Part 1: Introduction and Planning
This tutorial is about how to make your own Ubuntu Linux file server. If you are wanting to follow along and are curious about the difficulty of this endeavor, I would give it a 6/10, where 10 is some kind of rocket science thing. I did my best to make this a step by step guide for anyone who, like myself, has lots of questions and isn’t totally sure what they are doing. I tried not to leave too much up to assumptions.
I am still a beginner at using Linux, but have been using a PC since the command line days of DOS. The reason I have decided to write this post is because I spent many hours perusing the Internet looking for answers on how to do what I wanted. What I found is that no one had posted exactly step by step for the noob how to do everything I wanted. So I had to take bits and pieces of pages from blog posts, message forums, the Ubuntu documentation, Linux Reality Podcasts, and help from the good folks at ubuntuforums.org to get where I wanted. I documented in Evernote along the way what I was doing so if I screwed up, I wouldn’t have to start all over again figuring things out (it took more than one try to get it to work). I wrote this post because I wanted to help others who may be trying to do something similar but can’t find all the steps. A lot of learning took place for me along the way. I did everything through the CLI (command line interface). It was like writing a book in a foreign language. I had to look up everything as I didn’t know the commands needed to do what I wanted. Once I knew what the commands were, I had to learn how to use them.
Here is what I wanted. A safe place to store my documents, music, photos, financial information, and anything else that I didn’t want to lose without worrying about a disk dying on me or succumbing to a virus. I am fully aware that this doesn’t solve every risk, but it did enough to make me happy for now. (This post might give you some insight to my paranoia with not trusting an external hard drive for my needs.) I also recently got married and wanted to make sure my wife and I both had access to everything in a central location. Since I am now the family IT guy, I wanted to make sure I had her data in a safe place too. This was also going to serve as a print server, and possibly more some time down the road. I wanted this to be virus free, cheap, long lasting, and energy efficient as it was going to be on 24/7. Once I was done getting it going, I wanted to be able to walk away and leave it sitting on a shelf doing its thing without needs for reboots, security updates, etc. I wanted it to be a headless system. That means no monitor, keyboard, or mouse. Just a power cord and an Ethernet cord. I’m sure my task would have been much easier had I just bought a fancy new computer and put windows server something on there or used OS X server, but apparently, I enjoy doing things the hard way (and I’m cheap).
The following is my setup:
- Ubuntu Server 9.4
- Foxconn barebone R10-S4 CPU
- Intel Dual-core Atom 330 processor
- MB with integrated Ethernet, video, sound
- Kingston 2 GB RAM DDR2 533
- 1 8GB Patriot USB key drive
- 2 750 GB SATA Western Digital Caviar Green Drives
- Linksys WRT54GL router with Tomato firmware
- Computers on network: Macbook and iMac with Snow Leopard, Dell Inspiron laptop with Windows XP