creative uses for a server?

excalibur313

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 7, 2003
779
3
Cambridge, MA
I have an old dell 350mhz and I've been thinking about popping a few new hard drives in it and having it act as a network attached storage machine. I thought a little bit more and I guess I could turn it into a server. I was just curious what sorts of things that I could use this for that would be useful. I currently have a mbp and I'm at a university so I'm not as free to do what I would like as a home network but I've already cleared having a server. I guess this post is for a brainstorming place for interesting or practical uses for a low power server for a more advanced mac user. (I would definitely install unix I think instead of windows.) Would I have to have a monitor for it or could I do a lot of the monitoring from a separate computer?

PS- Like one idea: sometimes I download big files and I have to leave my laptop on. Could I have a server do all that work of the downloading and then transfer it back? Or what about having it act as a print server?
 

slooksterPSV

macrumors 68040
Apr 17, 2004
3,281
126
Nowheresville
excalibur313 said:
I have an old dell 350mhz and I've been thinking about popping a few new hard drives in it and having it act as a network attached storage machine. I thought a little bit more and I guess I could turn it into a server. I was just curious what sorts of things that I could use this for that would be useful. I currently have a mbp and I'm at a university so I'm not as free to do what I would like as a home network but I've already cleared having a server. I guess this post is for a brainstorming place for interesting or practical uses for a low power server for a more advanced mac user. (I would definitely install unix I think instead of windows.) Would I have to have a monitor for it or could I do a lot of the monitoring from a separate computer?

PS- Like one idea: sometimes I download big files and I have to leave my laptop on. Could I have a server do all that work of the downloading and then transfer it back? Or what about having it act as a print server?
With Linux and 128MB of Memory you could turn that computer into a few things:
Print server
File server
Web server
--heck you could even setup LDAP and log into the server and map drives to specific places on the server.
Firewall
Proxy
etc.
--Personally I'd do the first 3 - I test out web stuff all the time, I'd like to have a place to send my print jobs, and a file server, for lots of files, is a must.
 

FredClausen

macrumors regular
Aug 7, 2006
170
0
KALM
I think the three uses highlighted by slooksterPSV is about all you can expect out of such a server.

Linux or any BSD flavor would be perfect, but I suggest something simple like Fedora Core or Ubuntu. I believe both distros offer a server grade install that cuts out the crap that linux GUIs install.

As for the software, you'll want to look into the following packages:

File server: I suggest using Samba, which you probably are familiar with if you've ever used your mac to share files with windows. Very easy to set up.

Print server: CUPS. Old as dirt, stable as anything, nice and configurable.

Web server: Apache. No real comments except that it is very easy to use.

If you use one of those distros I suggest above, all those packages should be installed by default. The user wiki docs for those distros are amazing and they should have plenty of documentation to help you out.

You should be able to run a server "headless" (without a monitor) but some PCs require things like video cards and or keyboards to start up. My personal linux server requires just a video card, but my previous one required a keyboard as well.

Good luck :D
 

slooksterPSV

macrumors 68040
Apr 17, 2004
3,281
126
Nowheresville
FredClausen said:
I think the three uses highlighted by slooksterPSV is about all you can expect out of such a server.

Linux or any BSD flavor would be perfect, but I suggest something simple like Fedora Core or Ubuntu. I believe both distros offer a server grade install that cuts out the crap that linux GUIs install.

As for the software, you'll want to look into the following packages:

File server: I suggest using Samba, which you probably are familiar with if you've ever used your mac to share files with windows. Very easy to set up.

Print server: CUPS. Old as dirt, stable as anything, nice and configurable.

Web server: Apache. No real comments except that it is very easy to use.

If you use one of those distros I suggest above, all those packages should be installed by default. The user wiki docs for those distros are amazing and they should have plenty of documentation to help you out.

You should be able to run a server "headless" (without a monitor) but some PCs require things like video cards and or keyboards to start up. My personal linux server requires just a video card, but my previous one required a keyboard as well.

Good luck :D
As a side note you can run Mac OS X Server as a headless server- you can even install the OS from across the world, as long as the DVD is in the drive... wait, no it doesn't, it doesn't have to be in the drive. Just as long as you have the DVD software.
 

Lollypop

macrumors 6502a
Sep 13, 2004
829
0
Johannesburg, South Africa
slooksterPSV said:
As a side note you can run Mac OS X Server as a headless server- you can even install the OS from across the world, as long as the DVD is in the drive... wait, no it doesn't, it doesn't have to be in the drive. Just as long as you have the DVD software.
Is that all versions of OS X Server on all machines? I want to yank the video card out of my B&W G3.
 

ReanimationLP

macrumors 68030
Jan 8, 2005
2,766
26
On the moon.
Cool beans. :)

Let me know if you ever need any parts for this project. I have some RAM and a Slot 1 to Socket 370 converter and some PIII/Celeron chips I can sell to you for very cheap and reasonable prices.

Like 256MB of RAM in 2 128MB modules, and the Slot 1 adapter with a Celeron 633 MHz with heatsink and fan for 35 shipped. :)

Let me know if you need any help with this.

I love it when people find uses for old technology. I really hate seeing perfectly good things going to waste.
 

excalibur313

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 7, 2003
779
3
Cambridge, MA
Thanks for all the help guys! I'll try installing ubuntu later this week but I'll keep you posted on my progress.* Just another thought: is there a way that I can make the computer kind of act like an airport in that I hook up speakers to it and then I can broadcast music to it from itunes on a different computer?* I know that it is a long shot but it would be pretty cool if you could get it to work.
 

FredClausen

macrumors regular
Aug 7, 2006
170
0
KALM
excalibur313 said:
Thanks for all the help guys! I'll try installing ubuntu later this week but I'll keep you posted on my progress.* Just another thought: is there a way that I can make the computer kind of act like an airport in that I hook up speakers to it and then I can broadcast music to it from itunes on a different computer?* I know that it is a long shot but it would be pretty cool if you could get it to work.
There are a few projects out there that emulate various types of a media center functionality. But unless I'm mistaken, there is no software out there that is mature enough (if its out there at all) to fully interact with iTunes. My experience is that the software out there can broadcast TO iTunes (ie, you put your music on the linux machine and iTunes can see it) but it won't see the music in the iTunes library. I'm not an expert in this field by any means so I may miss something.