Home server?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by nyquist11, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. macrumors member

    I have a small network with 3 macs and around 5 windows computers on it. I was wondering if it would make sense to install leopard server on one of them. This summer I am planning on getting 2 new mac laptops. This will make my imac less used so that is the computer I am planning to install the new os on. I haven't upgraded to leopard on those yet so I will at least get some software. If I want to have a shared hard drive and some VPN support ( I have a vpn router; would also like advice on how easy it would be to intergrate the server into the system). One of the main things that I have not been able to do with other methods is to have the user account shared over the network (not sure of the real name...I have some files on account X on computer A and then I go to computer B and log onto the same account with all the same settings and be able to retrieve file X) this is more of something that I would like just because it looks cool, not really to make sense.

    Thanks in advance:apple:
  2. macrumors member

    me too

    I'm thinking about a similar project. Sure, it would be somewhat useful, but the real justification for me is to become more familiar with OS X Server (I work in IT).

    Do you have spare machines that are up to spec for Leopard Server? Apple states an 867ghz G4 and 1gb of memory as the minimum spec. That's not too much, but keep in mind it is only the minimum. Ebay says you can get a used g4 tower that might do the trick for a few hundred, depending on the specs. But it might need more storage or memory to be a good candidate.

    You would definitely be able to provide each family member with their own username and password, and use that for file access security, etc. I'm also hoping to share and consolidate itunes libraries on the server, but I haven't researched that and I expect roadblocks.... It would be interesting to use some very basic ical integration, and I might tinker with some sort of family intranet -- especially if I opened the firewall and allowed a select group of friends and family to access it over the internet.

    There are easier and cheaper ways of achieving these goals, but that doesn't mean I won't try to do it!
  3. macrumors 65816

    I don't know about Leopard server but I ran Tiger server from a 500 MHz Ti G4 laptop for nearly a year in a home setting with four computers with no problem at all.
  4. macrumors 6502


    I currently run a Mac Mini as a server. I prefer using Debian Linux though, I just prefer it.
  5. macrumors demi-god


    I think the question you need to consider is whether it's worth the time and expense. I can't address Leopard Server directly, but I did what you're talking about with Win2K Server a few years ago, going so far as to set up an AD domain with integrated DNS, DHCP, file & printer sharing, certificate services, and a RADIUS server to do 802.1x authentication with PEAP-EAP-TLS for my wireless network (which provides bulletproof industrial-strength security but renders the WLAN useless for lots of devices--I don't recommend this for home use!). I use the server to run a server-based version of Retrospect to back up the shared server files as well as all my Windows and Mac machines--which works extremely well. I also run McAfee's EPO for centralized administration of antivirus software on my Windows machines, though this has become less important as I've gradually been switching over to Macs.

    While running your own server is cool and useful, looking back I have to say it probably wasn't worth the time, effort and expense to set it up. I did it originally because, at the time, I had executive oversight responsibility for IT, and I wanted to get up to speed on servers and networking so that I could talk somewhat intelligently with the IT guys. I think I ended up knowing more than the IT guys on many subjects! :D So if, like Andy, you're thinking of doing this as a learning exercise, then by all means go for it. But recognize that there will be a steep learning curve (perhaps not as steep with OS X, I don't know), and that there are probably faster, simpler and cheaper ways to do what you're trying to achieve. In fact, I probably would have dumped the server and gone with a simple NAS by now if not for Retrospect backup...I really like the scheme I've set up and can't bear to abandon it.

    The other thing to consider is that, at least in the Windows world, server versions of software and utilities are far more expensive than their desktop counterparts. Consider that OS X Leopard Server alone costs $500! What I've found is that, if a desktop program costs $50-$100 (backup software, defragger, etc.), the server version will cost $300-$1000! You may want to look into the total cost of ownership for what you'll want to do before you take the plunge.

    Another consideration--if you're going to put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, by consolidating all your files, etc. on one machine, then you'll want to think about reliability and IMO that means, at a minimum, RAID-1 or RAID-5. I ended up buying an entry-level Dell PowerEdge server that now has a 1TB RAID-5 array...in your case I don't know what to tell you except that I probably wouldn't trust my life to a Mac Mini!

    There are some very nice NAS boxes on the market right now that do RAID and sport some sort of Linux-based OS for setting up file sharing, shared printers, backup, etc. If I were you, I'd look seriously at this option before getting into a full-blown home server.

    Anyway, I wanted to share my experience. I hope this helps you in your decision, and I wish you good luck!
  6. macrumors member

    Thank You!

    Thank you all! I will consider all of the cost that has to do with this because I looked more carefully and it seems to be a little on the expensive side! I think that I will start out with some linux or opensorce thing before i pay for apples version and use all of those features:apple:
  7. macrumors 6502


    Yeah. I run a Linux server and it runs great. Debian runs nicely on my PowerPC mac mini.
  8. macrumors G4

    You don't need Mac OS Server to do any of that.

    iMac i not the best machine to use as a server because it has that big LCD screen so it is a waste of a nice screen and it does not have room inside for disk drives.

    The abiliity to log in and have you account and files follow the log in is nice. But be warned that unless you have gibabit Ethernet remoe files are not as fast is local files. All you have to do to make it happen is mount the $HOME directories. If you only have a few users just do it by hand. If yo have more that what automounter is for.
  9. macrumors member

    It is more of a thing to do for fun, I really dont NEED it but it really would be cool for me
  10. macrumors member

    I didnt realize that Debian came in the form of a server os. Can you tell me where to get the disk image. I have some old out of commission windows comps that i could try some basic settings 4 free. Also I was looking for a way to make a vpn. I understand that you could use just a router or a combo of a router and a server. Does anyone know more about the differences.:apple:
  11. macrumors newbie

    I use Unbutu server, it's based on Debian and is a breeze to set-up.... As for VPN, you just need a router that can act as the gateway.... Some of the better routers like the Vigor 2800 series .... they are very easy to set-up, you just need to make sure you use dynamic DNS or have a static IP (your ISP can give you one)...
  12. macrumors 6502

    I'm running Solaris as a server primarily for ZFS, actually totally for ZFS. It's not much fun running it for anything else !!
  13. macrumors member

    When I look at Unbutu's website it seems that you need to have special hardware specs. to install the server version, I currently have the desktop version on one of my old windows comps. As for the vpn I have also been looking at some netgear and low-end sonicwall routers (I think it is the TZ series or something). Does anyone have one of these routers set up as a vpn, if so could you tell me about the technical knowledge required to set it up. :apple::apple:
  14. macrumors member


    Just Checking; ZFS is some sort of file service. Correct?:apple::apple:
  15. macrumors 603


    It is a filesystem like HFS+, NTFS or FAT32.
  16. macrumors newbie

    unbuntu as a server and imac

    I have ubuntu as the server with 2 x 500 GB W digital drives so far and a network cable linking the mac to the linux box and nothing happens. I'm aware om doing something wrong but you guys have a better idea than me.
    Do I need to download the server edition of ubuntu? (please correct answer nope).
    If this is not going to work, I'm going to have to go down the route of a firewire 800 card in the server, defeating the object and trying to find one in South Africa is hard.
    Do I have to use a router? I need access to 100's Gb of RAW images and will a wireless network be as fast as a cable / firewire 800?

    Any suggestions or help would be much appreciated

  17. macrumors G4

    You don't need Mac OS X Server to do that. Just set up some "shares". You will have to leave the machine with the files on it powered up all the time. So pick one that does not use a lot of power. A server can add $30 a month to your eletric bill easy. So you might want to look into running a Mac Mini or an older notebook computer.

    All you need is one folder for each user and some passwords setup.

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