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ajbrod34 10-06-2013 09:07 AM

I'm not sure if Linux is the right choice for my server needs?
 
I apologize for the vagueness of the subject, but I'm not quite sure how to make it more specific.

I'm looking to start a home server, and I am struggling to decide what operating system is the best choice. As the hilarious (and true)initialism M$, I do not want to spend the hundreds of dollars necessary to get a copy of Windows server. Before anyone brings out the tar and feathers, normally I would have turned to Linux without a question, however, this system is going to need to be accessed, and perhaps maintained, by someone less computer literate than myself. Anyway, here is a list of what I am looking for in my server. Yes, I know some of these things can be created with various add-ons, but some I don't know about. Thanks for all your help!

-Backups to the server, from both Macs and PC's
-Using the server as an iTunes library, not a home shared iTunes library but a true, shared device.
-Combination of multiple hard drives into a single D: drive
-Ability to back up files via RAID or some other method.
-Ability to access the server remotely, as it will be running headless. (Preferably, I would like to access the computer from a non-Linux system)

I hope what I'm asking for is possible, and thank you again!

-AJ

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PECONET009 10-06-2013 09:55 AM

Sharing itunes over the net is not a good idea..
 
As you have said "Using the server as an iTunes library, not a home shared iTunes library but a true, shared device" will be breaking the law over the Internet, as for a home based network it would be fine. The rest of your post (besides itunes) you can do through Samba, over the Internet it will/should be fine.

Using Samba for backing up files, no problem.

Linux with Raid, do-able in some distro's like Fedora.

Backing up Raid you will have to test this out, but normally you would need to do a Raid10 (Raid1/0 which mirrors a Raid0 setup) or Raid5 (you have some reading to do on these) depending on your computer hardware this will be on the software side, to be really good, you will need it to be hardware Raid of which you will either need your motherboard to do the Raid or for an add on Raid card. The Raid add on card would be the better choice because of the additional battery backup.

More on Raid, read here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_RAID_levels

rbees 10-06-2013 10:09 AM

Quote:

-Backups to the server, from both Macs and PC's
As long as each machine/user has write permissions to a directory/folder on the server No Problem

Quote:

-Using the server as an iTunes library, not a home shared iTunes library but a true, shared device.
I don't use iTunes so I am not sure what you want but See above

Quote:

-Combination of multiple hard drives into a single D: drive
Cool RAID can be done with hardware or software. Depends on what you have avalible.

Quote:

-Ability to back up files via RAID or some other method.
I am not sure what you are looking for here. RAID takes multiple drives and makes one logical drive out of it. It is not a data transfer method. You probably mean FTP, or RSYNC to name a couple. No Problem

Quote:

-Ability to access the server remotely, as it will be running headless. (Preferably, I would like to access the computer from a non-Linux system)
No Problem, all you need is a unix shell on the remote machine if your user is comfortable on the command line, or, something like Webmin which is a gui that runs in a web browser. With Linux you also have the ability to send the gui display to a remote machine with vnc but that leaves more software running on the server to be exploited, so it is not normally done. You also need a faster "up" speed to the internet/network for it to work very well.

Of coarse there is a lot more to each of these but this will give you a starting place.

ajbrod34 10-06-2013 10:49 AM

Appreciate it, and in response to the first post I am reffering to using it over my shared network, when I say not home shared, I mean I don't want to use apple's home sharing system for it, because you have to be signed in with the same apple ID on every computer on your network. My family has multiple apple Id's, and I want them all to be able to access the music. And when I say "combine into one disk", I meant something along the lines of the Drive Extender program, but I think I found a linux equivalent, called Greyhole.

rbees 10-06-2013 12:36 PM

greyhole looks like software raid to me after a brief look at it and not really being familiar with m$ drive extender.

YellowApple 10-06-2013 03:41 PM

Linux can do most - if not all (depending on what you mean in the iTunes requirement) - of what you need. If you're not sure about some of the specific recommendations/terminology (like Samba, LVM, etc.), I'd be happy to provide clarification as needed (I kept my recommendations as generic as possible to at least point you in the right direction without trying to dictate how your server should be laid out).

Quote:

Originally Posted by ajbrod34 (Post 5040919)
Backups to the server, from both Macs and PC's

For Windows clients, you'll want to use Samba to publish a network share, which you'd then point the Windows client's backup software (I don't recall what Windows' built-in backup utility is called).

For Mac clients, you could use NFS and/or rsync to do this; I believe it's also possible to emulate a Time Machine from within Linux (some Linux-based NAS devices do exactly that), but since I don't own a Mac (other than an eMac that's running Linux exclusively), I don't have any real experience with that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ajbrod34 (Post 5040919)
Using the server as an iTunes library, not a home shared iTunes library but a true, shared device.

What exactly are you trying to do? If this is just to centralize your music and videos, you just need to share a folder with Samba and/or NFS and configure iTunes to look at that network share instead of (or along with) the client's local Music folder.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ajbrod34 (Post 5040919)
Combination of multiple hard drives into a single D: drive

Doable with a combination of Samba and LFS (the latter being the utility to combine multiple physical drives into one or more "logical volumes"). Mac clients don't know what a D: drive is, nor do Linux clients, since both address drives/filesystems relative to the root directory and don't bother with this drive letter nonsense ;)

Quote:

Originally Posted by ajbrod34 (Post 5040919)
Ability to back up files via RAID or some other method.

RAID != backup. RAID is for redundancy, not necessarily off-site backup. Regardless, both are important. Software and hardware RAID can be managed using the mdadm utility and/or various graphical frontends (if you insist on having a GUI on the server). Several of my Linux machines at home use a RAID 1 for the /boot partition, then either RAID 1 or RAID 5/6 (depending on my mood and the number of disks) for a giant LVM volume group that encompasses /, /home, /usr, and /var.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ajbrod34 (Post 5040919)
Ability to access the server remotely, as it will be running headless. (Preferably, I would like to access the computer from a non-Linux system)

Definitely doable with SSH. Mac OS X (if I recall correctly) includes an ssh command in the Terminal. Windows doesn't, but you can always download/install PuTTY, which is my program of choice for administering Linux machines from Windows (that is, if I don't have Cygwin installed already ;) ).

suicidaleggroll 10-06-2013 04:00 PM

My OpenSUSE Linux server is doing all of what you're looking for.

It has an SSD boot drive and a 4 drive RAID 5 (2 TB drives = 6 TB array) on an Adaptec card. It hosts an NFS and Samba share, NFS for the other Linux boxes in the house, Samba for the Windows boxes. All machines in the house (Linux, Windows, and Mac) back up to the server via rsync/ssh, nfs mount, or samba (windows network) mount. My iTunes account on one of the Windows machines points to the Linux box via windows network "drive" mapping (IE: P:\ on the Windows box is the network-mounted Samba drive on the Linux box). Anything I download or import into iTunes is sent directly across the network mount to the Linux box where it lives permanently and streams all content to all other machines over the local network.

It has a monitor, keyboard, and mouse attached, but they're never used, all admin is done via SSH from within or outside of the network. I use it for SSH tunneling when doing sensitive web browsing on unsecured wireless networks while travelling, it hosts an FTP server, web server, AirVideo server for streaming video to my iDevices, etc.

In addition to the RAID 5, it also autonomously performs nightly backups to an external USB drive.

It never breaks, never complains, never needs upkeep or administration. I'll SSH in and do software updates via zypper, but that's it. It just sits silently in the corner of the back office doing its job.

dt64 10-06-2013 04:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ajbrod34 (Post 5040919)
-Backups to the server, from both Macs and PC's

No problem using Samba, SFTP or the likes. It depends more on what your client's backup software accepts as a backup destination
Quote:

Originally Posted by ajbrod34 (Post 5040919)
-Using the server as an iTunes library, not a home shared iTunes library but a true, shared device.

As far as I know iTunes can work with normal media sources, if that's true you could just provide a share with all your media files and maybe even put some DLNA server on the machine in parallel
Quote:

Originally Posted by ajbrod34 (Post 5040919)
-Combination of multiple hard drives into a single D: drive

That's not a problem apart from the fact that there is no drive D: in Linux. As said above you could provide all your files e.g. in a Samba share and mount this as drive D: on the Windows machines.
Have a look into LVM2. Using LVM you can just stick together almost as many physical HDDs as you wanted to be used as a single partition, formatted with the filesystem of your choice (even NTFS if needed).
Quote:

Originally Posted by ajbrod34 (Post 5040919)
-Ability to back up files via RAID or some other method.

RAID is not really a backup method. Backups should be able to help out even you deleted the wrong files, RAID can't do this. RAID can be used to improve HDD speed or reliability, it's more a HDD redundancy system that a backup.
Try to stay away from RAID0 stripe sets, even in RAID01 or RAID10. Mirrored RAIDs like RAID1 or parity RAIDs like RAID5 should be used instead. You could still use LVM to combine the capacities of multiple RAIDs together.
I've used hardware RAIDs for some years and found that they give you a lot headache in case something fails. What you really want is a soft-RAID, e.g. mdadm. The nice things on soft-RAIDs over hard RAIDs are independency from the actual hardware used (a hardware raid sometimes needs the exact controller with the exact BIOS version to work, changing anything in the setup might render it useless) and flexibility.
This applies IMHO for SOHO systems. Larger and more professional-like, datacenter-like systems may have different requirements.
Quote:

Originally Posted by ajbrod34 (Post 5040919)
-Ability to access the server remotely, as it will be running headless. (Preferably, I would like to access the computer from a non-Linux system)

That's not a problem at all. Usually you would use SSH to connect to your system remotely. There are SSH clients availably for every software platform, e.g. putty for Windows.

suicidaleggroll 10-06-2013 04:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dt64 (Post 5041084)
I've used hardware RAIDs for some years and found that they give you a lot headache in case something fails. What you really want is a soft-RAID, e.g. mdadm. The nice things on soft-RAIDs over hard RAIDs are independency from the actual hardware used (a hardware raid sometimes needs the exact controller with the exact BIOS version to work, changing anything in the setup might render it useless) and flexibility.

My experience has been the exact opposite. I've set up many RAIDs, both software and hardware ranging from 2 to 12 drives in the array, and the hardware-driven RAIDs have always been faster, easier to maintain, and easier to swap into new systems if necessary. That's not to say the mdadm arrays have been difficult to maintain per se, but the hardware arrays are just nice self-contained systems. They don't care what computer they're in, what OS it's running, anything. Just drop the card and drives into any system and it "just works". Drive dies? Just hot-swap in a new one and it auto-rebuilds. Card dies? Just drop in another one (as you mentioned, same model is preferable) and it just picks up where it left off. Plus there's no overhead on the CPU, especially important with parity RAIDs like 5 and 6.

dt64 10-08-2013 04:21 PM

@suicidaleggroll, hardware RAIDs definitely have their place, especially in terms of speed and responsiveness, even better while using active conrollers with loads of own cache RAM and backup batteries, but on the downside I've bumped into situations where softRAIDs were superior.
It allways depends what your environment is. IMHO in SOHO your are better off with the soft version, they are cheaper, easier to use, easier to handle.
A hardware RAID might be completely useless in case your controller fails and you do not have the same model (and maybe even the exactly same firmware revision) available for replacement. With a softRAID you can just stick the drives in another machine, install your softRAID software and you are back in business.

It's like everywhere else: choose the right tools for the job to be done.

suicidaleggroll 10-08-2013 05:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dt64 (Post 5042321)
It's like everywhere else: choose the right tools for the job to be done.

Agreed. I have, do, and will continue to set up systems of both varieties, it's all about using the right tool for the job. I was just pointing out that out of all of those systems I've built and maintained, the ones running the hardware RAIDs have always been faster, easier to set up, easier to maintain, and easier to fix when a drive or other hardware goes wrong.

I typically use software RAID for your typical 2-4 drive RAID 1 or 10, and hardware RAID for anything above that.


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