Building a server & SMB network - RFC

Matthew Kirkwood weejock at
Tue May 11 20:17:55 GMT 1999

On Wed, 12 May 1999, Tim Lank wrote:

> I need to network a mission school of about 200 PC's running Windows
> 3.11 and 95 on a very, very limited budget.  The school does not
> currently have a network.  I would like to use my PC and Red Hat Linux
> v5.2 and SAMBA to set this up as file&print server.

If you're not in a great hurry, I'd wait a month or so and see what the
reports of RH6.0 look like.  So far they have been pretty good for a major
release, but it doesn't seem quite as stable as 5.2 was.  The 2.2 kernel
will be a bonus if you have ample memory and/or big filesystems, though.

> I am planning to install the following in my Pentium 133mhz PC for this
> purpose: 

> 256MB RAM


> (1) Adaptec 2940B-UW PCI SCSI controller for disks

Don't buy Adaptec if your budget is tight.  Mylex and NCR are usually 
cheaper and historically have had better support.

> (1) donated AHA-1540B ISA SCSI controller for SE tape drives

The old Adaptec cards have very patchy support.  What you lose in SCSI
bandwidth from having two cards you'll almost immediately lose in IRQ
latencies, etc.

> (1) 3Com 3C980-TX PCI 10/100 server NIC

Forget 3Com if the budget is tight.  You can probably pick up a cheap
tulip-based card for half the price of 3Cxxx, and (in my experience)
they're more reliable (and certainly have better driver support).

> approx. 20GB of donated SCSI disks

Enthusiatically RAIDed, of course :)

> (2) donated DDS2 (2-4GB) external tape drives

Looks sensible.

> For the network, I am planning to install basic 10baseT hubs in the 5
> computer labs and cable them back to the central server closet into a
> 10/100 switch all with CAT5.  The server will connect directly into the
> switch at 100MB.

This all looks sensible to me.  I'd consider making sure that the switch
had an additional 100MB port to allow a little more flexibility, though.

> At this point, the server will just be used for file&print, and possibly
> internal SMTP email and maybe used as an Intranet web server.  In the
> future they may want to connect the network to the Internet.

> Please comment on this scenario from both a hardware standpoint, Linux
> kernel optimal configuration standpoint, and network standpoint.

Adaptec and 3Com both lose on price and Linux driver support, in my
experience.  Everything else looks fine.


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