Want to make a web server out of old machine

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Erendiox, Oct 20, 2005.

  1. Erendiox macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    Didn't quite know where to post this. The mac basics and help forum seemed to fit the bill the best. Also, sorry this isn't mac related, but I know you all to be versed in just about everything involving computers, and I couldn't think of a better forum to go to.

    Anyway, i've just come upon an old Compaq that was about to get thrown out and I snatched it. It's ancient, but built like a rock and has a 3 gig HD in it! The specs are very low, but I figure I could use it as a personal web server or something and be able to send/recieve files over the net. Basically i'm looking for some advice. Would linux work well as far as functioning as a secure webserver? The specs are good enough to put windows 98 on it, but to be honest, I hate it, and I know it has security holes like swiss cheese. Also, if anyone could explain exactly how to set up a webserver or point me in the direction of where I could find out about it, i'd be most appreciative.

  2. tag macrumors 6502a


    Apr 29, 2005
    Honestly, you probably won't be getting the best response from this board since it is a Mac board as you stated, but I'll try to give some pointers. In regards to a linux server, it shouldn't be a huge problem on that computer, it would actually be better as I don't think Windows98 is much of a server platform. I'm assuming here that the Compaq you have is a desktop and not a laptop (laptops are a bit harder to get set up). Now I won't get into real specifics as it would take pages on pages, so you'll still have to google a bit but here goes...

    First you will have to pick an OS. I could go on forever here, but any linux variant would work, I'm not up on which are easier/harder, or better/worse (I'm a fan of Debian, but I haven't tried out the new sarge version yet). There are also BSD alternatives, I'm a fan of NetBSD though honestly I've never gone through an installation of it, but once it's up, it does work really well, maybe someone else can comment on how hard/easy it is to set up. With only 3 gigs available you will most likely want most of that for storage, so you will want an OS with a very configurable installation because you won't want like office programs/games/whatever/odd stuff you will never use, since you just want storage over all I'd assume.

    If you want a really easy time setting up a linux OS, your best bet is to google for something like ' xx-specific-brand-o-linux install on Compaq xxxx-whatever-computer-model' so if there are any pitfalls during installation(like screwy driver problems), someone else most likely would have posted it (hopefully ;) ).

    Anyways, once you have your linux/bsd OS chosen and installed, all you need is the basics up and running. You'll want to enable SSH and FTP(sftp) for your file transfers, and depending if you want to set up a local webpage install Apache. Now on enabling and setting up all these google and terminal's 'man' (manual) is your friend. To set up all of this you will have to use the terminal, though certain more user friendly variants like Ubuntu linux I believe it was (been like a year since I used this one) had some graphical client to enable SSh and such. Honestly setting up a webserver/host is easier than configuring tons of hardware drivers and such in my opinion.

    Sorry if my babbling didn't help alot, but your best bet would be googling for specifics on each part of what you need.
  3. Erendiox thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    Thanks Tag. That helps a whole lot. I appreicate it :)
  4. BrandonSi macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Also keep in mind that if you are going to use this "on the net" (ie outside of your home network), more than likely you will need to pay for a dynamic DNS account. I'm assuming you have cable or DSL, which usually provide dynamic IP's. Either you have some way of knowing what your external IP is automatically, every time it changes, or you'll need dynamic DNS. Also, if you are putting this behind a router, you'll also need to forward the appropriate ports from the router to your server, such as 21, 22, 80, 443, etc.
  5. jeremy.king macrumors 603


    Jul 23, 2002
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    I have had the best luck using Fedora Core on older hardware. Usually the installation will detect the hardware correctly, but be prepared to be able to troubleshoot errors.

    I've used to run it on a very old IBM Quad Pentium Pro Server with no issues, then put it on a Home built PII 400 box with generic parts, upgraded to a Athlon 700 box and then decided to use my mini...

    My suggestions - get yourself a good Linux admin book, google for good linux forum sites, and finally don't bother installing a Window Server such as X11 - it adds a lot of overhead if you are just going to be serving. Of course you could install one, and then change your runlevel to be a command line only environment (rc 3, I think)...
  6. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003
    For DNS i would use www.no-ip.com start with the free service and then if you would like to get more, like having something other then mydomain.noip.com Then you could upgrade but it is a good start. I just checked they do have a linux/BSD/unix client
  7. opusthe2nd macrumors 6502


    Sep 5, 2005
    I built yet another server today. Installed FreeBSD 6.0, installed thttpd and had it up and running in under 10 minutes. Its on a P2-400/400 something RAM.
    Built one last week out of an P-166/64 RAM.

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