simple file server

Discussion in 'Home Networking' started by Gaz, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. Gaz

    Gaz Guest

    Getting a bit fed up with the flakyness of using xp as a simple file server
    for small xp (and sometimes mixed xp and 98) workgroups.

    Typical situation, five to ten XP workstations accessing one specific xp
    machine to read and save files to, using network drives.

    This setup normally works, but lots of small issues keep popping up, across
    a range of computers. One PC will stop accessing the file server, or the
    network slows down periodically.

    Is there an alternative (none 2000/2003 server based) to XP as a simple file
    server? Logins are not usually necessary, or complicated permissions, but
    the options of might be desirable in the future..

    What is absolutely vital is reliability. It needs to turn on and work,
    simple as, it needs to be quick.

    In this situation, would it be worth exploring a none MS solution, such as a
    linux distro? Or would a good old fashioned windows 98 file sharing
    workstation provide the best solution?

    gaz
     
    Gaz, Mar 13, 2006
    #1
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  2. Gaz

    Sucuba Dude Guest

    : In this situation, would it be worth exploring a none MS solution,
    such as a
    : linux distro? Or would a good old fashioned windows 98 file sharing
    : workstation provide the best solution?

    In this situation I would go with Linux and set up samba to do what
    you want. It's a steep learning curve and I would suggest that you try
    and iron out the windows issues first before you take this step. I
    have tried a number of distros myself and use slack at work. However,
    for ease, you may be wise to use red hat 9 onwards. It's not the best
    distro but it has the largest linux userbase and packages are easily
    found for it. You can also find info easily on it.

    I would avoid a win 98 machine for anything remotely critical It's a
    toytown operating system.
    Failing that you could get an old machine an line it up with windows
    NT from ebay for a few £££.
    Linux does have the speed advantage as a file server. You won't need
    to run AV on it in so you can get away with an old P2 type machine if
    you are on a budget.
     
    Sucuba Dude, Mar 13, 2006
    #2
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  3. Gaz

    Bernard Peek Guest

    In this situation, would it be worth exploring a none MS solution, such as a
    linux distro? Or would a good old fashioned windows 98 file sharing
    workstation provide the best solution?[/QUOTE]

    Given the fact that you asked sensible questions I'd say that you
    shouldn't have a lot of trouble setting up a Linux server using Samba,
    so that's what I recommend.

    There are two options, download or buy. If you buy a recent Linux distro
    it will come with some documentation and perhaps some support. If you
    download a recent distro you will get the latest stable versions of the
    various applications.

    I'm told that the various versions of BSD are even more reliable than
    Linux, so as that appears to be your priority you might consider BSD
    rather than Linux.

    And while you are setting up a file server you might as well add a web
    server and put together an intranet, the Apache software comes in the
    package so why not use it?
     
    Bernard Peek, Mar 13, 2006
    #3
  4. Gaz

    Rob Morley Guest

    Try SAMBA on Linux. SME Server (formerly e-smith) is a popular
    distribution that is probably well suited to your needs:

    http://smeserver.sourceforge.net/HomePage
     
    Rob Morley, Mar 13, 2006
    #4
  5. Gaz

    Mark Goodge Guest

    Given the fact that you asked sensible questions I'd say that you
    shouldn't have a lot of trouble setting up a Linux server using Samba,
    so that's what I recommend.

    There are two options, download or buy. If you buy a recent Linux distro
    it will come with some documentation and perhaps some support. If you
    download a recent distro you will get the latest stable versions of the
    various applications.

    I'm told that the various versions of BSD are even more reliable than
    Linux, so as that appears to be your priority you might consider BSD
    rather than Linux.[/QUOTE]

    At the risk of starting a Linux religious war, I'd suggest Ubuntu as a
    good distro for a beginner. It's dead simple to install, and has all
    the stuff like Samba built in. You can even order it on CD to be
    posted to you at no cost, which is handy if you don't want to use all
    your bandwidth allowance downloading an ISO. And it has some really
    cool screensavers :)

    Mark
     
    Mark Goodge, Mar 13, 2006
    #5
  6. I second that. I've not used it personally, but it has a reputation for
    being very accessible for beginners. It is based on Debian, which I do
    use extensively, and is one of the most stable and reliable Linux distros,
    but not very beginner friendly itself. This is why Ubuntu has become so
    popular recently - it combines the solid reliability of Debian with user
    friendliness. Not sure I'd rate a server distro on its screensavers though:)
    http://www.ubuntu.com, ubuntu.org is something completely different:)

    I wouldn't recommend BSD to someone without some previous UNIX/UNIX like
    OS experience. All the BSDs are very good, but none are particularly
    easy to use. Most Linux distros have come on a long way recently in this
    respect. I am sure that the OP will find Linux plentifully reliable
    enough. I do.

    Regards, Ian
     
    Ian Northeast, Mar 13, 2006
    #6
  7. Gaz

    Clint Sharp Guest

    Standardise your network protocols and remove any unused ones (NETBEUI)
    The order that the machines in a peer to peer network boot can make for
    nasty problems,
    NAS box? Don't use Win98, there's no security and that's just one
    reason....
    Look at Samba.... might be just what you need but you'll need to do some
    reading and playing.
     
    Clint Sharp, Mar 13, 2006
    #7
  8. Gaz

    Mark Goodge Guest

    Ah, but if you're going to have an extra computer in the room then it
    has to *look* cool as well as serve files efficiently. And if you're
    not going to be using it so much for desktop applications, then the
    screensaver is pretty much all the GUI will be running most of the
    time. :)
    BSD is excellent for a "traditional" Unix-like environment of one
    server, one sysadmin and many users with individual shell and/or ftp
    accounts. But Linux is generally easier to use in a typical home,
    dedicated file server or SOHO environment where the user/server ratio
    is lower and the distinction between users and admins is less rigid.
    (That's not to say that Linux can't handle equally large numbers of
    users; it is perfectly capable of doing so. But such a use doesn't
    play to Linux's strengths in the way it does for BSD).

    Mark
     
    Mark Goodge, Mar 13, 2006
    #8
  9. It doesn't make much difference when it's shoved under a desk with no
    monitor attached. Or in the attic:)

    I always run servers without graphical logon. One less thing to go wrong.

    Regards, Ian
     
    Ian Northeast, Mar 13, 2006
    #9
  10. Gaz

    Bernard Peek Guest

    In message <>,
    I didn't want to recommend any one Linux distro because for the OP's
    requirements any recent distro would do the job. Most recent distros can
    automatically download and install security patches. That could be
    important for someone who doesn't want to spend too much time learning
    about Linux software installation. I would quite happily recommend
    Ubuntu, Redhat or SuSE. Those are distros that I've used, and no doubt
    there are others that would also do the job.

    Someone else has just recommended one of the all-in-one servers that can
    also work as an email gateway, and probably makes damn fine coffee too.
    That's another option to consider. I think the OP was looking for
    something simple and although those all-in-one distros are relatively
    simple they might require extra work setting up networking on the
    existing machines. Hopefully someone with practical experience can tell
    us.
     
    Bernard Peek, Mar 14, 2006
    #10
  11. You could try one of the many NAS (Network Attached Storage) solutions.
    The simplest answer is to buy a NAS box, but if you want to use a PC
    there are various packages you can load up, which are designed to give
    you a no frills, no fuss flieserver.

    These are often combined Samba/Linux solutions, but packaged so you
    don't necessarily have to understand either Samba or Linux to set them
    up and use them.

    Do a search around NAS or try the following:

    FreeNAS - http://www.freenas.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1
    NasLite - http://freshmeat.net/projects/naslite
    OpenFiler - http://www.openfiler.com/about/
    Darma - http://nas.darma.com/
    ServerElements - http://www.serverelements.com/

    Andrew


    --
     
    Andrew Chapman, Mar 14, 2006
    #11
  12. Gaz

    Rob Morley Guest

    Why have a monitor on a server? Once it's set up you can do anything
    you need to with Webmin or SSH.
     
    Rob Morley, Mar 14, 2006
    #12
  13. Gaz

    Gaz Guest

    Have had experieince of that, it was a belkin device i think, it was
    dreadful. It might just be that model. The network was on dhcp from an adsl
    router, it was attatched to the router, talking about ten PCs. It was
    fussier then XP.
    It would progressively slow down the network, and after about 30mins all the
    PCs would lose internet connection. This would only happen when the external
    storage device was switched on.
    Very bizzare. All the PCs had no problem accesing a single xp workstation,
    with a shared folder, all using network drives.

    That solution worked in this situation, XP is so fussy in general, that is
    why i was looking for a more foolproof system of filesharing.

    I can sort out the XP end, I am a complete newbie to linux though (apart
    from some minor Tivo tinkering)..

    Gaz
     
    Gaz, Mar 14, 2006
    #13
  14. Gaz

    anon Guest

    and/or KVM (which would work even if there was something stopping an
    application)... brings me onto whether anyone knows why RealVNC may
    say "not listening" ? I can still reach the system (a PC at home of
    a friend) via logmein.com but puzzled why RealVNC isn't listening!!
     
    anon, Mar 14, 2006
    #14
  15. That sounds like a configuration problem, nothing to do with using NAS
    as such. XP is no more fussy in talking to file servers than any other
    OS. Some NAS servers (not that Belkin) actually use Microsoft
    Operating systems under the covers, but you probably would find it
    difficult to tell any difference in terms of their function.

    On our site we run Linux/Samba, Solaris, Windows 2003 fileservers and
    NAS boxes and each type run perfectly efficiently with XP boxes, as
    well as with Linux, Solaris and Mac desktops. Your network needs to be
    set up properly for any of these to work correctly. If you have, for
    example, two DHCP servers running on the same network you might get the
    problems you describe; but that would happen whatever OS and file
    server you were using.

    If you don't understand networking and had problems setting up a NAS
    box, then I wouldn't recommend that you try to configure SAMBA on a
    Linux system.


    --
     
    Andrew Chapman, Mar 14, 2006
    #15
  16. Gaz

    Mark Goodge Guest

    Well, I was rather hoping people would note the smiley on the end of
    my statement. Although running a GUI just for the sake of a cool
    screensaver isn't an entirely dumb thing to do - it's better than a
    lava lamp.

    Mark
     
    Mark Goodge, Mar 14, 2006
    #16
  17. Gaz

    Rob Morley Guest

    but means you have the server in reach of the KVM, rather than in the
    cupboard under the stairs. I have a 10" CRT monitor that's easy to use
    in this situation, with widespread use of TFTs these days it's easy to
    take the monitor off your desk and plug it into the server.
    Firewall/router not set up to open the correct ports? Server listening
    on a different port than the client expects?
     
    Rob Morley, Mar 15, 2006
    #17
  18. Gaz

    Rob Morley Guest

    Whoops :)
     
    Rob Morley, Mar 15, 2006
    #18
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