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Old 04-03-2008, 08:38 PM   #1
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Registered: Apr 2008
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new life for old box


I have an old IBM Thinkcentre A50p 8432 97U with about 500Mb ram sitting around doing nothing and I’d like to make use of it. Currently there are three active computers in my house, 2 laptops running windows xp and one desktop running windows me. We only have one DSL line coming into the house so every time someone wants to use the internet they have to manually plug their Ethernet cable into the (badly located) DSL modem.

I would like to have the DSL line be connected to the thinkcentre and have the thinkcentre share the Internet connection wirelessly with the other computers. I would also like to use the thinkcentre as a print server so that all the computers can send documents to one printer. I would also like to use the thinkcentre as a file server so any computer can upload a file and then a different computer could download the file. This would eliminate the “sneakernet”. It would be nice if uploaded files could be organized into hierarchies and permissions used to specify who can download what. If each computer could send files to any other computer that was connected to the wireless network that would be great too.

I would like to be able to run the thinkcentre “headless” (without a monitor or keyboard or mouse). I would like to power up the thinkcentre in the morning and have it set itself up without my input, but if I connected the monitor etc. I would like to be able to browse the Internet and access the usual GUI (gnome, kde) programs.

After I have this all set up I’d like to find some application that will work with linux the way Norton ghost 2005 works with windows. That is, boot from floppy to take an image and boot from floppy to restore an image. Norton ghost also has a useful feature called autoback, each time the computer starts up it reverts back the stored image. That way no matter what crud you pick up online it gets wiped every day.

So to summarize, I want the old thinkcentre to be:

A file server
A print server
A wireless Internet server (I might also add another network card, if so I’d like to use it as a traditional Ethernet internet server as well as wireless)

I want it to be able to boot up and run without my input
I want to be able to use firefox to browse the Internet and use a graphical interface to run the usual programs.

I want a bootable “whole drive/partition image” recovery tool that works with linux.

I have absolutely no clue how I can make this happen. I don’t really have a preference for any particular linux distro. I have investigated this to some length, I’ve looked at ebox, weadmin, puppylinux…and I haven’t found a homerun yet.

Any help is appreciated.
If this post should be elsewhere I’ll happily repost.
Thanks in advance.
Old 04-04-2008, 10:24 AM   #2
Senior Member
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: N'rn WI -- USA
Distribution: Kubuntu 8.04, ClarkConnect 4
Posts: 1,142

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I have several Clarkconnect boxes around town serving as internet/file/printer sharers. It works great. Clarkconnect is setup to be run headless, so it doesn't install X11. You normally config/maintain it from a computer connected to the network through a browser. You can also connect a monitor and keyboard or SSH into the box to access the command-line.

There are program similar to Ghost, but I've not used them so I can't recommend one. But, you don't really need one for the purpose you've noted... Linux doesn't "crud" up like Windows.

If you really want a GUI system, pretty much any mainstream distro will do everything except the automatic re-imaging.
Old 04-04-2008, 10:34 AM   #3
Registered: May 2006
Distribution: Fedora Core, FreeSpire, PC-BSD, NetBSD
Posts: 96

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I would suggest you to try a Freespire. It is really nice distro for starters without much knowledge about linux of any unix-like OS.
And it is Ubuntu based.
Old 04-06-2008, 09:42 PM   #4
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Registered: Apr 2008
Posts: 2

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I'll check out clark connect and freespire. Thanks for the suggestions.


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