What do you recommend?

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What do you recommend?

Postposted on Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:46 pm

Hi everyone...
Can anyone recommend what exactly the best option is for my situation below:
I have a spare PC (called 'storage PC' from now on) that I want to hook up to my router and leave on 24/7. I want to use it as a media server (so I can watch movies etc on PS3 without needing to turn my main PC on) and also as a kinda backup for music/vids/ photos etc that I have on my main PC and laptop. More detail below:

I would like to give Linux a try. I have a feeling that I can't really go wrong with Ubuntu (large user base, well supported etc). My questions are:
1) Should I download Ubuntu server version or the desktop version (yes I'm completely new to all this kinda thing)
2) Will I need a special program to run the backing up of the PC and laptop e.g. FreeNas (any suggestions?)? I assume I would have to set the PC and laptop (both XP) up so that they initate the backup to the 'storage PC', is that right? (The PC and laptop will be turned off daily). My aim is simply to have the PC and laptop backed-up daily to the 'storage PC'. The 'storage PC' should also theoretically have the sum of the info from my laptop and PC. I would want to be able to access this info on the 'storage PC' from either the PC or laptop so that effectively everything has access to everything.
3) I want to be able to use it to act as a mediaserver to serve movies/music to my PS3 Are there any Linux progs that would do an equal job as Twonkeymedia does?
Thanks for any help!
:)
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Fri Aug 15, 2008 3:26 pm

It looks like you can use any distribution as your media server for the PS3 as long as you install Fuppes. (I'm a fan of Gentoo myself, and you can build a really lean machine using Gentoo over Ubuntu.)

You'll need to install Samba to share files with the rest of the network. Give the Backup article a read to figure out what you'd like to do. There are a few recommendations for backup software in that article as well.
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Fri Aug 15, 2008 3:29 pm

Great thanks for your help. I'll have a read of the backup link.

Cheers :)
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:58 pm

Gentoo can be a bit brutal on the new user if you don't have easy access to others experienced in it. Ubuntu Server is more likely to work straight out of the box and be easier on the system administration side of things, although harder to slim down if you are short on space.

On the backups, you need to decide if you want the Windows machines to run the backup and just put it on disk exported by the Linux server, or whether you want to guarantee that the Windows machines will be on and exporting their disks at a certain time an then get the Linux server to copy off their exported disks.
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:20 am

Thanks notfred.
Since my desktop and laptop will not been on at specific times, I think it is probably best that they run the backup to the server.
I am probably going to go for Ubuntu because, like you said, it appears to be easier for a completely new Linux user (me) and space isn't exactly a problem these days.
I will do a little research for backup utilities for Ubuntu. Do you know what program I could use on the XP machines, which would be able to initiate the backup flow to the Linux based server? I'm hoping that any Windows prg would be ok and that it doesn't matter that the server is Llinux based, am I right?
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:18 am

Yes, that's correct. You would just setup Samba on the Linux server to share the disks and then run whatever Windows program you like on the laptop and desktop to do the backup from the local drive to the shared drive that you connect to.

Once you have the data on the Linux box there are various options for enhancing the backups (like doing versioned snapshots with LVM or ZFS if you are feeling brave) but for a first go you don't need to worry too much about it. I have an external drive I plugin to my Linux syste, and then run the following script
Code: Select all
#!/bin/sh
mv /media/disk/oldest /media/disk/oldest.bak
mv /media/disk/older /media/disk/oldest
mv /media/disk/new /media/disk/older
mv /media/disk/oldest.bak /media/disk/new
rsync --progress --delete -xa --exclude=/home/nreilly/.ccache --exclude=/home/nreilly/foldingcd --exclude .gvfs /home /media/disk/new

At the end I unplug my external harddrive completely so it will not get fried if the power gets hit by lightening or similar.

This gives me 3 weeks of versioned backups quickly and easily.
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Sat Aug 16, 2008 3:31 pm

Thanks notfred, I will try and get samba set up and have the XP machines back up to the Linux machine.

I have no idea how to set up a network esp with a linux machine involved. I'll have a go and then probably have to post my questions :-?

Thanks again :)
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:28 pm

Once Samba is installed, a Linux machine will behave in the same manner as a Windows machine when working with the network.
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:26 pm

titan wrote:Once Samba is installed, a Linux machine will behave in the same manner as a Windows machine when working with the network.

...once you've got the shares configured, which is not done in the same way you would under Windows.

Even though this box is nominally a server, I'm going to recommend that you go with Ubuntu Workstation. For someone coming from the Windows side of things it will be easier to work with while you come up the Linux learning curve, since it has a GUI-based user interface for most administrative tasks by default. All of the server components are still available for installation (server vs. workstation just changes the set of default packages which are installed).
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:39 pm

Thanks guys!
I've ended up installing the Ubuntu server version on my server and also create a / partition and a /home parition, as well as a 'swap' partition. Once installed, the command line threw me coz I had no idea what to do from there. I then installed the GUI and have had a look through there. It's strange because I would have thought that I would see the partitions as separate drives but I just see 'Filesystem', CD-ROM, Floppy and after clicking all over the place I have 'print$ on server' (no idea what that is).

I think I might revert uninstall, format, reinstall the server version and then try just from the command line or using SSH from my main PC (no idea how to do that but there has to be a way, right?)
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:00 pm

rapaz wrote:Thanks guys!
I've ended up installing the Ubuntu server version on my server and also create a / partition and a /home parition, as well as a 'swap' partition. Once installed, the command line threw me coz I had no idea what to do from there. I then installed the GUI and have had a look through there. It's strange because I would have thought that I would see the partitions as separate drives but I just see 'Filesystem', CD-ROM, Floppy and after clicking all over the place I have 'print$ on server' (no idea what that is).

Yeah, the Linux way of looking at disks (and other devices) is different from Windows. There are no drive letters; everything is part of one big tree that is linked to your root filesystem. Additional drives are mounted onto directories in the main filesystem... e.g. on my Linux server, the second hard drive is accessed as /data2, the third as /data3, etc. Even low-level data and interfaces are often exposed as part of the filesystem... e.g., try typing the command "cat /proc/cpuinfo" in a command shell (/proc/cpuinfo is a pseudo-file that contains detailed information about the CPU the system is running on).

I think I might revert uninstall, format, reinstall the server version and then try just from the command line or using SSH from my main PC (no idea how to do that but there has to be a way, right?)

Yes, Linux can be managed via command line interface, locally or remotely. But unless you want to go "cold turkey", it is not necessarily the best way to go. FWIW even though I have been an off-and-on UNIX user going back over 20 years, I prefer to install my Linux systems with a GUI, and open terminal windows within the GUI for tasks which require command line access.
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:15 pm

Thanks :) I just had a more detailed look within the 'filesystem' and found the other partition that I was looking for.

I understand that Samba is the program that people use to aid in sharing between the, in my case, 'linux server' and the PC (XP) and laptop (XP). I had a look through my applications and couldn't find Samba or anything that looked like it served the same purpose as Samba. Do you know how I can get it? Is it something like sudo get-app ...?

Also, I was just following another 'How-to' and enabled root user. Now I always have the following prompt: root@server:
How do I change back to what I had before? [edit] just solved it by typing 'exit' [/edit]

Cheers!
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:30 pm

If you are running the standard Ubuntu Gnome GUI (as you would be if you install the Ubuntu Workstation version, or you install the GUI on the server) then you can either do it from Applications->Add/Remove...->System Tools->Samba, tick the box and click on "Apply Changes", or you can "sudo apt-get install samba"
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:36 pm

Excellent thanks. Shall give it a try later on :)
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Re: What do you recommend?

Postposted on Tue Aug 19, 2008 9:47 pm

If you look up Revision3 in podcasts on iTunes store you will find a show called Systm. They have done a program about FreeNAS. You may want to check it out. I am watching it now and it sounds like what you are trying to do.
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