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Help! Tring to build a Network Server

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April 19, 2012 2:00:15 PM

Hello People,

I'm a newbie and have just been thrown into the deep end of things. I'm setting up a network, and am now looking into a getting a server. I've been advised to build, rather than by one out of the box, and it sounds like a good idea and great learning experience. Problem is, I'm at a loss at what to buy.The purpose of the server is to do the following

-Administer the network
-Host a library system called Koha
-Act as a mail, file and print server.
-Provide an OS to several thin client machines (hope that makes sense!) in the not-too-distant future (with an increase of the total no. of clients rising to between 20 and 30)

At present, there are roughly 10 clients on the network (it's largely wireless). I need help in choosing the various components: case , cpu, motherboard, RAM, power supply unit, video card, hard drives and networking cards (as well as any other components you find necessary).

I've done a bit of sniffing around and have some ideas, but not really confident, so feel free to trash them! Cost wise it seems AMD is the better brand, and I'm cool with that. The same goes for the case: a tower would do great for me, I have no space constraints, which seems to be the biggest advantage to a rack set-up, which is more expensive. Now, for back up it seems Raid is pretty important, but I'm at a loss about what its all about. For an OS, Windows is out of the picture, so I'm looking at something Linux based. ClearOS is one possibilty, but I'm willing to go for Ubuntu or Fedora. What would you suggest?

I came across this article http://duartes.org/gustavo/blog/post/building-a-quad-co... , what do think of it?

Cost is very important, I have a budget of less than US$1000 (I live in Zim, so that'll probably include shipping as well!).

I hope I posted my question in the right category, if not, pls forgive.

Thanks in advance!
April 19, 2012 2:35:58 PM

Hello friends,

A network server is a computer designed to process requests and deliver data to other (client) computers over a local network or the Internet.

Network servers typically are configured with additional processing, memory and storage capacity to handle the load of servicing clients. Common types of network servers include:

* Web servers

* proxy servers

* FTP servers

* online game servers

Numerous systems use this client / server networking model including web sites and email services. An alternative model, peer-to-peer networking enables all computers to act as either a server or client as needed.

Best regards
Agili Ron
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April 19, 2012 9:21:10 PM

What kind of thin clients might you be using?
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April 19, 2012 9:46:26 PM

Hi :) 

As you have no idea how to even build a server....you have absolutely NO chance of running one...

Pay a Pro WHO KNOWS WHAT HES DOING...

All the best Brett :) 
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April 20, 2012 2:41:35 PM

popatim said:
What kind of thin clients might you be using?


Hie thanks for responding, I haven't decided on that as yet. That's somewhat a future development. At present, the first three needs are more urgent.

Thanks again
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April 20, 2012 2:43:32 PM

Brett928S2 said:
Hi :) 

As you have no idea how to even build a server....you have absolutely NO chance of running one...

Pay a Pro WHO KNOWS WHAT HES DOING...

All the best Brett :) 


Hie Brett,

I would have paid someone, if we had the money and i didn't have the desire to learn :)  So i guess you'll just have to help me!

Thanks for responding
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Best solution

April 21, 2012 6:56:40 AM

nonnel said:
Hello People,

I'm a newbie and have just been thrown into the deep end of things. I'm setting up a network, and am now looking into a getting a server. I've been advised to build, rather than by one out of the box, and it sounds like a good idea and great learning experience. Problem is, I'm at a loss at what to buy.The purpose of the server is to do the following

-Administer the network
-Host a library system called Koha
-Act as a mail, file and print server.
-Provide an OS to several thin client machines (hope that makes sense!) in the not-too-distant future (with an increase of the total no. of clients rising to between 20 and 30)

At present, there are roughly 10 clients on the network (it's largely wireless). I need help in choosing the various components: case , cpu, motherboard, RAM, power supply unit, video card, hard drives and networking cards (as well as any other components you find necessary).

I've done a bit of sniffing around and have some ideas, but not really confident, so feel free to trash them! Cost wise it seems AMD is the better brand, and I'm cool with that. The same goes for the case: a tower would do great for me, I have no space constraints, which seems to be the biggest advantage to a rack set-up, which is more expensive. Now, for back up it seems Raid is pretty important, but I'm at a loss about what its all about. For an OS, Windows is out of the picture, so I'm looking at something Linux based. ClearOS is one possibilty, but I'm willing to go for Ubuntu or Fedora. What would you suggest?

I came across this article http://duartes.org/gustavo/blog/post/building-a-quad-co... , what do think of it?

Cost is very important, I have a budget of less than US$1000 (I live in Zim, so that'll probably include shipping as well!).

I hope I posted my question in the right category, if not, pls forgive.

Thanks in advance!


If you have to buy software your in trouble, since the cost of Server 2008 with 5 CALs is already $500, plus the cost of Citrix XenDesktop for the thin clients ($175/user) plus the cost of the VLM of Windows 7. Beyond that, a server needs to be RELIABLE, so you can't use desktop grade parts. Ideally, prebuilt is best because you have a service contract with guaranteed uptime and reliability should something fail, rolling your own does not allow it. If a hard drive fails with Dell, I can have it literally within a few hours, whereas on my own, it would be only as fast as they can ship it to you.

As far as hardware goes here is what I suggest as a bare minimum.
Case and Motherboard
CPU
RAM
Hard Drive (2)

That unfortunately puts you $300 over budget, but I would not use anything less and expect to have a job later on.


As far as your ideas go:

AMD is vastly outperformed by Intel, and you should not be looking at Phenom or i5 hardware, rather Xeon and Opteron.

A tower would work fine, but most barebones are rackmount, likewise for servers.

RAID (redundant array of independent(or inexpensive) disks) provides some degree of redundancy for reduced failure. You want to run at least RAID 1, RAID 5 would be better, but requires twice as many disks (4).

Windows is really your only option if you want to use Thin Clients, likewise if you plan on using Exchange for email. Koha is recommended to run on Linux, so you will have to virtualize your boxes, or run two physical servers.

This might be of interest to you as well as to why building it yourself is a bad idea.
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April 30, 2012 10:07:36 AM

Thanks for the articles, they've proved quite helpful. Buying a brand name server seems to be the best option esp. for support and technical assistance in case anything goes wrong. So I think i'll go along with the Dell option- price-wise the Power-Edge T110 II (http://i.dell.com/sites/content/shared-content/data-she...) would be best, but the more expensive Power Edge 11G T310 (http://www.dell.com/za/business/p/poweredge-t310/pd) might be better suited to my needs. What do you think?
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April 30, 2012 3:36:13 PM

nonnel said:
Thanks for the articles, they've proved quite helpful. Buying a brand name server seems to be the best option esp. for support and technical assistance in case anything goes wrong. So I think i'll go along with the Dell option- price-wise the Power-Edge T110 II (http://i.dell.com/sites/content/shared-content/data-she...) would be best, but the more expensive Power Edge 11G T310 (http://www.dell.com/za/business/p/poweredge-t310/pd) might be better suited to my needs. What do you think?


The T110 is cheaper (I have it's predecessor, the T100 sitting next to my desk), but dosen't have the management and features (like redundant power supplies) that the T310 does. Have you taken a look at the Dell Outlet site? You can find off-lease servers there for less money than new, but they are used servers, so that has to be taken into consideration (namely hard drive life span).
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April 30, 2012 4:11:45 PM

sk1939 said:
The T110 is cheaper (I have it's predecessor, the T100 sitting next to my desk), but dosen't have the management and features (like redundant power supplies) that the T310 does. Have you taken a look at the Dell Outlet site? You can find off-lease servers there for less money than new, but they are used servers, so that has to be taken into consideration (namely hard drive life span).


I'll have a look at that thanks. I met with a Dell rep this afternoon and tried to customize the features as best as I can- I found out the Windows Server OS accounts for quite a huge chunk of the cost. Since I'm looking to run on open source ( the T310 comes with two options, either Red Hat or Novelle Suse), that might bring down the cost of the T310 within reach. I'm still waiting for a qoute from rep, hopefully tomorrow. Thanks a ton!
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April 30, 2012 4:39:13 PM

nonnel said:
I'll have a look at that thanks. I met with a Dell rep this afternoon and tried to customize the features as best as I can- I found out the Windows Server OS accounts for quite a huge chunk of the cost. Since I'm looking to run on open source ( the T310 comes with two options, either Red Hat or Novelle Suse), that might bring down the cost of the T310 within reach. I'm still waiting for a qoute from rep, hopefully tomorrow. Thanks a ton!


No problem, anytime. If you have additional questions feel free to ask.
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May 1, 2012 1:02:20 PM

Best answer selected by nonnel.
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April 8, 2013 11:39:48 PM

nonnel said:
sk1939 said:
The T110 is cheaper (I have it's predecessor, the T100 sitting next to my desk), but dosen't have the management and features (like redundant power supplies) that the T310 does. Have you taken a look at the Dell Outlet site? You can find off-lease servers there for less money than new, but they are used servers, so that has to be taken into consideration (namely hard drive life span).


I'll have a look at that thanks. I met with a Dell rep this afternoon and tried to customize the features as best as I can- I found out the Windows Server OS accounts for quite a huge chunk of the cost. Since I'm looking to run on open source ( the T310 comes with two options, either Red Hat or Novelle Suse), that might bring down the cost of the T310 within reach. I'm still waiting for a qoute from rep, hopefully tomorrow. Thanks a ton!


This is an old topic, but have you looked into using NComputing devices as your end-points? The money you will save on thin-client hardware/software alone will allow you to afford the Windows OS.
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