Building a simple server

I have a couple old comp's laying around, one of which is an acer aspire t320 which has a 2.8 ghz celeron processor, and 256mb of ram. Upgradable to like 2gb.

Anyhow, my main computer has an 850 watt psu, and lots of power hungry components. I have most of my movies and media stored on it.

Now when I go to bed at night, I like to watch movies and tv shows and things through a set top box (all pre recorded and saved on my hard drive) I dont want to leave my main computer on overnight again and again, so I'd like to take this aspire, and transfer certain movies and tv shows and things to it, then use it to STREAM over my network, I seriously doubt it will be able to transcode media (plus it doesnt really need to, as my set top box runs XBMC and will play pretty much anything I can throw at it)

So what should I do, is there a lite server OS that I can install on this, and run? Basically It'll just be a file server, I want to share ALL files on it, because I'll likely be manually copying movies and tv shows over during the day if I plan to watch at night.
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  1. If you aren't afraid of Linux, that may be a way to go. I became frustrated because the OS was so foreign to me and I was never a command line kind of guy.

    Windows Home Server is about as easy as it gets. pretty much plug and play. The interface is XP based, you can consider it to behave like XP 64 bit for the most part.
    So a PC that can handle XP easily will work just fine. I ran a single core for quite a while (2.0 Ghz Sempron) and it was responsive and stable.

    I have been using WHS for about two years now. I decommissioned my server for parts over the last 6 months but I do miss it now. My idea is to move it to the living room as a file server, for home theater streaming purposes like yourself, but I would need to buy a few things that I'm not ready for yet. I hate being broke!

    If you can, it might be wise to wire the server directly to the ethernet on your router. However if the speeds of your home network are fine then you can decide. This will be your biggest bottleneck, ram and CPU won't matter much although a nice big hard drive is desirable. For backups and file transfers, your network will determine how fast these things happen.
  2. I've used ubuntu a bit, but I dont like command line stuff, I dont know how to use it :S

    I've heard about windows home server, but I'm worried about the performance of the server. When I ran XP on this PC, it had to be plain XP, when I started to update, and install service packs the comp started to slow down.
  3. My desktop PC is not OEM, I built it.

    It run's windows 7, and there is a simple command you can run to shutdown on a timer. Ive used it a bunch of times, and I'm debating if it'd be easier to leave my pc on at night and use a shut down timer to turn off after whatever amount of time.

    Only thing with that is after the PC shuts down if I'm still awake and wanting to watch more media, I cant.

    Then again, I usually only watch a movie or so, turn off my set top box, then turn on my digital cable and fall asleep to it.

    Thing is, I've always wanted a server, and I this would kind of give me some experience for when I build/buy a real server with loads of HDD space I can use for backups, storage etc.

    I dont know, I guess I just need to decide what to do...
  4. So your saying with my comp powered 24 / 7 my hardware won't degrade?
  5. Actually it will probably last longer. I have systems that have been powered on for 5-10 years and they still run fine.
  6. Hmm, damn thats the exact opposite of what I would think.

    I may as well just use my desktop and leave it on overnight when I watch videos.
  7. Thanks for the info guy's I think I'll hold off on building a server.
  8. Best answer selected by haggardsmurf.
  9. Freenas or Myth backend would suite you well and run fine on that old pc.
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