Server Computer

Data that travels over the air and how to protect (or decipher) it

Server Computer

Post by TheNightFox on Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:35 am
([msg=38187]see Server Computer[/msg])

I've spent the last few days putting together components of a couple of old computers of mine. I plan to make it into a server computer for my household, though at this time it's only real purpose will be to allow printer sharing. However, this seems a bit simple. So, what else do you think I could use it for? I don't really need it for storage, considering I have a 1.5TB HDD, and any file sharing will be once offs. If I host or attend a LAN party, I'll use it to run a server (presuming none of my friends have a better server). It's going to run a network (thus the printer sharing), so what other uses can be gained from having all this house's computer networked?
The computer will be almost entirely left alone. It'll be running most or all of the time, but I don't want a monitor or keyboard permanently connected to it, because I don't want anyone to mess with the setup. When I need to configure or change something with it, I'll use my keyboard and either my monitor or the old, almost broken by more move-able monitor that I have. Or I may set up remote use so I can do anything that needs to be done on it from my computer.
Furthermore, can this server be used to increase the security of our network (currently all our computers are connecting to our modem-router directly) in any way?
Finally, what operating system would you recommend running with it? Currently the HDD in the server is dual booting Vista and XP, however something happened with Vista meaning it doesn't want to boot (and it's not a very good operating system for a server, no?), and the XP version has become so screwed up that it doesn't want to run half the things on it. I'm going to format the drive as it's bound to have dozens of viruses. The components are pretty old, so I doubt it would be able to run Windows 7. Currently, the computers that it will connect with are running: 1 runs XP, 1 runs some Apple OS - not sure which (I don't really know much able Macs), 1 Vista and 1 Windows 7.
It's been quite irritating in the past having them all run different OS's, but I should be able to manage.

Questions, comments and suggestions welcomed.
Thanks.
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Re: Server Computer

Post by sanddbox on Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:47 am
([msg=38188]see Re: Server Computer[/msg])

While pretty obvious, I'd recommend you try to make a website. It'd be a fun project.
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Re: Server Computer

Post by TheNightFox on Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:55 am
([msg=38191]see Re: Server Computer[/msg])

Already got one. I guess I could host it through my server, but I don't really want to risk it crashing.
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Re: Server Computer

Post by lord_hondros on Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:06 pm
([msg=38196]see Re: Server Computer[/msg])

Hmm... I suggest getting Windows 2000 server edition. You can find *cough*key*cough*gen*cough*cra*cough cough*ckers around the internet and whatnot. I heard that there is a version of linux specifically created just for running servers. You can try those. I'd go with linux, better security imho.
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Re: Server Computer

Post by Goatboy on Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:23 pm
([msg=38197]see Re: Server Computer[/msg])

lord_hondros wrote:I heard that there is a version of linux specifically created just for running servers.

Considering Linux grew from UNIX which was essentially the first server OS.
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Re: Server Computer

Post by thetan on Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:35 pm
([msg=38199]see Re: Server Computer[/msg])

Goatboy wrote:
lord_hondros wrote:I heard that there is a version of linux specifically created just for running servers.

Considering Linux grew from UNIX which was essentially the first server OS.

Linux did not grow form Unix. Linux is a fork of Minix which was Unix like. Also, Linux itself is not even an operating system, just a kernel. Hence the term GNU/Linux as GNU provides just about every other system that compromises the "GNU/Linux" OS. Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds have bashed heads many times over such naming issues alone. Linus can't stand the fact that Linux relies on GNU utils and Stallman can't stand the fact that his GNU kernel 'Hord' microkernel sucks to bad to be considered for mass adoption.

Most typicaly Linux OSs are interchangable from one another and don't very significantly all that much in terms of underlying technology (IE, what you can do to one linux distro, you can typically do to all linux distros)

So in summary nowhere in Linux's ancestral tree can Unix be found. Sun Microsystems (SunOS) Solaris/OpenSolaris on the other hand is Unix.

The BSD families of OSs are so technically forked that they might as well be considered their completely own OSs. They do have common ancestry of course though (4.4BSD which has always been considered a branch of Unix known as BSD-UNIX)

What it really comes down to is most of these OSs are simply Unix like and hence the adoption of the term *nix. All of their underlying technologies (kernel, schedulers, network stacks, etc) vary drastically from one another
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Re: Server Computer

Post by Goatboy on Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:39 pm
([msg=38200]see Re: Server Computer[/msg])

That was so incredibly nit-picky I'm not even sure what to think. In the future, I'll be sure to expand all of my one-line responses into novels for you.

Anyways, one cool thing you could do is recreate the server-based alarm clock they did on Hak5. Basically you have a playlist of music and an RSS feed. The program reads the feed at the time you specify, converts the RSS into text, plays a clip of a random song, and then reads out the text from the RSS.

Disclaimer: The ideas expressed in this post are not complete in any way, and therefore should not be taken as such. I have intentionally left out portions of the description for the sake of brevity.
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Re: Server Computer

Post by thetan on Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:03 pm
([msg=38201]see Re: Server Computer[/msg])

Double post :)

Anyways, to respond to the OP.

I've set up hand full of Windows servers (Windows severs 2000, 2003, 2008, 2008 R2 and 2008 Server Core) and I've set up even more *nix servers (Numerous flavors of Linux, FreeBSD and OpenSolaris) with my favorite always being FreeBSD.

You'll find most things (once you get comfortable being a server admin) are typically easier to do in *nix most of the time on a server level (kind of backwards from ease of use on the desktop side).

IE, i can setup OpenVPN, OpenSSH, transparent squid caching, BIND DNS, PF (or iptables if on Linux), DNSMasq (or DHCPd), clamd (clamAV), apache (with mods for fastcgi, php and perl), Mysql, etc all from the commandline with little more then 1 or 2 commands for each. Doing the same on Windows Server series would require me fumbling around with less then intuitive GUIs and setup wizards (server series is notorious for having you use setup wizards)

Either way, whatever route you decide to take, heres some things you can do.
  • Set up a local icecast server to have a house hold radio station over IP (or if you set up NSV you can create house hold TV stations over IP aswell)
  • Set up a NAS (to easy on windows with SMB but sucks balls for movies in my experiences)
  • Set up a caching proxy to ease load on your bandwidth and accelerate web site load time for all computers in your house
  • Set up a recursive (caching) DNS server (BIND or DNSMasq) to cut DNS query time from ~58ms to about 1ms over lan or <1ms on the local machine
  • Use IPTables (on linux or PF for FreeBSD, IPFW for Solaris or the "routing and remote access setup wizard" on windows server series) to set up NAT routing so your server can act as a router for your home network and setup a DHCP server to issue out IP addresses and such
  • Set up a centralized back up server (rsync on *nix hosts and something like robocopy (over SMB) on windows)
  • Set up OpenVPN so you can VPN into your home network anytime from anywhere over a secure channel of communication
  • Set up OpenSSH so you can do the same thing as OpenVPN but on a more niche level
  • Set up a database server (mysql, postgre, etc) and use it to keep track of random things (i use one to manage a todo list (overkill inorite), to keep track of people borrowing my shit and as a personal invoice like service for my bills and who owes me money)
  • Set up an IDS/IPS (i usually hack my own together by piping tcpdump through custom filter progs i write)
  • Set up a PXE boot environment so computers can boot over the network via your server
  • Buy a wireless card and turn your server into a wireless Acces Point (AP)
  • Set up a captive portal system so wireless users have to agree to a disclosure (or view grotesque imagery as i have mine set up) or provide login credentials (via a web portal, that authenticates via a RADIUS/KERBEROS AAA server and keeps track of usage time), I've had good experiences with both the OpenBSD Packet Filter (simply PF) and CoovaChilli when setting these up
  • Oh yeah, probably one of the simplest things you can do is set up a NTP server to syncronize all the computer clocks in your house

When it comes down to server/sysadmin your limited only by your creativity and will to do something.

EDIT: awwww man :( i didnt even get to double post like an asswhole because Goatboy responded to fast :(
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Re: Server Computer

Post by lord_hondros on Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:40 pm
([msg=38205]see Re: Server Computer[/msg])

@ Goatboy:
I was merely stating that there was a distribution of Linux made specifically to run as a server. I do not remember the name of this distribution, and I am fully aware that Linux is a kernel. However, I do not think that I should have to type out "an OS distribution that is based off of the Linux kernel" when a simple "version of linux" will suffice. Sorry if it came off like I have no clue what I am talking about, while I am simply trying to help. Also, I am not trying to start a fight, just defending myself where needs be.
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Re: Server Computer

Post by Goatboy on Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:50 pm
([msg=38211]see Re: Server Computer[/msg])

lord_hondros wrote:@ Goatboy:
I was merely stating that there was a distribution of Linux made specifically to run as a server. I do not remember the name of this distribution, and I am fully aware that Linux is a kernel. However, I do not think that I should have to type out "an OS distribution that is based off of the Linux kernel" when a simple "version of linux" will suffice. Sorry if it came off like I have no clue what I am talking about, while I am simply trying to help. Also, I am not trying to start a fight, just defending myself where needs be.

o_O

Are you reading the same thing I am? I was agreeing with you, dude!
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