rsync/rsyncd methods of backup are most excellent, particularly for a LAN setting like this. Some other backup solutions would include the programs Amanda and Bacula. I don't know those as well, but all 3 are enterprise worthy backup solutions.
You'll need to modify some parts of that writeup, as you have a different wireless card, and aren't going to have an ethernet connection to the net, but rather a wireless one. Speaking of which, I don't know how well (if at all) the current wireless card you have is supported in linux. I would stay away from the ndiswrapper program if you can. Look on the HCL here to see what wireless cards are natively supported under linux. Ndiswrapper attempts to transform a windows driver into one functional for linux. By and large it works, but with 2 cards and serving as a gateway for other computers, you don't want a half-baked solution. A supported card will give you no problems, whereas one using ndiswrapper leaves questions of it what you're trying to accomplish can even be done over the "wrapped" driver.
I'd use squid as the proxy server. There are tons of writeups both here and across the net about how to configure that.
There are tons of ddns clients that are linux friendly, that won't be any problem. I'd install the cacti program to capture and graph network statistics. Since you'll already have LAMP functionality on this box, adding cacti in is nothing.
You can accomplish all you are looking to do on any distro you choose, and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of excrement. Though I detest the whole deadrat family, and would like to see this happen on Debian/Slackware/Gentoo, all you need is any linux. If you have the highest level of comfort on CentOS or Fedora, then install the newest version and go for it!
Thanks for the great post Jim. Very informative and helpful. All i need (that I dont already have) then is 2 wireless cards that are compatible as standard, correct? The WN311T isn't on the list unfortunately. The WG311T is (the same card but 54G instead of N) but I don't know how different the two cards are. I know my card works in ndiswrapper however I've not used that before and like you said, it would be better to have 2 compatible cards.
I'll take a look around and see if I can lay my hands on some compatibles.
You can certainly try it with that card through ndiswrapper, I don't know that it won't work, but with the cost of wireless cards so low (online you can get them for less than $20 in the US, so I'd expect about 10 pounds in the U.K.), it seems it isn't even worth messing with. If you do try to use the current card through ndiswrapper, I'd use that card for the connection to the wireless that already exists, IE the path to the internet. Get a fully supported card for the one that will function as an AP/Router. That is where the more specialized traffic would be in any case.
For all the other stuff, just do it one step at a time. Don't try to set everything up at once. Get the first wireless card to work, then install the packages to make the computer a router. Trying to do all your installs in a big bunch may cause problems, so go a step at a time and you should be cool.
It really isn't "hard" to do, but each thing you want, particularly the wireless access point, the proxy server, and the backup are individual projects. Probably each step of the way you'll encounter some difficulties, but google and this site can correct all of that.
I ordered two cheap wireless cards from an ebay retailer. I checked they were compatible first and they are. I got two TP-Link TL-WN550G cards for £15 (about $30 USD) - both arrived today and I've put them in the system which is currently installing Fedora 8. So far I've got them recognized however they cant be "controlled" So I've got to install MadWifi. Unfortunately the .tar.gz on their site looks to be corrupt as I cant open it on the system or my mac. I'll try their rpm release for Fedora tomorrow as it requires a network connection (I will stick an Ethernet cable in the back to get the RPM sources).
I've had a lot of work recently so have been delayed. I had a bash at this on Fedora but ran into a few problems. I've decided I'm not too bothered about the wireless access point now...I'm going to use Ubuntu (server edition) and set it up to allow backups (either rsync or simple drag-drop from windows), webdav, apache w/mysql & php, some kind of media server for videos/music to be stored (-- this is a big issue in my household as our computers are filled to the rims with videos, putting them in one central place would help....a lot!If anyone has any media-server recommendations, please share!), possibly DNS -- I do a lot of web development and would like remote access you see, oh and finally, a mail server.
I looked into all sorts of pre-made solutions such as Openfiler, freenas and clarkconnect but they all lacked something that I need.
Something else I wanted to eventually do would be to put a digital tv card in the system and set it up to record selected programs. I've seen it done before and it looks like a great idea. I saw MythTV which looks great.....may give it a try!
Anyway, I'll post back later during the project -- would appreciate any advice on setting up media streaming for an internal network!
I mentally jotted down the things I wanted to be able to do, and after lots of thinking and planning, bought a Dell Poweredge 2550 server from ebay. Its a p3 server with 2gb ram and a single 36gb SCSI drive. Whats this server for? Web stuff! I wanted to isolate my "development" from backups and file storage for the family. To do this I needed server number two.
I only bought it yesterday so it will arrive mid week. Due to space restrictions and for storage, I've decided to build a rack to place both the server on, along with a modded router (which is now a wireless access point).
I wanted it to have shelves as opposed to just screws so I'll have runners for each shelf, then 3-4 supports for each server. I also have a KVM to use, with a monitor come TV which will sit on top along with the much needed Xbox 360!
I'm pretty satisfied now. On Server 1 which will be doing file storage as well as acting as a media server, I've put webmin on it so I can remotely manage it. I'll probably use webmin on server2 as well as I can use its clustering options then.
Its going pretty well! I'll be getting the materials for the rack tomorrow or Wednesday. I'll provide a few pics of it in construction!