|Recycled PC: Old Computers with a New Purpose|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by Mat Thompson - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 05 June 2009|
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File Server Computer
It used to be that there would only be one computer in a household. Computers were very expensive and there wasn't much of a 2nd hand market for the hardware. The proliferation of lesser expensive computers from companies like Dell and Gateway had prompted many people to purchase computers not only for themselves, but for the rest of their family. Nowadays, houses with multiple computers are common. With so many computers in a single household, moving files from one computer to another can be rather tedious. The file server is meant to alleviate this problem.
The file server is nothing more than a computer connected to a network with folders set up to share amongst the other computers in a network. The great thing about this task is that it can be accomplished with most operating systems and even computers with little processing power can accomplish this task easily. Windows makes things easier by allowing you to right click on a folder and set it to just share a file. Linux can share files through samba. Linux requires a configuration file be properly set up to allow sharing of specific folders over the network. Windows Home Server is a relative newcomer to the home server realm and it comes with many automated features to make it as user friendly as possible
The typical file server runs "headless", which means that no monitor is attached to it for most of the time (except for the installation of the OS). In order to administer the computer while it has no monitor, a remote connection is used. For Linux, SSH is typically used to access the command line. Since Windows XP, Windows has included its own remote desktop application in certain versions. VNC is a free protocol with many software variations that allows remote access to the computer's GUI and is available for Linux, Windows and OS X.
In my opinion, Linux is the clear leader for this task. On one hand, Windows is much easier to setup for sharing, but its problem is that it takes up a lot of space on an HDD and has a very large memory footprint. Its remote interface can also be hardware intensive for both the server and client sides. Linux's problem is that it requires the user to be familiar with a command line interface to complete some of its tasks. If the user is able to overcome this hurdle, current versions of Linux can run on very old computers.