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Which OS is best for Home server?

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Last response: in Linux/Free BSD
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October 25, 2008 9:12:37 AM

Hey all! I don't know If here was the right place to ask due to there being a few OS sections so I'll also post in Windows.

I am thinking of going with this build for my first home file/media server:

MB: GA-MA74GM-S2H
CPU: 4850e
Case: Thermaltake Wing RS100 (with 430W PSU)
RAM: 2 x 1GB Kingston 800mhz
HDD: 3 x 500GB WD Green (RAID5)
OS: ???

What I basically want from the server is:
- Store files
- Stream media to PS3/HTPC
- Remote access

What OS do you think I should go with? Should I go with Windows (server 2k3/2k8, home server) or something like Linux (Ubuntu Server 8.04)? I have built PCs before so building it wont be hard, it's just choosing the OS.

Note: I have never dealt with Linux before.

Any help/suggestions would be great!

More about : home server

October 25, 2008 11:05:31 AM

Its difficult to know how well you would adapt to linux, but if linux was your kind of thing, it would be the best solution.

Even though it is possible to make a linux distribution look vaguely like some version of windows or another, it really isn't a bargain basement version of windows underneath; its different, and if you really want 'windows but at lower cost' you'll probably be unhappy. OTOH, if you are happy about learning a different OS, and you are happy that this learning will make your next Linux project easier, you'll probably be fine.

Try a live CD first; you'll get a good idea of what's on offer. Actually, try a few and see which distro/GUI you prefer.

And you'd probably be best advised to try at least one distro specifically intended for media purposes; they may only be versions of, say, Ubuntu with a bit of a layer over the top and a bit of pre-configuration, but they would make the learning curve a bit shallower.

(And, while this isn't related to the question you want answered, I wouldn't go with RAID if I had the option of going with one big disk; there are just too many little 'gotchas' with the low cost RAID solutions for me to believe that it is anything other than a way of making your data less safe, and hiding that fact.)
October 25, 2008 2:48:36 PM


There's no such thing as a perfect OS, but Linux is almost perfect for what you want to do :) 

I'd recommend Ubuntu and Fedora

http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/downloadmirrors

http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora

Both have live CDs so you can try them before you install :) 

You can dual boot both if you want

Quote:

What I basically want from the server is:
- Store files
- Stream media to PS3/HTPC
- Remote access



Store files - no problem with samba and SSH/SFTP

Stream media to PS3/HTPC - shouldn't be a problem with VLC and other tools

Remote access - VNC and SSH take care of that


Linux is legally free ( $0 ), open source, fast, stable, configurable, customizable, reasonably easy to use and DRM free

windows is loaded with DRM, the server versions cost a damn fortune and microsoft can turn off your operating system anytime they feel like it ( what is it the black screen of death / lockout )?

Windows tries to prevent you from doing things, Linux tries to enable you to do stuff :) 

You can get tons of free help here and at other forums to get your Linux system setup :) 

I agree with Verge on FakeRAID -- it sucks and I wouldn't trust it either

Hardware RAID is the way to go if you can afford it, otherwise just use single disks

Good luck :) 
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October 28, 2008 8:56:49 PM

falconed said:
Hey all! I don't know If here was the right place to ask due to there being a few OS sections so I'll also post in Windows.

I am thinking of going with this build for my first home file/media server:

MB: GA-MA74GM-S2H
CPU: 4850e
Case: Thermaltake Wing RS100 (with 430W PSU)
RAM: 2 x 1GB Kingston 800mhz
HDD: 3 x 500GB WD Green (RAID5)
OS: ???

What I basically want from the server is:
- Store files
- Stream media to PS3/HTPC
- Remote access

What OS do you think I should go with? Should I go with Windows (server 2k3/2k8, home server) or something like Linux (Ubuntu Server 8.04)? I have built PCs before so building it wont be hard, it's just choosing the OS.

Note: I have never dealt with Linux before.

Any help/suggestions would be great!


Linux would work very well for that purpose. Windows Server is extremely expensive ($1000!!) and isn't as secure as Linux or other Unix-type OSes, particularly for remote access.

1. Storing files is easy. You can either let the 3 HDDs sit independently or use md RAID (Linux software RAID) to do a RAID5.

2. You can also stream media from a Linux server via http, ftp, SMB (Windows file sharing), nfs (Unix file sharing method), or ssh/sftp. Somewhere in there will be your solution and setting it up isn't usually very tough.

3. Remote access varies. You can set up ssh and do a remote terminal (terminal = Unix terminal, not MS Terminal Services) login or sftp login in two seconds. If you want to do a GUI desktop remote access, then it gets a little more complicated but it is still doable via either VNC (works with many OSes), tunneled X over ssh (works with Unix), or RDP (works with Windows).

So you can most definitely do the job with any Linux distribution out there.
July 19, 2009 5:02:50 AM

Hi, Im new here my first post.

I highly reccammend FreeNAS.
http://www.freenas.org/

I wanted to do the same thing as you when I first set out to make some sort of nas. It is linux based but you dont need to know anything about that to set it up. As long as you understand the mounting and unmounting concept of the drives its easy to setup. It is also highly advanced. You can create users and group and have people only be able to access certain things.
July 26, 2009 11:45:06 AM

Linux has decent RAID5 support, but no more. On newer FreeNAS dists or FreeBSD, you can use even more advanced RAID5 drivers which easily get 400MB/s write speed. There's no real reason to go hardware RAID. With hardware RAID you also loose the creamy topping the ZFS filesystem can give you; ZFS looses alot of its coolness without redundancy; ZFS can't access the redundant information itself so hardware RAID is useless in this case.

Software RAID is often superior to Hardware RAID; at least in theory. 100% independency from any particular hardware and maximum flexibility, performance and zero additional cost, software RAID has much better cards to survive than hardware RAID.

One important thing is that Samba (SMB/CIFS) does yield better performance on Linux than on BSD-based OS. This is likely a Samba thing, as any other protocol (FTP/NFS/SSH) gives proper performance on gigabit. Samba has always sucked at performance, it probably will be rewritten by a smarter kid somewhere in puerto rico but 1000 times better. ;) 
!