General discussion

2nd opinion please

For my first post I have a somewhat long question and I am seeking some second opinions.
First off .....I use computers, not configure them. That said ---in the configuration dept I am a complete moron. I do however have a neighbors genius 17 year old that keeps me jammin'....Here is my setup in my home...

I have 3 dual boot Laptops Windows XP Pro & Suse Pro Linux (Wireless Netgear)
3 Desktops with XP pro (wired)
2 Desktops with Suse Pro (wired)
A Lazerjet printer HP 940c (usb)
A 1260 Nec Lazer printer (parrallel)
OkiData Led thermal printer (wired)
All desktops have 19 inch LCD's
DSL with Sprint, Earthlink..
Everything is networked together, prints, computers linked, works great..

My neighbors wiz kid genius 17 year old that helps me keep this getup humming like a top goes off to college next year (scary) and tells me I should get a server.

He tells me that I need one forth of this set up and that this is way overkill.
His intent is to utilize freeBSD for the server setup...
Money is not so much an issue as is dependablilty and long term usage.
I am clueless as to how a server would help my current situation. He claims it will.
Everything I have now functions great.
Will a server really make that much of a difference?
Is it worth the effort in terms of payoff and performance?
Here is what I selected.........

Any opinions are greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance.


Chassis :
Chieftec Tower Chassis (Black)
Power Supply :
400 Watt Power Supply
Motherboard :
Gigabyte 8IPE1000 800MHz P4 w/AGP LAN (478 Pin)
Processor :
Intel Pentium 4 3.0Ghz 800Mhz FSB 1Mb Cache
Memory 1 :
512MB DDR400 PC3200 Memory (Use For DDR333)
Memory 2 :
512MB DDR400 PC3200 Memory (Use For DDR333)
Memory 3 :
Memory 4 :
Controller Card 1 :
On-Board SATA150 Ports (2 Drives)
Controller Card 2 :
Hot Swap Trays 1 :
Hot Swap Trays 2 :
Hard Drive 1 :
200Gb 7200RPM 8Mb Buffer Serial ATA150 HDD
Hard Drive 2 :
200Gb 7200RPM 8Mb Buffer Serial ATA150 HDD
Hard Drive 3 :
200Gb 7200RPM 8Mb Buffer Serial ATA150 HDD
Hard Drive 4 :
Hard Drive 5 :
Hard Drive 6 :
Hard Drive 7 :
Hard Drive 8 :
Removable Media 1 :
1.44MB Floppy Drive (Black)
Removable Media 2 :
CD Drive 1 :
52X32X52 CDRW / 16X DVD ROM IDE Combo Drive
CD Drive 2 :
Video Card 1 :
NVidia GeForce FX5700LE 256MB DDR 8X AGP VGA + DVI Video
Video Card 2 :
Network Card 1 :
On-Board Gigabit (10/100/1000) Ethernet Controller
Network Card 2 :
Realtek 8139 10/100BT PCI Ethernet Card
Modem :
Sound Card 1 :
On-Board Realtek ALC650 Audio Codec w/AC97 Audio Port
Sound Card 2 :
Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live 5.1 PCI
Keyboard :
3-in-1 Combo Black KB + Mouse + 2pc. Speakers
Mouse :
Speakers :
Operating System :
Software :

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This isn't something you can ...

actually expect a rational second opinion on based on the paucity of actual information provided.

A good listing of equipment but conspicuous by its absence was any mention of type of usage and number of users as well as purpose.

I would suggest that if this teenager has been helping you successfully this long he likely has a fairly solid knowledge of your usage and needs and would venture to guess that he is not leading you astray.

Go with his suggestions (do ask the why of his reasoning) or provide adequate information for a rough systems analysis.

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Thanks Edward....

There will be a total of 5 users. I have a couple of teenagers and a 13 year old. One going off to college in a year. Besides the schoolwork, games, and my own work the system is in heavy use by all of us.
Maybe that helps.
The eldest use office quite a bit and Photoshop or some type of digital movie making program for a course they are involved with at school. Its way over my head but the outcome of some of the video's are quite inpressive with the special effects etc....Is this the type of usage requirement you mean?///
This is basically how we use it.
My son remote accesses his work from school and other locations quite a bit as does one daughter. My kids all have honors classes in most coures in a private school and have quite a substancial workload so teh computers are in constant use..

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Yes, that is better...

and while not enough to give a definitibve answer it is enough to see that a file and print server would easily be justified although I don't see much need for application server although limited application serving might still be useful.

Your server configuration is a bit overboard in the Video card area as there is no need for much beyond a cheap card to enable administration of the system. Same would apply to any monitor as its use would be restricted mostly to administrative configuration tasks.

A modem on the server could be handy if anyone on the network might do some faxing as it would be sharable through the server.

Adding a soundcard doesn't make much sense going from what you have said although it might if your "networking guy" is also considering potential for a media center.

I would also reconsider the CD-RW and DVD-ROM combo and opt for a DVD writer AND a CD-RW for redundancy. DVD would allow for easier maintaining of offsite data backups.

Also go with a larger power supply -- ~550 or more watts.

Since you obviously trust this neighbor who has been maintaining your network for you, you might also consider having him set up remote administration capabilities for it so he could continue to keep it humming while away at school.

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I think the idea behind the server is to house a backup of all your files in a second location. Which isn't a bad idea really, and it's something a lot of tech people do themselves. Of course it's really only worthwhile if you have a lot of data you really don't want to lose, or think you might in the near future.

On the other hand, you would be helping further the practical skill set of this kid, and in this economy, if he's going into the tech field he can use every bit he can get. The fact that he even knows about FreeBSD, and what it's good for, is a strong indicator this kid is one of the few who actually knows what they're doing. There are many people who graduate with degrees in computer science and MIS who have never heard of Unix or any of its derivitives. So if you have a strong altrustic tendency and are willing to spend a little money to help this kid gain some useful and practical skills... Well, you can always just let the thing collect dust and never turn it on, except to make it look like you use it when the kid's back vitising mom and dad.

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