[Wolves] Sugestion for a server

Adam Sweet adamsweet at gmail.com
Wed Aug 3 16:47:13 UTC 2016

On 03/08/16 13:53, Parminder Singh Chauhan via Wolves wrote:
> I know lots of people on wolves lug deals with server. I need a help.
> At my work we have three windows computer and I use one old computer as a
> file server. Internet is through wireless router.
> File server has  ClearOS installed on it. For the moment it is working fine
> although it is bit slow.
> I want to put a reasonable server and use as gateway for internet and
> manage window machine as well as serving files.
> What are my options and if anybody supply servers for small company like
> ours.


I recall you sent a similar message a few months back but didn't get a


Most likely nobody really knew what to say. I didn't get chance to reply
at the time and realised about a month later that nobody had replied.
Sorry about that.

When you say your file server is working a bit slow, what do you mean?
File transfers are slow or something else?

The limiting factor on file transfers will almost always be your network
speed, especially if you're using wifi, so if you have a budget, look at
a 1GB switch. I've seen cheap unmanaged 8 port GB switches for less than
£20 on Ebuyer and 24 ports for around £80.

On a 1Gb wired network you should get around 100-112 MB/s for a single
file transfer, depending on what the filesharing protocol is. Remember
that upper case B is bytes, lower case b means bits and there are 8 bits
are a byte. For simultaneous transfers each client gets slightly less
than half that speed. On a 100Mb wired network you'd expect around 10-12
MB/s for a single transfer. If you care about speed, you won't want to
do filesharing over wifi. How are your server and clients connected and
what transfer speed are you getting?

Next think about your disks and disk subsystem. If you're serving files
to multiple clients simultaneously, each file transfer will slow down as
your server can't read all of that data off the disk at the same time.
SSDs are nearly 20 times faster than spinning disks but cost more and
you'll lose some of the performance benefit if you have an older SATA
controller. A SATA III disk controller will be able to transfer data at
around 600 MB/s. SATA II at 300MB/s and SATA I at 150 MB/s. How much
data do you expect to serve at any one time? Can you live with the slow
down when multiple clients want to read or write files at the same time.
As always, it's a cost v performance trade-off.

Neither me nor my company supply hardware, but I see offers on Ebuyer's
daily deals newsletter for low end tower servers from Dell, HP, Lenovo
and Fujitsu quite often. The cheapest modern machines are all perfectly
powerful enough to serve files to 3 machines and route network traffic
for under £300. The following are decent for cheap server hardware or
older/refurbed kit:


Realistically an old PC should be fine but you'll probably want a RAID
controller, or use Linux software RAID with two or more disks to protect
against the loss of your server in the event of an inevitable disk
failure and keep good backups off-site in case of fire or theft etc.

You can probably find old machines cheap on eBay. I don't see why you
can't do all this on an old Pentium 4 with 512MB RAM, possibly less. If
you know Linux and Samba, you can do away with all the ClearOS GUI stuff
and save yourself some money on hardware.

Samba is the Unix implementation of Windows files and printer sharing,
workgroups, domains and 'net' management commands.

I recall last time you said you wanted to run Windows in Virtualbox on
the server. That's not a problem but you'll need enough RAM for both the
Linux OS and Windows and preferably a multi-core CPU. Depending on your
Windows version, that puts you in the region of 4GB minimum and way out
of the league of an old PC. You'll see a definite performance benefit
using SSDs with virtualisation, but spinning disks aren't out of the
question if you don't mind a bit of lag. Honestly, after using SSDs for
a few years, if you can afford them, get them, they make a massive
performance difference.

You mentioned also that you want to manage Windows PCs from your
fileserver. I'm not sure what you mean by that. You can use commands
provided by Samba to manage Windows PCs to some degree. I don't know
ClearOS but just by Googling it, I see that it's possible to set it up
as a Windows Domain Controller. Realistically, all it's doing it making
it quick and easy to set up a Samba domain. You could live without
ClearOS but you'd need to get your hands dirty with Samba.

I do filesharing at home using Samba on Debian and Ubuntu, but CentOS or
SUSE would work equally well. Really though, if it works for you,
ClearOS is fine.

Finally, I'm not sure why you want to use your Linux machine as a
gateway rather than just using your router. What is it you want Linux to
do as a gateway that your router doesn't?

My company offers support and consultancy for Linux and Samba but the
cost might be off putting for a very small business. If that's something
you might be interested in you can always email me directly.


Adam Sweet

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