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network storage for multiple OS evironment

maXXXeE asked
Last Modified: 2013-11-14
I have a home office setup with 2 system one on windows and other on linux. I am planning to add a Solaris system and Apple/Mac system. The problem is that I need to work with a lot of files across these operating system. The files include software development files, business application files(not very large is size) as well as less important ones like music and video(large size, might requires streaming at times).
So, I am looking for a solution which satisfies 2 requirements.
1) Store these  files in centralized location
2) Access the files from any of the OS mentioned above

The second requirement is one that I am not specialized to solve, since all the OS uses different types of file systems. I have heard about network storage, but dont know much about it(I even dont know if it is the solution to these reqs).
In short, I would like to know if there is a solution in which I can store/access the files in a centralized location on the network, irrespective of which OS I am using.
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Hi there.  This mainly gets down to how much money you want to spend, and what protocol is supported by all of these operating systems.  Depending on how much you want to spend, you can approach this a couple ways.  You can buy a small NAS (Network Attached Storage) device, or simply use a PC or one of your existing PC's as a repository.  My experience has been that NAS devices are great for certain situations, of which yours is not unless you are willing to spend a good chunk of change for a multi-protocol device.  I don't recommend this, and let me explain why.

Windows, Linux, UNIX (Solaris), and Apple/Mac (OS X) all support the same file sharing protocol which is SMB (Server Message Block).  This is native to Windows, and supported through software called Samba on the others.  Most of these systems have Samba or some form of it installed and setup by default, making the ability to map say Linux to Windows a snap.  If not, it's pretty easy to get the packages and install them.

My suggestion (this is how I do it) would be to put extra drives in the Linux box, maybe even external USB drives even, and let it act as your file server.  The reason for making the Linux box the server instead of Windows is because of performance and reliability.  It seems to me that my Linux box serves up files much faster than my Windows box, and with Windows I keep finding my shares just going away when on Linux they don't.  In reality, you can make any of those servers the file server, and just map to it from the others.  They will all talk SMB, and it doesn't cost you anything to get them connected.  Your only cost would be how much disk space you want to use.  Keep in mind too that you can setup software RAID for data protection as well, keeping your data safe.

One example would be adding three drives to your Linux box, making a RAID 5 group out of them, and setting up Samba to share that space to the other machines.  They then could map to it and you could have all of your files accessible from any machine.

Hope that helps!


I am not comfortable with using one of the system as file server. I guess i will consider that as last option.
With the above solution, how do I access the files. Is it as easy as using the file explorer, or do i have to use any other software/utility.

Anyways, why is it that you do not recommend network storage?

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