I needed a server. A file server to be exact.

I will later document my search for parts, but I felt like I had to share my experiences with Ubuntu as the operating system.

To start off, I initially looked at FreeNAS for the operating system. FreeNAS is short for Free Network Attached Storage. It is an open source project based on the open source FreeBSD which is (I think) a distribution of linux. Basically, FreeNAS aims to give you the functionality of a commerical NAS including file storage, but also user administration, integration into networks, FTP access and the neat part is a web-based administration so you don’t have to attach a monitor to it.

FreeNAS seemed to fit the bill, but once I downloaded and installed it I found out my network interface wasn’t supported. I tried newer beta and even alpha versions without success. I also tried the FreeBSD that it is based off of, also to no avail. My motherboard is based on an Nvidia 8300 chipset, which wasn’t yet supported by FreeBSD and hence, not by FreeNAS. Bummer.

So I started looking around at other Linux distributions. Ubuntu, Redhat, Debian, Fedora, SUSE, Knoppix, etc. Ubuntu was worth a shot. I don’t recall specifically what made me choose it other than I’ve heard of it from somewhere and I vaguely recall hearing it was easy to install/use.

It was super easy to install. I downloaded the ISO file for the server version which fit on a CD. Burned it to CD. Put it in my fileserver and ran the install wizard. The only tricky part was figuring out how to RAID the drives during install using the partition manager. But once I got that sorted out it was clear sailing.

So now I’m googling stuff trying to find out commands (there is no GUI on the server version). It took me a little while to find out how to share folders so others could a) see it on the network, and b) read and write files to the folder. I easily figured out how to reboot (just type “reboot”), but shutdown evaded me. I just now found out you type “shutdown -h now” so I’ll have to test that when I get home.

Next on the list is to find out how to get web services configured and get mysql running. Then hopefully, how to put the computer to sleep and ideally WakeOnLan. Then… life would be perfect.

At the end of the day, I’m glad FreeNAS didn’t work out (I think if I had an older used computer it might have been better). Ubuntu will still offer me a stable fileserver, but it also lets me let it double as a webserver and I get to learn another operating system.

Ubuntu. It’s not just a cool name.