Build Your Own Home Server: Introduction

by ServerWatch Staff

By M.A. Dockter of PCMechanic This tutorial will discuss how to set up a server for less than ...

By M.A. Dockter of PCMechanic

This tutorial will discuss how to set up a server for less than $750.

With this server, you will be able to share your high-speed connection (which from now on, we will refer to as a cable connection or cable modem), run a Quake Server for LAN Games, and, most importantly, be able to develop a Web/Internet/FTP server using mostly free or inexpensive utilities.

The first step in the process, however, is obtaining the basic components.

By M.A. Dockter of PCMechanic

To stay under $750, you might want to consider the following components:

  • Low-end plain Jane Pentium CPU (133MHz to 200MHz)
  • 64-128MB of EDO RAM (the more memory the better)
  • ATX Form motherboard with 430TX Chipset
  • ATX Case
  • Generic 100/TX network cards
  • 2 MB ATI Mach64V PCI Video Card
  • 6.4 GB Maxtor or IBM hard drive
  • Generic floppy drive
  • 12x - 24x CD-ROM
By M.A. Dockter of PCMechanic

For purposes of this tutorial we will use Windows 98 Second Edition for two reasons: 1) most people are used to the Windows 98 interface, and 2) Windows 98 SE comes with a utility called ICS, or Internet Connection Sharing for short. What this does is share any Internet connection, including dial-up, with all computers on a LAN.

For the rest of this tutorial we will presume that you're wanting to install Windows 98 SE, which is the best choice for a inexpensive home server, in my opinion.

To share your Internet connection, you'll need to install ICS after you have installed the operating system. To do that, open up the control panel, and double-click on the "Add/Remove Programs" Icon. Then:

  1. Click on the "Windows Setup" tab up on top
  2. Double-click on the Internet tools icon
  3. Check Internet connection sharing

Then click the "OK" button

Then, ICS setup will automatically run. You will have to choose which network card will be the card attached to your cable modem, and which will be connected to your nome networked computers. After you do so, you will be prompted to put a disk into the A: drive. Set up will make a client configuration disk, which really isn't needed. After that is done, all you have to do is restart your computer, then go around to all the other networked computers, and do what's on the following page.

By M.A. Dockter of PCMechanic

You'll want to make sure "Obtain an IP address automatically" is the choice with the circle filled in with black. And, as the pink suggests, you do not want any numbers in the IP address and Subnet Mask filled in. Once you set those options, click the "OK" button at the very bottom; wait for Windows to copy the correct files; then restart.

Your client computer will now look for the server. The server will then assign your client computer an IP address, and tell that client computer to ask the server for any Internet information. This way, your dial-up or cable information is now shared.

Next up, go back to the server and go to the next page.

By M.A. Dockter of PCMechanic

You will now be ready to log in. After you log-in, you'll need to create a new host name. Chose any name you want followed by any domain you want, including ods.og, which is what I used. After you've done so, add the hose name. Then, you've got all the information you needed to fill in boxes 1, 2, and 3. What you need to fill in, is the following:

  1. nameyouchose.ods.org

  2. User name you registered with

  3. Password that corresponds with that user name

Now that you've done that, click the "Start" button in order to tell the ODS servers that the IP you're on, will know be known as nameyouchose.ods.org. Now, click on the File pull-down menu at the top, and select the "Options" option. You should get a window like the one shown below, minus the pink circles.

You want to have all three those boxes checked to so that WinIP will start up as soon as Windows starts. And, so that when is starts up, it will go to the system try, which is when all the icons are called down by the time in the lower right corner of your screen.

By M.A. Dockter of PCMechanic

Information about other FTP servers can also be found in ServerWatch's FTP server section.

By M.A. Dockter of PCMechanic

Information about additional Web servers can be found in ServerWatch's Web server section; server specs can be found on WebServer Compare.

Now, here is your chance to see all that I've done. You can access my FTP server, if it's up, by the following link:


As for my set up, I have a Pentium Pro 200Mhz Machine with 128MB of RAM severing FTP. I do my Internet connection sharing to my Dual Celeron 550 rig, and the old Packard Bell that's used in my house. But, if you've got a home server, you may want to share files, and a central printer.

By M.A. Dockter of PCMechanic

4. After the restart, or after canceling the Network Configuration window (because you already had file and print sharing installed), you'll want to specify what folders you want to share. To do so, navigate to that folder via "My Computer." Then, right click on the folder you wish to share, then choose "Sharing." That window is pretty much self-explanatory, and has a lot of options from which a server administrator can choose.

5. You can also share a printer. To do so, simple open up "My Computer" on the desktop, then open up the "Printers" folder. If the printer is correctly installed locally, an icon for it should show up. Do the same to the printer's icon as you did with the folder you wish to share. Just right-click on the printer, then choose "Sharing."

6. The final step is setting up the clients to use the folders and printers you set up to share. This is described on the next page of this tutorial.

By M.A. Dockter of PCMechanic

Choose the drive to which you want to map that folder, then make sure the "Reconnect at logon" box is checked, so that the drive is remapped every time the client is started. Just click "okay," then follow Window's instructions.

Setting up printers on Clients.
Right-click on each printer you wish to share with your client, and choose the "Install" option. If the printer is set up correctly on the server, all you must do is answer a few questions. If you wish to print from DOS programs, I suggest you capture the printer to an LPT port.

That's it! You're done. You've setup a kickin' home server for a little pocket change invested in software.

This article was originally published on Wednesday Oct 11th 2000
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