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I administer about 6 computers at a school. The computers are very old -- they used to be running Windows 98 -- but they are still usable and are now running Ubuntu. I also have 2 more modern computers running Windows XP.

I am trying to run scratch on these computers, which I currently have accomplished. The problem is, these computers constantly break down and need to be replaced. The IT of the school doesn't allow them to be connected to the internet, but I want to share files between these computers so that the files are stored in one place. Ideally, if one computer has to been replaced, there won't be missing files. Dropbox isn't an option because it required internet.

Is there a way to have the 4 Ubuntu computers, and the 2 Windows XP computers (none have internet) to connect to a computer running Ubuntu Server just by ethernet cables? Each computer would have its own dedicated ethernet cable connecting it to the server.

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I'm not sure I understand entirely what you're asking for, but I'll see if I can answer, by making an assumption about what you are asking. Feel free to inform me if I am incorrect.

You want to connect all the systems directly to the server without using the Internet to interlink them, right? If so...

The easiest method is to buy a router that doesnt need much initial configuration, and then hook all the systems into the router including the server. Then, you have your own internal LAN network which will allow all the systems to communicate with each other. This method is easiest, and does not require extensive reconfiguration of your server box to act as a router/gateway/DHCP server. This does, however, require you to go out and purchase a router.

The cheapest, but much more tricky, time-consuming, and extremely overkill for the standard user method would be to set up the Server as a gateway box and install/configure a DHCP daemon to assign IPs to the individual computers, and to give the server box its own 10.10.x.x IP address for the other systems to access it.

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Thank you for the response! I cannot buy a router as this is a very low-end budget, but that is EXACTLY what i need. I am willing to try out the other method, but i don’t really know that but am willing to learn! Maybe i don’t need to use the server? is there a way to just share files with each computer by just chaining them together by ethernet? – Alex Atwater Feb 7 '12 at 19:55
The thing about LANs (Local Area Networks) is that within the network each system needs to be assigned an IP, a numeric number which identifies each system on the LAN (herein called 'network'). To do that easily, a DHCP server/client is required to assign IPs to each system. Otherwise, they cannot correctly communicate with one another. Just chaining every computer together via ethernet cables won't work, because they will all be attempting to request IPs but cant get any, therefore they can't connect to each other. That's why you need the DHCP server/client or a router. ... – Thomas Ward Feb 7 '12 at 23:33
What it seems you need is a centralized file server to store files that need sharing between Ubuntu and other systems. This can be done only once you have router-like setups within your environment, either with a router or by setting up your Ubuntu server as a gateway. Then, you run Samba shares on the Ubuntu Server box, and that can be accessed by every system on the LAN. Once you have the networking stuff done though, look here for server config, and here for the clients – Thomas Ward Feb 7 '12 at 23:41
So how do you get the server to act as a Gateway? i don’t understand what that means or the concept of that. Thanks – Alex Atwater Feb 8 '12 at 1:13
@Alex, i'm going to test something i found, since my original documentation is missing. Once I get that done, and can confirm it works, i'll let you know and put the information into my original answer here. – Thomas Ward Feb 8 '12 at 1:54

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