Well as I mentioned in my earlier post I am trying to find a way to replace my SS4000-E as our production file server. To that end I have begun to build a Linux From Scratch server, upon which I plan on adding just the necessities to have a working file server in our Windows LAN. I was hoping to have a new system to work with that was complete with SATA RAID, a gigabit NIC, lots of RAM, etc, but I decided to work off of one of my old PCs first as a practice run and work out all the snags before building the final production box.
In the course of this past weekend I was able to build the basic LFS system and have already added some security software, as well as some simple utilities, but that has been about it thus far. (I figured it was time to get some sleep after 4am this morning) If all goes well I should have the rest of the pieces put together by the end of the week, and come next Monday I will be able to throw it to the wolves and have our microfilm scanners try and beat it up for a few days. I will be surprised if the performance does not meet my expectations, even for a setup that is by far scaled down as compared to the final system I plan to use.
Just for those who are not familiar with LFS, I suggest you take a look at the Linux From Scratch website. The project is lead by Gerard Beekmans, and he and his group of developers have done an excellent job of outlining the entire process of creating a Linux system completely from source code. It is not a quick process, but it really is not all that difficult either once you have read through the LFS documentation. This is the third or fourth system that I have built using their procedures and the others had served well for a long time. It just takes patience and a decent knowledge of Linux.
The other tool which I suggest all systems administrators take a look at is Knoppix. This is a Linux distribution that runs entirely off of CDR and makes a great recovery tool, even for Windows-based PCs. In building my LFS box I used this as my base Linux system, allowing me to run off of CDR while I built directly onto my hard drive.
Once the final system is in place I'll post back a list of the software installed so that anyone else who is interested in building one of their own can replicate the procedure. Also, I invite comments on which software choices should / should not be included and why. I am curious to see what other admins use on a regular basis in administering their servers, and any tips / tweaks that they have found.