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Old 08-29-2011, 03:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Building a server - looking for advice.

So, I am building a low budget server for my house so that my two room mates and I can interface with the server, and exchange files. Originally I wanted to implement an FTP element so that we could all access it externally too. I then saw what it would cost for us to have a static IP... So an internal backup/media server is what I am looking at.

Here's what I am wanting to do: have a system connected to our television, it will act as our server, we can all dump media to that system and then using the system play the media on the television.
Obviously, a traditional server won't really work since they are most all CLI driven. So My first thought was to use Ubuntu. Unfortunately I am a windows guy, I don't know a ton of CLI and it was difficult to set up. (not impossible). I figure that I should be able to play video/photo/music media from the computer onto the TV with Ubuntu having a GUI. But, my roommates were a bit lost with ubuntu's GUI, (they don't do a lot with computers), So, next thought was maybe Windows XP, the 4 windows 7 and 1 mac OSX systems have issues seeing and using the XP machine.

I am willing to go with the Ubuntu setup because I can get it to recognize with all the systems, and I was able to build up permissions and accounts so we all had separate HDD space and common space as well. but, is there a server OS that would suit my need better? I'm not an IT guy, just someone who knows a bit more about computers/networking than the average guy. I don't know if a windows server 2003 or 2008 or any other version might work a bit better.

Also the other reason I got fed up with the windows is that even the filezilla server didn't work at all. couldn't get any sort of talk back while running the server.

Just looking for opinions right now.

also, system specs: (its an old machine)
Gigabyte micro ATX motherboard
Athlon XP 2500 Barton
2gb ram
Radion HD3650
7TB HDD space (1 1TB and 3 2TB drives)

thanks!
~Casey
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building a server - looking for advice.

Hey Casey,

With Ubuntu, you should be able to get an FTP server going, there are plenty of tutorials all over the internet giving it to you step by step. All you need to do is setup a Dynamic DNS for your router's IP. Dyndns.com is a good one and it is free. Where you just create an account, select an address name and then say take my current IP and then you can log in through FTP with that name instead of IP, as long as you forward the right ports to your server on your router.

And as for your predicament regarding OS choice, ubuntu works great as long as you are willing to do a little research on it.
You can very easily setup shortcuts and what not on the desktop of each users, so that everyone can very easily access the information only with a double click.
Furthermore Ubuntu requires much less hardware power than any other and for what you want to do you don't need the Windows Server OSs

Just one question for you, do you have any gaming systems hooked up to the tv you want to hook the server up?
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building a server - looking for advice.

Right now we don't have any game systems hooked up, actually the system isn't hooked up, I forgot to grab the 9pin S-Video to composite video cable so haven't been able to get TV/PC working yet. but it looks like Ubuntu is the way to go!

so will the dynamic DNS allow me to have different users log into different areas, (provided I make users and set their permissions within ubuntu) again, I'm new to it all, but not computer illiterate. , time to go work on my sudo commands! thanks!

~Casey
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Old 09-02-2011, 05:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building a server - looking for advice.

The only thing the DynDns will do for you is allow you to connect from anywhere, as long as you port forward properly on your router.
So let's say you create that FTP server in Ubuntu, you create the users, with their specific permissions.
Then when they try and connect, they type your DNS address, their username and their passwords and they will have access to what ever you gave them access to.
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Old 09-02-2011, 11:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building a server - looking for advice.

DynDns matches your ip to a subdomain such as username.dyndns.org meaning you can use a dynamic ip address. A small, unnoticable app, randomly checks your ip address and reports it to dyndns, and they alter the subdomain to point to your new IP.

What you want to do is super, super easy. Just install ubuntu and setup a few SSH users. Install webmin and it will give you a control panel for your server. Use SSH using WinSCP to drop files onto the computer. Would take less than an hour to setup.

Definitely use Ubuntu, but use the LTS release, not the most up to date one.

Install XBMC or similar and hook up a cheap remote. They'd never need to use the Ubuntu UI. Just make sure when you drop the files onto the server you drop them into a folder XBMC checks.
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building a server - looking for advice.

Thank you so much this is going to be an awesome project! thanks for the info!

~Casey
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