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I've set up an old Netgear ND508 as a file server for a peer to peer network of 20 PCs in the school where I teach. It is almost ideal for the job because it is simple to administer and allows shares to be password protected when all the children are logged on using the same username - giving the children their own secure folder. However it is slow!!! It cannot cope with more than few children trying to access it at once. I've added a new Symphony DS101 NAS but to get this to password protect folders, all the children would have to have a separate username.
I'd like to either:
upgrade the ND508's perfomance to enable 20 concurrent users (the small disk size is not a problem)
build a simple file server (out of an old PC) using a similar OS to the ND508 that would allow me to make passwords for shares independent of users. I've looked at NASLite which seems good but doesn't allow any passwords.
Any suggestions please about which way I should go and how to go about it?
Go for RedHat 9 (probably not available anymore, so try Fedora).
I did almost exactly what you want to do very successfully with Rh9 and a very old AMD 300mHz K6 based machine with 64MB of RAM and a 20GB HDD. It works perfectly for small-scale file serving and internal development of dynamic webpages.