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Linux for a newbie setting up a server

By AudioVayne ยท 22 replies
Mar 22, 2009
  1. OK so I've pinched the old mans ancient (Like Just overclocked a PII from 266 to 456Mhz ancient) PC and am looking to install a linux based OS to use as a file server...

    Thus hitting 2 birds with one stone finally checking out Linux and developing server experience in one go...

    Current PC specs:
    Intel P2 456Mhz
    64MB RAM (Will max out the board this week)
    El Cheapo LAN card (It's fairly small so I wouldn't expect it to be very quick)
    Will be getting a wireless card for an ad hoc network too

    I need to know what build I should run...The Computers connecting to it will be XP and Win2k
    I would prefer some form of GUI

    Any pointers would be appreciated...I realise the specs are pretty lousy but will get a P3 (or 4) when I start getting the hang of it...

    Cheers folks
  2. Bluemouse

    Bluemouse TS Rookie Posts: 195

    If you don't care about a gui, then something like CentOS would be best.

    However, almost any linux distribution can work well as a server, and the're all pretty much the same to install.

    If you want a gui, go with Ubuntu or Fedora, since you want to check out the desktop environments anyways. I prefer Ubuntu personally, but either is fine.

    Once you've installed the OS, go to the package manager and search for/install the following:

    -Apache (web stuff)
    -Maybe mysql for database stuff
    -Samba for windows sharing

    Be warned that it might be a bit slow while running a gui on a P2 ;)
  3. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99

    Cheers BM!

    Will download CentOS 5.3 and try it out in the morning! I have been looking at screenshots and it's not that dissimilar to Windows...Don't know why I haven't looked into sooner!

    I'm keen to setup this server but at the end of the day It's usage isn't going to be dealing with heavy traffic...Just me fluffing around with maybe 2 or 3 other machines.
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    fyi: many are unaware that some server software will run on win/xp :-
    • Apache2 (web server)
    • PHP (cgi software)
    • Perl (more cgi )
    • MySQL (the data base)
    I use this environment to test locally before uploading to the live site :)
  5. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99

    Wickid! I assume the layouts etc are all the same? I have been told you can use 2000 / XP / Vista as a server machine..But I'd rather learn something new and learn the new OS...
  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    good for you -- this kind of project will give the motivation and certainly enhance you adoption of Linux :)
    Layout? I can only assume you're implying where files are located.
    That's almost impossible, but imo, not a significant issue.
    First, with the variations in the Linux distributions available, there are differences
    (especially in the system management area).

    As Linux package installs are (or should be imo) in \usr\local\, that is not condusive for Windows users.

    Learning where to find config files IS an issue, but not the limiting factor by a long shot. Once you can config Apache, Perl, PHP, and MySQL, there's a lot to learn for hosting a web site -- including System and Server security as well has HTML, CSS, RSS and how to plan to keep your current with your content changes.

    Like I said, it's a great way to focus on Content Development before uploading to a fresh domain-name.
  7. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99

    I see...What's the go for drivers? PII hardware is very outdated and Ill be adding a PCI wireless card soon too. Is there a general rule of thumb, or a database for drivers by manufacturer, or are we limited to what we can use?
  8. Bluemouse

    Bluemouse TS Rookie Posts: 195

    Wireless cards are pretty well supported by linux nowadays, at least the main ones. I know that at least the majority of the mainstream ones work well on ubuntu.

    It really depends on the device. NVidia and ATI are both making gfx drivers for Linux now though, which is nice, but most of the current drivers for other hardware are more generic and third party still.
  9. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99

    I see. As long as everything works really...It'll just be providing resources so I only need basic drivers for the machine and the application for the card...(I will most likely get a TP-Link card...).

    Also is it possible to run UltraVNC (or similar sort of remote access program)? I would prefer to run the server from my laptop (wireless freedom! 8) ) and just do what needs to be done at the machine...
  10. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    Certainly PII is extremely limited for a Windows environment and Linux would be a better choice (ie: less resource consumption).

    Here's the pick list for issues for your original topic (Linux Web Server):
    • get the OS (any) to come online and be able to use a browser
      this means you need Tcp/Ip (wired preferred), an ISP subscription, and at least a router.​
    • install webserver software (Apache2, IIS, others)
      you substitute your host lan ip address for the domain-name in the url :)
    • Install a CGI scripting language (Perl, PHP, or even just use bash)
    • install a DMBS (eg: MySQL) if you need transaction support (like a shopping cart)

    FYI: The PII will be unacceptable for hosting a public website/domain name on your PII system regardless of the tools used to create it.
  11. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99


    I have been given an old PIII 1200Mhz (clocked to 1460 I think), 184MB RAM machine with a 20Gb HDD which aced the Seagate diagnostic tool...

    Will try and up the RAM to 256 when I can and I'm still downloading the installer for CentOS 5.3
  12. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99

    Installed CentOS 5.3 with GUI (which indeed means I have 256MB RAM)...

    Now...Aside from getting it running online...I'm on a very steep learning curve...
    Still having issues getting my wireless card sorted...I need WPA and TKIP to connect to my network...
    And Under the Device Manager, the Vendor / Device IDs for quite a few listings are 'Unknown' (including the CPU)...Is this an issue?
    Any links to useful walkthroughs or useful reading would be appreciated!
  13. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99


    Well I have fluffed around too much and now a bigger...well...better machine has come into my possesion...

    A similar 1.2Ghz, but 3 slots of SD RAM...So Ill have 384, maybe 512 If bossman will let me pinch a 256...

    I have been considering Ubuntu...How much difference is there between the server edition and the ...normal? edition...
  14. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99

    Uh HUH!! I've found it!! My New server OS!

    Xubuntu 9.04

    Drivers are all go right off the bat, including a compatible Atheros driver for my wireless (connected so much easier than CentOS)...

    Pisseasy to use so far...Here's hoping the 250Gig Sata i'm getting isn't physically damaged...Then I can grab the 80 gig from my PC and have 120Gig running on my completely free server!

    Now...Just gotta setup Samba and everything...
  15. Ubuntu is quite bloated for a Server and Xubuntu is just Ubuntu with the XFCE WM. I'd advise you to go for a more server specific OS. The only good thing about Ubuntu in general is the repositories and vast array of pre-installed kernel modules for devices like wireless adaptors. If the wireless is important to you though, you should probably stick with it, though you may get that same adaptor working under Debian stable, which is lighter, has less bling and is great for servers.
  16. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99

    The wireless I need, because the 2 PCs and Laptop connecting to it as an Ad Hoc network (That's the idea anyway) so ultimately I can access all machines from my Laptop, host files on the server and maybe even access the data on the server 'off-site'. I might Download a Debian install and install it on another HDD...Can you add more HDDs for extra space on Debian? I'm having issues accomplishing this feat on Xubuntu...

    Wireless card is an Atheros Chipset (Sold as TP-Link)
  17. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    Usually we opt for Infrastructure, not Ad Hoc.

    Your systems are interconnected via the router (ie the Infrastructure).
    Ad-hoc networks are almost always p2p nets :(

    Your hosts file (although not necessary) will map 'well known external sites'
    as well as all static ip-addresses on your lan.
  18. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99

    Ahh I see...So there's no need for a wireless card in my server then? How do I access the server then?
    The Router provides an internet connection (Via Ethernet) to the server
    The server Hosts files and can be uploaded
    From here do we just add the network drives (Map network drive...) from any computer to access the server?

    I'm going to get a copy of Debian tomorrow and try that out...
  19. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    solve one problem at a time
    1) create a LAN from your router and connect all systems to it
    2) make sure they all get Internet access
    3) now you can work on Print/File sharing
    • on windows is rather straight forward
    • sharing on a Linux box needs Samba support to share files on those systems
    uploaded? to where?
    Server files are ACCESSED by the client system
    yes; see (3) above

    You 'server' should have a static ip-address on the lan which I achieve using
    MAC address filtering in the router, but fixing the address at the client end
    is fine too -- if you get it right and avoid conflicts with the DHCP assignments
    for the other client systems.
  20. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99

    Excellent! Cheers mate!

    1) I can use a program (like UltraVNC) to access computers connected to the router, so I assume that's all go...
    2)My Laptop and PC have their own static IP, the other computer is Dynamic, all online and working...
    3) Looking forward to havin a jam on Debian tonight and hopefully she'll be up n running soon!

    Can I set the server to have a static IP within Debian and leave it at that?? I'd prefer to leave my MAC filter disabled because I'm constantly bringing in new machines to work on and it would get annoying having to add each new machine to connect it to the net every time...

    Also, to access my files from the internet, do I really need a static IP from my ISP? Or can I just write down the address each time the router is reset and go from there?
  21. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    consider two halves; The ISP side and the LAN side.

    On the LAN, you only need static addresses where there is a server; all the clients
    that come and go get DHCP assigned addresses. eg
    set your servers statically at or above 100
    and config the router to hand out DHCP address from 2->99
    which is far more than you will need
    As long as the clients have tcp set to use DHCP for both IP and DNS, they will be good to go :)

    On the ISP side; the only way to get a static address (which will be given to your modem or router) is to PURCHASE a static ip -- typically registering a domain name.

    You can FAKE it by using www.dyndns.com
  22. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,432   +801

    I've found that each router has a different implementation of MAC filtering
    1. one form is {Black.White}list specific MACS for access
    2. the other, is mapping MAC-> IP address to be assigned
    my Netgear does the latter -- and I love it
    with this implementation, I've set my systems to be known and thus there addresses
    look like STATIC but the are not.

    This allows known systems to have different firewall rules than the unknown!
  23. AudioVayne

    AudioVayne TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 99

    Yeah that's why I wanted to avoid getting a Static IP (ISP)...Funds aren't very lenient...

    I'm not sure what the jazz is with my Belkins MAC filtering...It just shows to add an address (And block it if need be)...
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