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Choosing an OS for my home File Server

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April 15, 2004 3:17:22 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

I've been rather lucky with my eBay purchases this week. I got a stack
of used SCSI drives cheap, and the deal included a dead Adaptec 3400S
4-channel U160 RAID controller - which proved to be repairable. I also
bought a P3-S 1.4Ghz processor missing one pin for next to nothing and
repaired it.

These items complete the hardware I need to build a RAID file server for
my home network so I can avoid having to run regular backups of multiple
systems.

My first choice for file server operating system would be Solaris,
because it's free and I'm familiar with it, but no drivers are available
for the RAID controller. The supported choices would appear to be
Windows (easy but $$), freeBSD, or Linux (RedHat or SuSE).

I have no desire to spend significant amounts of time or money setting
up this file server, and would appreciate any recommendations from the
community regarding OS choice given my knowledge of Windows, Solaris,
and ...little else.

TIA

Sunny
April 15, 2004 6:38:46 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Sunny wrote:

>
> I have no desire to spend significant amounts of time or money setting
> up this file server, and would appreciate any recommendations from the
> community regarding OS choice given my knowledge of Windows, Solaris,
> and ...little else.
>


Well that limits your choices.. MS is significant amounts of money, Solaris
doesn't support your hardware and linux is going to take some time to setup
and understand how it works.

I'm not sure I'd consider a stack of used scsi drives hooked to a repaired
controller with a repaired CPU as reliable for backup use anyway! :-)
--

Stacey
April 15, 2004 7:03:31 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Stacey wrote:

> Sunny wrote:
>
>
>>I have no desire to spend significant amounts of time or money setting
>>up this file server, and would appreciate any recommendations from the
>>community regarding OS choice given my knowledge of Windows, Solaris,
>>and ...little else.
>>
>
>
>
> Well that limits your choices.. MS is significant amounts of money, Solaris
> doesn't support your hardware and linux is going to take some time to setup
> and understand how it works.

So I should try FreeBSD?

> I'm not sure I'd consider a stack of used scsi drives hooked to a repaired
> controller with a repaired CPU as reliable for backup use anyway! :-)

Neither would I, but it's been reliable so far - if it behaves for
another month or so on the bench I'll trust it. I have spares :-)

Sunny
Related resources
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 15, 2004 6:47:29 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Sunny wrote:

>
>
> Stacey wrote:
>
>> Sunny wrote:
>>
>>
>>> I have no desire to spend significant amounts of time or money setting
>>> up this file server, and would appreciate any recommendations from the
>>> community regarding OS choice given my knowledge of Windows, Solaris,
>>> and ...little else.
>>>
>>
>> Well that limits your choices.. MS is significant amounts of money,
>> Solaris
>> doesn't support your hardware and linux is going to take some time to
>> setup
>> and understand how it works.
>
>
> So I should try FreeBSD?

FreeBSD is going to be no easier that Linux. In fact, it will probably
be a little more difficult.

If you want a quick way to try out Linux, burn a Knoppix CD. If you
like it, it can be installed to a hard drive easily. It's the fastest
way from zero-to-Linux.


-WD
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 15, 2004 6:47:30 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

On Thu, 15 Apr 2004 14:47:29 GMT, Will Dormann
<wdormann@yahoo.com.invalid> wrote:

>Sunny wrote:
>
>>
>>
>> Stacey wrote:
>>
<snip>
>>
>> So I should try FreeBSD?
>
>FreeBSD is going to be no easier that Linux. In fact, it will probably
>be a little more difficult.
>
>If you want a quick way to try out Linux, burn a Knoppix CD. If you
>like it, it can be installed to a hard drive easily. It's the fastest
>way from zero-to-Linux.
>

Oh, how about some new generalizations that will pull an opinion out
of just about everybody (I'm good at that):

Device support is the achilles heel and the strength of linux.

It's the achilles heel because _nobody_ beats Microsoft on device
support...er, that is to say, nobody beats Microsoft in being able to
assume that device vendors will support them.

It's the strength of Linux because it's getting harder for device
vendors to ignore (I predict, for example, that, say, Nvidia will
eventually follow radeon and Promise and make a gpl driver available).

If you know any flavor of Unix, then the hardest thing about getting
used to Linux is the oddities of the Linux community and the fact that
there are 10,000 flavors of everything. Might as well get used to it
now.

Plan on a battle, plan on lots of googling, if you get desperate ask
for online advice but be prepared for a battle there, too, but
eventually, if you persist, you will prevail.

Since the issue for you is device support and you don't want to spend
$, I'd go RedHat Fedora. You can try Knoppix, as suggested. Knoppix
is good enough at configuring things that it deals with my laptop
effortlessly, but don't plan on learning much from the experience
other than look and feel. If you go to the command line and you're a
*nix type, things should look pretty familiar.

I *wouldn't* use Knoppix as my real distribution, though. The RedHat
(Fedora) installer is about as good as it gets short of the Knoppix we
do *everything* for you approach, and you'll need the probably
flexibility of a widely-supported distribution to get your RAID array
working properly.

RM
April 16, 2004 1:51:00 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Sunny wrote:

>>
>> Well that limits your choices.. MS is significant amounts of money,
>> Solaris doesn't support your hardware and linux is going to take some
>> time to setup and understand how it works.
>
> So I should try FreeBSD?
>

That's going to be just as hard if not harder than linux to learn unless you
already know FreeBSD
--

Stacey
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 16, 2004 6:19:29 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

On Wed, 14 Apr 2004 23:17:22 -0400, Sunny <sunny@nospam.net> wrote:
>I've been rather lucky with my eBay purchases this week. I got a stack
>of used SCSI drives cheap, and the deal included a dead Adaptec 3400S
>4-channel U160 RAID controller - which proved to be repairable. I also
>bought a P3-S 1.4Ghz processor missing one pin for next to nothing and
>repaired it.
>
>These items complete the hardware I need to build a RAID file server for
>my home network so I can avoid having to run regular backups of multiple
>systems.
>
>My first choice for file server operating system would be Solaris,
>because it's free and I'm familiar with it, but no drivers are available
>for the RAID controller. The supported choices would appear to be
>Windows (easy but $$), freeBSD, or Linux (RedHat or SuSE).
>
>I have no desire to spend significant amounts of time or money setting
>up this file server, and would appreciate any recommendations from the
>community regarding OS choice given my knowledge of Windows, Solaris,
>and ...little else.

Well the desire not to spend money kinda puts a downer on Windows,
though you should be able to get a (mostly) legal OEM copy of Win2K
Professional or WinXP Pro for not too much over $100 ($135 at NewEgg).
You need to buy some "hardware" with that, however most stores will
sell them to you with a $2 piece of hardware. Since it's only a home
server the 10-user limit of Win2K Pro/WinXP Pro probably aren't a big
issue, so you won't need to shell out the BIG $$$ for one of the
Microsoft Server products.


However, disregarding the Microsoft route, either Linux or FreeBSD
would probably be good choices, quite possibly even better choices for
you than MS. Since you already have a background in Unix-style
operating systems you've already got most of background sorted, so
neither one should be all that difficult to get going.

So, which do you chose? Tough call. I personally have a lot more
experience in Linux and feel much more comfortable in that
environment, however I have heard that FreeBSD is more closely related
to Solaris than Linux is. I have only very limited experience with
FreeBSD and virtually no experience with Solaris, so I can't say much
from personal experience, just a few off-hand comments I've heard over
the years. On the other hand, Linux support is a bit more extensive,
it's more widely used so it's almost certain that if you run into a
problem, someone else has encountered the same issue and probably
found a fix for it. In the end though, either one would probably be
good, as long as you're willing to spend a small amount of time
reading some simple install docs you should be set to go.

If you do decide on Linux, there is always the question of what
distribution to chose. I've NEVER liked Red Hat, any time I've ever
tried to use it I would get totally frustrated by it. On the other
hand, many other people swear by it. Long story short, there's a lot
of personal preference here. Personally my choice is Debian for
servers, however when you get right down to it, there aren't all that
many differences between the various distributions. Especially now
that all Linux distributions mostly comply with the Linux Standards
Base, the differences are often largely cosmetic and in the default
choice of tools installed. Someone else mentioned maybe throwing a
Knoppix CD together to try Linux out before you get your hands dirty
so to speak, not an entirely bad idea.

So, what do you get out of all of this? Out of the 4 possibilities
you mentioned, my recommendation would be SuSE Linux.

-------------
Tony Hill
hilla <underscore> 20 <at> yahoo <dot> ca
April 16, 2004 9:47:27 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Sunny <sunny@nospam.net> wrote :

> My first choice for file server operating system would be Solaris,
> because it's free and I'm familiar with it, but no drivers are
> available for the RAID controller. The supported choices would
> appear to be Windows (easy but $$), freeBSD, or Linux (RedHat or
> SuSE).
>
> I have no desire to spend significant amounts of time or money
> setting up this file server, and would appreciate any
> recommendations from the community regarding OS choice given my
> knowledge of Windows, Solaris, and ...little else.

Suse, with Yast its just point and click.

Pozdrawiam.
--
RusH //
http://pulse.pdi.net/~rush/qv30/
Like ninjas, true hackers are shrouded in secrecy and mystery.
You may never know -- UNTIL IT'S TOO LATE.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 16, 2004 11:39:05 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

RusH <rush@pulse.pdi.net> wrote:

>Sunny <sunny@nospam.net> wrote :
>
>> My first choice for file server operating system would be Solaris,
>> because it's free and I'm familiar with it, but no drivers are
>> available for the RAID controller. The supported choices would
>> appear to be Windows (easy but $$), freeBSD, or Linux (RedHat or
>> SuSE).
>>
>> I have no desire to spend significant amounts of time or money
>> setting up this file server, and would appreciate any
>> recommendations from the community regarding OS choice given my
>> knowledge of Windows, Solaris, and ...little else.
>
>Suse, with Yast its just point and click.

I'd consider Fedora, with apt4rpm installed. There's a lot of stuff
out there that only comes in .rpm form, and apt4rpm makes installing
packages a breeze.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 16, 2004 5:44:54 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Tony Hill <hilla_nospam_20@yahoo.ca> wrote in part:
> On Wed, 14 Apr 2004 23:17:22 -0400, Sunny <sunny@nospam.net> wrote:
>>My first choice for file server operating system would be Solaris,
>>because it's free and I'm familiar with it, but no drivers are available
>>for the RAID controller. The supported choices would appear to be
>>Windows (easy but $$), freeBSD, or Linux (RedHat or SuSE).
>>
>>I have no desire to spend significant amounts of time or money setting
>>up this file server, and would appreciate any recommendations from the
>>community regarding OS choice given my knowledge of Windows, Solaris,
>>and ...little else.
>
> So, which do you chose? Tough call. I personally have a lot more
> experience in Linux and feel much more comfortable in that
> environment, however I have heard that FreeBSD is more closely related
> to Solaris than Linux is. I have only very limited experience with
> FreeBSD and virtually no experience with Solaris, so I can't say much

Sorry to say this, but I think everyone is attacking this
problem from the wrong (OS) end. Small wonder, because the
thread is deeply OT.

People buy computers to solve problems and do work.
That depends first-and-formost on application software.
In this case, something to share files.

Assuming the OP doesn't want the MS-WinXP Pro route (which
is probably the easiest, but not necessarily the "best")
then the critical software is SAMBA. She may also want OS
support to mount (say for backup) client disks.

AFAIK, SAMBA has been developed under Linux and works best
under it. Support for FreeBSD is probably good, followed at
some distance by Slowlaris.

The OS decision has to be taken in light of which runs SAMBA
best, and which features (such as `smbfs`) the OS offers for
reciprocal mounting (if needed).

In any case, the OP is either going to spend time or money.
Setting up SAMBA, especially the passwd files, isn't fun.

-- Robert
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 16, 2004 5:44:55 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Robert Redelmeier <redelm@ev1.net.invalid> wrote:
> In any case, the OP is either going to spend time or money.
> Setting up SAMBA, especially the passwd files, isn't fun.

Learning to set up samba the first time is a little tricky, but it's hardly
"not fun" -- and once you know the few tricks for it (such as the passwords
thing, among others), it's easier than a lot of other services.

--
Nate Edel http://www.nkedel.com/

"Elder Party 2004: Cthulhu for President -- this time WE'RE the lesser
evil."
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 16, 2004 6:44:15 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

On Fri, 16 Apr 2004 13:44:54 GMT, Robert Redelmeier
<redelm@ev1.net.invalid> wrote:

<snip>
>
>In any case, the OP is either going to spend time or money.
>Setting up SAMBA, especially the passwd files, isn't fun.
>

Doing the password files right is hard. Since the OP was asking for a
home file server, you don't have to do the password files right.

Setting up Samba for a home network is hard only if you try to set it
up as if you were trying to set up an enterprise server. Or, I should
say, I've had fewer problems and inexplicable/unfixable events with
Samba as a file Server than with any Windows box. All networking
problems are hard as far as I'm concerned, but steering somebody to
Windows so their life will be easy for networking is the strangest
post I've ever seen from you.

I've lost a battle or two with my computers, and especially with my
network, but Samba has never been the cause.

Sorry, after the latest round of *critical* XP patches, I now
sporadically and unpredictably lose network connectivity on my XP
_Professional_ box. Time for another reinstall. This will make,
what, ...oh, hell, I've lost count.

RM
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 16, 2004 8:54:13 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

On a sunny day (Fri, 16 Apr 2004 05:47:27 +0000 (UTC)) it happened RusH
<rush@pulse.pdi.net> wrote in
<Xns94CD522D3D78FRusHcomputersystems@193.110.122.80>:

>Sunny <sunny@nospam.net> wrote :
>
>> My first choice for file server operating system would be Solaris,
>> because it's free and I'm familiar with it, but no drivers are
>> available for the RAID controller. The supported choices would
>> appear to be Windows (easy but $$), freeBSD, or Linux (RedHat or
>> SuSE).
>>
>> I have no desire to spend significant amounts of time or money
>> setting up this file server, and would appreciate any
>> recommendations from the community regarding OS choice given my
>> knowledge of Windows, Solaris, and ...little else.
>
>Suse, with Yast its just point and click.
>
>Pozdrawiam.
Yes, but a bit too much of that perhaps.
For example I just found out that the way Suse installs Apache webserver, the
..htacces files in the tree do not work.
This is because of Suses moduls (about 20 of these).
I removed these, and now everything works (was recommended by Apache),
and nothing does NOT work, so WHAT were these for? ;-)
So what I am trying to say is that you will NEED the command line in a server
setup if not only for writing scripts, than for checking logs and maintenance.
Maybe for server you should also consider RedHat or Slackware.
I am NOT a RedHat fan, so ask around for experiences.
Slackware is pretty clean, RedHat install did not work for me, Suse worked
but has it quirks, you can make your own Linux too.
Whichever way, you will need to spend time on the command line.
JP
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 17, 2004 2:19:58 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Robert Myers <rmyers@rustuck.com> wrote:
> problems are hard as far as I'm concerned, but steering somebody to
> Windows so their life will be easy for networking is the strangest
> post I've ever seen from you.

Touche' LOL! Actually, I steer people to MS-Windows all
the time. If they have very low expectations and no desire
to learn more, then MS-Windows is ideal. It certainly won't
exceed their expectations. It's very easy to learn simple
stuff at the cost of d@mn near impossible full sysadmin.

-- Robert
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 17, 2004 8:02:15 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

On Fri, 16 Apr 2004 13:44:54 GMT, Robert Redelmeier
<redelm@ev1.net.invalid> wrote:


>Assuming the OP doesn't want the MS-WinXP Pro route (which
>is probably the easiest, but not necessarily the "best")
>then the critical software is SAMBA. She may also want OS
>support to mount (say for backup) client disks.
>
>AFAIK, SAMBA has been developed under Linux and works best
>under it. Support for FreeBSD is probably good, followed at
>some distance by Slowlaris.
>
>The OS decision has to be taken in light of which runs SAMBA
>best, and which features (such as `smbfs`) the OS offers for
>reciprocal mounting (if needed).
>
>In any case, the OP is either going to spend time or money.
>Setting up SAMBA, especially the passwd files, isn't fun.

The current releases of Red Hat and SuSE include graphical management
tools for setting up Samba for file and printer sharing (as both host
and client). A bit of fiddling may be required, but it isn't too hard.

The real issue is whether the SCSI adapter is supported. If it is
supported out of the box, then then setup should be easy. If it isn't
supported, then installation will be a challenge.

- -
Gary L.
Reply to the newsgroup only
April 17, 2004 7:29:04 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Gary L. wrote:
> On Fri, 16 Apr 2004 13:44:54 GMT, Robert Redelmeier
> <redelm@ev1.net.invalid> wrote:
>
>
>
>>Assuming the OP doesn't want the MS-WinXP Pro route (which
>>is probably the easiest, but not necessarily the "best")
>>then the critical software is SAMBA. She may also want OS
>>support to mount (say for backup) client disks.
>>
>>AFAIK, SAMBA has been developed under Linux and works best
>>under it. Support for FreeBSD is probably good, followed at
>>some distance by Slowlaris.
>>
>>The OS decision has to be taken in light of which runs SAMBA
>>best, and which features (such as `smbfs`) the OS offers for
>>reciprocal mounting (if needed).
>>
>>In any case, the OP is either going to spend time or money.
>>Setting up SAMBA, especially the passwd files, isn't fun.
>
>
> The current releases of Red Hat and SuSE include graphical management
> tools for setting up Samba for file and printer sharing (as both host
> and client). A bit of fiddling may be required, but it isn't too hard.
>
> The real issue is whether the SCSI adapter is supported. If it is
> supported out of the box, then then setup should be easy. If it isn't
> supported, then installation will be a challenge.

Many thanks to all who responded.

I decided to try SuSE - setup couldn't have been easier, it recognised
all hardware without issues. I used YaST to set up Samba, the only thing
it didn't do was enable the SWAT administration tool - had to resort to
the command line for that.

No doubt I will need to do some tweaking, but my Windows clients can see
the Samba server and access a test share. Setup only took a couple of
hours, I doubt using Windows would have been much faster.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 17, 2004 9:58:34 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

On Fri, 16 Apr 2004 13:44:54 GMT, Robert Redelmeier
<redelm@ev1.net.invalid> wrote:
>Tony Hill <hilla_nospam_20@yahoo.ca> wrote in part:
>> So, which do you chose? Tough call. I personally have a lot more
>> experience in Linux and feel much more comfortable in that
>> environment, however I have heard that FreeBSD is more closely related
>> to Solaris than Linux is. I have only very limited experience with
>> FreeBSD and virtually no experience with Solaris, so I can't say much
>
>Sorry to say this, but I think everyone is attacking this
>problem from the wrong (OS) end. Small wonder, because the
>thread is deeply OT.
>
>People buy computers to solve problems and do work.
>That depends first-and-formost on application software.
>In this case, something to share files.
>
>Assuming the OP doesn't want the MS-WinXP Pro route (which
>is probably the easiest, but not necessarily the "best")
>then the critical software is SAMBA. She may also want OS
>support to mount (say for backup) client disks.
>
>AFAIK, SAMBA has been developed under Linux and works best
>under it. Support for FreeBSD is probably good, followed at
>some distance by Slowlaris.

My understanding is that Samba is very well supported on FreeBSD,
basically identical to Linux support these days. That's why I was
ignoring this aspect of things.

>The OS decision has to be taken in light of which runs SAMBA
>best, and which features (such as `smbfs`) the OS offers for
>reciprocal mounting (if needed).

Again, both Linux and FreeBSD support smbfs, so I don't think it's
really necessary to differentiate based on this.

>In any case, the OP is either going to spend time or money.
>Setting up SAMBA, especially the passwd files, isn't fun.

Shouldn't be all that tough for a home network with probably only a
few users. There are a number of graphical tools available for both
Linux and FreeBSD that make this sort of thing fairly easy. You might
get a few more/better supported tools on Linux, but at least SWAT (the
most common tool) exists for both platforms.

-------------
Tony Hill
hilla <underscore> 20 <at> yahoo <dot> ca
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 17, 2004 11:48:13 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

On Sat, 17 Apr 2004 15:29:04 -0400, Sunny <sunny@nospam.net> wrote:


>> The current releases of Red Hat and SuSE include graphical management
>> tools for setting up Samba for file and printer sharing (as both host
>> and client). A bit of fiddling may be required, but it isn't too hard.
>>
>> The real issue is whether the SCSI adapter is supported. If it is
>> supported out of the box, then then setup should be easy. If it isn't
>> supported, then installation will be a challenge.
>
>Many thanks to all who responded.
>
>I decided to try SuSE - setup couldn't have been easier, it recognised
>all hardware without issues. I used YaST to set up Samba, the only thing
>it didn't do was enable the SWAT administration tool - had to resort to
>the command line for that.
>
>No doubt I will need to do some tweaking, but my Windows clients can see
>the Samba server and access a test share. Setup only took a couple of
>hours, I doubt using Windows would have been much faster.

Glad that it worked out for you.
- -
Gary L.
Reply to the newsgroup only
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