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My question is simple. What (if anything) does Ubuntu Server Edition have to offer to home users?

This question is mostly out of curiosity really, but I like asking. I've got a home network set up here with some 6 to 7 machines (most Windows, one Linux). And I was wondering how useful would it be to have a dedicated (older) computer in my house running Ubuntu Server full time. For instance:
We've had an awful experience with file sharing so far, would it simplify file sharing/transferring?
Would I be able to limit the internet bandwidth granted to each PC?
Would I be able to monitor in/out internet traffic (both real time and monthly statistics)?

Last, and most important, if I'm completely off as to what Ubuntu Server actually is, please say so. I am completely new to it.

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I don't know all the answers to your questions but as to what Ubuntu Server is, it is a type of Ubuntu with the bare necessities for server use. These include: No window system installed by default, not many programs that come with regular Ubuntu (OpenOffice, GIMP, the games, etc.). –  Wuffers Jun 1 '10 at 15:10
    
Indeed, that's what I found by digging around. And that's what got me thinking it might be useful to install on (replaced) lower end PC. –  Malabarba Jun 1 '10 at 15:18

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

We've had an awful experience with file sharing so far, would it simplify file sharing/transferring?

It would not, it only offers command line support. You could however config an Ubuntu server to work as a NAS. or something similar.

Would I be able to limit the internet bandwidth granted to each PC?

No, some routers do support this feature however, try checking your router's manual.

Would I be able to monitor in/out internet traffic (both real time and monthly statistics)?

It could, but only on a command line base, try using "Wireshark" on a desktop version. It has a graphical interface and does all you need.

Last, and most important, if I'm completely off as to what Ubuntu Server actually is, please say so. I am completely new to it.

Ubuntu server is an Ubuntu server that only features the bare minimum a server needs. It has no graphical user interface whatsoever, merely a command line. So for home users it would be quite useless. I suggest you just continue using Ubuntu Desktop Edition.

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And don't mean to use as my work/entertainment PC. By "home user" I meant "using it with a home network". It would go on a separate dedicated PC. –  Malabarba Jun 1 '10 at 15:22
    
Typing error. "And" = "I" –  Malabarba Jun 1 '10 at 15:23
    
In that case, using Ubuntu Server as a NAS is a pretty good idea. Samba should allow you to easily make a fileshare for a Microsoft network. Wireshark can monitor all traffic and it's easily installed on a desktop PC. –  BloodPhilia Jun 1 '10 at 15:24
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BloodPhilia obviously did not understand the situation... if you are planing to set up a ubuntu server to assist with file sharing, network monitoring, etc as you suggested it WILL be very helpful!... I do most of the stuff that you mentioned. Bloophilia seems to think you will replace your desktop with a server but even if that were there case, yes ubuntu server can handle file sharing beautifully. Just to note, there are few differences between Ubuntu server and Desktop edition... you can run the desktop edition and use it functionally as a server while keeping the "GUI" just in case you run –  user80968 May 12 '11 at 18:04
    
rest of Exanime's comment: run into a situation you do not know how to fix via command line –  studiohack May 12 '11 at 19:16

Ubuntu server is a scaled down version of Ubuntu, where they choosed versions a little bit more careful since it is meant to be more stable and secure than the normal desktop version.

So a Ubuntu server as a fileshare is probably a good idea.

Then I don't recommend to use the same computer as a gateway/router to the internet for security reasons, it is better to have a second dedicated computer for that and in that one use IPCop or some other gateway/router distribution. (or maybe eBox that is based on Ubuntu).

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Out of curiosity: what are the security risks you mention? –  Malabarba Jun 1 '10 at 16:27
    
Human errors aka your mistakes when you configure it, stupid stuff like exposing wrong things towards the internet (that should only be visable on the LAN. With separate computers this is harder to to, and easier to control. –  Johan Jun 2 '10 at 5:30

Better to run Openfiler , NASLinux, or FreeNAS if you just want a file server. (I recommend using a ION 330HT mini-pc)

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