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by Bosscrow / January 30, 2007 2:31 AM PST

I have an older Dell Dimension, It has a P4 1800 mhz, 256 MB RAM, 40 GB and unfortunately it is running Windows ME. This system has one very good thing going for it. Its case is huge by today?s standards. It has 3 5.25? bays and 2 3.5? bays. Along with I believe 2 hard drive slots inside. Also has several PCI slots on the mother board. I want to try to make this system into a file server. I know that I need to get windows me off of the system but do not really want to run XP on a system that only has 256 MB of RAM. My question is if I reformat the drive would you say I would be better off loading Windows 98 SE or trying a Linux based application like, Linspire, Xandros, or Novell? The reviews of these products sound great. And the cost is amazing! In fact it is so amazing that it almost sounds too good to be true. So I wanted to get some opinions.

So based on the factors of cost, ease of setup, and reliability, what operating system would you load on this machine?

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Fedora?
by 3rdalbum / January 31, 2007 6:42 PM PST
In reply to: Linux Questions

For a file server, taking into account ease of use, I would look at Fedora or CentOS. They are very similar - Fedora is a community-level, community distro which is the test-bed for Red Hat; whereas CentOS is an enterprise-level, community distro which is based on the source code of Red Hat. Those two should be fairly easy to set up for a file server, and very reliable.

But really, any Linux distro is going to be reliable as long as you don't run a GUI full-time. (use one when you're setting up your system, turn it off when you don't need it).

Or were you planning to use it as a desktop as well? Fedora and CentOS will still work as a normal desktop computer, but you might find it more satisfying to use Ubuntu or Mepis.

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first Linux distro, on a small file server
by clsgis / February 5, 2007 2:26 PM PST
In reply to: Linux Questions

A file server should be kept simple, especially on a limited memory machine. Desktop "everything and the kitchen sink" type distributions would be overkill here.

I'd install D@mn Small Linux, "DSL." (Sorry, Cnet's software thinks that's a swear word.) www.damnsmalllinux.org. It's not as small as the Debian base, but this is your first time and the GUI will make things easier. DSL comes with servers for FTP, HTTP, and NFS.

Download the "current" ISO from one of the mirror sites (e.g. http://distro.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/distributions/damnsmall/current/dsl-3.2.iso ) and burn a CD. Boot the CD and read the instructions in the little browser. After installing, upgrade to the GNU Utils and Enable Apt, as shown in the instructions. Then you can add any Debian package. You might want samba and smbclient, for example, for Microsoft style file and printer sharing. You might want cupsys (and you already got NFS) for unix style file and printer sharing.

DSL is very light. Runs in 64 MB on a 300 MHz CPU. There are two install methods. The "Frugal" method sacrifices performance, and you can't maintain it easily forever, so I'd use the "Debian Type" method.

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Wow!
by Bosscrow / February 6, 2007 4:31 AM PST

It seems the world of Linux is much more complicated that I had realized. Ok so let me get some basic Linux facts. From what was said above I am assuming with Linux you can switch off the GUI, and the system will continue to function? That is a nice feature for a server.

Let me give some more background. What I want to use this for is a file server to store my family?s photos, videos, and music files. I have 3 other windows systems. I have an XP Pro desktop and 2 XP home laptops. I am trying to solve the problem of my wife loading pictures of videos off the camera on her laptop. Then when I want to get the photos and take them to be printed I cannot because she is gone with her laptop.

The reason I said all of that is so that you could have a better idea of what I intend to use the machine for. So then you could then better advise me on a choice of Operating System. I really want to try a Linux based system. I am a young system administrator but I have had no experience in programming. So I do not know if I am too comfortable with the stuff I was reading on the free download sites. Would you think a program like Xandros or Linspire can do what I need it to and be easy to install?

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Yep...
by 3rdalbum / February 8, 2007 6:23 PM PST
In reply to: Wow!

...you can turn off the GUI if you don't need it. Linux is very modular and scalable - you can turn off almost anything and the system will keep running Happy

Okay, now that I know more about your requirements, forget I mentioned Fedora and CentOS Happy

Any desktop Linux distribution will meet your requirements splendidly, but since you're a new user I'd probably recommend Ubuntu. It's powerful, yet easy to use - and the next version due in April is very exciting indeed.

With Ubuntu, once it's installed, all you've got to do is go to the System menu then come down to Administration > Shared Folders. It will ask you if you want to install Samba; click OK and Ubuntu will automatically download the software for you. Then just give the "workgroup" a name, and tell your Windows computers where to find the Ubuntu server... that's pretty much it.

Trust me, as a Linux user of over a year, you don't need to buy a distribution, just get one of the free distros. The commercial distributions are not actually better, they just have a lot of included audio and video codecs that you would have to manually add to a free distro.

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I got it!
by Bosscrow / February 15, 2007 5:41 AM PST
In reply to: Yep...

It was a little more difficult than what you said but I got it all working! Linux seems pretty cool, It runs fast. I put it on some older Junk computers and they run good. You can actually browse the net and do other things. Thanks for all your help!

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Linux? how about BSD
by gasjr4wd / March 7, 2007 11:32 AM PST
In reply to: I got it!

for a very nice, simple as *&^%, try freenas.org
Linux is nice, but this nas (network attached server) is even more simple. You admin from a web browser. Very, very simple to work with. I can't recomend it enough. Very easy-very small. Can run in ram or from CD.

G.

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