Our church has a workgroup with 17 PCs that I want to convert to a domain using Windows Server 2003 (2008?). The motivation is to have a file server that all can access with some folders restricted to certain users.
For a few months I been getting around the 10 connection limit on a workgroup with network attached storage drive running Linux with Samba, but doesn't have the backup/restore and file access features rich enough for what we need. And I thought about going to Ubuntu Linux as a Server with Samba, but as a non-profit, we can get Windows Server and CALs at a very reasonable price, so Windows Server looks like the best option for us. But I'm not trainned on Windows Server, so I'm looking for some guidance on where I can learn, and the easiest way to convert.
I'm not interested in going the whole Microsoft route with IIS, .NET, Exhange, etc. I'm very happy running Apache, MySQL and using our ISP for email. Maybe Exchange one day, but not now. I just want a file server without connection restrictions with folders that can be restricted to certain users.
I've been reading about Windows Server on Microsoft TechNet and discovered a lot of server roles, and I don't know how many of them are obsolutely needed just to get a good file server. So any advice you have is welcome, and here are a few specific questions:
1. Can I continue to use our router for internet access, DHCP, and routing of certain ports to specific PCs? I'm using Remote Desktop Connection by mapping ports 3389, 3390,etc to different PCs. I tried VPN once, but it didn't work with AOL ISP and there was the cost of the client software.
I work at a large computer software company with VPN, so I know once I'm connected via VPN, I can use Remote Desktop Connection, but with our church workgroup, we just give the web site domain name and a port number which I've used to route to specific PCs, and that's working fine for now. So will this work with a Domain Controller?
2. Do I need to setup Active Directory Service? I really like the ability to log in on any PC as who I am and not have to setup a user with my account on every PC I would like to use. But perhaps there is something simplier than ADS with its forests and trees and mutliple domain support, etc.? I assume the Server is used for DNS to find each PC on the LAN instead of a Master Browser, but not sure what the simplest way to go is.
3. Do I need to install any additional software on each client PC?
4. We are pretty open about security, so what's the minimum needed? I've read some about Group Policies and it seems security is a whole career in itself.
5. We run a website now using Apache, with PHP and MySQL. The router just forwards port 80 to that PC. It is that PC that would become the domain controller. I'm not interested in using IIS. There's nothing special about installing Apache, MySQL, or any other software on a Server, vs. workstation, is there?
Thanks in advance for you help!