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some n00b questions about servers


nate
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I am getting my own place soon (yay for movin out! :D ) and I am taking 2 computers with me. I would like to set up my old computer as a server to make me more productive, but I have a few questions about servers.

1. How do I set up my old computer as a server in the first place? I need a very cheap and easy way to do this.

2. What can I do with my server after it is all set up? Like can I have it downloading torrents and such while I am using my laptop?

3. What do you have your servers doing?

4.Will haveing my laptop connected to my server slow my laptop down?

If I think up any more questions I'll ask. Thanks for your help.

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1. How do I set up my old computer as a server in the first place? I need a very cheap and easy way to do this.

Any computer can be used as a server, the difference between a desktop and server is the software that you run on it. Your most likely going to want to use Linux or BSD, because they are free and there is a whole host of server software that is also open-source and free to make them into a server.

2. What can I do with my server after it is all set up? Like can I have it downloading torrents and such while I am using my laptop?

Servers can do lots of things, using it to download torrents is not really a server but if the computer is then sharing the files then it will be a server. You could use a torrent client that has a webgui to control it over the network.

Other things most servers do is host website, databases, e-mail, the list goes on, you will have to think what you want your server to do.

3. What do you have your servers doing?

I have a LAMP server (linux, apache, mysql, php) which also has ftp and e-mail, this is my main server which hosts a number of dynamic websites and databases, serves my e-mail and i can use it as remote storage.

I also have a game server running at the moment (UT GOTYE), which also covers some downloading needs and file storage).

Finally I have my network server which runs DHCP, DNS and IDS amongst a few other things. I used to have an IRC server but since formatting that server I haven't set it up again yet.

4.Will haveing my laptop connected to my server slow my laptop down?

It depends what you laptop is using it for. I say all your files are on the server then you might find if your network is slow that moving files between the server and laptop slow. Otherwise it depends on what your laptop is connecting to your server for. Say you were running a home-website for you to put notes on, then it wouldn't slow your laptop down at all.

Any more questions?

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1. How do I set up my old computer as a server in the first place? I need a very cheap and easy way to do this.

For my server, i just got a 950mhz AMD box, 512mb of ram, and a 20gb HD. I originally installed windows XP, and then set it to boot without a keyboard, mouse and monitor. I set up VNC to use it.

I now have it running win2k3 and use remote desktop. I'm considering linux on another machine, but i went with windows because I wanted it to work fast.

2. What can I do with my server after it is all set up? Like can I have it downloading torrents and such while I am using my laptop?

I used mine as a torrent server with a web interface, this ment I could download torrents from work, or other houses. I also ran XAMMP on it for a simple development web server. As long as the server doesn't consume that much bandwidth it shouldn't be a problem. For sercurity I used a whitelist of ports on both the router and firewall on the server.

3. What do you have your servers doing?

Right now, it just hosts a couple of disks worth of music and videos. I also used it as a test server when I was working on a website.

4.Will haveing my laptop connected to my server slow my laptop down?

It just depends how much bandwidth you use, if its only got a 100mb pipe to the outside world, there is finite limit to what it can do.

One thing is, unless you have a good upload speed, on the outside world the server will be slow.

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It just depends how much bandwidth you use, if its only got a 100mb pipe to the outside world, there is finite limit to what it can do.

What do you mean you have a 100mb pipe? Are you saying you have a SONET Ring (OC3) internet connection from your ISP? Or are you referring to your internal LAN?

I have 2 servers setup on my domain at home. 1 runs Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition and one runs Ubuntu Breezy Badger Linux 5.10.

The Windows Box is setup with DNS, Active Directory, DHCP, an ISA server, and WSUS server for my domain. There are several shares on this server that host file storage, MP3's and movies for the domain. Symantec Anti-Virus Corporate Edition 9 is also running.

The Linux box is a LAMP server (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) and a phpBB, and hosts an Intranet site for my domain, just for fun. This box is also hosting a dedicated Call of Duty United Offensive server for when my friends come over and feel like PWNed.

For security I have a port white-list in place, and the ISA server also acts as a firewall.

I have had several people tell me this is a bit overkill for a small home network, but I wanted to do it so my skills don't get rusty. Something like this is probably more than you need, but if you want a good learning experience give it a shot, or go to school for network administration.

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It just depends how much bandwidth you use, if its only got a 100mb pipe to the outside world, there is finite limit to what it can do.

What do you mean you have a 100mb pipe? Are you saying you have a SONET Ring (OC3) internet connection from your ISP? Or are you referring to your internal LAN?

I was reffering to the ethernet cable from the server. Its more than enough internet bandwidth wise, but if you have 2-3 people streaming video/copying to there hard disk, torrents and a remote desktop session all on the LAN, it tends to get a tad choppy with cheapo old home equipment. You could get gigabit in there but for a cheap home setup its not worth the extra cost IMO.

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If your looking for a nice step by step style videos on how to install WAMP i would looking into both 3dbuzz (http://3dbuzz.com/vbforum/sv_dl_list.php?c=6 free membership required for dl) and the new LAMP series by the dude at GIDUT (www.gidut.tv).

The 3dbuzz vids are the way i learned and the comunity there are really smart and helpful.

I just saw the Linux portion of the GIDUT series on LAMP and the dude really knows his stuff and how to explain it to where it's easy to pick up. The best part is everything he is using is free and open source so you could just follow along and by the time you were done you would have a hardcore LAMP Server.

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I recomend FreeNAS. I'm currently using it on an old box of mine and I must say, it's the easiest server I've ever set up. The software is free and open source, very stable and I had mine working beautifully in five minutes. It's still in development and there are a few features that have yet to be added but if you're not too worried about setting up user accounts and special access (which has yet to be added), this would work great for you.

www.freenas.org

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I recomend FreeNAS. I'm currently using it on an old box of mine and I must say, it's the easiest server I've ever set up. The software is free and open source, very stable and I had mine working beautifully in five minutes. It's still in development and there are a few features that have yet to be added but if you're not too worried about setting up user accounts and special access (which has yet to be added), this would work great for you.

FreeNAS is wonderful, but only as a file server. If he wants to do anything else with his server then he won't be able to.

Most people don't have the luxury of having seperate servers running each service.

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http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html

This works a treat, and is great if you want something quick and easy. Does apache, php, mysql, filezilla and mercury mail in 1 pretty simple install. Works on linux, windows, osx and solaris. No, you won't learn how to put it all together manually, but its a great introduction if you learn by taking a working example apart.

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3. What do you have your servers doing?

I have a number of servers at home, my media server has a little over 2TB of storage, dual 2.8 GHz Xeon’s and 8GB of Ram and is running OpenBSD, it’s responsible for archiving all my DVD’s and music. It’s also used to record and distribute my satellite TV and download and store any TV shows, Podcast and Video-cast I like and then compress/ convert them to another format if needed and distribute all content to my XBMC’s, Thin clients and desktops, it can also be accessed remotely to allow me to set up record times and watch anything.

Asterisk Server (running Debian) is using a AMD Athlon 64 3200 (2.0GHz), a gig of ram, and a 250GB harddrive and is used to hold conference calls, make and receive phone calls, record all phone calls, answer machine, distribute phone calls and content around the house to my VOIP phones (one ZyXEL2000W, one Cisco CP-7970G, one CP-7936 and four CP-7960).

Terminal server (running Debian and LTSP), is using a 2.8 GHz Xeon, 2GB of Ram and 250GB’s of storage, it’s used to allow me to use applications on my thin clients.

File server (running a modified version of Gentoo) uses two 2.6 GHz Single Core AMD Opteron’s, 4GB of Ram and a little over 4TB of storage, and it’s used as an overflow for my media server (if needed), all the feed from my IP cameras are stored on it, it also stores all my work files and anything else that needs to be backed up.

Home control server (running a modified version of Debian) uses a 2.8 GHz Xeon, 1GB of Ram and a 250GB harddrive, this is used to control and log data for all my door locks, IR sensors, window sensors and anything concerning my alarm system, it’s also used to control the lights in my house and email and text me if it picks anything UP.

I have a another server that is nearly the same spec as my file server but it has 4GB of ram and 1TB of storage and it’s used for testing, its currently running Ubuntu Server Edition.

I also have a number of other servers from HP that are running Red Hat Enterprise Linux, HPUX 11i v2, Windows Server 2003 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

The severs are used for a wide range of things from hardware and software testing/ development to finding security vulnerabilities in products that are already on the market.

I own 6 servers for my personal use all the others belong to my company and I usually have them for anything from 2 mouths to indefinitely, and they pay for the power bill and other costs involving them.

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I now have a huge case of geek envy Metatron.

This is a photo of my servers, before I left for work I had the two racks on the right completely full.

picture0516bv.jpg

People that visit my home tend to think it’s a bit strange that I had half my garage converted into a server room, I just tell them I only own one car (Who needs a four car garage) and I like computers.

My server room is capable of holding 25 racks of servers if needed.

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Very nice set up, puts my server "Wardrobe" to shame with having 4x 500MHz systems with 128MB of RAM and the most storage in one of them is 60BG, then an 800MHz with 512MB of RAM and 40GB and a 200MHz which has got a duff IDE controller.

Plus a 486 which I plan to refurbish in the summer for a laugh. I want some retro computing.

I suppose you've got to start somewhere.

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3. What do you have your servers doing?

I used to have about 3 or 4 computers running in my shed doing various things. But since I invested in a server case, UPS, and 500GB of RAID5 (now in my wardrobe), I haven't had any need for them. However they're there for tweaking and mucking around with. My main server (the 500GB), acts as file server(+torrent box), game server when I need it, and whatever else I'm mucking around with at the time. It's a 1Ghz Althon with 256MB of RAM I think.

At the front of my network is a Gentoo box that acts as Firewall, DNS, DHCP, et al. I used to be running IpCop for that, but I moved to Gentoo because I wanted a fully-featured Linux box there, so I could muck around with traffic shaping, proxies, and whatnot (the better hardware support was a good thing too :D)

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Most people don't have £? to spend on computers. That includes me.

I will agree that my set up isn’t cheap but most people don’t need access to enterprise level equipment (although it is nice).

My media server needs to be that powerful as it does a lot of processor and memory intensive things, but if you don’t have the need to compress and convert video and audio formats and stream television shows with a ten seconded delay then you can get away with a lot less.

If you want a Asterisk server and all you want to do is make and receive calls, use it as a answering machine and run maybe two IP phones or a few soft-phones then you can get away with a P2 box and 64MB of ram.

As for a file server most people can getaway with a P2 and 128mb of ram and just stick a cheap IDE RAID controller in and some old harddrive’s, then just run whatever flavour of *NIX you like and your good to go.

With a Terminal server’s you have to think about what applications you are going to run and how many Thin clients you will be using and if all your going to be dong is going on the net with two Thin clients you can get away with less.

Home control servers you could get away with a less powerful machine but it would depend on what you are having it monitor and control.

The layout for where the evil happens.

56464524.jpg

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Metatron, your setup is teh ownage!!!

shame I dont have enough room to my house to have a setup like that.

My 1st server was my first project about a yr ago into the world of home servers, I decided I would build a small rig for a webserver.

As time progressed I made other uses for the server such as teamspeak dedi and mysql db.

Then I decided I wanted to setup a counter strike source server since Im a big css fan, so i downloaded the files and setup a css dedi.

I noticed the performance was quite crap and began to learn about command line dedi instead of GUI.

I came across firedeamon and decided to buy a copy and put all my things as services.

After experimenting around I decided that having loads of things running on a server isnt good for performance wise, so I decided to build a 2nd rig.

My 1st server was a old asus mboard, 1gb pc2700 ram and a amd duron 1.8ghz, it ran ok after tweaking stuff and setting up remote desktop.

My 2nd server was to be for hidden source and halo dedi, I had a few spare parts so I decided to build the 2nd server.

This one was a 64bit amd sempron chip running at 1.8ghz with 1gb pc3200 ram, same setup as before with firedeamon and performance is ok.

Only downside I have with setting up servers is the crappy upload speed I have from my ISP (50kb upload), which limits max players on servers.

I would like to, in the future build a better rig with things like raid but I dont have alot of knowledge about things like that and tend to stick to the tower sided servers.

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