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Old 02-17-2007, 08:35 AM   #1
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Newbie frustrated with Ubuntu. Need suggestions for classroom server project.

I'm a teacher at a small non-profit and wear far too many hats.

Recently, I purchased a used PowerEdge 2400 out of pocket in order create a Linux based file and print server for my lab of Win XP computers. Not wanting to spend additional money, I downloaded and installed Ubuntu server.

After the install, I was a bit disappointed to find that that there was no GUI. After a couple of hours of research and downloading, I was finally able to get one installed.

But now what? How doe I create the server that I want? It seems like I have to do more research and downloading to get the server doing what I want it to do. Even if I am able to identify and sort through the packages I need, I still have to configure the server and, from what it seems, most of this will happen from the command line. Although I'd like to learn the OS, I don't have the time.

I'm thinking about wiping the hard drives and starting over with a clean slate. What I need are recommendations about which distribution will come with the *GUI* based applications to allow me to create a file and print server on my network. For what it's worth, this server is a peer and will have a dynamic IP address. In essense, I suppose, it can be thought of as a neighboring computer that securely stores files for individual students and provides access to the printer and won't have a firewall/router role. Each desktop accesses the router on its own. I suspect this may help narrow things down some.

Although I'm a geek by nature, there comes a point when "playing around" with my computer lab becomes too much like work and I simply want to arrive at a solution, not more headaches. So if anyone can point me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it.

Failing that, I'll have to whip out my 401C3 to get a charity license for Windows 2003 R2 and, once again, pay out of pocket to simly avoid the lost time. Better the devil you know and all that...


Edit: After some reading, it seems like KDE can be resouce intensive. For what it's worth, my server is a dual P3 1 Ghz (Coppermine, not Xeon), 1 GB EEC PC 133 RAM, and onboard SCSI RAID ( 2 x 18 mirrored for OS and 4 X 18 in RAID 5 for data storage).

Last edited by bipolardave; 02-17-2007 at 08:47 AM.
Old 02-17-2007, 09:58 AM   #2
Registered: Dec 2004
Location: Colorado
Distribution: Kubuntu/Debian/Centos
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A few plaes to start...from my POV

There are many who have more experience than I do, but I can at least give you a few places to start...

I think for Linux, you have to buy hardware in reverse order. The cart must be in hand before you get a horse. It is a key question about hardware compatibility. Start looking into are Samba for the file server. I have set up a very simplistic file server for my Windows machines and it has worked well. Yes, you might and should use a text editor/command line to edit the configuration file, but it is very easy to do. It is as if driving a race car with a manual clutch. Awkward at first, but boy, does it fly when you have the basics down!

I personally LOVE the Debian line of distributions. the workstation that I type from is Debian-etch, as in testing. Debian-sarge is the current stable release. It is old...very old compared to (k)ubuntu, but with age comes the stability you should seek when making a server. The question comes around again: Does that distribution work with your hardware? If not, which one will? I cannot answer these questions unless I look at your hardware.

You will make your life ALOT easier if you assign your server a static IP

Lastly, this is me passing the torch. I believe that you can use CUPS to build a print server.... I have not endevered to do this yet.
Please check out: before you purchase a printer to again, check for compatibility.

That is all I have for now. I hope this points you in the right direction.
Old 02-17-2007, 10:29 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.

I never thought about compatibility, assuming that it wasn't much of an issue these days. In any case, the server is 6 years old and I believe that Dell had the option to ship with Red Hat.

I've read something of CUPS and SAMBA and even have the command line versions installed. I'd really, really like a GUI for everthing and it seems as if there are plenty of them scattered about. But which one will do everything, including customizing?

I would like to have a static IP address, believe me. But the lab isn't configured for such. Even if I did run all the wires, buy a hub, and set up everything else there's always the issue of moving on to another job. In such a case I'd take the server with me and I don't want to have to undo anything that I've done to the network. I'd like to leave a clean turn over to the next person who probably won't be as tech savvy. I'd like to unplug the server and out the door I go.

Speaking of networking, the file share will be simple. I'd like to have, say, an I drive on the server and an account set up for each student on the server that allocates 100 MB or so to each. When the click on the I drive icon, they are prompted for their user name and password which in turn allows them access to their, and only their folder. I don't need unique logons for the XP machines each time they log on. A simple guest account is enough.

Thanks again.


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