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Hello, I recently picked up a Dell PowerEdge 2950 Server III 2x3.0GHz E5450 Quad Core.  I am VERY new to building a home server or even dealing with them, so please forgive me.  I wanted to ask everyone out there what the best OS would be for my first build.  I want to try and accomplish the following with my server: [/size][/font][/color]
 
Host my own website
Host my own email service (through my own domains) for personal use. 
run a cloud server for personal storage that I can access from anywhere holding media and other files.  
create back ups for both Mac and PC machines
Create a VPN for my network. 
 
I know this is possibly a tall order for my first build, but I would like to play around with all of these.  I have read a lot about different operating systems, and they just seem to be all over the place with reviews and price.  I understand that there are many free software options, but don't know if some of them will support everything I want to do.  I wouldn't mind paying for an OS if it is worth it, but would prefer cheaper version after seeing some of the prices.  
 
I am not computer illiterate but have much to learn about servers.  
 
Thanks in advance for any advice.  I am greatly looking forward to getting into the world of servers.

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I'll take the bait. In this forum you will find many people using WHS or Essentials. They have explicit features for backing up other computers as well as themselves.  :)

 

Since you chose a Linux category for your posting, I will defer to others on specific open source recommendations. (I am presently all-microsoft at home but this changes over time.) I do know that Centos has lots going for it but there are so many distributions available it could be overwhelming to choose. Even then some trial-and-error may be required.

 

Good luck on your journey!

Edited by nrf
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Amahi.

Have you checked it out?

https://www.amahi.org/

 

It is designed to be an open source answer to WHS.  

It does the website, should be able to do email, does file sharing, backups, disk monitoring, VPN.  And it supports OwnCloud.

 

So it may be pretty much exactly what you want.

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Amahi.

Have you checked it out?

https://www.amahi.org/

 

It is designed to be an open source answer to WHS.  

It does the website, should be able to do email, does file sharing, backups, disk monitoring, VPN.  And it supports OwnCloud.

 

So it may be pretty much exactly what you want.

I almost forgot about Amahi, I tried it once but did not give it enough time to see if I like it. Another possible option is 

XPenology though I have not tried it yet. I have real Synology boxes and I absolutely love the DSM software.

http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/8401-ikons-xpenology-experience/

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sounds good on first look, to what extent do you end up having to pay for stuff?
I've never had to register to download a linux distro before...

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I know its in the Linux area but server 2012 r2 ess is on sale at the egg email deals for $299.99 and does everything ur looking for.

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I know its in the Linux area but server 2012 r2 ess is on sale at the egg email deals for $299.99 and does everything ur looking for.

 

Except for email, but you could join another VM (for Email) to the Domain created by Essentials and go from there.

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sounds good on first look, to what extent do you end up having to pay for stuff?

I've never had to register to download a linux distro before...

 

Yea,  I have always been confused with Amahi's approach - dont know what they are really up to.

 

at least they let you add the amahi stuff after a regular install via a package.     

 

Initially , you had to modify the distribution.

 

you can get most , if not all the amahi goodness ( greyhole etc)  separately,  so you arent tied into the amahi world 

 

I think its telling that Amahi doesnt get much coverage on this forum. 

 

 

You have a rather ambitious set of objectives -    you could consider the 180 day "trial" of windows 2012 server essentials and see if would meet your needs.   

 

another advantage  with the windows product, you would be able to use Drivepool  to manage your data.   If you have to reinstall your system, this will avoid a lot of issue with your data store. 

 

a linux "newbie"  trying to set up a sophisticated server using  RAID.  sounds like a daunting task. 

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I think its telling that Amahi doesnt get much coverage on this forum. 

Aside from the fact that most of us here are Windows guys? :)

 

Personally, I'm not a fan of *NIX, because it's .... very overwhelming (and I tend to jump into the deep end and start with command line stuff......), and the communities for a lot of *NIX stuff is .... very hostile to new users.

 

Greyhole is a very Drive Extender like product for Linux.

 

However, if you don't mind jumping into the deep end, there is ZFS (recommends 1GB of RAM for each 1TB of data, and that it be ECC). Or there is unRAID, IIRC. 

 

 

 

But you can definitely accomplish most of this with Windows.  If you can find WHS2011, that's the best option, I think. Otherwise, Server 2012R2 Essentials has a 6 month (180 day) evaluation period.  

The server provides a website (just be careful), provides a Dynamic DNS service, a SSL certificate, VPN (built into 2012R2E, but can be easily configured in WHS2011). It supports Windows systems for backup, but there are apps out there for supporting mac backup on Windows, I think.  And you can transfer files to and from the Remote/Anywhere Access website. And you could install OwnCloud or the like on the server as well. (I have)

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This isn't related to the OS choice but I've got a few queries.

 

1. Do you have a public static IP assigned by your ISP? You'll need it for your servers. You can fudge it with a dyndns style service if you have a fairly stable dynamic IP but it isn't a good idea.

2. Does your ISP actually allow you to run permanent servers like web + email? Some don't like you doing that unless you're on a business plan. Some will even block attempts to use SMTP that isn't directed towards their customer facing servers in an attempt to limit spamming and encourage sign ups to the business plans.

3. That rackmount server will be quite loud even at idle. It isn't a problem in a datacenter but at home it'll sound like a jet engine taking off unless you put it into a closed rack in a distant room.

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