Building a Webserver

My local church wants to put up a website, and rather than rent space, or pay someone to build the website I've been volunteered. I have built quite a few computers, but have never ventured into "Server Hardware" territory. So as I'm looking to build I figured I might ask a few questions first.

Requirements: This will be pretty basic, so i don't think anything real fancy is required, but I do believe that some features might tax a normal system. I would like to be able to have streaming audio and perhaps video later on down the road - but the site overall will not be getting a whole lot of traffic. I'd like to have some photo galleries, and will probably integrate a little flash content, but nothing really taxing aside from streaming audio.

My primary question here is; Do I need to use server hardware to accomplish my goals, or would a "standard" system build work out for me?
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  1. Your best bet is to buy a cheap dell server for about $700-$800, it even includes server 03.

    But... you'd be surprised, you could probably run the website just fine on an older P4 workstation without any lag to the user. You may need some patience to do some administration tasks though.

    But I still say Dell because their hardware warranty and tech support are unmatched in the server arena.
  2. You should be able to use a older system for this project, even a Pentium3 system with 512mb of RAM should suffice. Check out Clarkconnect, it is a very easy Linux distro to use that will allow you to run your own website, photo gallery, firewall, cable/dsl router, etc... With it being a church you might be able to get away with using the home version (free) of their distro and the free web address would be something like or you could buy a domain name from a place like Godaddy and have DNS point the clarkconnect site to your new domain name. I once had my motherboard fail on my clarkbox and I was able to yank the hard drive, put it in a new system with a different cpu, motherboard, and after discovering hardware it booted up and functioned fine.
  3. That's a good point, if you know linux pretty well that is an excellent way to run a web server with relatively old hardware. ubuntu server has really good support and if it's anything like the desktop operating system it should be relatively easy to manage.
  4. If you really want to "Roll your own" then I would suggest you look at CentOS. Ubuntu is really good as a desktop but I feel it is really lacking as a server. Of course things do change.
    I would really look at not hosting it yourself. You can rent a web server for really next to nothing. If you are not going to be doing anything overly complex that is often a much better deal the self hosting.
    Odds are you will get more bandwidth and you will not have to worry about someone kicking the plug out of the server.
    I would stay away form server 2003 if for no other reason than cost.
  5. Thanks for the replies guys, I'll have to do some checking on those options. Dell would be a good deal if I could get a decent system with the operating system included. As for linux, i'm sad to say that I have had very little opportunity to use it for anything - but I can always learn.

    I already have a domain name, and will be able to get a fixed IP from my ISP (I think that DSL should run most of what I want fine). Currently the test website is barely running on a cobbled together server (XP Pro and IIS 5.1)

    I'll do some price checking and see what I can come up with. And just for kicks, here's what I was thinking of using if basic hardware would work just fine:

    Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz LGA 775 Processor - Retail 244.99
    GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX 89.99
    EVGA 256-P2-N751-TR GeForce 8600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 79.99
    Microsoft N71-00007S Black Wired Optical Wheel Mouse - OEM 9.99
    G.SKILL 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Memory - Retail 74.99
    Antec Atlas 550 Black Server Case 550W 4 (comes with 550Watt PSU) 150
    Logitech 967738-0403 Black USB Standard Deluxe 250 Keyboard 7.99

    Total of about $640.00

    Unfourtunately Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 R2 Standard runs about $430 bucks - but I still don't know what kind of OS I want yet (the webserver version $350 bucks looks tempting). And then I'll probably have to tack on the price of Dreamweaver or Sharepoint (I don't have a lot of time to relearn HTML and do everything from scratch)

    If I were using a windows OS I think this is as slow as I would want to go (but its only me guessing as I have very little experience with how an actual server OS relates to hardware)

    I'll check out the other options posted above and see what I can find. I'd appreciate any insight anyone here has on operating system choices as well as web page designer software and how they will compare to whatever hardware I go with.
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