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  1. #1
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    New to servers, need advice for Win Server 2008

    I'm using my MSDNAA access to download Windows Server 2008 R2 which I plan on installing to an old desktop. Before I begin I want to make sure I can do what I want to do with it. For now I want to do the following [I know these are possible on a regular OS install but I want to try a Server for future projects):
    iTunes Media Share
    Backup (I've read before that there's some good backup software for servers)
    Network shares (I'll have Installers and Video's on the server)
    I also plan on working out some sort of update system but that's a lower priority).

    I want to know if I can do these things (from my understanding there's not much difference between what a server can run and what a regular install can run but again while I know quite a bit about regular Windows OSes I'm a complete rookie on servers).

    I'd also like some suggestions on backup software, I seem to remember reading that server 2003 had an excellent backup system that only backup up the necessary data. I'm also going to be a bit less picky with this backup software than I've been in previous discussions. I don't care what format the data is in so long as I get complete backups in as small a space as possible. Compression is a plus, images are OK, must be compatible with all flavors of Windows).

    For the network shares I want to make it compatible with all flavors of windows and I want password protection.

    Finally, I'd like to set up a remote PC connection. Once the server is complete I plan on removing peripherals and Monitor so I'll need to be able to login to it via a remote PC connection. Ideally I'd have some software on my flashdrive which I'd run through another computer on the network and use a password (could be saved on the flashdrive) to run the connection.

    As I won't actually begin this project for at least 3 weeks I'm just looking for general information and not too many specifics.

    Update: I got the specs, it's a little weaker than I thought running a celeron at 2.7GHz which means rather than R2 as I first thought I'll be using regular server 2008. It also looks like it's RAM might only be 512MB upgradeable to 1GB. I haven't actually booted the machine to check but the last time I did see it run it loaded XP even faster than my home machine (3.2GHz Pentium D with 2GB of RAM). (I'm thinking the reason it's faster is because XP isn't optimized for Dual Cores and D is actually a Dual core processor that runs like a single core most of the time).
    Last edited by grnorris; 2012-01-10 at 13:22.
    Current Machine:HP Compaq 6910p with 4GB RAM, Core2Duo @ 2.20 GHz, Mobile Intel 965 Express Chipset Family, Avast free, Malwarebyte's free, TP-Link wireless card (as the built in card has nothing but problems with empty solutions): The card identifies as "Atheros AR922X Wireless Network Adapter". [Not the best machine but it does internet, docs, and vids, and some games (PvZ, Spore)]

  2. #2
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    You really need to find out the specs for the machine on which you intend to install Server 2008 R2. Check the Microsoft site for the minimum specs for the OS but realize that if you do much at all on the server the minimum specs are far less than what you really need (particularly RAM). See Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 for more information about requirements.

    You need to check at the Apple site about iTunes. Some software that installs on a desktop will not install on a server. I don't know if that is the case here but you have to check for OS compatability at Apple.

    Backup - There are a number of good products. But, third party backup software for servers tends to be pricey. You can use built-in the Windows backup.

    If you access the server from a Windows PC remote access is easy with RDP.

    See Windows Server Update Service for a description of a free Microsoft product that will serve for updates. See WSUS 3.0 SP2 System Requirements for important information.

    There are many things to learn if you really want to run a server. See Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2 at Technet for a starting point.

    Joe

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    Server 2008 R2 will make a very solid and reliable workstation environment. You'll need to spend quite a while configuring it though, and that will also depend on what future use you want to put it to. However as a learning exercise that is not a bad thing.

    As Joe says external backup programs compatible with Server 2008 R2 can be pricey, but there are plenty to choose from, or you can build your own based on the internal backup tool. Coupled with task scheduler you can build some nice looking backup schedules.

    As an alternative, you could build an entire network using VirtualBox from a decent workstation running XP, Vista or Win 7. In VirtualBox, you can choose to run the network adapter connected to an "Internal" network, which completely isolates it from the outside world, meaning you can run all kinds of Server Roles without disrupting your host network; or if you choose as a NAT adapter which provides a ring-fenced set of IP's. Either way, you can then build a Server-Client network and play with it to your heart's content, knowing that if you break it, you can always revert to the clean VM's form your host backups.

    You do need to carefully verify those PC spec's against the system requirements though - Server 2008 R2 is only available in 64Bit: I suspect you may be downloading Server 2008 {not the R2}.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinto Tech View Post
    Server 2008 R2 will make a very solid and reliable workstation environment. You'll need to spend quite a while configuring it though, and that will also depend on what future use you want to put it to. However as a learning exercise that is not a bad thing.

    As Joe says external backup programs compatible with Server 2008 R2 can be pricey, but there are plenty to choose from, or you can build your own based on the internal backup tool. Coupled with task scheduler you can build some nice looking backup schedules.

    As an alternative, you could build an entire network using VirtualBox from a decent workstation running XP, Vista or Win 7. In VirtualBox, you can choose to run the network adapter connected to an "Internal" network, which completely isolates it from the outside world, meaning you can run all kinds of Server Roles without disrupting your host network; or if you choose as a NAT adapter which provides a ring-fenced set of IP's. Either way, you can then build a Server-Client network and play with it to your heart's content, knowing that if you break it, you can always revert to the clean VM's form your host backups.

    You do need to carefully verify those PC spec's against the system requirements though - Server 2008 R2 is only available in 64Bit: I suspect you may be downloading Server 2008 {not the R2}.
    On a second look it appears your right. I have a 32-bit "Windows Server 2008 Datacenter Enterprise and Standard (x86) - DVD (English)" and a 64-bit "Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 (x64) - DVD (English)".

    I didn't realize it at first due to MSDNAA's new interface (it looks nicer but works like crap, the new downloader seems to work alright though). Still not sure on the specs, At the end of the month I'll be moving in with a friend and opted to turn her old PC into a server (I probably could adopt it for my own use which is tempting but I wanted something that will be nice for the whole family and have long wanted a server so I'll just have to wait on getting my own PC again). Next time I get over their I plan on checking stickers (it's not hooked up right now so I can't use software to check). I know it's current OS is XP and I'm thinking it's a dual core machine. I'm fairly certain is also has a built in wifi card which should give an idea on when it was made (Don't worry I plan on using a wired connection for the server). As far backups go I should be able to install Macrium or a similar software on it so if something goes wrong I'll have a backup of the server on an external hard drive, depending on the size of the other backups I'll probably also make a backup of the backups so if the server's hard drive crashes I'll have a recent backup of everything else. Again I must point out that I don't know too many details yet as we are in the process of moving and I don't yet know what will be available. I'll update my OP when I get the specs though (probably sometime this weekend at the latest).

    Based on the things I've mentioned so far can anyone tell me what differences I should be aware of between regular and R2 servers? The server will be hooked to the router like a normal computer and not between the router and the other computers. It would be nice to eventually monitor all traffic but I'm afraid making everything go through the server first will slow down network speed too drastically (The house has a wideband connection that's supposed to get 15MB/s guaranteed, we'll have 8 people in the extended family each probably having at least on device connected to the network).

    Thanks for the advice so far though, I'm starting to get an idea of what and how to prepare this thing.
    Current Machine:HP Compaq 6910p with 4GB RAM, Core2Duo @ 2.20 GHz, Mobile Intel 965 Express Chipset Family, Avast free, Malwarebyte's free, TP-Link wireless card (as the built in card has nothing but problems with empty solutions): The card identifies as "Atheros AR922X Wireless Network Adapter". [Not the best machine but it does internet, docs, and vids, and some games (PvZ, Spore)]

  5. #5
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    Just did a quick search regarding iTunes on a server. Apple doesn't actually say but it seems there are some success stories of people using some version of iTunes on a server. Looks like I'll just have to try it out and if it doesn't work I'll find an alternative.
    Current Machine:HP Compaq 6910p with 4GB RAM, Core2Duo @ 2.20 GHz, Mobile Intel 965 Express Chipset Family, Avast free, Malwarebyte's free, TP-Link wireless card (as the built in card has nothing but problems with empty solutions): The card identifies as "Atheros AR922X Wireless Network Adapter". [Not the best machine but it does internet, docs, and vids, and some games (PvZ, Spore)]

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    Quote Originally Posted by grnorris View Post
    ...can anyone tell me what differences I should be aware of between regular and R2 servers?
    Server 2008 is equivalent to Vista on the desktop, while R2 is equivalent to Win7 desktop: Checkout the build numbers on MSDN and you will see what I mean.

    Conceptually many people think that R2 is a service pack for 2008, but in fact it is a whole new ball game. Many things are similar, if not the same, but other new features are introduced such as support for up to 256 cores, Hyper V, Core parking as well as improvements to .Net, RDP, Powershell and AD services to name but a few. I believe the kernel has been re-written - hence the new build number

    Before you dive into converting the desktop PC to run Server 2008 or R2, you should have a clear target for what you wish to achieve. I know that sounds obvious, but in Server 2008 (and R2) as you experiment with the capabilities, you could easily break something on your existing network, resulting in real problems for other users:

    Server 2008 and R2 can co-exist very happily alongside desktops in a peer-to-peer network as long as it stays configured as a peer. However, as soon as you want to add things like DHCP server, DNS, AD, centralised backup, security and Group Policies, you begin to implement a very different Client-Server, domain based model.

    My best advice would be to virtualise a server environment plus a few client desktops using an isolated network. Set them up as you wish before going live on a shared network. It will also help you draw that picture of your goal. R2 uses surprisingly little resources: you could probably try it virtualised on the machine you are currently posting from.

  7. #7
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    Be aware that many desktop applications will not install on a server. When a server OS is detected by the installer they often quit. The third party vendor often expects that a server OS is being used by a business and wants $$$$ for the software.

    Joe

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  9. #8
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    A dual core CPU should have no trouble running a 64bit OS, so I'd plumb for R2.
    Use Windows backup, anything else will complain about being used on a server. Backup to a separate disk, either in the server or external.
    Sharing is easy, you need to create users on the server, share a folder, set permission on the folder for the user, then map a drive from the remote machine using the credentials of the user on the server. Mapping is via Windows Explorer, Tools > Map network drive.
    Remote access is via Windows built-in Remote Desktop Connection. You can run it manually if you can't find it on the menu - Start > Run, type MSTSC, click OK, enter the name of the server or its IP address.

    Note: On the server you will need to add features to enable backup and Remote Desktop.

    cheers, Paul

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    Updated OP already but it seems it's actually a Celeron Processor clocked at 2.7GHz with 512-1GB of RAM. I loaded XP fast though so it's got to have something going for it. Since R2 only runs dual core (which I didn't realize when I first created this post) I'll be using regular 2008 instead. I could also run 2003 if need be but I'm afraid it might not work with the newest software.
    The exact model number is Presario SR1010NX, HP's page says it has a 2.8GHz processor but the sticker on the machine said 2.7. The machine also had a sticker specifying 512MB RAM but since I've not booted it or opened it up I can't verify that, the specs sheet suggested I could upgrade to 1GB though I'd have to see how expensive that is and how it runs without.

    Even if the machine can't do everything I want if I could at least runs backups and updates that would be great.

    Other details I can give: I'll probably be hooking up two External Hard Drives totalling 3TB in capacity (2TB+1TB), the machine has quite a few USB 2.0 ports on it (I believe 4 high speed in the front), it's internal hard drive is supposedly a 40GB which will probably only be used for OS and software.
    Current Machine:HP Compaq 6910p with 4GB RAM, Core2Duo @ 2.20 GHz, Mobile Intel 965 Express Chipset Family, Avast free, Malwarebyte's free, TP-Link wireless card (as the built in card has nothing but problems with empty solutions): The card identifies as "Atheros AR922X Wireless Network Adapter". [Not the best machine but it does internet, docs, and vids, and some games (PvZ, Spore)]

  11. #10
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    IMO, you'll be very unhappy runnning a server OS on a Celeron processor with 1GB RAM or less. You may not even be able to install the OS. Have you checked the minimum requirements yet?

    The BIOS may not support HD as big as you wish to use.

    Joe

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeP517 View Post
    IMO, you'll be very unhappy runnning a server OS on a Celeron processor with 1GB RAM or less. You may not even be able to install the OS. Have you checked the minimum requirements yet?

    The BIOS may not support HD as big as you wish to use.

    Joe
    Believe min was 512MB so might need to rethink. Considering it's speed I thought it was more powerful, if I can't run it with server software I may just salvage what it has (XP), not the project I had in mind but it would do most everything I wanted. I suppose I'll just have to wait and see.
    Current Machine:HP Compaq 6910p with 4GB RAM, Core2Duo @ 2.20 GHz, Mobile Intel 965 Express Chipset Family, Avast free, Malwarebyte's free, TP-Link wireless card (as the built in card has nothing but problems with empty solutions): The card identifies as "Atheros AR922X Wireless Network Adapter". [Not the best machine but it does internet, docs, and vids, and some games (PvZ, Spore)]

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