Old PC as Linux File Server

XIII

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Aug 15, 2004
3,450
0
England
Hey guys, sorry if this is the wrong forum - couldn't really find one more appropriate, and there was an "old computer uses" thread in this forum a while back.

I now have in my possession a PIII 500mhz, 256mb RAM, 20GB HD machine.. and I would like to turn it into some network storage server somehow, that both the iMacs on the network can access (no PCs here (well, apart from this old one :))). I was thinking I could drop a gigabit ethernet card in it, buy a gigabit ethernet router, and link both the iMacs up to the router with gigabit ethernet cable.. meaning fast transfer speeds - faster than USB 2, right?

Now, I've heard people talking about how Linux should be used to make it a file server.. and I know precisely nothing about Linux. What distribution should I use? Why Linux? And what do I need to do once I have put some internal HDs in the old PC to get them to permanently appear on the Mac's desktops?

Also - is there some limit to the hard drive size I can use internally - I thought I read something about that.. :confused: And finally - NASLite Linux file server software - anyone heard anything about this? I found it googling for Linux file server solutions, or something, and it appears it makes this all... uhh.. easier?

Sorry for the large number of questions.. I'm just a bit of a n00b when it comes to this. :p All help would be appreciated, and anything I've overlooked.

Thanks a tonne,

Jack
 

tipdrill407

macrumors 6502
May 26, 2006
373
0
Linux are typically used in server environments because they are more stable and lightweight (if you install it without a GUI). Also if you know nothing about Linux you might find linux very frustrating because even the simplest distributions are not very user friendly. Ubuntu or SUSE are some of the most user friendly distrubutions, but you'll still need to mess around a lot to learn how to use them.
 

mikes63737

macrumors 65816
Jul 26, 2005
1,133
246
On my Linux box, I'm running CentOS Linux and I found it very easy to set up. If you install a GUI (either KDE or GNOME) and then Samba, you should be able to set up a Samba file server very easily. You can connect to the server by going to Go->Connect To Server (command K) and then typing
Code:
smb://<IP Address>/<Share>/
.

CentOS does have a support forum.

FreeNAS is also a good choice. I've tried it before, and I found that it worked very well for a file server.

I'm not sure how to make them permanently mount to the desktop... this might be what you're looking for.
 

XIII

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Aug 15, 2004
3,450
0
England
mikes63737 said:
On my Linux box, I'm running CentOS Linux and I found it very easy to set up. If you install a GUI (either KDE or GNOME) and then Samba, you should be able to set up a Samba file server very easily. You can connect to the server by going to Go->Connect To Server (command K) and then typing
Code:
smb://<IP Address>/<Share>/
.

CentOS does have a support forum.

FreeNAS is also a good choice. I've tried it before, and I found that it worked very well for a file server.

I'm not sure how to make them permanently mount to the desktop... this might be what you're looking for.
Thanks a lot.

So - if I install a variation of Linux, then a GUI, then Samba.. is Samba some app I need running all the time or something on the Linux box? And when I connect to the server in OS X (hopefully that auto connect thing would work - I am planning to have my Movies folder on this network connected HD, and hope Front Row can see it) it will just appear as an HD on my desktop? Like an external HD would?

Thanks.
 

iTwitch

macrumors 6502a
Mar 30, 2006
619
0
East of the Mississippi
I have a Mandrake Linux desktop running Samba. Samba is a prog or service that loads on startup and waits for a request. You don't need a GUI but it may help you set things up. Once you mount a Samba share it will show up on your desktop.

Edit: You could run this headless (no monitor, video card or keyboard) once you get it up and running and SSH into from your Mac as needed. Of course you'll need sshd running on the linux box but that's no big deal.
 

XIII

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Aug 15, 2004
3,450
0
England
iTwitch said:
I have a Mandrake Linux desktop running Samba. Samba is a prog or service that loads on startup and waits for a request. You don't need a GUI but it may help you set things up. Once you mount a Samba share it will show up on your desktop.

Edit: You could run this headless (no monitor, video card or keyboard) once you get it up and running and SSH into from your Mac as needed. Of course you'll need sshd running on the linux box but that's no big deal.
Ok. What exactly is SSHD? Ideally, yeah, I'd like to run the Linux box headless.

I've just spent the last hour or so reading up on freeNAS and NASlite. Are these just like operating systems? Do you install them instead of Linux? They seem the simplest way to me to do what I want to do.

Thanks.
 

iTwitch

macrumors 6502a
Mar 30, 2006
619
0
East of the Mississippi
XIII said:
Ok. What exactly is SSHD? Ideally, yeah, I'd like to run the Linux box headless.

I've just spent the last hour or so reading up on freeNAS and NASlite. Are these just like operating systems? Do you install them instead of Linux? They seem the simplest way to me to do what I want to do.

Thanks.
sshd - Secure Shell daemon, daemon is a process that sits there and waits to be called upon.

Never heard of freeNAS or NASlite. You can download everything you need for the cost of your time and connection. The Ubuntu distro seems to be popular now,

http://www.ubuntu.com/

Usually when you install a linux distro you choose what you want installed and you can always add features later. You probably want to choose a standad install along with Samba and Openssh?

Edit: Just Googled freeNAS, it appears to be a freebsd based OS. It would probably do you just as well as a linux solution?
 

XIII

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Aug 15, 2004
3,450
0
England
iTwitch said:
sshd - Secure Shell daemon, daemon is a process that sits there and waits to be called upon.

Never heard of freeNAS or NASlite. You can download everything you need for the cost of your time and connection. The Ubuntu distro seems to be popular now,

http://www.ubuntu.com/

Usually when you install a linux distro you choose what you want installed and you can always add features later. You probably want to choose a standad install along with Samba and Openssh?

Edit: Just Googled freeNAS, it appears to be a freebsd based OS. It would probably do you just as well as a linux solution?
Ok, that makes a lot more sense now, haha.. thanks.. something clicked. :p So basically either the Linux solution or the NAS s/w will work for me.. just try it.

I'm sure as I try to do one of the two, I will run into some massive problems, and I'll come running for help here. :p

I just need to find now a wireless router, with a built in ADSL modem, and gigabit ethernet ports. :eek: :)
 

SimonTheSoundMa

macrumors 65816
Aug 6, 2006
1,002
190
Birmingham, UK
I would go for RedHat, do not use Fedora Core, it's a little unstable.

Linux is also Unix like, so you can configure it from any of your Macs via terminal.

Samba is only useful to having Windows machines needing to connect to the server. You just need to mount the volume.
 

nplima

macrumors 6502a
Apr 26, 2006
606
0
UK
go with xubuntu

Hi

Ubuntu Linux is getting good press lately and tehre's good reasons for that. The instalation procedure is easy to understand, the bundled apps are solid and there is a very good selection of hardware drivers included, meaning that in many cases you don't have to do much of anything to get all the components working.

You should go for the "xubuntu" variety ( http://www.xubuntu.org/ ) and then look up the chapters you need over at the Ubuntu Guide: http://ubuntuguide.org/wiki/Dapper. You'll have your file server running in no time!

After you set the basic things up on your server, look up the "remote administration" and "VNC server" questions. Enabling those will allow you to remotely control your server from your macs, either by using the terminal or by VNC (which shows the remote desktop on your screen).
 

XIII

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Aug 15, 2004
3,450
0
England
nplima said:
Hi

Ubuntu Linux is getting good press lately and tehre's good reasons for that. The instalation procedure is easy to understand, the bundled apps are solid and there is a very good selection of hardware drivers included, meaning that in many cases you don't have to do much of anything to get all the components working.

You should go for the "xubuntu" variety ( http://www.xubuntu.org/ ) and then look up the chapters you need over at the Ubuntu Guide: http://ubuntuguide.org/wiki/Dapper. You'll have your file server running in no time!

After you set the basic things up on your server, look up the "remote administration" and "VNC server" questions. Enabling those will allow you to remotely control your server from your macs, either by using the terminal or by VNC (which shows the remote desktop on your screen).
Thanks for your reply. The Ubuntu guide is very intimidating.. any particular sections I need to read before I install Xubuntu to be a file server (I figure I'll try this first, and if it fails, go with freeNAS etc.)? Thanks for your optimism in how quickly I'll get it running - I'll bet anything I won't. :p

Tomorrow the new second iMac is here, and the old PC becomes mine :)D) so tomorrow will likely be spent fiddling round with my home network setup, and trying various things on the old PC. :)
 

ArthurS

macrumors newbie
Apr 17, 2006
27
0
If you just want to use the system as a file server, go with FreeNAS. It's only about 15MB (which means most of that 20GB will be available for data) and is by far the quickest and easiest to set up.

The entire process from downloading to a fully operational file server will take you no more than 15 minutes. That includes reading the necessary parts of the manual.
 

nplima

macrumors 6502a
Apr 26, 2006
606
0
UK
XIII said:
Thanks for your reply. The Ubuntu guide is very intimidating..

Well, It sure is big however this is a document made in the format "how do I...." all in simple english, with the reply in a format "type this on your terminal prompt". It can't get much simpler than that! :)

anyway, when you pop the Xubuntu CD in your computer, most of the work will be done automatically, so there isn't that much that can go wrong...
 

Lixivial

macrumors 6502a
This is a bit of overkill for this particular situation, but for headless Linux-based servers, I find Webmin to be an incredibly timesaving and wonderful resource. I don't always use it, mind, but for those servers that I may leave for 6 months+ and never touch until I need to, it does provide a nice and easy escape route should I need it.

You can connect to its port from anywhere; and if it's not open to the Internet, then from any machine on the LAN, and manage nearly any imaginable system setting and install new packages with ease. It truly is wonderful. It may be a bit of overkill in this situation, but... it can make system administration a breeze.
 

mikes63737

macrumors 65816
Jul 26, 2005
1,133
246
I have tried setting up Ubuntu as a file server before, and it is very difficult for a noob (like me) to set up a file server on Ubuntu.
 

sixstorm

macrumors regular
Jan 16, 2006
212
0
Nashville, TN
I just bought a Dell PowerEdge Server from a guy for $250 shipped. I will be using it as a Linux server and learn the Linux lingo. I guess I'll be using Ubuntu to start off with and maybe switch Distros down the road a ways down . . . Ubuntu just seems to be a more user friendly environment and there is a lot of user support on the official website. Good luck with your Linux box man!
 

poppe

macrumors 68020
Apr 29, 2006
2,199
32
Woodland Hills
Does anyone know the answer to the other question the OP posted?

It was what about the Hard Drives size limit? I've heard some being restricted to 128 GB's or something like that, but does anyone know how to tell if has a limit?
 

tyr2

macrumors 6502a
May 6, 2006
801
83
Leeds, UK
poppe said:
It was what about the Hard Drives size limit? I've heard some being restricted to 128 GB's or something like that, but does anyone know how to tell if has a limit?
It depends on the version of DMA your motherboard supports. According to this wikipedia article you need support for ATA-6 or ATA/100 to get above 128Gb. Check your motherboard manual.

Alternatively you could just buy a PCI (P/S)ATA controller and use that to run the large drives from, they're pretty cheap these days.
 

poppe

macrumors 68020
Apr 29, 2006
2,199
32
Woodland Hills
tyr2 said:
It depends on the version of DMA your motherboard supports. According to this wikipedia article you need support for ATA-6 or ATA/100 to get above 128Gb. Check your motherboard manual.

Alternatively you could just buy a PCI (P/S)ATA controller and use that to run the large drives from, they're pretty cheap these days.
Ooo I just might have to do this now... I'm in the same boat as OP... Pentium III 256Ram, 30 GB HD... Hmm... If I could get close to a Terabyte... and then Have it stream to my MBP... Talk about a warm feeling inside...
 

XIII

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Aug 15, 2004
3,450
0
England
poppe said:
Ooo I just might have to do this now... I'm in the same boat as OP... Pentium III 256Ram, 30 GB HD... Hmm... If I could get close to a Terabyte... and then Have it stream to my MBP... Talk about a warm feeling inside...
Exactly. :D

I haven't had a chance to do mine yet - some files still need copying over before I can wipe the HD and have a go. Hopefully tomorrow I'll do it. :)

Thanks for all the others replies - I'll bear it all in mind. :)
 

poppe

macrumors 68020
Apr 29, 2006
2,199
32
Woodland Hills
XIII said:
Exactly. :D

I haven't had a chance to do mine yet - some files still need copying over before I can wipe the HD and have a go. Hopefully tomorrow I'll do it. :)

Thanks for all the others replies - I'll bear it all in mind. :)
Well keep us update!! And let us know (in detail, at least for me) how it all went and the process you undertook.

Goodluck.

I'm still debating on doing a linux server or just and external HD connected via Express34 or Firewire...
 

XIII

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Aug 15, 2004
3,450
0
England
poppe said:
Well keep us update!! And let us know (in detail, at least for me) how it all went and the process you undertook.

Goodluck.

I'm still debating on doing a linux server or just and external HD connected via Express34 or Firewire...
Very tempted to just start now, screw the files on there. :p They're not mine.

Currently I've downloaded the freeNAS iso, and burnt it. I'll insert my Windows CD, delete the Windows partition, and then go with the freeNAS CD.. and I'll let you know exactly what I do. :) Nice to have somebody in the same boat as me, haha.
 

poppe

macrumors 68020
Apr 29, 2006
2,199
32
Woodland Hills
XIII said:
Very tempted to just start now, screw the files on there. :p They're not mine.

Currently I've downloaded the freeNAS iso, and burnt it. I'll insert my Windows CD, delete the Windows partition, and then go with the freeNAS CD.. and I'll let you know exactly what I do. :) Nice to have somebody in the same boat as me, haha.
Oh Crap... I dont have the windows CD anymore... hmmm...

Are you downloading the GUI and everything?
 

XIII

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Aug 15, 2004
3,450
0
England
poppe said:
Oh Crap... I dont have the windows CD anymore... hmmm...

Are you downloading the GUI and everything?
Huh?

*lost*

I think with freeNAS its all on the iso? I hope? :confused:

I have backed up all files.. ready to go tomorrow.