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How to find right Distro for a server-like thing?

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: 2008-08-30

Hello Community,

I have a question and I'm here 'cause I hope to get a helpful answer from you. If I got the wrong place, please tell me a better one.

I have an old Computer with currently Windows XP. I don't want to put it to the rest (among others because the system is exceptionally stable running), so I decided to make it useful another way: I want to have that Computer running without Peripherals (Keyboard, Screen, optical drives) in my home LAN to let the other Computers there acces a printer and a HDD.

My experience with Linux is not very big, I know some theoretical things, but not e.g. how to use a Command Line with (Linux (!))

Now my problem is to find a distribution that matters my requirements:

- runs on an old system:
* Pentium III processor, max. 450 MHz
* 523 MB SDRAM
- boots from Floppy OR small Partition OR (worse) CD
- supports printer Epson EPL-5800L over LPT
- supports data reading and writing from other (Windows) Computers over LAN (I imagine that to be like Windows Shared Folders; perhaps a Webserver matches that imagination)
- supports my "D-Link DFE-530TX PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter" (LAN)
- has a very short boot time

Currently, there are 2 HDDs (10 and 12 GB), 2 DVD Drives, a sound card, a AGP Graphics Card, 2 USB-Cards, the network card mentioned above and a Floppy drive running in this system. I would like to separate as many components as possible from power connection. In best case, only the CPU, the Mainboard, the Network Card, the Printer and one HDD would be running.

thanks for proposes

Joined: 2006-03-28
Windows-shares can be

Windows-shares can be implemented through Samba. That way Windows can access the share in the same way you access a share on another Windows-PC. You won't need a web-server, which usually is read-only anyway.
The closest alternative might be FTP, but as said, with Samba you can have regular Windows-shares.

I don't know if Engarde Secure Linux supports LPT-printers (although I don't see why it shouldn't), but still I'd suggest it.
What really supports you here is that Engarde is configured through a web-interface, so you won't need to touch the shell at all.
It doesn't need a lot of space on the disk (don't remember how much, but it's not that big) and shouldn't be so greedy with the resources as it doesn't have a GUI. As said, configuration is done through your browser.

Joined: 2008-08-30
ok, that sounds good. On

ok, that sounds good.
On I found that Samba is included in Engarde. Then, I found a driver for my printer at , and now I'm unsure if it will be already included in the Kernel or that distribution.

One question I already have regarding Samba: It provides file sharing, but does it so with the printer? For printing with a Windows PC to a printer on another PC I think it was necessary to install the driver on both.

Joined: 2006-03-28
Yes, Samba can also share

Yes, Samba can also share printers.
And I remember having read something about a possibility to automatically provide the driver to the client.

There are quite a lot drivers available for Linux, but as Engarde is a pure server-distribution not all might be included.
And as I currently have no installation of it I cannot have a quick look to check.

I also have an Epson, a Style C79 connected via USB. It works like a charm.

As your printer seems to be a bit older, otherwise it would probably not be LPT, I think there shouldn't be any problems, provided that the distro brings the driver.

If you're not in a rush and if I find the time I'll try to install Engarde these days and check out if the drivers are there.

StevenBrady's picture
Joined: 2006-06-09
I've no experience with

I've no experience with Engarde. I do have experience with two alternative distributions.

The first is SME Server ( which is a nice file and print server (additionally, LDAP, E-mail, and more, if you choose) that I've used in small and medium business environments in production with little configuration and even less maintenance. I'm quite in love with the system. It's based on CentOS, and has been around for years and years and years and has a nice little community.

The second is eBox Platform ( which is also a nice file and printer server that I've used once in a small business environment. It's a touch newer, and there are a few little configuration issues that I'm not fond of. However, the last I heard the Ubuntu people were starting to put eBox into their distribution? Not sure. It's worth checking out.

Both use Samba for the file and printer sharing. It's just a very easy to use front end that sets these apart from a basic Ubuntu installation+Samba. Both worth a looksee.

Joined: 2008-08-30
project on ice

ok, thank you for care :-)
At the moment, I've no place to leave the Computer, so it doesn't make sense to try it. When I will have, I will do so and tell you here - or ask about problems :-D

greets, Azrael

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