Basic Linux file server with web accessibility
Q I am new to Linux. I want to install a file server in the office with web accessibility so we can all call code off the server. We also want to access emails (currently emails are picked up on one machine using Outlook, with no web access). Can you recommend a basic Linux server that would suit our requirements?
A Is this computer to be used exclusively as your server? If so, I would recommend one of the distros aimed at dedicated servers. ClarkConnect (www.clarkconnect.com) is best known as an internet gateway (a means of connecting a network to the internet with suitable content filters and access controls), but it can also be used as an intranet server. Because ClarkConnect (and similar distros like SME Server - www.smeserver.org) are put together for this particular purpose, they include all the software and admin tools you need. They are also potentially more secure than a general purpose distribution, because of their focus and the fact that they contain fewer programs.
When installing ClarkConnect, you have a choice of a standalone server (one that is only accessible from your LAN and connected to the internet by your existing router), or as a full internet gateway. In the latter mode, it operates as a router and firewall for your network. If you already have a suitable ADSL modem/router, the standalone mode is easier to set up. The Community Edition is free but limited to ten users and without technical support, although there is community support on the forums. The Enterprise edition has a price tag, technical support, no user limit and some extra features.
If you wish to use this in a business, the Enterprise Edition would be advisable. Once initial installation is complete, you can detach the keyboard and monitor for the server and put it somewhere out of the way. All administration is done via a web interface from any computer on your network (provided the user knows the password). This can include setting it up as a local mail server. This would collect emails from your ISP email account(s) using the maildrop module, and all computers on your network would be set up to read their mail from here. The server can also filter spam and viruses from incoming mails, saving the need to set up and maintain this protection on every computer in the office.
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