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May 16, 2007


I finally bit the bullet and installed WinXP on my old Win98 desktop that's serving as Kendra's MSN and Facebook computer. While I was at it I also dug out the old 233Mhz PentiumMMX machine in the basement to set it up as a samba server for the house. My idea is to put all of our music into one large library on the server so that we don't each have duplicate copies of songs on several user accounts on the desktop and laptop Windows boxes. It will take me a while to figure out the best way to do that, but step one was to put linux on the old machine to become the server.

Since Ubuntu just released a new version I thought it would be a good opportunity to try it out. I downloaded the alternate install CD since I won't bother trying to run anything graphical on that old machine. The alternate CD has the option for a command-line only installation, which I assume will be reasonably slim for a modern linux distribution.

I have to admit, the WinXP install wasn't as complicated as older win installs I've done, but I still had quite a few reboot cycles getting the OS up to the latest security patches, installing drivers for the webcam, onboard audio, TV tuner card, not to mention manually installing just the basic applications: MSN messenger, Open Office, Firefox, Gimp Thunderbird.

In contrast, the hardest thing about the linux install was choosing the computer's name. Thus, mater was born.

Once the system was up and running, I had to read up a little on the net to refamiliarize myself with the locations of the configuration files for a command-line only system, but most of the services I wanted were already installed. The couple of things that weren't installed by default in the minimal setup I chose were easily installed by "apt-get install smbclient". That's it. No thinking, no searching the net. It all just works.

To test the system I tried tunnelling SMB over SSH to mount a share on my WinXP64 system at work. The hardest thing about that was setting up PuTTY, Windows Firewall and a loopback network interface on the windows end. The linux side, again, just worked. I now have encrypted access my server at home as a normal windows share on my office PC, even though both ends are behind firewalls. Yay for samba and linux.

May 15, 2007