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Need help designing home file server

by hooch19 / July 1, 2008 6:07 AM PDT

I would like to build a home file server that could also handle print server duties and, if possible, host some games that my son and I like to play. I have some minor exposure to Unix from a previous job and would like to try my hand at Linux. I would like some help, please, with determining some minimum specs for the machine.

Right now, I have 2 XP machines that would connect to it via a Belkin 4-port/wireless that I already have and I will be adding at least 2 other new machines down the road. It doesn't need to be web-accessible for now although, if I ever get high speed, I would like to have that option. I would also like to institute RAID for redundancy, not necessarily speed, as all of my photos/mp3s/etc. will be on it.

I have considered 4 options so far:

1. Buying a brand new PC with Windows so that I can play the games that we have and installing 3 ~500GB drives with RAID5(?) and installing Linux. Depending on the specs that you provide, it seems that this might be prohibitively expensive and I'm not sure if you can set up dual-boot on a machine that is already set up with Windows.

2. Buying a barebones machine, putting in the same drives and running Linux only. The problem is hosting the Windows games.

3. I have a lot of spare parts and have thought about seeing if I have enough to scavenge a machine together.

4. I have another Gateway machine currently with Win98 that I have considered converting, but I'm not sure that it would support the large drives that I am talking about using. Also, getting XP on it would be another expense. I believe that it has a 733MHz Pentium.

Also, can you suggest a distribution. From what I have read, Ubuntu seems to be popularly suggested for newbies.

I'm sure that I left out details that could be useful; let me know and I can add anything that you might want to know. I would really appreciate some guidance. Thanks in advance.

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None of the above.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 1, 2008 9:05 AM PDT

I've done this and now find it TOO EXPENSIVE to run such 24x7. Today I suggest any NAS even if you have to run Linux to get there. Look for any NAS but tell more why you want to burn 200 Watts when a NAS could come in under 20.

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Not sure about NAS
by hooch19 / July 2, 2008 1:54 AM PDT
In reply to: None of the above.

I looked into using a NAS. My reservations there were that I had trouble finding one from a company that I trust that got good reviews from users. Also, I'm not that familiar with them, so I'm not sure how easy/inexpensive it would be to react to HD failures and such. It seemed also that you are stuck with proprietary software that doesn't have a proven track record. Lastly, I was somewhat looking forward to this project to get some Linux experience and expose my children to alternatives to Windows.

I appreciate your suggestion and I think that I will look into NAS as far as what is available and see if I can answer some of my own concerns. Thanks again, Bob.

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Linux and reacting to HD failures.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 2, 2008 2:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Not sure about NAS

Can't say I've seen it do much better. There is the fine DROBO unit out there but I use simple NAS boxes now. I have some DLINK box and it's under 20 watts measured on my P3 Watt Meter.

The drives do not fail unless I do something bad like drop them. I am now at 10 years and counting so please share why drive failures are plaguing you.

Back to the PC, Linux and a file server. Well, yes it does that and you can get too much on the web about that. I'm not going to share about that but move to what I see as a cost problem and how I fixed it.

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