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Help me build the cheapest computer/server possible

Mace1370Mace1370 Registered User regular
edited May 2007 in Games and Technology
Ok, so my friends and I want to put a computer together that would act as a server. This would be something we could all log in to (we all go to difference colleges) and share files. Would any computer do, or would we need specific hardware? Assuming we could put a cheap together, what's the smallest budget we could get away with? I figure something with 512MB of RAM, a P4 processor, and some generic mobo. We already have a 250GB seagate hard drive so we wouldn't have to pay for that. What parts would you guys recommend?

Mace1370 on

Posts

  • gneGnegneGne Registered User
    edited May 2007
    There must be better alternatives than a P4 processor.

    gneGne on
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  • KiithKiith Registered User
    edited May 2007
    I'd recommend at least a gig of ram for any server, if not 2gigs. And get a dual core over the P4. Not that different price wise.

    Kiith on
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  • taliosfalcontaliosfalcon Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    with what you've just described, it would probably run just as well on a celeron 433 with 256 megs of ram. Even if everyones accessing it the same time, since its over internet connections it won't experience anywhere near the demands a lan server will, i say just go as cheap as possible. Theres no need for lots of ram or a dual core processor..

    taliosfalcon on
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  • Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User
    edited May 2007
    I set up dynamic DNS for a Celeron 667 with 256 MB Ram and use it as a web/FTP server. It works great. Unless you have a few hundred people logging in at a time, you don't need a P4 let alone 2 GB of RAM.

    Incidentally, I got it refurbed for $50. You can do this thing dirt cheap, dude.

    Rigor Mortis on
  • SushisourceSushisource Registered User
    edited May 2007
    with what you've just described, it would probably run just as well on a celeron 433 with 256 megs of ram. Even if everyones accessing it the same time, since its over internet connections it won't experience anywhere near the demands a lan server will, i say just go as cheap as possible. Theres no need for lots of ram or a dual core processor..

    I agree, if it isn't a gaming/heavy use server you can get away with the bare minimum.

    Sushisource on
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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Mine is an Sempron 2400 with 1.5 gigs of mismatched RAM and a hard drive I had laying around, running Ubuntu Server 6.10.

    It acts as a network shared drive, does DNS, and acts as a VMWare host system for my experimental web servers (another Ubuntu Server install, plus FreeBSD).

    japan on
  • gneGnegneGne Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Yeah but celeron and the p4 series basicly sucked in their time. Therefore I would suggest a AMD alternative instead if you are going for the bare minimum... Athlon 64 procs are cheap.

    gneGne on
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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    The problem with the P4 specifically is that it sucks a lot of power, and it's difficult to get one to run quietly. Unless this is going to live in a cupboard or something.

    japan on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    with what you've just described, it would probably run just as well on a celeron 433 with 256 megs of ram. Even if everyones accessing it the same time, since its over internet connections it won't experience anywhere near the demands a lan server will, i say just go as cheap as possible. Theres no need for lots of ram or a dual core processor..

    I agree, if it isn't a gaming/heavy use server you can get away with the bare minimum.

    Well, the bare minimum for most stuff. Since it's a data server, he probably ought to splurge on the hard drives.

    edit: And get a Duron/Sempron instead of pre-Core Intel junk. Or, better still, just use whatever's lying around. See if your local high school is selling off old computers: I got a full Pentium II with 128MB of RAM for $10 once, including a monitor, and that was two years ago. For a low-strain server, that's more than enough.

    Daedalus on
  • DratatooDratatoo Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I would recommend at least a system/generation which takes DDR RAM. I had lots of successfull attempts while using mismatched DDR RAM in my "used+old spare-parts - builds". Getting mismatched SDRAM to work properly is a nightmare and a lottery. (Thats the reason my Ubunthu Box has to suffer with just 128MB RAM - but its still running fine, even Beryl (Geforce 3 card) and Gnome 2.

    Dratatoo on
  • Mace1370Mace1370 Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Thanks for the suggestions, guys. This would be strictly for data transfer. No games or anything heavy duty like that. I'm really unfamiliar with setting up a server. Would it be best to just get an old desktop pc and use that? Is there a website out there that is highly recommended for going about this?

    Mace1370 on
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Have you decided how you're going to go about this "data transfer"? The best/simplest option would probably be FTP, in which case all you need to do is set up a machine with an OS and FTP server software, connect it to the internet (preferably with a static IP address, although there are ways around that), and you should be good to go.

    An old desktop pc would be easily up to the task, and there are a variety of Linux distributions which would run FTP software for you.

    japan on
  • Mace1370Mace1370 Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I figured we would just use Windows XP since my family has several extra copies/keys we no longer use. What's a good FTP software?

    Edit: Or alternatively if we go with Linux, what would be a good FTP client for that?

    Mace1370 on
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    FileZilla server is reputedly quite good (and free), I've only ever used the version of it that's built into XBMC, though.

    If you're running windows, and the machine won't be used for anything else, make sure you firewall everything except the ports the ftp software needs. FTP servers are script kiddie magnets.

    japan on
  • Mace1370Mace1370 Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Would we have to firewall if we used linux? Assuming we used windows, which firewall program should we use? I've never had to use one before.

    Mace1370 on
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    You should firewall anything connected to the public Internet. I'd be more cautious with Windows XP than with a Server-biased Linux distro (or a Windows server OS, for that matter), mainly because anything intended for server use is generally set up so that only the bare essentials are running unless you specify otherwise.

    Most Linux distros come with iptables, which includes a firewall. Will this machine be behind a router? If it will, you're pretty much set. You'll just need to forward port 22, and it should be protected. I'm not sure what firewall software would be good for XP, since I don't use it anymore I've kind of lost track of what's decent and what isn't.

    EDIT: If you were using Linux, proftpd is very good as an ftp server, but setting it up involves writing a configuration file using a similar style to Apache's httpd.conf, which is easy if you're used to setting up Apache, not so good otherwise.

    japan on
  • Mace1370Mace1370 Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Awesome, thanks for the advice. You've been very helpful.

    Mace1370 on
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