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Win2k Pro or Server?
dscline Oct-17-00 02:59 PM
I am getting ready to set up a home network. It will consist of a "server"
that will stay on and act as a router with 2 NICs, one to my cable modem,
and one to my network through a 5 port hub/switch. In the beginning, my network will only consist of my
Win98SE workstation, and will grow to no more than 4 workstations. There
are a couple of applications that I would like to have running all the time
(such as some home automation software & possibly a web cam), which is why
I'm not going the all in one router approach. I'm trying to understand
which version of Win2k is best for the server. Is my assumption correct
that I'm limited to a peer to peer setup with Pro? Does the server version
have ICS (or something similar), or do I need to get a third party NAT
program to use with Server? Do I have the security like NT for mapping
drives for specific users in Pro? I feel more inclined to have a client/server network, but that's probably just because that's what I'm used to dealing with at work. I intend to let a tenant that lives in an apartment above my garage have access to my network, so that is why security is even an issue in a home network.

Or to sum it up, what are the advantages & disadvantages of each for a home


1. RE: Win2k Pro or Server?
lbyard Oct-17-00 05:32 PM
In response to message 0
I wouldn’t let my tenant get anywhere near my server unless the tenant were family or my best friend of many years. I have had many tenants and have been had by a few of them…

There are dedicated servers, domain servers, and peer-to-peer networks, all of which can be combined. A dedicated server does nothing but serve: no workstation functions in normal operation. Simply put, a domain server adds a domain to a network and refinement to security—user accounts which can be associated with network resources. A dedicated server can be a Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Pro, Windows 9x, Windows Me computer, etc. You need Windows 2000 Server, NT Server, Novell, etc. to have a domain and network user accounts and to map drives, etc. to users. However, with the other, peer-to-peer, alternatives, you can map drives, etc. to passwords. Which may be sufficient if constrained users are also physically separated from the rest of the network. I would look at and refine the requirements first and develop my (phased) shopping list, solution(s), second?

Requirements (from your post):
1. Local Area Networking
2. Internet sharing
3. One or two computers initially?
4. Growth to as many as four computers.
5. A PC which is on all the time for home automation software, a web cam, etc.

Questions about requirements:
Exactly what resources do you want to allow access by your tenant?
Does the video cam really have to be on all of the time? Does it have to be on the same computer as the house automation software?
If it were not used for Internet sharing, would the computer that is to be on all of the time need to be on the network or even need to be a server? House automation shouldn’t require a lot of computer resources and the computer it runs on should be otherwise as simple as possible (unless you want a house that doesn’t compute reliably).
In short, what are the requirements? And what are the near-term and long-term requirements? You don’t need to build a high-end server (and high-end hardware) for a network that is to start off with two PC’s.

Most small networks run just fine without a domain controller. A full-fledged server adds complexity and cost to a network. A hardware router is still the best choice for Internet sharing and well worth the little additional cost over its lifetime. If you consider your time and reliability to worth something, a router is actually cheaper than software solutions. Larry

2. RE: Win2k Pro or Server?
dscline Oct-17-00 07:08 PM
In response to message 1
Thanks for the detailed reply. I'll take your questions one by one to hopefully give you an idea of what I'm looking for:

Initially, one server, one workstation, with another workstation probably within 6 months. Up to two more after a year.

I want to share my internet access with my tenant (& any other future clients), but also be able to offer a common file storage area, and possibly share printers (it's a good friend of over 10 years - I have no worries there). I was planning on taking at least one of my two printers off of my workstation, and putting on the server. There will be another family computer within the next year, and my workstation wouldn't have to be on for it to use the printer.

The video cam is both for entertainment (doggie-cam for me to view while at work... what does she do when she's alone??), as well as surveilence. Using X10 cameras, I can switch which camera is viewed via the home automation software. I need a computer on for the webcam & home automation, that computer needs internet access to broadcast the webcam during the day (& also if I want access to my HA sofware via the internet), and part of my goal is to take this type of stuff off of my workstation so it doesn't have to be on during the day, and also to free up my workstation so the HA software, doggie cam, and file/print/internet sharing isn't loading the same machine that is playing Q3 (which I occasionally do), or burning CDs, video editing, or whatever it is I'm doing that I like to have full power available to (this machine is a P3 @ 1Ghz).

Because I've found some good deals, and have some leftover parts from previous upgrades, I'm able to build a fairly powerful box for not much money (it's a Celeron @ 850Mhz, total cost is around $400) Although I only have one 45G drive for it, I do have a raid card, so when I find a good deal on another big drive I can mirror/stripe, to make it a fairly safe place to store files. I also want to be able to use it as a second light duty computer for occasional web browsing or whatever, when there is a need for two people in the house to be on a computer at the same time. I'd also like the option to use it to host a lan game if I wanted (don't know if I'd ever do that though).

I know I'm trying to make one box play many roles, but none of them are very taxing (or mission critical), and it should have plenty of horsepower for what I'm asking. I know a hardware router is a more elegant solution, but I really don't want to spend any more money, and I wouldn't think this computer would have any problems handling that & a couple of other things at the same time. I'm viewing this as spending $400 to do a lot of things I can't do now, vs. probably upwards of $150 to ONLY add internet sharing.

I'm already familiar with setting up / maintaining a domain with NT 4.0, so the complexity of domain server doesn't really worry me (in fact, I'm more intimidated by peer to peer, just because I have no experience with that type of network). I already have the hardware parts to do the same thing at home, I just don't know if peer to peer is a better option (am I correct in assuming it has to be peer to peer with Pro?).

I guess my first priority is internet sharing. I know ICS is free with Pro, but I don't know if there are any built in functions like this in W2k Server.

TIA for any further insight you (or anyone else) can provide.

3. RE: Win2k Pro or Server?
lbyard Oct-18-00 04:26 PM
In response to message 2
An 833 Mhz computer is much more than you need for the server. I would put that processor in a workstation. Many people think a server should be the most powerful box on a network. Not so… the workstations do more processing than a typical server on small network. However, the server should have plenty of memory for disk caching, etc.). My little network is running NT 4.0 with a 166 Mhz(!) processor and 64 Mbytes (300-400 Mhz is better if one is to do a lot of stuff directly on a server, but 166 Mhz serves files, etc. quite well for a small LAN). Windows 2000 is a bit more of a pig with memory, but I have built a Win 2000 Pro server with a 350 Mhz processor and 128 Mbytes and it works fine.

You can buy a router with a 4-Port switch (e.g., an SMC Barricade, http://duxcw.com/digest/Reviews/Network/smc/smc7004br/smc7004br.htm ) for around $150-$160 with rebate. If you don’t have a hub or switch, you’ll save even more on the network, as you will not need one in addition to the router. I am using a Barricade. Previously, I ran SyGate on the server and several other software solutions on Win 9x. I leave my server on all of the time, but I would not, by any means, go back to a software solution for Internet sharing. End discussion on this one.

Is my assumption correct that I'm limited to a peer-to-peer setup with Pro? Yes.

Does the server version have ICS (or something similar), or do I need to get a third party NAT program to use with Server? The server version has ICS. Features are at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/guide/server/features/default.asp.

If you are comfortable configuring a domain server, setting-up a peer-to-peer network should be a piece of cake and that is what I recommend for your situation. The only reasons I am running NT is to support my customers, review products, and to mirror the drive partitions containing my accounting data. I have been tempted several times by NT problems and its complexities to install Win 98 on the server. Larry

4. RE: Win2k Pro or Server?
dscline Oct-18-00 04:44 PM
In response to message 3
I know this box is more power than I need for a simple server, it's the slowest thing I have (which I'm not complaining about). I think I'm going to try ICS, since it's free. If it turns out to be problematic, I can always add a hardware router later.

Thanks again for yout input & time!

5. RE: Win2k Pro or Server?
lbyard Oct-19-00 05:16 PM
In response to message 0
Web Serving with Win 2000 Professional, http://www8.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/solutions/0,8224,2629063,00.html, might be of interest. Larry

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