Distributed file dump

We have a network of three main computers which need to share files between each other.
We currently have one computer which has a FTP server on it. This currently means if a file is to get from either of the other computers to the other, they must upload to the FTP server, and move it across.

What we ideally want is to be able to split the filedump into 3 sections but for them to look like one. Sort of how I imagine a windows DFS working. As I say we dont have a proper central server, let alone a domain controller, so what are our options for doing something like this?

All the machines are XP Pro.
All have gigabit connections to a gigabit switch.

Points to take into account:
 - Its a closed off network with locked down MAC addresses and a secure switch, so security is not really an issue.
 - Each computer should have equal rights over files on the DFS even if the phsical file is on another computer
 - Files should be accessible by a unified name anywhere on the network
 - Compatability with windows explorer is a huge boon
 - Disk access and file-transfer is also a key factor in this. If something's going to take minutes to load its not practical is it?

In order of how much things count: Compatability; Unification; Speed; Rights; Security.
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let me see if I understand your requirements:
- ftp is not required, using network shares would be ok (--> Explorer integration)
- each of your machines will hold a part of your 'file dump'
- full path to file must be the sam from every machine

starting out with something simple (I like simple things):
Machine A has a folder holding it's part of the file dump and offers it's conts as a share,
so do machines B and C.
On all machines an autostart batch connetcs the share from machine A as N: (forexample),
the share from machine B as M: and the share from machine C as O:.
On alls machines ther is a directory C:\filedump (example) containg links to the three network
drives (of cause the link to the local part of the file dump can be done directly)

reality check:
* security - not a big problem, as you said
* performance - should be ok with a gigabit network

there has been an interesting article in the recent issue of Germanies c't magazine (www.heise.de/ct)
covering low-cost NAS devices ...

Kins regards

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