If someone could walk me through the setup process that would be cool. maybe you could just leave a simple list of each command I need to enter in the correct order to set this thing up?

Here are the specs of one of the computers I want to re-purpose:

Sony Vaio VGN-NR160E:

  • CPU: Intel core 2 duo @ 1.5GHZ
  • GPU: Intel GM 965 Express chipset
  • RAM: 1GB
  • HDD: 160GB Hitachi something-or-other
  • Ports: 4 USB 2.0 ports; 1 firewire port; some kind of express card slot; vga port

I have a computer with much less horsepower that I use for this purpose that I just run plain old Ubuntu desktop on, but share out some folders to a mixed network that includes Windows machine (both XP and Windows 7) and also a couple of day-to-day Ubuntu machines. I have a couple of external hard drives that I use off of this machine that do automated backups. I also use it for sharing a color printer.

This is really easy to set up. Just install Ubuntu desktop and right click on a folder after set up and choose sharing options... it will walk you through the rest, including installing any other missing pieces. If you get stuck, this is a good tutorial for this kind of thing:


Once you get it all set up, you can fancy with the machine, including making it available remotely...

  • ok, here's a brief update on my progress. I've got samba installed, did so without a hitch, when I go to its webpage it asks me for a user name and password, I've got a program to configure samba but when I add users or do anything with it for that matter it doesn't seem to do anything. I believe all a I need to do now is add users and shares. How do I do this? – James Viglianese May 1 '11 at 18:53

I would have suggested the Debian based OpenMediaVault for setting up a NAS. It is supposed to be the successor of FreeNAS. It is still in early development stage, but pretty usable and userfriendly through its web interface.

But you're trying to re-purpose an old notebook as a file server. Which won't give you high availability*, nor NAS like performance, nor NAS like disk-space, nor RAID like redundancy and even though it uses mobile components, state of the art hardware like AMD APUs (low power like Brazos) or Intel Core i3/i5 will be more energy efficient.

Consider giving that notebook to people who could not afford one but would really happy to be using this as one. That would be of more use than a incomplete file server.

*The battery should be mostly dead by now, so this is not comparable to a UPS.

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