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Suggestions for SOHO setup

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January 1, 2014 10:53:03 AM

I'm looking for some general advice and guidance about how to approach a home network. Though I'm not a complete novice, I'd suggest that you treat me like I am (e.g. I'm not confident with command lines).

Network hardware
I'm looking to set up a home network consisting of:

* HP ProLiant G7 N54L MicroServer (OS to be decided)
* Windows 7 (Home) laptop
* Windows 7 (Home) desktop
* Windows XP desktop (can live without)
* Android-based wireless tablet (can live without)
* OpenSuse 13.1 laptop (can live without)
* TalkTalk wireless router

Requirements
The ideal set up would include (in order of importance):
1) MicroServer as file server
2) MicroServer as SQL database server (very low demand)
3) Remote management of server (within local network or VPN)
4) Workgroup is secure (i.e. no external access)
5) Access within the workgroup is as free as possible (no internal security required)
6) VPN so can access server from different location (access to files)
7) VPN so can access server from different location (server management)
8) Supports an internally deployed web application (PHP based - again, very small)
9) Scheduled backup / sync to other part of VPN.

At this point, you might be thinking "geez, does he want a cure for cancer and world peace as well?" Well, I'm aiming high and accepting that I may not get everything that I want. Ridiculous as it sounds given the above list, I'm looking for a solution as simple as I can get away with.

I've done a reasonable amount of work looking at options, but I'm starting to get bamboozled by the options and hangups, so I'm looking for some fresh opinions.

Choosing an operating system
Big choice number one is the server OS. I'm familiar with OpenSUSE and like the 'free' element of it (I'm an open source enthusiast). FreeNAS sounds like an excellent route for a file server, but I get the impression that the addition of the extra requirements may make this a tricky solution. Windows offers a more 'managed' approach, but I baulk at the cost of Windows Server Essentials and Windows Home Server is coming to the end of its life.

After OS
The OS is such a big consideration that I don't think it's worth going into more detail until after that's decided. However, I'm still needing to think about the foundations such as server set up (RAID0, LVM, etc.), user accounts, etc.

Summary
With luck, you've stopped laughing and picked yourself up off the floor.
So, suggestions as to where I go from here?

Stuart

More about : suggestions soho setup

January 2, 2014 7:41:52 AM

phual said:
I'm looking for some general advice and guidance about how to approach a home network. Though I'm not a complete novice, I'd suggest that you treat me like I am (e.g. I'm not confident with command lines).

Network hardware
I'm looking to set up a home network consisting of:

* HP ProLiant G7 N54L MicroServer (OS to be decided)
* Windows 7 (Home) laptop
* Windows 7 (Home) desktop
* Windows XP desktop (can live without)
* Android-based wireless tablet (can live without)
* OpenSuse 13.1 laptop (can live without)
* TalkTalk wireless router

Requirements
The ideal set up would include (in order of importance):
1) MicroServer as file server
2) MicroServer as SQL database server (very low demand)
3) Remote management of server (within local network or VPN)
4) Workgroup is secure (i.e. no external access)
5) Access within the workgroup is as free as possible (no internal security required)
6) VPN so can access server from different location (access to files)
7) VPN so can access server from different location (server management)
8) Supports an internally deployed web application (PHP based - again, very small)
9) Scheduled backup / sync to other part of VPN.

At this point, you might be thinking "geez, does he want a cure for cancer and world peace as well?" Well, I'm aiming high and accepting that I may not get everything that I want. Ridiculous as it sounds given the above list, I'm looking for a solution as simple as I can get away with.

I've done a reasonable amount of work looking at options, but I'm starting to get bamboozled by the options and hangups, so I'm looking for some fresh opinions.

Choosing an operating system
Big choice number one is the server OS. I'm familiar with OpenSUSE and like the 'free' element of it (I'm an open source enthusiast). FreeNAS sounds like an excellent route for a file server, but I get the impression that the addition of the extra requirements may make this a tricky solution. Windows offers a more 'managed' approach, but I baulk at the cost of Windows Server Essentials and Windows Home Server is coming to the end of its life.

After OS
The OS is such a big consideration that I don't think it's worth going into more detail until after that's decided. However, I'm still needing to think about the foundations such as server set up (RAID0, LVM, etc.), user accounts, etc.

Summary
With luck, you've stopped laughing and picked yourself up off the floor.
So, suggestions as to where I go from here?

Stuart


Hi dont have long so just a quick response.

I dont think you need a windows server OS here because you are not using active directory. also the home versions of windows will not connect to a domain, you need pro or higher.

so, all of your computers sharing using basic windows file sharing services shouldn't be hard to achieve.

I would basically set the micro server up with standard windows 7, and use free 3rd party apps to achieve all the other desired functionality, e.g Xamp server as a web/sql server.

I would then use windows firewall or a 3rd party free one such as comodo, to lock down the server connection and allow things through as needed.

The VPN is the tricky bit, to be honest you are probably just better of using a service like logmein.com, or chrome remote desktop. they will ultimatley be a lot cheaper and less of a headache, and more secure than a DIY VPN.

if you want to host anything like a web page set your router to use a service such as dyndns.org (its free), and forward port 80 to your servers IP. Make sure your server has a static IP.

if you really wanted to replicate enterprise install vmware on the server and build several virtual servers on it.
it can be remotley managed with v-sphere and its only a matter of forwarding a few ports to use v-sphere remotley.

it depends if its the end result of the challnge of setting up an enterprise network you are after.
m
0
l
January 4, 2014 3:54:56 AM


Hi dont have long so just a quick response.

I dont think you need a windows server OS here because you are not using active directory. also [b said:
the home versions of windows will not connect to a domain, you need pro or higher.

so, all of your computers sharing using basic windows file sharing services shouldn't be hard to achieve.

I would basically set the micro server up with standard windows 7, and use free 3rd party apps to achieve all the other desired functionality, e.g Xamp server as a web/sql server.

I would then use windows firewall or a 3rd party free one such as comodo, to lock down the server connection and allow things through as needed.

The VPN is the tricky bit, to be honest you are probably just better of using a service like logmein.com, or chrome remote desktop. they will ultimatley be a lot cheaper and less of a headache, and more secure than a DIY VPN.

if you want to host anything like a web page set your router to use a service such as dyndns.org (its free), and forward port 80 to your servers IP. Make sure your server has a static IP.

if you really wanted to replicate enterprise install vmware on the server and build several virtual servers on it.
it can be remotley managed with v-sphere and its only a matter of forwarding a few ports to use v-sphere remotley.

it depends if its the end result of the challnge of setting up an enterprise network you are after.
]
Hi dont have long so just a quick response.

I dont think you need a windows server OS here because you are not using active directory. also the home versions of windows will not connect to a domain, you need pro or higher.

so, all of your computers sharing using basic windows file sharing services shouldn't be hard to achieve.

I would basically set the micro server up with standard windows 7, and use free 3rd party apps to achieve all the other desired functionality, e.g Xamp server as a web/sql server.

I would then use windows firewall or a 3rd party free one such as comodo, to lock down the server connection and allow things through as needed.

The VPN is the tricky bit, to be honest you are probably just better of using a service like logmein.com, or chrome remote desktop. they will ultimatley be a lot cheaper and less of a headache, and more secure than a DIY VPN.

if you want to host anything like a web page set your router to use a service such as dyndns.org (its free), and forward port 80 to your servers IP. Make sure your server has a static IP.

if you really wanted to replicate enterprise install vmware on the server and build several virtual servers on it.
it can be remotley managed with v-sphere and its only a matter of forwarding a few ports to use v-sphere remotley.

it depends if its the end result of the challnge of setting up an enterprise network you are after.
[/b]

It's good to hear that you think Windows 7 is up to the task as it give me a viable Windows option. I know VPN is going to be a challenge, but it's a 'would like' requirement. The only hosting I need to do is internal to the network (effectively an intranet deployment of a web-app), so I'm not too concerned about it so long as the setup on the given OS is relatively simple (which it is on Windows).

I'd be interested in your view on disc setup (RAID, LVM, etc.) - especially as it's likely that I will add larger hard discs later (local backup is not required).

Any other differing views on OS, or is there is sense that MS be the best route?

Thanks

Stuart
m
0
l

Best solution

January 4, 2014 8:54:08 AM

Well generally for what you are looking at I as well would suggest installing Windows 7 Pro on your microserver and utilize that for managing your file shares. However, given the additional things you would like to do (including remote access, VPN, SQL hosting, and more) then I really think that it would be worth it to upgrade to the Server 2012 R2 Essentials OS. This includes built-in VPN capabilities to host a VPN server for remote access. You can even set up remote web apps to connect to your server, network, remote desktop, applications, and shares just using a web browser form any device anywhere. There's an amazingly powerful and simple backup utility built into the OS, and you can do more with it including running websites and more. Additionally the new R2 includes the option to run a Hyper-V virtualization environment with one VM if you wish to leverage that for flexibility.

However given the anemic performance capabilities of that specific HP microserver, I think that virtualization is going to be out of the question. In reality I think it's going to be hard to run everything you want to do on that hardware for long, it is not going to give you the greatest performance doing all of that. It can be done, but I imagine it's going to utilize everything of the system resources on the server until it is crawling.

Without the built-in VPN services of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, you would need to look into a different third-party component. This is sometimes software services installed and running on a computer (only allows VPN connection to that specific device) or a VPN capable gateway, router, or firewall, which is the better solution. Getting a firewall with VPN capabilities would allow remote users to log into the entire network and have access to other devices in the network besides just the server. I've personally used the Sonicwall TZ 105 firewalls for this sort of network setup and it really is pretty easy to get set up and running, but does require that you set up a static IP address on your internet service.

Now I haven't fully set it up this way, but I am sure with Server 2012 R2 Essentials you do not need to have a hardware VPN firewall or a static IP address and instead could use dynamic DNS services for free.
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