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A challenge to the Linux Users of the World

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A challenge to the Linux Users of the World

Xwindowsjunkie
A recent posting by George Ou about Windows Home Server brought out a lot of responses from the Linux community. I think that Microsoft deserves to get some competition.

Here's the challenge:

There are a lot of Linux experts on this site. I challenge them to come up with a list of applications that work the best for each of the given functions found in Windows Home Server. Show me a list of something that you guys think will beat or meet Windows Home Server, that will work for a lot of people and that you think can be easily reproduced. I will build it and give you an honest appraisal of my experiences while doing it. I will document it well enough that others less skilled will be able to do it. I'd like to be able to release it as a DIY compilation distro if possible.

Now the kicker, on the EXACT same hardware I will install the WHS Beta or release RC1, assuming I can get it, and test it in comparison on the basis of a USER, not a technician or a systems engineer.

There are a few restrictions I place on this challenge:
1) Do not expect me to compile Gentoo or Debian. I want to get this all done within a few weeks, OK?
2) The install packages must be applications that can be downloaded from the distro's website or mirror. I will not start with somebody's forked code.
3) The applications need to be compatible with the Linux distro and the desktop. I am partial to Gnome but I'm willing to use KDE.
4) If you expect me to script something or run a script, show me an example or give me the script. (This runs counter to item 2 above but I realize Linux runs on scripts). It would be nice if the script has enough commentary to let me know what was going on in it. I reserve the right to dump something I'm suspicious of.
5) If the application mix doesn't work, be prepared to get bad Linux PR from the blog. I will not attack or flame anybody personally as a part of this challenge but the distributions and/or applications are fair game. If they're bad they need to be flamed.


I will take a complete list of Linux applications from an individual or a committee of no more than 3 people and a suggested Linux distro to put it on. I will build it on a 2.6 Ghz Celeron system with 512 MB Ram on a stock DELL with a CDRW or a DVD +/- RW drive. Since this system will NOT be playing the DVD or video, we'll live with the on-board SVGA chip and the optical drive is there for software install only. (Its a server remember?) I have my choice of hard drives.

Then I will report back blog style what it took me to do it. I'll keep track of the hours and what and where I had to find my manuals/documentation to make it work. The idea is to develop a "distro" that can duplicate the published capabilities of the WHS minus the bare metal recovery. I can use Ghost as well as anybody.

My credentials:
I'm not a Linux expert but I have messed with it a little. I have 2 SUSE 10.1 Linux boxes and 2 XP Pro boxes running at home. One of the SUSE boxes will be used for the challenge with a blank drive. (I'll save my current drive for later.) I have Ubuntu 6.1 and 6 or 7 Windows CPU's in my cubicle at work. I have run various Linux distros on desktops since Red Hat 6.4. I've tried Mandrake, Knoppix, Storm, Yellow Dog, Red Flag and others I've forgotten about.

I design Windows XP Embedded systems for a living. I've been doing that for over 6 years. I started with Windows NT 4.0 Embedded for 2 years before that. My system designs run in mission critical environments in the oilfield every day all around the world on over 300 systems. My first programming language was Fortran on punch cards. My first personal computer had a S100 bus. I've run C/PM, VMX, LDOS, MSDOS, Windows 3.0 through Windows XP. I've programmed in Z80 and x86 assembler, Forth, about 15 Basic variations, Algol, C, VB Script and lately I'm learning some of the Visual Studio 2005 languages.

Do I like Linux? I like the idea of Linux. I like the idea that there is some competition for Microsoft. I haven't found a distro I like enough to hunker down and spend a lot of quality time with it. I do plan to have a full suite of auxiliary servers running on the SUSE box that's not involved with the test for DNS and DHCP. I also will be running network sniffers to track what traffic is traveling on the subnet to and from the client and the server. Microsoft is notorious for using a lot of ?silent? traffic to and from un-documented ports.

Remember we're looking at a Home Server as an appliance not a high performance server. Installing it on the exact same hardware mostly removes the hardware performance issues from the comparison. Obviously how well device drivers were written for the two operating systems is not removed from the test but at the level I'll be testing, device drivers will just be lumped in with the OS issues.
So the test criteria, in no particular priority, are:
1) Does the software adequately support the feature set?
2) Does it work well and reliably enough that home users can operate it successfully?
3) Can repetitive maintenance functions be automated?
4) After running it for awhile, are there obvious gaping holes in the features offered that need to be filled?
5) How easy is it to install? Can it be customized as it is installed?
6) Can you add features to it after installation? How easy is it?
7) The question of updates, ease and availability.
Discern the need for additional services that aren't a part of the system.

The following added 6-03-2007

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/features.mspx

These are the specific features I was able to discern from the advertising on the URL citation listed above. There is also a mechanism that allows 3rd party applications to operate within the server framework, I'm going to assume plug-ins.

Digital Media Shares
media and other files served throughout your home and through a website IP
Remote Access to Your PCs
WHS lets you access your PCs and media from a Web-connected PC
Protect Your Data
automatic backups and full system restore. Smaller restores of individual files and folders (incremental daily backup) of accidentally deleted material.
PC Health Monitoring
Manage a family of PCs with WHS monitoring. Make sure virus definitions are up-to-date and each PC is running the latest updates.
Users rights and access management
Users can be grouped and allowed specific access to shares and PC access
Firewall (assumed)
Microsoft can be so stupid as to not to build in a stout 2 way, state-full watching firewall. I will not be that stupid in any case with the Linux contender I build.
Web-Browser management and access
This is also an implied feature.

I've decided to run Ubuntu desktop 7.04 to do further testing of Linux applications, because its currently loaded on my test machine. I'm not convinced it makes a hill of beans difference what I run at this point. I plan to at least attempt to pick matching applications for use on a Linux Server based on what services have been publicized as on the Windows Home Server. I don't have a Beta of the WHServer to test unfortunately so I am going to have to go by what Microsoft decides to release. Actually the feature set is amazingly sparse once you get past the fact that they touted the same damn things 2 or 3 different ways. An excellent example of advertising fluff, say a lot about practically nothing at all.

Once I've gotten my feature set Linux replacement applications chosen, I'm planning on using a mostly non-scientific method by selecting particular applications for each feature item purely by the unique number of positive hits they get when typed into a Google search window for 100 responses on one page.

Another un-scientific decision point, if I find too many negative issues based on the hit count, that application, or at the very least, that version of it gets dumped. Once all the feature points are covered, a test of the applications one by one will be made.

Once I learn how to manage them properly, a set of feature covering applications will then be installed on the no-head version of Ubuntu Server 7.04. The entire set of applications and the operating system will be configured and tested.

The step after that will be to add what applications and services that should be added to make the Linux Server a much more attractive system based solely on the feature set and we're now quickly beyond Windows Home Server. In the mean time I'll be updating in a random event basis on the blogs but certainly on average once a day. After I feel like there is a reasonable coherency to the ?mashup?, I'll put it together in a secondary distro and probably hand it off to the Ubuntu group assuming its still running on Ubuntu at that point.

As far as programming, I hope to do as little as possible. I will however write/build/test scripts to automatic the entire installation process to the maximum point I can. Until I can talk to the box and make it do what I want it to in a human language, its something I have to do but I'd really rather not!
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    Neon Samurai

    My first reponse would be; try FreeNAS.

    This bares more consideration though and I'll have to reread the function specs for WHS. I'll post back with my limited experience sudgesion once I've had time to give your initial a proper read over unless someone beats me too it.

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    1bn0

    my brother-in-law. He has a RC copy of WHS and has been trying it out at home. He is employed as as "Systems Analyst" at a local governement office. We were discussing weither this product would draw any real interest from the average home user.

    We had previously looked at SMESERVER (formerly called eSmith server).

    http://www.smeserver.org/
    At the time we tried it it had a customised web based front end for administration and wasn't too bad althoug a little incomplete at that time. Mitel took over development and tried to market as a small business server with a subscription support server including email and domain management.

    I'm not sure what the current incarnation really looks like.

    We were just interested in something that would provide the basic benefits of windows server for the home market without the windows price.

    I look forward to the progress of this project.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I'll be posting my work and results here.

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    jhilgeman2

    It's interesting in concept, but I have a suspicion that WHS will come out on top because the experiment isn't exactly "fair and balanced."

    1. By virtue of being MORE familiar with the Window environments, you're going to encounter SOME frustration with the Linux environment, and that frustration will come off against Linux. Some things are just sub-conscious.

    2. Whether you're trying to or not, you're holding Windows up as the gold standard for Linux to meet. Whenever Linux doesn't do something Windows does, it'll be "bad Linux PR". I didn't see you make the same comment vice-versa. You should also recognize things that Linux does that Windows DOESN'T do and that should count as bad PR against Windows.

    I won't say either one is better than the other for everything. You're comparing green apples to red apples. They're still apples, but they have a major taste difference. You might as well be comparing MS SQL Enterprise Manager to phpMyAdmin. Yes, they're both mainstream db admin tools, and can do some of the same tasks, but they do mostly vastly different jobs on different platforms because some needs are better served by different platforms.

    Personally, I run Windows desktops (mostly XP) and servers (different editions of 2000 AND 2003), and I also have run FreeBSD servers, Red Hat servers, Mandrake, and Fedora Core servers. I still use a console-only Fedora Core server as our company mail gateway. I'm still hooked on XP as my favorite desktop, even though I'm very comfortable in KDE and Gnome.

    People need to stop trying to make one side be the "end-all." There'll never be one end-all operating system - not from Microsoft, not from Apple, and not from open-source development. Each serves a different need, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, those different systems inspire new and better things for the other systems. Without Windows, there'd be a lot less apps for Linux, and without Linux, Microsoft would become lazier and less competitive.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    is that so far I'm very impressed with the amount and spread of Linux aplication support there is for devices only rarely seen in the Windows world.

    The other thing I will tell you is that there is a lot of bad software out there for Linux. I've run into applications that I would consider unruly and unusable simply because there is no way to bail out of some Linux applications. That said, there is a tremendous amount of very good software I've already encountered that beats Microsoft offerings simply because there is no financial reason to support some of the devices and codecs and so forth out there.

    What I will tell you also is that I am very intent on making a Linux media /home server simply because I want to support both Linux and Windows clients.

    I also do not want to get caught up in the DMRA crap that seems to be completely burying anything new in the way of media hardware design. I will not pay a license fee to some "digital rights mugger" just so I can store and playback video or stills I've taken of my family and friends. The day is coming when Windows Media Player will no longer be free or you'll have to pay with a credit card to look at news clips even from "free" services.

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    Absolutely

    "4) If you expect me to script something or run a script, show me an example or give me the script. (This runs counter to item 2 above but I realize Linux runs on scripts). It would be nice if the script has enough commentary to let me know what was going on in it. I reserve the right to dump something I'm suspicious of."

    Try imposing that requirement on Microsoft!

    I don't mean to say that this isn't a reasonable requirement. In fact, if home users will be persuaded to adopt Linux for the function set you describe, I'm sure many will do so only with clearly commented code. They want equivalent functionality, with only slightly greater technical requirements, if any at all. In other words, the target audience is users who are not willing to acquire the skill set of IT pros to acquire the level of functionality of a home server. This will be a very intriguing blog to follow!

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    1bn0

    Home users shouldn't need any scripting abilities. WHS is not intended to replace Windows Business servers administrative control features. It is intended to:

    Store files: Pictures, Video and Music.
    Allow or prohibit other users to access those files.
    Provide the abiltiy to back up the desktop to the server and restore the desktop from the server.

    Windows Vista requires more "Point and Click" and provides even less keyboard equivalents(?) than its predecessors. This is the way Microsoft sees the user interface going.

    The "requirement" to minimise scripting under a Linux solution is simply to try to provide the same level of access control as Windows uses.

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    Absolutely

    The "requirement" to minimise scripting under a Linux solution is simply to try to provide the same level of access control as Windows uses.

    My comment was intended to be about the part of the requirement to see the code responsible for the server functionality and reject any that looks untrustworthy, not that the script be "minimal". Actually, a "minimal" script is simply good programming, under any circumstances, although I'm sure that all the IT pros here know that. I'm equally sure that none of us expect to see source code for home user products from Microsoft any time soon.

    "It would be nice if the script has enough commentary to let me know what was going on in it. I reserve the right to dump something I'm suspicious of."

    Microsoft will not provide that feature!

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    Windows can be managed via scripting as can Linux. I don't expect to get out of running a linux distro or for that matter any Windows setup script free.

    In many ways the large piles of scripts Linux uses are relatively similar to the registry, especially HiveKey_Local_Machine in Windows, where all the settings pertaining to the machine or computer setup is stored.

    In any case, I hope to preserve all of the scripts and settings I create using SVN, Subversion on both machines and if I can get Samba to co-operate maybe I can do it with both platforms running as inputs to the SVN database on a Linux box. I wonder if anybody has done that? Probably, that's a project in itself. I use SVN at work and I like it, very easy to use.

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    Neon Samurai

    I've set it up many times and am in the process of configing it after an OS update from clean install (I learn something new every time). Last setup was dead simple to config and I have no reason to believe my current config will be any more difficult though I do have the advantage of graphic admin tools. I use a GUI tool for fine tuning after adding remote shares to my fstab. My local machine's shares are all configed through the samba configs in /ets/samba or similar.

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    DanLM

    I wrote the original config for my home samba in vi. But now I just maintain it through swat. Only allow access via the lan, but it really does make things a lot simpler.

    Dan

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    Neon Samurai

    I was starting to use it alot during the Mandrakes but found little need with the Mandrivas since it's my local workstation anyhow and using the GUI tools localy or by ssh works. Monitorix is a standard on my personal machines though.

    For a server, I'd definately consider SWAT even if X was installed. X being more likely so I could ssh in and pull any graphic utilities to my local display or for the very rare times I had to log in locally *and* work through an X desktop (re-attaching keyboard and monitor.. bah, why are good kvm so expensive).

    Also, for my limited needs at home I'm sharing my USB drive to my network and connecting to the share on my NAS. It's easy to maintain the samba.conf for one share through text (Joe for me rather than VI but I'm working on learning vim). I've found Mandriva's remote share mounter setup a bit flakey; I have to add the share to fstab by hand then the GUI tool sees it and allows me to change attributes like username and password.

    I'd actually forgotten about SWAT. I faintly remembered having the browser interface but not the name. Cheers for the reminder.

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    DanLM

    So I have no x windows running. I ssh from accross the room to it for everything.

    And if I'm being lazy, or just want a gui. I use either webmin or swat. On the server I own, I control my dns through webmin.

    If I used the IPFILTER firewall, I would probably use webmin alot more. Very nice tool for remote admin.

    Dan

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    apotheon

    I've actually written a couple of articles for TR about using Subversion -- one for free unices, the other for MS Windows:

    1. Use open source Subversion for personal document management

    2. Take a tangible step toward sustainable software development with TortoiseSVN

    Those may or may not prove useful to you. I'm not entirely sure what your needs are, for figuring out how to do things with Subversion, based on what you said. Let me know if you need to know more.

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    Neon Samurai

    The challenge should be limited to the final build rather than include the steps of WHS and Linux distrobution installation.

    WHS is a hardware/software packaged product that arrives to the end user with software installed; presumably, booting to a short initial setup wizard. To compare the two on level ground, the Linux build should be considered with the same presumption that it would (theoreticly) arrive to the customer preconfiged with a brief setup process like any other router, NAS or similar commodity item.

    Just a thought that occured to me on the experiment's scope. I didn't go back to confirm if your intending to compare the final system or steps you go through during the initial setup.

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    ralphclark

    [Windows Vista requires more "Point and Click" and provides even less keyboard equivalents(?) than its predecessors. This is the way Microsoft sees the user interface going.]

    *cough* Powershell 1.0 *cough*

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    845

    This is a great idea, I'm looking forward to seeing it though.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    Actually I do a lot of scripting for Windows XP Embedded. Up until recently I had to scrip the entire networking applet functionality since the tool MS provides wiped the network settings out every time you "sealed" an image. I still script the startup of a new image simply because we now use the serial number as part of the name of the computer. Makes the IT remote admins happier.

    Yes there is some asymmetry about the comparison between Linux and Windows and I do hope to minimizse it.

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    j-mart

    I am employed in CAD and have over the years gained some IT knowledge as needed to enhance my productivty and to keep the equipment I use in good order. Because my son has an interest in technology I have gained som more knowlege from his interest.

    In order to play games he has gone from a cross over cable to a reasonably complex home network, which in setting this network up we both have picked up a few skills, but we are not network engineers

    For a server we have used an old PII with Linux OS. We have used Red hat 7.2 and now Mandrake 9.2.

    With a home network part of the fun is learning new things. Our network runs Samba Server and is a gateway for our networked cable internet. Getting all this working looks daunting when you have no trainng or experience in networking.

    The Windows Home Server at first look would probably be simpler to get up and running. The Linux setup requires you to be willing to learn new things. I purchased a book on basic networking to get an idea what was required and found all the rest of the information required was available in the How To documentation that comes with Linux Distro's

    There were well documented config files For Samba which I pasted into my own config file and edited as per advice in documentaion. For firewall and NAT setup followed How To documetation again, set up 2 network cards as per instructions, created scripts again by pasting to my own script file from documentation and altering as per documentation to suit my set up.

    The Linux option has some advantages

    1. Cheap - Server performs OK even though is just junk runs in text mode but set up so by typing startx will start GUI for easy navigation when making changes. Software also cheap I have only used packages that came with Distro, nothing downloaded.

    2. As networks are not my job has been fun and has been something my son and I have been able to do together. He was even keen to do the cabling which is run under floor with skirting mounted plug boxes.

    It will be interesting to see how your experiment pans out. I'm sure I will learn some usefull stuff from your trials

    For my son and I on our do next list is to upgrade our server, and as our ISP allows us to, make our own Apache Web Server. Along the way my son is learning many things that will help him into a technolgy career.

    This will certainly be much more informative and productive than the usual Windows verses Linux flame wars.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I taught my son to do installs of Windows apps when he was eight but he seems stuck in the "IM and YouTube mode" He's a teenager now and texting, yakking on the phone and talking about cars and chop-socky movies seems to be it. Congrats on managing to steer your son into some productive!
    Yes I intend to document as fully as possible what I did and if it results in something I can put together into a "plug and play" package (that kind of tasted bad, since its a MS phrase!) then great!

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    Neon Samurai

    I've a little one who's still banging on the keys and being impressed that the screen lights up (thank baud for owning a toughbook that will take the abuse). That's at 13 months but if she takes after daddy she'll be teaching the "computers teacher" at school by the time she gets there. I'm expecting some form of "IM and YouTube mode" eventually also so she'll at least have to know enough to be smart about it.

    For me, installing software was what broke me through from enthusastic computer user to obsessive prisoner of geekdom. Being able to install and config his own software at eight is a huge step that, at minimum, will mean he doesn't have to ask for computer help once he get's over IM and YouTube.

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    j-mart

    My son when he was small would always pull all his toys apart. I have found If he is busy then he does not fight with is brother. The price you pay for his activity is he can greate a fair amount of mess with his projects, which does wind up his mother at times

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    Neon Samurai

    I was a take things apart kid myself and would giggle with glee to watch my little one muck with a computer moving easily from platform to platform while bewildered adults looked on. If she takes interest in the machine then I know she'll pull of some stuff that will make me scratch my head but in this case daddy is also a computer type so it should be interesting when she mouths of in some obscure texting shorthand and I reply fluently back.

    On important tip I've picked up from other TR fathers; hide the original music and movie disks and work off legal copies. I've already lost one DVD to her little hands so I took note of that tip right quick.

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    Neon Samurai

    I'm not sure if these ideas add more to your ongoing learning or if it would actually improve your home setup but some things to consider:

    - Have a look at Mandriva 2007.1 (Spring) as an update to your Mandrake 9.2. I think it was a legal thing that forced the companies name change but the 2007.1 distrobution is a very nice update and may provide a few things your older version did not include.

    - If you can move to a Wifi router you can then bring your live server inside your network rather than using it as the gateway with all your other things on it. This also seporates your inernet bandwidth and home server provided resources (ie. fast gaming over internet while transfering large files to the server). I ran for years on a home build gateway server and wouldn't go back without good reason now after having a proper router. If you don't have an wifi workstations, a linksys wrt54gs router should only be 70$ or so and you can turn off the wifi radio so it's just using the wired plugs in the back of it.

    - More on the Router, if you specifically get a router supported by OpenWRT or Tomato then you can actually replace the vendors minimal router OS with either of those two Linux based OS resulting in home priced hardware with enterprise class functions.

    - "I've only used the software that came with the distrobution". If that doesn't include "plus online provided software updates" then you may want to look into that fairly quickly. It's probably not a security issue for use as much as needed newer software versions. Since your on Mandrake 9.2, you may be limited to updates added to the online repository previous to the end of 9.2's life span. (they've been through 10s and now it's 2007.1 so again, consider a complete OS upgrade on that machine at least)

    For your network layout think:

    [Cable feed]=>-[Home Router]
    / | \
    [server][boy's rig][dad's rig]

    If you have more than four wired machines, a hub or router will split your wired feed into more ports for end nodes.

    Hopefully that gives you some ideas to consider. I'd be curious to hear how the fiddling goes so please post back with questions, comments and rants if you can avoid taking the BS flamewar stuff personally.

    (edit): that diagram was supposed to show the three end node computers coming off the router not the cable modem.

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    j-mart

    My son recently installed Mandriva 2007 on his machine he was using SuSE 10.1 but never liked it. His freinds come round and are entertained by the 3D descktop for hours. The main reason still Mandrake 9.2 on server is machine is a bit marginal but we are gathering parts for a big upgrade soon. I have SuSE 9.3 which I wave updated though SuSE server. I don't realy like SuSE so upgrade to Mandriva 2007 is tempting

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    Neon Samurai

    I suspect it would take to your current hardware without much issue since your building terminal managed server. It should all be the same software but with newer versions and current development updates available. Off hand, what's the video card in your boys machine?

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    j-mart

    Has 128 meg ram. Additional to this I can take manriva 2007 one boot and run from CD in a 800MHz Duron with 384MB ram and a Nvidia 32MB video card and have the 3D desktop working prefectly

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    Neon Samurai

    My AIW Radeon (first generation) worked great in X and got tuner support from the driver project at the time.

    I've yet to get anything beyond the limited functions provided by the community driver for the 9600 though. X.org's included tuner support doesn't recognize it and the ATI binary blob just does not like me at all it seems. I hear the 9600s are flakey though for support, you where right to go with the 9200 gpu.

    I hear rumours that ATI/AMD is planning to release the drivers source code. Anyone else hear such things? It may be enough to keep me as a customer if they can put out an 8800 contender with the AIW chip included.

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    Dumphrey

    the AIW cards as much as possible for the same reason I dont buy a tv witha built in dvd. If one part goes out, the whole thing goes out. Also, I tend to prefer the image quality from the Hauppauge cards (which have great linux support btw). ATI has only recently (past 2 years) released TV cards worth attempting to use to record. Playback was great, and I still have an old tvwonder pro for use with TVTime (works flawlessly, better in tvtime and linux then under windows and ati mmc). But for recording, hauppage wins in my experience.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I've been reading a lot about Myth TV and it looks like Hauppage cards seem to be the ones to use. Most of the other Linux video applications that need a tuner input seem to have Hauppage drivers and installs set as the defaults.

    I think that after looking at MythTV I may put that off a while due to the apparent complexity of the project. It might also be easier to operate that on a separate computer in any case. I have a Intel P4 423 pin 1.8 GHz CPU board with 1GB RAM that might be a good "TV/DVR". We'll see.

    In any case I know that I'm still fairly far back on the Linux learning curve and I'll look at the MythTV project as "dessert", ha!

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    Dumphrey

    Mythtv can be a bear from scratch, but head over to
    http://www.mysettopbox.tv/knoppmyth.html
    and download the latest cd. It installs everything in like 20 min as long as its a single OS set up. There are also some good guids out there for Fedora 4-7, and I would imaging a Ubuntu and a Debian guid could be found pretty easy. The official page is way way to confusing, the distro specific pages are easier to follow.

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    DanLM

    Ok....
    What I would require of a server.

    1). Ability to support the following services.
    a. shared file systems from multiple machines.
    b. ability to access from remote sites either via ssh or ftp. Preferably ssh(use wscftp).
    c. ability to run web services.


    With that said, I have a few questions.
    1). Do you wish to control this server remotely or not? Ie, will you sit at the console to perform any system changes. Or will you sit at another machine to perform all these tasks.
    a). non remote control will require a desk top.
    b). remote control will only require secure access to the machine in a super user access role.
    2). Do you expect to run a firewall on this server?
    3). Ok, I think you said yes to this. But, you want this server to be a gateway for the rest of your machines????
    4). Do you want your server to be a domain controller?


    Dumb questions, and I apologize for them.

    Just so you know, I will most definitely not be suggesting to you a Linux server. I am a believer in true Unix when it comes to servers.

    Dan

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    Neon Samurai

    I read the experiment as an attempt to duplicate the the function set of WHS using FOSS software. It's like my ongoing wish to have work pay me to build a workstation duplicate based on FOSS to trully see how feasible it is.

    Mind you, I suspect your and my own server needs are far past what MS thinks the home user should only be interested in. I think the biggest challenge is going to be the remote access though that may be as much as DynIP and a forwarding port on the router with a web interface on the WHS/LHS box to function the same way as WHS through MS dynamic IP portal.

    :)) Hey, wait a minute! Is this system development for a comercial product? Oh I better be seeing UPS at my door with a test rig once you get them up and in production. ;))

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    DanLM

    There is your samba, apache, backups, controlling the installation of other packages, bind(dns) if he wants, firewall, user accounts... hmmmm, can't remember what else that does. Its a web interface for most everything written in perl.

    ****, have him use pc-bsd, and there is his gui interface for doing the initial setup.

    Actually, I think the biggest problem would be backups and how he wants to do them.

    Dan

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    Neon Samurai

    I believe that's a BSD based build.

    Seems like webmin should be his main interface though and supporting deamons can be based around that with httpd, samba and the backup management covering most all of WHS functions.

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    Dumphrey

    mixed with some NuOnce BlueQuartz, add in the vpn component and done.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    Doing the backups is going to be an interesting exercise in scripting is my guess.

    The Windows Home Server is supposed to be able to do journaling and maintain a database of some sort to keep track of files such that there is only one copy of everything recorded and other "record instances" are just bookmarked or a file link is created.

    That sounds a lot like Subversion, an open source application that is used mostly for software revision control. There are versions of the software for Win32 and Linux. Actually thinking about the way it works, it probably could be used but it might require some scripts to make the file-links/bookmarks and it might require a different way of dealing with what would amount to "pseudo-revisions". Maybe a user would only want a chunk of a movie or a piece of music, maybe just one cut from an album say.

    A long time ago in a galaxy pretty damn closeby, there were computers called VAX and an OS called VMS. It would automatically keep up however many copies of a program that you created and would compile and run the last version UNLESS you told it to go back to an earlier version. I wonder how they did that since I know that the word GigaBytes of drive space did not yet exist!

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    Jeneral22

    Still using it daily to run our Manufacturing software. Granted it takes three times the space but the darn thing is the least offensive to maintain!

    I am following this post with great interest good topic and project! Wish I could help but being as new to Linux and not computer expert it would be a waste of our time.

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    DanLM

    Its been around for a long time for multiple flavors of Linux. But, it has been ported to FreeBSD which means the installation should be much easier.

    Even if you don't chose FreeBSD as your os, you might want to look at this from the developers page as a possibility for your backup solution.

    Here is a BSD write up on it where the guy goes through his experience with it.

    http://www.freebsddiary.org/backups-serial-console-servers.php

    Dan

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I looked at that URL and its going to be a big chunk of the MS Home Server formula. Some of the attached URLs are dead so its either an archived page or just neglected.

    Its a part of a couple distros so I'll look a lot more closely at it.

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    DanLM

    I was looking around as I was watching the NBA playoff game last night. I live in Cleveland Ohio now, and the Cleveland NBA team was in the division finals. Sooooooooo, this was being done as an afterthought. They won by the way. ;o)

    I understand you might not follow basketball, but I'm sure you understand my distraction. Lol.

    The FreeBSD diaries is actually pretty good, I check it out for a lot of different ports I'm thinking of installing. It might be old in some case's, but the guy does a personal experience write up on every port he tries. I appreciate that type of perceptive.

    Dan

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    My 11 year old daughter is the BBall fan and she thinks LeBron James is cute and has a poster of him on the wall. Other than that no I don't follow BBall!

    On the FreeBSDiaries, no sweat, he summarized the capabilities nicely, certainly enough to let me know it will do the trick needed.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    My interest is mostly in building a DIY media server based on Open Source, obviously mostly Linux. I'm trying to at least match the Windows product in feature set but the real emphasis is on a system that can be easily reproduced with a CD install. I'm not sure if I'm up to making a "live CD" but I'm fairly certain I can cobble together an install disk.

    My suspicion looking at the few companies I have seen that have announced their intentions, it looks like two major classes of product will come out. A top of the line server based on a high speed P4 maybe even a dual P4 with lots of RAM etc. The other with much more modest equipment like a AMD C3 or Duran maybe on a mini-ITX form-factor CPU in a small box. The software from MS will likely scale either way fairly easily.

    So Neon when the UPS man delivers that Alienware media server let me know ok? (I wouldn't hold my breath!) I'll be happy if it runs smoothly on a Celeron I already have!

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    Neon Samurai

    I was kidding about the comercial product bit though I'd not have complained a bit if UPS had shown up in six months.

    Both the prepackages I saw where rather nice little boxes with the smaller being a fanless chassis you can stick on your shelf beside the router. Of course the names escape me now that they actually come up in conversation.

    You may want to consider BSD since it's more solid and your sticking primarily to the server functions but a Linux will do just as well. As for rebuilding from a single disk; Ghost it. You can fiddle with buildnig your own liveCD after but Ghost should be an easy way to build a restore disk image.

    Also, consider splitting your partitions up. For a workstation I go with the following:

    / = 4 or 5 gig for the root system, server should be more than happy with 1 gig

    /home = 4 gig for user home folders and a bit of temporary working space since it's only a one user machine in my case

    /var = big.. big as you can make it; huge even. This is where httpd will keep websites, ftpd will keep ftp sites, samba shares should be located and if you get really crazy, VMware Server keeps it's VM files here. This is hte variable space partition for mass storage (like on a two drive windows box).

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    There is a fellow named Craig Claiborne (I think) with Linux Beach that offers 2 "home Servers" with Ubuntu desktop installed and applications pre-configured, Cheap one starts at $895. The other one was way too rich for me!

    I build most of my home stuff from cast-off boxes. So actually buying something completely new is hard to justify. My two DELLs are refurbs from 2 years ago and those are the fastest and newest boxes I have. Of course now I can get dual processors for same price!
    My son found an HP P4 with a trashed install of XP on it with the hidden install partition at a swap shop. Just took me about an hour to fix it. It even has the CDROM Key sticker still on it so its legit. Ran Windows Update on it and it came back as legit there too, so I updated to SP2+.

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    grax

    Brilliant idea and I'll settle for the "live CD". Once you've done all the "easy" work of creating it, then comes the hard part - you'll have to convince Joe Public (the people I work for) to take it up.

    I checked out the specs. for WHS and it doesn't seem to do much that cannot be done with XP - just less hassle. That's what you need from your finished product.

    I watch with great interest.

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    Dumphrey

    may have to be a requirement if the user does not have a staic ip in order to have "access" to your computers from "across the internet." AKA a vpn connection to the local network, probably tunnelled through port 80, with a log-in based web client hosted by MS (this could be the dyndns component). Yeah, thats what I want..seems safe enough...

    The big thing WHS was trying to offer was configure free access through your router. I realllllly hope this is not managed through UUpnP, as that service is broken beyond belief for security. This is why I see a tunnell over 80 approach working. But, to prevent people from having to know their own ip, or register a dyndns name, I think MS will host their own dyndns site, based off of the WHS install code. A typical MS "Click Here to set up remote access for your server." A pretty good idea really, and it gives them another chance to "validate" your install code.

    It seems to me, that this project could be built on a debian system, striped of any un necessary code, and running XFCE. A live cd could be made from the finished product, scripts and all.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    DDNS looked to be the only way they could possibly hope to make remote access to work for either the server or desktop access. There will be a hook into Remote Terminal services but I consider that broken as well since it seems to not be able to run with multiple user logons on a single XP Pro workstation.

    I can practically guarantee that will be a monthly support fee service from MSN or Windows DeadorAlive.

    Having to suffer through Net Passport, MSN logon, and now Windows Live logon password crap (for technet and tech support for XP Embedded), they can shove it.

    If I wanted to have to screw around with a branded, no-warranty, not guaranteed to work, with no liabilities for service interruptions on their part, on-line password server that sometimes works but quite often doesn't with the browser of their choice and certainly not my choice of browser, I would have gone with AOL 20 years ago.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I'm a stickler when it comes to what server functions I'll allow on a particular piece of hardware. (The guys at work would say stinker, but that's their problem. ha!)

    1a) Yes remote control through a web browser is the best option. Anybody can run a web browser and making selections on a web page is an easy thing for Users to comprehend. (Yes I know that web pages might require some scripting!) I know there are a number of web/remote control applications out there. The Linux firewall I use has no video interface besides a web server. Logon is through https.

    1b) Remote control comes in 2 varieties, playback and as you call it super-user (Windows calls it Administrator) which can do everything else. I might let the users program timers for time-shifting or record through a timer function. I'm planning on setting various functions to be accessible by groups then put the users into the appropriate organizational groups for the level or types of access I'm willing to let them have. I believe Linux and Unix share this trait fairly closely and Active Directory from Windows mimics that behaviour. (Might have to set another timer allowing only one hour of Sponge-Bob a day, less if I can get away with it! The 11-year old might have something to say about that!)

    2) No. I'm a true believer in only allowing primary firewall software to operate on primary firewall hardware. Also no DMZ can be isolated enough. Finally the Internet is no place for a server, web or otherwise without being firewalled. The best firewall is a piece of Cat5 disconnected on one end! The word wireless does not exist in this house! Paranoid, yes, but maybe not enough!

    3) Gateways only exist on firewalls, period. IPTables are read only and are not "automatically" generated. Only root can write them. No Netbios in or out ever. Netbios over TCP/IP, never. ICMP drops into the bit bucket at the NIC. NNTP only through a proxy. IM only gets used in the DMZ, malware scanning is constant on those boxes. Skype likewise (you can force Skype to use http and I do).

    4) Domain server, no. Domain servers exist to serve to authenticate logins, to offer DHCP & DNS services, monitor users, computers and IP traffic, that's it. Multi-media and Domain functions don't co-exist. Besides I don't think MS is offering anything close to a domain server built-into their Home Server. Other of their products do offer stacks of options including domain server with tons of protocol servers on multi-media capable platforms. (Small-Biz Server comes to mind)

    Only services I hope I'll only have to allow will be http, ftp, & ssh. Depending on what functions and service types I end up with, I might have to put the server in the DMZ and do user access from inside the secondary firewall. Have the media server do a "proxy" for the user through the primary firewall out to the Internet. That would allow other protocols including streaming protocols that I DON'T want inside the home subnet.

    I'm thinking Apache (everybody uses it and that means there's a lot of documentation) if necessary on the system in the DMZ. I've used Apache on Windows (which still sounds funny to me, Apache on Patches) a little bit. I could put IPtables on it easily enough to perform a secondary firewall if I can overcome some of my Web-induced paranoia!

    Currently I'm running a 3 port Linux firewall
    with the Internet on one NIC, a DMZ on another NIC and the final NIC is the local home subnet through a secondary firewall on another 2 port Linux box. NAT is running on all ports of both firewalls. Port filtering is heavy with only ssh, ftp client and http allowed into the primary firewall from the Internet. State monitoring is enabled on all outgoing and incoming connections.

    Before I had it going really well Windows Update managed to get out through the system and managed to do a download of updates. Luckily the XP SP2 box wasn't on Automatic and I was able to delete the screwed up Microsoft WGA (Windows Guaranteed Aggravation) "fix" that got 2 of my 4 systems at work.

    The two pieces of Linux software I've had the most experience with are various firewall implementations and Samba which is worth paying for (and I have!). So I'm not totally a Linux newbie besides trying a lot of distros.

    Another thing I do like about Linux is the scripting. Simply because it is so freaking easy. Its just a bunch of batch files! The problem for me is figuring out where they need to go and the discipline required to put them in the properly "permissioned" directory.

    User rights is not an alien concept to me but trying to determine exactly the consequences of what happens when you fiddle with the permissions is fairly difficult in many cases (just like in Windows).

    I've gotten more enthusiastic for this project the more I've been reading and downloading of applications.

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    Neon Samurai

    You open with "my son and I setup a small network at home as something to do together but we're not really network engineers" then drop a post like this; Well Done Sir.

    For a hobby, you've done a heck of a bit of reading. I gotta go back and finish reading the post once my workday ends.

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    DanLM

    In that this is a home server that you are thinking of building. Don't install ftp. Use ssh only. If you are transferring files from windows to the server, use Winscp. Here is a link to an open source windows client that will connect and transfer files for you.
    http://winscp.net/eng/index.php
    Real nice gui, drag and drop type of deal.

    I hate ftp. Everyone talks about how insecure talent is, well. FTP is just as insecure. Your bloody password is still open text just like telnet. ugggg

    On my home server, I have specific groups set up for the people that don't listen to me. They are ftp only accounts, meaning that you can not ssh into those accounts. If I'm going to have a password sniffed, then that bloody account is not going to have the ability to run any type of commands from if I can control it.

    While I'm at it, lol. Use public/private key for all ssh log ins. My home server is open to the Internet, and I am constantly pounded by brute force kiddies. I have turned off the ability to ssh into that machine via passwords and only allow public/private key log ins. Idiots, ticks me right the heck off. Both putty and wisnscp have the ability to use public/private key authentication . So, that's not even an issue. ****, if you go to the putty download site, they have a gui that will generate the keys for you. And all you do is place them in the correct files.

    This is from someone that has been burned before, that blocks full nations via cidr lists that are downloaded every night and loaded to the firewall. I personally think there is no reason to use an insecure sign on method. Either for ftp(don't need it) or ssh. The gui's are out there via open source. They are well known and respected names, so you will not be using something that was hacked together.

    Just a couple suggestions.

    Here is the putty download page.
    http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html

    Dan

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    That's why I use 2 firewalls, one inside the other. Even a sniffer application that has managed to get inside can't report out except of course through an email vector, so forth and so on.

    You did remind me of one thing I will have to eventually do, pick client applications for Win32 as well as the Linux clients & servers.

    At this point Winscp gets bookmarked.

    Secure ftp and SSH will be an absolute necessity. I suspect that Kerberos and LDAP will become the standard I will install since its really the only authentication technique that is secure on both Linux and Windows. That in turn dictates a SMB(Samba) domain with users, groups etc.

    Log on to the domain takes care of the security issues and simplifies user group policy. Kerberos takes care of the sniffing issue.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    One of the applications I do want to add to the basic media server is Myth TV with a couple of tuner boards. The idea is that time-shifting broadcast and satellite TV will let all 4 members of the family share 2 satellite set-top boxes and access the local Broadcast HD channels in some fashion so that everybody gets most of what they want.

    My son is also "main-lining" streaming audio from some Internet sites. I'm sure when he hears about being able to tune-in 4 channels of TV at once, multi-channel radio will seem to be even easier.

    Obviously the Celeron will get maxed out pretty quick! But at least for testing it will give me an idea of what can be done with a little more CPU cycles than can be made with a Geode!

    Obviously this is outside the boundaries of the test for the Home Server functions.

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    Neon Samurai

    You could put your big box server in the basement or closet (ventelated of course) and have your MythTV media server beside the TV.

    The Myth rig could do all your tv tuning and media management (I hear it's good stuff, a MythTV Knoppix liveCD was recommended to me). This also limits the hardware in your Myth box and minimize the installed software since it's a specialty box.

    The Big Box rig then goes in the basement or wherever convenient and cool with it's specialty hardware and software stack minimized for what it's going to do. Once media is recorded on the Myth box, it's moved to the this machine for general storage. For viewing, the Myth box pulls your music or video from the Big Box Samba or NFS shares (I like Samba more than NFS due to mixed OS networking).

    I'm not sure if that setup would be of benifit but it would be worth considering. The one hickup I've had with storing media on one machine then feeding it to the TV through another is choppy video. I've had to copy the video file to the local machine then run it directly into the tv rather than pull from the network share directly. This is due to using an older notebook on slow wifi as the TV's feed bag though so it's not likely to effect you but something to keep in mind.

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    j-mart

    What I would like to see is to set up a basic system first that will handle basic tasks as proposed WHS with step by step instructions to get a solid secure system up and running. After that go for all the bells and whistles that can be had only using FOSS, which may or may not be posible with WHS

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    Yes you're right but I letting my growing enthusiasm get a-hold of me!
    The basic system will be the root of the whole project and it does need to be a solid installation.

    One of the criteria I use at work is if I can't document it well enough that somebody can't do it again, somethings wrong with the project. So don't worry about it, it will be documented!

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    Splitting the TV-Computer from the Server computer makes sense. If I can do it I might add a direct connection (cross-over cable) using a second NIC in the 2 machines to keep the TV video traffic off the main network.

    I use that trick a t work between the SQL Server and my design computer to prevent traffic from interfering with the other computers.

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    Dumphrey

    KnoppMyth, modify your partitions manualy, then add the standard Debian repos, and go from there. You may have to disable Myth frontend form loading by default on boot, but thats a matter of moving one tiny script. But, Myth has a nice feature that plays in to this whole home server buisness. A mythtv box is by default a backend server, and can stream any of its content, including live tv, across the network to any myth tv frontend.

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    j-mart

    Today when I was looking for something else I came upon a Linux Distro "Clark Connect" which is for a Linux server / gateway from http://www.thelin-xportal.com/index.php which is a company in New Zealand who seem to be at the sharp end of Linux developement. You can purchase a copy for NZ $5.50. I have ordered a copy so I will give it a try when it arrives. Go to their site and check it out.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I looked at their website and many of the pages did not come up. Additionally it would have been nice if the descriptions thy had for all of their distros was not identical. No search options either, not attractive, makes it look like a garage operation.

    I do not know if NZ $5.50 is what you should expect to pay for the "price of copying and shipping" or whatever the GPL language says or not. I do know that if you charge more than $2.50 US for a single CD to copy and mail it, you're ripping somebody off.

    I wish them luck but they really need to work on the website. I never could find the Clark Connect distro.

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    j-mart

    is not expensive in this part of the world with exchange rate converted back to US$ cost of downloading, sales tax of 12.5% etc. is average cost in this part of the world. The best deal is the 3 Distro's for NZ$10.00. I agree the web site is rubbish but the point is could "Clark Connect" be an easy setup for home server with easy set up comparable with WHS. An interesting side to this is under section for Future OS they had an Amiga OS open source and an open source Windows OS that are at the experimental stage with copies avalable though not recomended for any serious work.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    just lousy web programmers. I can understand that, being one myself, lousy web programmer I mean. Don't have the patience to do it or time to work out either my bugs or the web's bugs.

    In any case I still wasn't able to find the "Clark Connect" distro on their website.

    Just Googled it and found the source site. Downloading the Community version as I type.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    So I'm reluctant to use it. ( In another post here I report downloading it.)

    The nice thing about the GPL is that if it smells like there's a limitation, it isn't open-source.

    Actually they aren't the only ones.

    I wouldn't consider Red Hat Enterprise Open Source either. Fedora though is fully open sourced because of the way it was set up. Red Hat realized that to make things work better especially at building the business side, they needed to offer something that strictly speaking wasn't going to be open source.

    So Fedora is Red Hat's way of supporting the concepts of open source without mudding the waters. The Enterprise version is the Fedora code that works, that gets field-tested and remains disconnected from the Enterprise features Red Hat can use to keep its service customers. Red Hat supposedly erected a "Chinese Wall". Fedora stays on one side, Red Hat Enterprise on the other. Presumably. Red Hat slaps the GPL on it, donates its newest code to the open source world, calls it Fedora and then goes on to further refine it as Red Hat Enterprise on their side of the wall.

    We are supposed to assume that the programming guys on the Fedora side of the wall (ie non-Red Hat employees) IP work does not travel back over the wall to Red Hat Enterprise unless it also gets GPL'ed. My guess is that the wall is see-through. There is no third party that I know of keeping an eye on that.

    Just as an interesting lesson in copyright and IP law, I'd like to see the employment contract Red Hat programmers have to sign. Remember that GPL doesn't come into play until it is released to the public by the owner who is Red Hat, after the programmer gives up the code to his employer, who we assume is Red Hat.

    From what I can see of the Clark Connect Community distro, its been "busted" somewhat, whatever email application they use in their Enterprise and Office versions is also in the Community version but it doesn't support more than 10 accounts. What or Why is that?

    Since that is a feature (much like a Microsoft feature ALSO set at 10 accounts ha!) I am very reluctant to use Clark Connect in something I plan on releasing as a open source distro. The number 10 was just a coincidence I'm sure. I am not accusing Clark Connect of distributing MS software. If humans had 12 fingers, it probably would have been 12 accounts.

    In any case I am NOT saying that it doesn't work. It just might be perfect for all sorts of users. I just don't want to be the target of a freaking idiot lawsuit. The Gorilla in Redmond already has many lawyers on his payroll and that's how he keeps poachers off his turf. Lots of other's have learned that "programming" technique.

    So if it smells bad I just don't use it.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I'm not picking on anybody please understand me. If you are easily offended please turn the other cheek.

    When I looked at X-proxy's web site cited below,

    http://www.thelin-xportal.com/product_info.php?cPath=13_102&products_id=551

    they had something that caught my eye (and I included the URL here) and my nasty sense of humour kicked in.

    A "Christian Distribution" of Ubuntu! I suppose the Satanist version is located at 666.com! (No URL. You want to put that in your browser go ahead!) That leaves open the door for Buddhist versions, Hari-Krishna versions, Wika versions, etc etc. Then of course there has to to be the Roman Catholic Christian versions versus the King James Protestant Christian Versions. Don't forget the Islamic versus the Jewish versions!

    Good grief Charlie Brown!

    They already had over 93 versions of some kind of open source or nearly open source software images. Is there any need to bring religion into a venue that already has a "religious" sized chasm in it?

    OK fine I could see that somebody might want to control what their kids can access on the Internet. Fine use some kind of filter software but why build a distribution around it? I'll bet they they've sold less than a cults worth of that distribution!

    In any case I'm a bit dumbfounded that somebody smart enough to use and build an open source distribution, has got to know that Satan already knows about open source! If the FBI and the Treasury Department have figured it out, that nasty guy downstairs has already gotten the word.

    (I didn't know Cisco had built a router that could handle that kind of heat! Wonder what protocol that is? ****:// Don't see it in the RFC's!)

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    Neon Samurai

    I'm not a very dedicated follower of the christianity brand I was raised in but I'm already toying with options for an OS for my daughter and UbuntuCE meant it had already been made "family friendly". Edubuntu has succeeded that option though I've other contenders too.

    As I understand, UbuntuCE was created for catholic churches (though it could be just churches in general) to use so it's nice and clean and includes all the topical content; Edubuntu for church if you will.

    And yes, there was a Ubuntu Satanic Edition released also. It came out at Christmas and was only an X theme; background, styles, boot and console background but little more than that. Some people lost there crap over it and got all god fearing bible thumping turbo christian over it but most saw the joke for what it was and had a bit of a laugh.

    UbuntuCE has it's place and is a great distribution for those of the cloth though like any distribution, one shouldn't consider it to apply as a one size fits all. I'm not sure why all the angst over a religion focused distribution which would be downloaded and installed free of charge rather than bought (good if your a church group).

    I love that there are so many different OS based on the Linux kernel and other Open Source cores. It's the broad range of choice that makes it great. If you really want to spin in your chair, track down the website that lists liveCD; there's a few hundred different liveCD specific to whatever need you can dream up. I don't have the url handy but it should be an easy search.

    Don't take the Satanic Edition seriously and you'll be thinking of it in the way it was intended. It's not a complete distribution, only a few backgrounds and style sheets.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I suppose the next thing out is a distro for dark beer brewers, yeah baby.

    As far as the 666.com that was a joke and I'm sorry you couldn't hear me laughing all the way to NZ!

    I guess the issue was: "Why bother to spend the time on a distro that had such a tightly focused purpose and especially one that had the mode of operation to prevent you from discovering anything counter to your belief system?"

    Yes and before I get that logic slapped in my face....
    A Linux Home Server distro that does not require extensive input from the user and can offer an alternative to the MS product, is attractive to any ethnic, religios etc etc. group. I'm not interested in limiting the system functionality due to issues other than the inherent technical capabilities or limitations of the system. I could care less if the guy using it was Jewish, Muslim or Christian or what-have-you.

    Any user can build any distro and cause it to limit capability. I don't find that to be any sort of accomplishment or in the right spirit of open source software.

    It also sounds like you don't use that particular distro any more.

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    Neon Samurai

    I wasn't intending to sound as if I was jumping down anyone's throat and I did get a giggle out of the 666.com bit though I felt no need to include it in the response. (If you find out what that Cisco router is, I could use something "rugged" just encase.)

    "Why bother to spend the time on a distro that had such a tightly focused purpose and especially one that had the mode of operation to prevent you from discovering anything counter to your belief system?"

    This is a good question and one of the reasons to love FOSS as far as I can tell. There are Distros specific to whatever need someone with some developer skills came up with. If you track down that liveCD listing site they have categories; working with media, working with broadcasts, working with security, general desktop, general server.. the list goes on and on. The article I first read about UbuntuCE was as a distrobution developed for churches that can't or choose not too spend "flock" donations high cost software. For the price of hardware and burning a .ISO image, a church can join the information age with a prebuilt system tuned to it's needs (business needs and spiritual). I also nearly fell off my chair the first time I read the UbuntuSE article and ensuing hubbub from the religious conservatives.

    Your right though, outside of an OS/Applications collection for a specific religion, all Info Tech should be considered belief neutral. I wouldn't have recommended UbuntuCE as a server installation even within a religious environment; it's for the desktop and only where applicable.

    I don't see it as limiting the distribution but it is definitely tuning it to a specific use. This would be the same contrast as Debian, a general distribution favoring free license software versus Ubuntu, a more specialized distribution favoring the lower tech user and recent Windows users.

    I did mention that I had considered UbuntuCE a distrobution that came "family friendly" for my little one but it didn't stay on the list long enough to download and look at. I was still considering it only when I replaced it with Edubuntu since an educationally focused system means "family friendly" but with school software rather than spiritually focused software.

    I must have posted here after responding to posts in a few less civilized discussions as I didn't mean to come across harshly by any means.

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    Neon Samurai

    My first reponse would be; try FreeNAS.

    This bares more consideration though and I'll have to reread the function specs for WHS. I'll post back with my limited experience sudgesion once I've had time to give your initial a proper read over unless someone beats me too it.

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    1bn0

    my brother-in-law. He has a RC copy of WHS and has been trying it out at home. He is employed as as "Systems Analyst" at a local governement office. We were discussing weither this product would draw any real interest from the average home user.

    We had previously looked at SMESERVER (formerly called eSmith server).

    http://www.smeserver.org/
    At the time we tried it it had a customised web based front end for administration and wasn't too bad althoug a little incomplete at that time. Mitel took over development and tried to market as a small business server with a subscription support server including email and domain management.

    I'm not sure what the current incarnation really looks like.

    We were just interested in something that would provide the basic benefits of windows server for the home market without the windows price.

    I look forward to the progress of this project.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I'll be posting my work and results here.

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    jhilgeman2

    It's interesting in concept, but I have a suspicion that WHS will come out on top because the experiment isn't exactly "fair and balanced."

    1. By virtue of being MORE familiar with the Window environments, you're going to encounter SOME frustration with the Linux environment, and that frustration will come off against Linux. Some things are just sub-conscious.

    2. Whether you're trying to or not, you're holding Windows up as the gold standard for Linux to meet. Whenever Linux doesn't do something Windows does, it'll be "bad Linux PR". I didn't see you make the same comment vice-versa. You should also recognize things that Linux does that Windows DOESN'T do and that should count as bad PR against Windows.

    I won't say either one is better than the other for everything. You're comparing green apples to red apples. They're still apples, but they have a major taste difference. You might as well be comparing MS SQL Enterprise Manager to phpMyAdmin. Yes, they're both mainstream db admin tools, and can do some of the same tasks, but they do mostly vastly different jobs on different platforms because some needs are better served by different platforms.

    Personally, I run Windows desktops (mostly XP) and servers (different editions of 2000 AND 2003), and I also have run FreeBSD servers, Red Hat servers, Mandrake, and Fedora Core servers. I still use a console-only Fedora Core server as our company mail gateway. I'm still hooked on XP as my favorite desktop, even though I'm very comfortable in KDE and Gnome.

    People need to stop trying to make one side be the "end-all." There'll never be one end-all operating system - not from Microsoft, not from Apple, and not from open-source development. Each serves a different need, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, those different systems inspire new and better things for the other systems. Without Windows, there'd be a lot less apps for Linux, and without Linux, Microsoft would become lazier and less competitive.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    is that so far I'm very impressed with the amount and spread of Linux aplication support there is for devices only rarely seen in the Windows world.

    The other thing I will tell you is that there is a lot of bad software out there for Linux. I've run into applications that I would consider unruly and unusable simply because there is no way to bail out of some Linux applications. That said, there is a tremendous amount of very good software I've already encountered that beats Microsoft offerings simply because there is no financial reason to support some of the devices and codecs and so forth out there.

    What I will tell you also is that I am very intent on making a Linux media /home server simply because I want to support both Linux and Windows clients.

    I also do not want to get caught up in the DMRA crap that seems to be completely burying anything new in the way of media hardware design. I will not pay a license fee to some "digital rights mugger" just so I can store and playback video or stills I've taken of my family and friends. The day is coming when Windows Media Player will no longer be free or you'll have to pay with a credit card to look at news clips even from "free" services.

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    Absolutely

    "4) If you expect me to script something or run a script, show me an example or give me the script. (This runs counter to item 2 above but I realize Linux runs on scripts). It would be nice if the script has enough commentary to let me know what was going on in it. I reserve the right to dump something I'm suspicious of."

    Try imposing that requirement on Microsoft!

    I don't mean to say that this isn't a reasonable requirement. In fact, if home users will be persuaded to adopt Linux for the function set you describe, I'm sure many will do so only with clearly commented code. They want equivalent functionality, with only slightly greater technical requirements, if any at all. In other words, the target audience is users who are not willing to acquire the skill set of IT pros to acquire the level of functionality of a home server. This will be a very intriguing blog to follow!

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    1bn0

    Home users shouldn't need any scripting abilities. WHS is not intended to replace Windows Business servers administrative control features. It is intended to:

    Store files: Pictures, Video and Music.
    Allow or prohibit other users to access those files.
    Provide the abiltiy to back up the desktop to the server and restore the desktop from the server.

    Windows Vista requires more "Point and Click" and provides even less keyboard equivalents(?) than its predecessors. This is the way Microsoft sees the user interface going.

    The "requirement" to minimise scripting under a Linux solution is simply to try to provide the same level of access control as Windows uses.

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    Absolutely

    The "requirement" to minimise scripting under a Linux solution is simply to try to provide the same level of access control as Windows uses.

    My comment was intended to be about the part of the requirement to see the code responsible for the server functionality and reject any that looks untrustworthy, not that the script be "minimal". Actually, a "minimal" script is simply good programming, under any circumstances, although I'm sure that all the IT pros here know that. I'm equally sure that none of us expect to see source code for home user products from Microsoft any time soon.

    "It would be nice if the script has enough commentary to let me know what was going on in it. I reserve the right to dump something I'm suspicious of."

    Microsoft will not provide that feature!

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    Windows can be managed via scripting as can Linux. I don't expect to get out of running a linux distro or for that matter any Windows setup script free.

    In many ways the large piles of scripts Linux uses are relatively similar to the registry, especially HiveKey_Local_Machine in Windows, where all the settings pertaining to the machine or computer setup is stored.

    In any case, I hope to preserve all of the scripts and settings I create using SVN, Subversion on both machines and if I can get Samba to co-operate maybe I can do it with both platforms running as inputs to the SVN database on a Linux box. I wonder if anybody has done that? Probably, that's a project in itself. I use SVN at work and I like it, very easy to use.

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    Neon Samurai

    I've set it up many times and am in the process of configing it after an OS update from clean install (I learn something new every time). Last setup was dead simple to config and I have no reason to believe my current config will be any more difficult though I do have the advantage of graphic admin tools. I use a GUI tool for fine tuning after adding remote shares to my fstab. My local machine's shares are all configed through the samba configs in /ets/samba or similar.

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    DanLM

    I wrote the original config for my home samba in vi. But now I just maintain it through swat. Only allow access via the lan, but it really does make things a lot simpler.

    Dan

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    Neon Samurai

    I was starting to use it alot during the Mandrakes but found little need with the Mandrivas since it's my local workstation anyhow and using the GUI tools localy or by ssh works. Monitorix is a standard on my personal machines though.

    For a server, I'd definately consider SWAT even if X was installed. X being more likely so I could ssh in and pull any graphic utilities to my local display or for the very rare times I had to log in locally *and* work through an X desktop (re-attaching keyboard and monitor.. bah, why are good kvm so expensive).

    Also, for my limited needs at home I'm sharing my USB drive to my network and connecting to the share on my NAS. It's easy to maintain the samba.conf for one share through text (Joe for me rather than VI but I'm working on learning vim). I've found Mandriva's remote share mounter setup a bit flakey; I have to add the share to fstab by hand then the GUI tool sees it and allows me to change attributes like username and password.

    I'd actually forgotten about SWAT. I faintly remembered having the browser interface but not the name. Cheers for the reminder.

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    DanLM

    So I have no x windows running. I ssh from accross the room to it for everything.

    And if I'm being lazy, or just want a gui. I use either webmin or swat. On the server I own, I control my dns through webmin.

    If I used the IPFILTER firewall, I would probably use webmin alot more. Very nice tool for remote admin.

    Dan

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    apotheon

    I've actually written a couple of articles for TR about using Subversion -- one for free unices, the other for MS Windows:

    1. Use open source Subversion for personal document management

    2. Take a tangible step toward sustainable software development with TortoiseSVN

    Those may or may not prove useful to you. I'm not entirely sure what your needs are, for figuring out how to do things with Subversion, based on what you said. Let me know if you need to know more.

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    Neon Samurai

    The challenge should be limited to the final build rather than include the steps of WHS and Linux distrobution installation.

    WHS is a hardware/software packaged product that arrives to the end user with software installed; presumably, booting to a short initial setup wizard. To compare the two on level ground, the Linux build should be considered with the same presumption that it would (theoreticly) arrive to the customer preconfiged with a brief setup process like any other router, NAS or similar commodity item.

    Just a thought that occured to me on the experiment's scope. I didn't go back to confirm if your intending to compare the final system or steps you go through during the initial setup.

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    ralphclark

    [Windows Vista requires more "Point and Click" and provides even less keyboard equivalents(?) than its predecessors. This is the way Microsoft sees the user interface going.]

    *cough* Powershell 1.0 *cough*

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    845

    This is a great idea, I'm looking forward to seeing it though.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    Actually I do a lot of scripting for Windows XP Embedded. Up until recently I had to scrip the entire networking applet functionality since the tool MS provides wiped the network settings out every time you "sealed" an image. I still script the startup of a new image simply because we now use the serial number as part of the name of the computer. Makes the IT remote admins happier.

    Yes there is some asymmetry about the comparison between Linux and Windows and I do hope to minimizse it.

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    j-mart

    I am employed in CAD and have over the years gained some IT knowledge as needed to enhance my productivty and to keep the equipment I use in good order. Because my son has an interest in technology I have gained som more knowlege from his interest.

    In order to play games he has gone from a cross over cable to a reasonably complex home network, which in setting this network up we both have picked up a few skills, but we are not network engineers

    For a server we have used an old PII with Linux OS. We have used Red hat 7.2 and now Mandrake 9.2.

    With a home network part of the fun is learning new things. Our network runs Samba Server and is a gateway for our networked cable internet. Getting all this working looks daunting when you have no trainng or experience in networking.

    The Windows Home Server at first look would probably be simpler to get up and running. The Linux setup requires you to be willing to learn new things. I purchased a book on basic networking to get an idea what was required and found all the rest of the information required was available in the How To documentation that comes with Linux Distro's

    There were well documented config files For Samba which I pasted into my own config file and edited as per advice in documentaion. For firewall and NAT setup followed How To documetation again, set up 2 network cards as per instructions, created scripts again by pasting to my own script file from documentation and altering as per documentation to suit my set up.

    The Linux option has some advantages

    1. Cheap - Server performs OK even though is just junk runs in text mode but set up so by typing startx will start GUI for easy navigation when making changes. Software also cheap I have only used packages that came with Distro, nothing downloaded.

    2. As networks are not my job has been fun and has been something my son and I have been able to do together. He was even keen to do the cabling which is run under floor with skirting mounted plug boxes.

    It will be interesting to see how your experiment pans out. I'm sure I will learn some usefull stuff from your trials

    For my son and I on our do next list is to upgrade our server, and as our ISP allows us to, make our own Apache Web Server. Along the way my son is learning many things that will help him into a technolgy career.

    This will certainly be much more informative and productive than the usual Windows verses Linux flame wars.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I taught my son to do installs of Windows apps when he was eight but he seems stuck in the "IM and YouTube mode" He's a teenager now and texting, yakking on the phone and talking about cars and chop-socky movies seems to be it. Congrats on managing to steer your son into some productive!
    Yes I intend to document as fully as possible what I did and if it results in something I can put together into a "plug and play" package (that kind of tasted bad, since its a MS phrase!) then great!

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    Neon Samurai

    I've a little one who's still banging on the keys and being impressed that the screen lights up (thank baud for owning a toughbook that will take the abuse). That's at 13 months but if she takes after daddy she'll be teaching the "computers teacher" at school by the time she gets there. I'm expecting some form of "IM and YouTube mode" eventually also so she'll at least have to know enough to be smart about it.

    For me, installing software was what broke me through from enthusastic computer user to obsessive prisoner of geekdom. Being able to install and config his own software at eight is a huge step that, at minimum, will mean he doesn't have to ask for computer help once he get's over IM and YouTube.

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    j-mart

    My son when he was small would always pull all his toys apart. I have found If he is busy then he does not fight with is brother. The price you pay for his activity is he can greate a fair amount of mess with his projects, which does wind up his mother at times

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    Neon Samurai

    I was a take things apart kid myself and would giggle with glee to watch my little one muck with a computer moving easily from platform to platform while bewildered adults looked on. If she takes interest in the machine then I know she'll pull of some stuff that will make me scratch my head but in this case daddy is also a computer type so it should be interesting when she mouths of in some obscure texting shorthand and I reply fluently back.

    On important tip I've picked up from other TR fathers; hide the original music and movie disks and work off legal copies. I've already lost one DVD to her little hands so I took note of that tip right quick.

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    Neon Samurai

    I'm not sure if these ideas add more to your ongoing learning or if it would actually improve your home setup but some things to consider:

    - Have a look at Mandriva 2007.1 (Spring) as an update to your Mandrake 9.2. I think it was a legal thing that forced the companies name change but the 2007.1 distrobution is a very nice update and may provide a few things your older version did not include.

    - If you can move to a Wifi router you can then bring your live server inside your network rather than using it as the gateway with all your other things on it. This also seporates your inernet bandwidth and home server provided resources (ie. fast gaming over internet while transfering large files to the server). I ran for years on a home build gateway server and wouldn't go back without good reason now after having a proper router. If you don't have an wifi workstations, a linksys wrt54gs router should only be 70$ or so and you can turn off the wifi radio so it's just using the wired plugs in the back of it.

    - More on the Router, if you specifically get a router supported by OpenWRT or Tomato then you can actually replace the vendors minimal router OS with either of those two Linux based OS resulting in home priced hardware with enterprise class functions.

    - "I've only used the software that came with the distrobution". If that doesn't include "plus online provided software updates" then you may want to look into that fairly quickly. It's probably not a security issue for use as much as needed newer software versions. Since your on Mandrake 9.2, you may be limited to updates added to the online repository previous to the end of 9.2's life span. (they've been through 10s and now it's 2007.1 so again, consider a complete OS upgrade on that machine at least)

    For your network layout think:

    [Cable feed]=>-[Home Router]
    / | \
    [server][boy's rig][dad's rig]

    If you have more than four wired machines, a hub or router will split your wired feed into more ports for end nodes.

    Hopefully that gives you some ideas to consider. I'd be curious to hear how the fiddling goes so please post back with questions, comments and rants if you can avoid taking the BS flamewar stuff personally.

    (edit): that diagram was supposed to show the three end node computers coming off the router not the cable modem.

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    j-mart

    My son recently installed Mandriva 2007 on his machine he was using SuSE 10.1 but never liked it. His freinds come round and are entertained by the 3D descktop for hours. The main reason still Mandrake 9.2 on server is machine is a bit marginal but we are gathering parts for a big upgrade soon. I have SuSE 9.3 which I wave updated though SuSE server. I don't realy like SuSE so upgrade to Mandriva 2007 is tempting

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    Neon Samurai

    I suspect it would take to your current hardware without much issue since your building terminal managed server. It should all be the same software but with newer versions and current development updates available. Off hand, what's the video card in your boys machine?

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    j-mart

    Has 128 meg ram. Additional to this I can take manriva 2007 one boot and run from CD in a 800MHz Duron with 384MB ram and a Nvidia 32MB video card and have the 3D desktop working prefectly

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    Neon Samurai

    My AIW Radeon (first generation) worked great in X and got tuner support from the driver project at the time.

    I've yet to get anything beyond the limited functions provided by the community driver for the 9600 though. X.org's included tuner support doesn't recognize it and the ATI binary blob just does not like me at all it seems. I hear the 9600s are flakey though for support, you where right to go with the 9200 gpu.

    I hear rumours that ATI/AMD is planning to release the drivers source code. Anyone else hear such things? It may be enough to keep me as a customer if they can put out an 8800 contender with the AIW chip included.

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    Dumphrey

    the AIW cards as much as possible for the same reason I dont buy a tv witha built in dvd. If one part goes out, the whole thing goes out. Also, I tend to prefer the image quality from the Hauppauge cards (which have great linux support btw). ATI has only recently (past 2 years) released TV cards worth attempting to use to record. Playback was great, and I still have an old tvwonder pro for use with TVTime (works flawlessly, better in tvtime and linux then under windows and ati mmc). But for recording, hauppage wins in my experience.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I've been reading a lot about Myth TV and it looks like Hauppage cards seem to be the ones to use. Most of the other Linux video applications that need a tuner input seem to have Hauppage drivers and installs set as the defaults.

    I think that after looking at MythTV I may put that off a while due to the apparent complexity of the project. It might also be easier to operate that on a separate computer in any case. I have a Intel P4 423 pin 1.8 GHz CPU board with 1GB RAM that might be a good "TV/DVR". We'll see.

    In any case I know that I'm still fairly far back on the Linux learning curve and I'll look at the MythTV project as "dessert", ha!

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    Dumphrey

    Mythtv can be a bear from scratch, but head over to
    http://www.mysettopbox.tv/knoppmyth.html
    and download the latest cd. It installs everything in like 20 min as long as its a single OS set up. There are also some good guids out there for Fedora 4-7, and I would imaging a Ubuntu and a Debian guid could be found pretty easy. The official page is way way to confusing, the distro specific pages are easier to follow.

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    DanLM

    Ok....
    What I would require of a server.

    1). Ability to support the following services.
    a. shared file systems from multiple machines.
    b. ability to access from remote sites either via ssh or ftp. Preferably ssh(use wscftp).
    c. ability to run web services.


    With that said, I have a few questions.
    1). Do you wish to control this server remotely or not? Ie, will you sit at the console to perform any system changes. Or will you sit at another machine to perform all these tasks.
    a). non remote control will require a desk top.
    b). remote control will only require secure access to the machine in a super user access role.
    2). Do you expect to run a firewall on this server?
    3). Ok, I think you said yes to this. But, you want this server to be a gateway for the rest of your machines????
    4). Do you want your server to be a domain controller?


    Dumb questions, and I apologize for them.

    Just so you know, I will most definitely not be suggesting to you a Linux server. I am a believer in true Unix when it comes to servers.

    Dan

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    Neon Samurai

    I read the experiment as an attempt to duplicate the the function set of WHS using FOSS software. It's like my ongoing wish to have work pay me to build a workstation duplicate based on FOSS to trully see how feasible it is.

    Mind you, I suspect your and my own server needs are far past what MS thinks the home user should only be interested in. I think the biggest challenge is going to be the remote access though that may be as much as DynIP and a forwarding port on the router with a web interface on the WHS/LHS box to function the same way as WHS through MS dynamic IP portal.

    :)) Hey, wait a minute! Is this system development for a comercial product? Oh I better be seeing UPS at my door with a test rig once you get them up and in production. ;))

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    DanLM

    There is your samba, apache, backups, controlling the installation of other packages, bind(dns) if he wants, firewall, user accounts... hmmmm, can't remember what else that does. Its a web interface for most everything written in perl.

    ****, have him use pc-bsd, and there is his gui interface for doing the initial setup.

    Actually, I think the biggest problem would be backups and how he wants to do them.

    Dan

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    Neon Samurai

    I believe that's a BSD based build.

    Seems like webmin should be his main interface though and supporting deamons can be based around that with httpd, samba and the backup management covering most all of WHS functions.

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    Dumphrey

    mixed with some NuOnce BlueQuartz, add in the vpn component and done.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    Doing the backups is going to be an interesting exercise in scripting is my guess.

    The Windows Home Server is supposed to be able to do journaling and maintain a database of some sort to keep track of files such that there is only one copy of everything recorded and other "record instances" are just bookmarked or a file link is created.

    That sounds a lot like Subversion, an open source application that is used mostly for software revision control. There are versions of the software for Win32 and Linux. Actually thinking about the way it works, it probably could be used but it might require some scripts to make the file-links/bookmarks and it might require a different way of dealing with what would amount to "pseudo-revisions". Maybe a user would only want a chunk of a movie or a piece of music, maybe just one cut from an album say.

    A long time ago in a galaxy pretty damn closeby, there were computers called VAX and an OS called VMS. It would automatically keep up however many copies of a program that you created and would compile and run the last version UNLESS you told it to go back to an earlier version. I wonder how they did that since I know that the word GigaBytes of drive space did not yet exist!

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    Jeneral22

    Still using it daily to run our Manufacturing software. Granted it takes three times the space but the darn thing is the least offensive to maintain!

    I am following this post with great interest good topic and project! Wish I could help but being as new to Linux and not computer expert it would be a waste of our time.

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    DanLM

    Its been around for a long time for multiple flavors of Linux. But, it has been ported to FreeBSD which means the installation should be much easier.

    Even if you don't chose FreeBSD as your os, you might want to look at this from the developers page as a possibility for your backup solution.

    Here is a BSD write up on it where the guy goes through his experience with it.

    http://www.freebsddiary.org/backups-serial-console-servers.php

    Dan

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I looked at that URL and its going to be a big chunk of the MS Home Server formula. Some of the attached URLs are dead so its either an archived page or just neglected.

    Its a part of a couple distros so I'll look a lot more closely at it.

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    DanLM

    I was looking around as I was watching the NBA playoff game last night. I live in Cleveland Ohio now, and the Cleveland NBA team was in the division finals. Sooooooooo, this was being done as an afterthought. They won by the way. ;o)

    I understand you might not follow basketball, but I'm sure you understand my distraction. Lol.

    The FreeBSD diaries is actually pretty good, I check it out for a lot of different ports I'm thinking of installing. It might be old in some case's, but the guy does a personal experience write up on every port he tries. I appreciate that type of perceptive.

    Dan

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    My 11 year old daughter is the BBall fan and she thinks LeBron James is cute and has a poster of him on the wall. Other than that no I don't follow BBall!

    On the FreeBSDiaries, no sweat, he summarized the capabilities nicely, certainly enough to let me know it will do the trick needed.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    My interest is mostly in building a DIY media server based on Open Source, obviously mostly Linux. I'm trying to at least match the Windows product in feature set but the real emphasis is on a system that can be easily reproduced with a CD install. I'm not sure if I'm up to making a "live CD" but I'm fairly certain I can cobble together an install disk.

    My suspicion looking at the few companies I have seen that have announced their intentions, it looks like two major classes of product will come out. A top of the line server based on a high speed P4 maybe even a dual P4 with lots of RAM etc. The other with much more modest equipment like a AMD C3 or Duran maybe on a mini-ITX form-factor CPU in a small box. The software from MS will likely scale either way fairly easily.

    So Neon when the UPS man delivers that Alienware media server let me know ok? (I wouldn't hold my breath!) I'll be happy if it runs smoothly on a Celeron I already have!

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    Neon Samurai

    I was kidding about the comercial product bit though I'd not have complained a bit if UPS had shown up in six months.

    Both the prepackages I saw where rather nice little boxes with the smaller being a fanless chassis you can stick on your shelf beside the router. Of course the names escape me now that they actually come up in conversation.

    You may want to consider BSD since it's more solid and your sticking primarily to the server functions but a Linux will do just as well. As for rebuilding from a single disk; Ghost it. You can fiddle with buildnig your own liveCD after but Ghost should be an easy way to build a restore disk image.

    Also, consider splitting your partitions up. For a workstation I go with the following:

    / = 4 or 5 gig for the root system, server should be more than happy with 1 gig

    /home = 4 gig for user home folders and a bit of temporary working space since it's only a one user machine in my case

    /var = big.. big as you can make it; huge even. This is where httpd will keep websites, ftpd will keep ftp sites, samba shares should be located and if you get really crazy, VMware Server keeps it's VM files here. This is hte variable space partition for mass storage (like on a two drive windows box).

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    There is a fellow named Craig Claiborne (I think) with Linux Beach that offers 2 "home Servers" with Ubuntu desktop installed and applications pre-configured, Cheap one starts at $895. The other one was way too rich for me!

    I build most of my home stuff from cast-off boxes. So actually buying something completely new is hard to justify. My two DELLs are refurbs from 2 years ago and those are the fastest and newest boxes I have. Of course now I can get dual processors for same price!
    My son found an HP P4 with a trashed install of XP on it with the hidden install partition at a swap shop. Just took me about an hour to fix it. It even has the CDROM Key sticker still on it so its legit. Ran Windows Update on it and it came back as legit there too, so I updated to SP2+.

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    grax

    Brilliant idea and I'll settle for the "live CD". Once you've done all the "easy" work of creating it, then comes the hard part - you'll have to convince Joe Public (the people I work for) to take it up.

    I checked out the specs. for WHS and it doesn't seem to do much that cannot be done with XP - just less hassle. That's what you need from your finished product.

    I watch with great interest.

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    Dumphrey

    may have to be a requirement if the user does not have a staic ip in order to have "access" to your computers from "across the internet." AKA a vpn connection to the local network, probably tunnelled through port 80, with a log-in based web client hosted by MS (this could be the dyndns component). Yeah, thats what I want..seems safe enough...

    The big thing WHS was trying to offer was configure free access through your router. I realllllly hope this is not managed through UUpnP, as that service is broken beyond belief for security. This is why I see a tunnell over 80 approach working. But, to prevent people from having to know their own ip, or register a dyndns name, I think MS will host their own dyndns site, based off of the WHS install code. A typical MS "Click Here to set up remote access for your server." A pretty good idea really, and it gives them another chance to "validate" your install code.

    It seems to me, that this project could be built on a debian system, striped of any un necessary code, and running XFCE. A live cd could be made from the finished product, scripts and all.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    DDNS looked to be the only way they could possibly hope to make remote access to work for either the server or desktop access. There will be a hook into Remote Terminal services but I consider that broken as well since it seems to not be able to run with multiple user logons on a single XP Pro workstation.

    I can practically guarantee that will be a monthly support fee service from MSN or Windows DeadorAlive.

    Having to suffer through Net Passport, MSN logon, and now Windows Live logon password crap (for technet and tech support for XP Embedded), they can shove it.

    If I wanted to have to screw around with a branded, no-warranty, not guaranteed to work, with no liabilities for service interruptions on their part, on-line password server that sometimes works but quite often doesn't with the browser of their choice and certainly not my choice of browser, I would have gone with AOL 20 years ago.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I'm a stickler when it comes to what server functions I'll allow on a particular piece of hardware. (The guys at work would say stinker, but that's their problem. ha!)

    1a) Yes remote control through a web browser is the best option. Anybody can run a web browser and making selections on a web page is an easy thing for Users to comprehend. (Yes I know that web pages might require some scripting!) I know there are a number of web/remote control applications out there. The Linux firewall I use has no video interface besides a web server. Logon is through https.

    1b) Remote control comes in 2 varieties, playback and as you call it super-user (Windows calls it Administrator) which can do everything else. I might let the users program timers for time-shifting or record through a timer function. I'm planning on setting various functions to be accessible by groups then put the users into the appropriate organizational groups for the level or types of access I'm willing to let them have. I believe Linux and Unix share this trait fairly closely and Active Directory from Windows mimics that behaviour. (Might have to set another timer allowing only one hour of Sponge-Bob a day, less if I can get away with it! The 11-year old might have something to say about that!)

    2) No. I'm a true believer in only allowing primary firewall software to operate on primary firewall hardware. Also no DMZ can be isolated enough. Finally the Internet is no place for a server, web or otherwise without being firewalled. The best firewall is a piece of Cat5 disconnected on one end! The word wireless does not exist in this house! Paranoid, yes, but maybe not enough!

    3) Gateways only exist on firewalls, period. IPTables are read only and are not "automatically" generated. Only root can write them. No Netbios in or out ever. Netbios over TCP/IP, never. ICMP drops into the bit bucket at the NIC. NNTP only through a proxy. IM only gets used in the DMZ, malware scanning is constant on those boxes. Skype likewise (you can force Skype to use http and I do).

    4) Domain server, no. Domain servers exist to serve to authenticate logins, to offer DHCP & DNS services, monitor users, computers and IP traffic, that's it. Multi-media and Domain functions don't co-exist. Besides I don't think MS is offering anything close to a domain server built-into their Home Server. Other of their products do offer stacks of options including domain server with tons of protocol servers on multi-media capable platforms. (Small-Biz Server comes to mind)

    Only services I hope I'll only have to allow will be http, ftp, & ssh. Depending on what functions and service types I end up with, I might have to put the server in the DMZ and do user access from inside the secondary firewall. Have the media server do a "proxy" for the user through the primary firewall out to the Internet. That would allow other protocols including streaming protocols that I DON'T want inside the home subnet.

    I'm thinking Apache (everybody uses it and that means there's a lot of documentation) if necessary on the system in the DMZ. I've used Apache on Windows (which still sounds funny to me, Apache on Patches) a little bit. I could put IPtables on it easily enough to perform a secondary firewall if I can overcome some of my Web-induced paranoia!

    Currently I'm running a 3 port Linux firewall
    with the Internet on one NIC, a DMZ on another NIC and the final NIC is the local home subnet through a secondary firewall on another 2 port Linux box. NAT is running on all ports of both firewalls. Port filtering is heavy with only ssh, ftp client and http allowed into the primary firewall from the Internet. State monitoring is enabled on all outgoing and incoming connections.

    Before I had it going really well Windows Update managed to get out through the system and managed to do a download of updates. Luckily the XP SP2 box wasn't on Automatic and I was able to delete the screwed up Microsoft WGA (Windows Guaranteed Aggravation) "fix" that got 2 of my 4 systems at work.

    The two pieces of Linux software I've had the most experience with are various firewall implementations and Samba which is worth paying for (and I have!). So I'm not totally a Linux newbie besides trying a lot of distros.

    Another thing I do like about Linux is the scripting. Simply because it is so freaking easy. Its just a bunch of batch files! The problem for me is figuring out where they need to go and the discipline required to put them in the properly "permissioned" directory.

    User rights is not an alien concept to me but trying to determine exactly the consequences of what happens when you fiddle with the permissions is fairly difficult in many cases (just like in Windows).

    I've gotten more enthusiastic for this project the more I've been reading and downloading of applications.

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    Neon Samurai

    You open with "my son and I setup a small network at home as something to do together but we're not really network engineers" then drop a post like this; Well Done Sir.

    For a hobby, you've done a heck of a bit of reading. I gotta go back and finish reading the post once my workday ends.

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    DanLM

    In that this is a home server that you are thinking of building. Don't install ftp. Use ssh only. If you are transferring files from windows to the server, use Winscp. Here is a link to an open source windows client that will connect and transfer files for you.
    http://winscp.net/eng/index.php
    Real nice gui, drag and drop type of deal.

    I hate ftp. Everyone talks about how insecure talent is, well. FTP is just as insecure. Your bloody password is still open text just like telnet. ugggg

    On my home server, I have specific groups set up for the people that don't listen to me. They are ftp only accounts, meaning that you can not ssh into those accounts. If I'm going to have a password sniffed, then that bloody account is not going to have the ability to run any type of commands from if I can control it.

    While I'm at it, lol. Use public/private key for all ssh log ins. My home server is open to the Internet, and I am constantly pounded by brute force kiddies. I have turned off the ability to ssh into that machine via passwords and only allow public/private key log ins. Idiots, ticks me right the heck off. Both putty and wisnscp have the ability to use public/private key authentication . So, that's not even an issue. ****, if you go to the putty download site, they have a gui that will generate the keys for you. And all you do is place them in the correct files.

    This is from someone that has been burned before, that blocks full nations via cidr lists that are downloaded every night and loaded to the firewall. I personally think there is no reason to use an insecure sign on method. Either for ftp(don't need it) or ssh. The gui's are out there via open source. They are well known and respected names, so you will not be using something that was hacked together.

    Just a couple suggestions.

    Here is the putty download page.
    http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html

    Dan

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    That's why I use 2 firewalls, one inside the other. Even a sniffer application that has managed to get inside can't report out except of course through an email vector, so forth and so on.

    You did remind me of one thing I will have to eventually do, pick client applications for Win32 as well as the Linux clients & servers.

    At this point Winscp gets bookmarked.

    Secure ftp and SSH will be an absolute necessity. I suspect that Kerberos and LDAP will become the standard I will install since its really the only authentication technique that is secure on both Linux and Windows. That in turn dictates a SMB(Samba) domain with users, groups etc.

    Log on to the domain takes care of the security issues and simplifies user group policy. Kerberos takes care of the sniffing issue.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    One of the applications I do want to add to the basic media server is Myth TV with a couple of tuner boards. The idea is that time-shifting broadcast and satellite TV will let all 4 members of the family share 2 satellite set-top boxes and access the local Broadcast HD channels in some fashion so that everybody gets most of what they want.

    My son is also "main-lining" streaming audio from some Internet sites. I'm sure when he hears about being able to tune-in 4 channels of TV at once, multi-channel radio will seem to be even easier.

    Obviously the Celeron will get maxed out pretty quick! But at least for testing it will give me an idea of what can be done with a little more CPU cycles than can be made with a Geode!

    Obviously this is outside the boundaries of the test for the Home Server functions.

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    Neon Samurai

    You could put your big box server in the basement or closet (ventelated of course) and have your MythTV media server beside the TV.

    The Myth rig could do all your tv tuning and media management (I hear it's good stuff, a MythTV Knoppix liveCD was recommended to me). This also limits the hardware in your Myth box and minimize the installed software since it's a specialty box.

    The Big Box rig then goes in the basement or wherever convenient and cool with it's specialty hardware and software stack minimized for what it's going to do. Once media is recorded on the Myth box, it's moved to the this machine for general storage. For viewing, the Myth box pulls your music or video from the Big Box Samba or NFS shares (I like Samba more than NFS due to mixed OS networking).

    I'm not sure if that setup would be of benifit but it would be worth considering. The one hickup I've had with storing media on one machine then feeding it to the TV through another is choppy video. I've had to copy the video file to the local machine then run it directly into the tv rather than pull from the network share directly. This is due to using an older notebook on slow wifi as the TV's feed bag though so it's not likely to effect you but something to keep in mind.

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    j-mart

    What I would like to see is to set up a basic system first that will handle basic tasks as proposed WHS with step by step instructions to get a solid secure system up and running. After that go for all the bells and whistles that can be had only using FOSS, which may or may not be posible with WHS

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    Yes you're right but I letting my growing enthusiasm get a-hold of me!
    The basic system will be the root of the whole project and it does need to be a solid installation.

    One of the criteria I use at work is if I can't document it well enough that somebody can't do it again, somethings wrong with the project. So don't worry about it, it will be documented!

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    Splitting the TV-Computer from the Server computer makes sense. If I can do it I might add a direct connection (cross-over cable) using a second NIC in the 2 machines to keep the TV video traffic off the main network.

    I use that trick a t work between the SQL Server and my design computer to prevent traffic from interfering with the other computers.

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    Dumphrey

    KnoppMyth, modify your partitions manualy, then add the standard Debian repos, and go from there. You may have to disable Myth frontend form loading by default on boot, but thats a matter of moving one tiny script. But, Myth has a nice feature that plays in to this whole home server buisness. A mythtv box is by default a backend server, and can stream any of its content, including live tv, across the network to any myth tv frontend.

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    j-mart

    Today when I was looking for something else I came upon a Linux Distro "Clark Connect" which is for a Linux server / gateway from http://www.thelin-xportal.com/index.php which is a company in New Zealand who seem to be at the sharp end of Linux developement. You can purchase a copy for NZ $5.50. I have ordered a copy so I will give it a try when it arrives. Go to their site and check it out.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I looked at their website and many of the pages did not come up. Additionally it would have been nice if the descriptions thy had for all of their distros was not identical. No search options either, not attractive, makes it look like a garage operation.

    I do not know if NZ $5.50 is what you should expect to pay for the "price of copying and shipping" or whatever the GPL language says or not. I do know that if you charge more than $2.50 US for a single CD to copy and mail it, you're ripping somebody off.

    I wish them luck but they really need to work on the website. I never could find the Clark Connect distro.

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    j-mart

    is not expensive in this part of the world with exchange rate converted back to US$ cost of downloading, sales tax of 12.5% etc. is average cost in this part of the world. The best deal is the 3 Distro's for NZ$10.00. I agree the web site is rubbish but the point is could "Clark Connect" be an easy setup for home server with easy set up comparable with WHS. An interesting side to this is under section for Future OS they had an Amiga OS open source and an open source Windows OS that are at the experimental stage with copies avalable though not recomended for any serious work.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    just lousy web programmers. I can understand that, being one myself, lousy web programmer I mean. Don't have the patience to do it or time to work out either my bugs or the web's bugs.

    In any case I still wasn't able to find the "Clark Connect" distro on their website.

    Just Googled it and found the source site. Downloading the Community version as I type.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    So I'm reluctant to use it. ( In another post here I report downloading it.)

    The nice thing about the GPL is that if it smells like there's a limitation, it isn't open-source.

    Actually they aren't the only ones.

    I wouldn't consider Red Hat Enterprise Open Source either. Fedora though is fully open sourced because of the way it was set up. Red Hat realized that to make things work better especially at building the business side, they needed to offer something that strictly speaking wasn't going to be open source.

    So Fedora is Red Hat's way of supporting the concepts of open source without mudding the waters. The Enterprise version is the Fedora code that works, that gets field-tested and remains disconnected from the Enterprise features Red Hat can use to keep its service customers. Red Hat supposedly erected a "Chinese Wall". Fedora stays on one side, Red Hat Enterprise on the other. Presumably. Red Hat slaps the GPL on it, donates its newest code to the open source world, calls it Fedora and then goes on to further refine it as Red Hat Enterprise on their side of the wall.

    We are supposed to assume that the programming guys on the Fedora side of the wall (ie non-Red Hat employees) IP work does not travel back over the wall to Red Hat Enterprise unless it also gets GPL'ed. My guess is that the wall is see-through. There is no third party that I know of keeping an eye on that.

    Just as an interesting lesson in copyright and IP law, I'd like to see the employment contract Red Hat programmers have to sign. Remember that GPL doesn't come into play until it is released to the public by the owner who is Red Hat, after the programmer gives up the code to his employer, who we assume is Red Hat.

    From what I can see of the Clark Connect Community distro, its been "busted" somewhat, whatever email application they use in their Enterprise and Office versions is also in the Community version but it doesn't support more than 10 accounts. What or Why is that?

    Since that is a feature (much like a Microsoft feature ALSO set at 10 accounts ha!) I am very reluctant to use Clark Connect in something I plan on releasing as a open source distro. The number 10 was just a coincidence I'm sure. I am not accusing Clark Connect of distributing MS software. If humans had 12 fingers, it probably would have been 12 accounts.

    In any case I am NOT saying that it doesn't work. It just might be perfect for all sorts of users. I just don't want to be the target of a freaking idiot lawsuit. The Gorilla in Redmond already has many lawyers on his payroll and that's how he keeps poachers off his turf. Lots of other's have learned that "programming" technique.

    So if it smells bad I just don't use it.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I'm not picking on anybody please understand me. If you are easily offended please turn the other cheek.

    When I looked at X-proxy's web site cited below,

    http://www.thelin-xportal.com/product_info.php?cPath=13_102&products_id=551

    they had something that caught my eye (and I included the URL here) and my nasty sense of humour kicked in.

    A "Christian Distribution" of Ubuntu! I suppose the Satanist version is located at 666.com! (No URL. You want to put that in your browser go ahead!) That leaves open the door for Buddhist versions, Hari-Krishna versions, Wika versions, etc etc. Then of course there has to to be the Roman Catholic Christian versions versus the King James Protestant Christian Versions. Don't forget the Islamic versus the Jewish versions!

    Good grief Charlie Brown!

    They already had over 93 versions of some kind of open source or nearly open source software images. Is there any need to bring religion into a venue that already has a "religious" sized chasm in it?

    OK fine I could see that somebody might want to control what their kids can access on the Internet. Fine use some kind of filter software but why build a distribution around it? I'll bet they they've sold less than a cults worth of that distribution!

    In any case I'm a bit dumbfounded that somebody smart enough to use and build an open source distribution, has got to know that Satan already knows about open source! If the FBI and the Treasury Department have figured it out, that nasty guy downstairs has already gotten the word.

    (I didn't know Cisco had built a router that could handle that kind of heat! Wonder what protocol that is? ****:// Don't see it in the RFC's!)

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    Neon Samurai

    I'm not a very dedicated follower of the christianity brand I was raised in but I'm already toying with options for an OS for my daughter and UbuntuCE meant it had already been made "family friendly". Edubuntu has succeeded that option though I've other contenders too.

    As I understand, UbuntuCE was created for catholic churches (though it could be just churches in general) to use so it's nice and clean and includes all the topical content; Edubuntu for church if you will.

    And yes, there was a Ubuntu Satanic Edition released also. It came out at Christmas and was only an X theme; background, styles, boot and console background but little more than that. Some people lost there crap over it and got all god fearing bible thumping turbo christian over it but most saw the joke for what it was and had a bit of a laugh.

    UbuntuCE has it's place and is a great distribution for those of the cloth though like any distribution, one shouldn't consider it to apply as a one size fits all. I'm not sure why all the angst over a religion focused distribution which would be downloaded and installed free of charge rather than bought (good if your a church group).

    I love that there are so many different OS based on the Linux kernel and other Open Source cores. It's the broad range of choice that makes it great. If you really want to spin in your chair, track down the website that lists liveCD; there's a few hundred different liveCD specific to whatever need you can dream up. I don't have the url handy but it should be an easy search.

    Don't take the Satanic Edition seriously and you'll be thinking of it in the way it was intended. It's not a complete distribution, only a few backgrounds and style sheets.

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    Xwindowsjunkie

    I suppose the next thing out is a distro for dark beer brewers, yeah baby.

    As far as the 666.com that was a joke and I'm sorry you couldn't hear me laughing all the way to NZ!

    I guess the issue was: "Why bother to spend the time on a distro that had such a tightly focused purpose and especially one that had the mode of operation to prevent you from discovering anything counter to your belief system?"

    Yes and before I get that logic slapped in my face....
    A Linux Home Server distro that does not require extensive input from the user and can offer an alternative to the MS product, is attractive to any ethnic, religios etc etc. group. I'm not interested in limiting the system functionality due to issues other than the inherent technical capabilities or limitations of the system. I could care less if the guy using it was Jewish, Muslim or Christian or what-have-you.

    Any user can build any distro and cause it to limit capability. I don't find that to be any sort of accomplishment or in the right spirit of open source software.

    It also sounds like you don't use that particular distro any more.

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    Neon Samurai

    I wasn't intending to sound as if I was jumping down anyone's throat and I did get a giggle out of the 666.com bit though I felt no need to include it in the response. (If you find out what that Cisco router is, I could use something "rugged" just encase.)

    "Why bother to spend the time on a distro that had such a tightly focused purpose and especially one that had the mode of operation to prevent you from discovering anything counter to your belief system?"

    This is a good question and one of the reasons to love FOSS as far as I can tell. There are Distros specific to whatever need someone with some developer skills came up with. If you track down that liveCD listing site they have categories; working with media, working with broadcasts, working with security, general desktop, general server.. the list goes on and on. The article I first read about UbuntuCE was as a distrobution developed for churches that can't or choose not too spend "flock" donations high cost software. For the price of hardware and burning a .ISO image, a church can join the information age with a prebuilt system tuned to it's needs (business needs and spiritual). I also nearly fell off my chair the first time I read the UbuntuSE article and ensuing hubbub from the religious conservatives.

    Your right though, outside of an OS/Applications collection for a specific religion, all Info Tech should be considered belief neutral. I wouldn't have recommended UbuntuCE as a server installation even within a religious environment; it's for the desktop and only where applicable.

    I don't see it as limiting the distribution but it is definitely tuning it to a specific use. This would be the same contrast as Debian, a general distribution favoring free license software versus Ubuntu, a more specialized distribution favoring the lower tech user and recent Windows users.

    I did mention that I had considered UbuntuCE a distrobution that came "family friendly" for my little one but it didn't stay on the list long enough to download and look at. I was still considering it only when I replaced it with Edubuntu since an educationally focused system means "family friendly" but with school software rather than spiritually focused software.

    I must have posted here after responding to posts in a few less civilized discussions as I didn't mean to come across harshly by any means.