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Q: What is a server? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: What is a server?
Category: Computers
Asked by: whitehat88-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 20 Oct 2005 02:04 PDT
Expires: 19 Nov 2005 01:04 PST
Question ID: 582488
What is the use of a server in an office? Do i need to setup up a
server for an office with 20 workstations? 

And what softwares power a server?
Subject: Re: What is a server?
Answered By: leapinglizard-ga on 20 Oct 2005 02:48 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear whitehat88,

A server is any computer that runs server software. Although some
computers are advertised as "server" systems, this is something of a
misnomer. It is possible to design a computer with heavy-duty cooling
and large memory capacity to handle the heavy workloads associated with
a popular service, but what makes a server is the software running on it,
not its hardware.

And what, you ask, is server software? A server plays one role in the
server/client service model. Indeed, it is the more complicated and in
some sense the more important role. In this model, clients queue up to
make requests of a server. A client's only job is to wait in line and
request a service, but the server has to handle the queue and perform
the service.

Much Internet software, though not all of it, runs on the server/client
model. There are very popular file-sharing services that use an
alternative model, called peer-to-peer, and these services account for a
large portion of Internet usage. Nonetheless, most of the core services
are server/client-based. For example, one service of which you are 
certainly a client is DNS, the Domain Name Service, which translates
domain names such as into Internet Protocol (IP)
addresses such as .

Whether you know it or not, there is a DNS client running on your computer
that contacts a DNS server in order to find out what IP addresses
correspond to the domain names you want to access. The computers that
provide this service are loosely termed servers, although it is really
the DNS software, and not any hardware, that is providing the service.

Other clients that run on your computer are: a Hypertext Transfer Protocol
(HTTP) client, otherwise known as a web browser; a File Transfer Protocol
(FTP) client, which downloads files from remote sites; and probably a
telnet client, which lets you access remote computers through a terminal
window. The counterparts to each of these clients are: an HTTP server,
otherwise known as a web server; an FTP server; and a telnet server. Each
server handles many clients in addition to yours.

An office server often provides all of these services -- DNS, HTTP, FTP,
and telnet -- to clients in the office network as well as from outside, in
the Internet at large. Often the office server also runs a networked file
service, such as NFS, which gives the office computers transparent access
to a remote file system. This is useful because much data in an office
environment is centralized in one computer, while the people who need
to work on that data all have personal computers on their desks. A file
server unifies the disparate workers' PCs with the central data store.

An HTTP server is often used to run internal bulletin boards and help
pages, as well as to run a website that the outside world can access. A
local DNS server is often installed in order to speed up Internet 
access. FTP and telnet servers -- or, rather than telnet, usually a
secure alternative such as SSH -- are set up to allow workers to access
the network from home or from the field.

It is not absolutely necessary to set up a server for a 20-workstation
office, since a solid-state router is sufficient to set up a network
and to provide Internet connectivity. However, if the computers want
to connect to each other, they should each run an SSH server or at the
very least an FTP or telnet server. In a typical office environment 
with 20 workstations, there will indeed be one or two dedicated server
machines that run services such as DNS and HTTP, as well as some kind
of distributed file system and quite possibly a database or two.



Request for Answer Clarification by whitehat88-ga on 20 Oct 2005 02:59 PDT
You said in an officer environment ''A file
server unifies the disparate workers' PCs with the central data
store.'' If I want to do something like that, how should I proceed?

Clarification of Answer by leapinglizard-ga on 20 Oct 2005 03:28 PDT
There's no short or simple answer to that question. Setting up a
networked file system involves considerable expertise, time, and
expense. A company will hire professional system administrators to do
this sort of thing. If you want to get a sense of what is involved,
check out something like the following book.

O'Reilly: Managing NFS and NIS, Second Edition

If you want to learn server administration on a smaller scale, I
suggest you begin by setting up your own web server. By far the most
popular software for this is Apache, which is available for pretty
much every platform, although I recommend Linux to novices and experts
alike. Linux is a good choice for server administration because the
major distributions, such as Fedora Core, come prepackaged with all
the server software you will need.

To install Fedora Core and with it the Apache web server, follow the
instructions on the following page.

Fedora: Download

In addition to Apache, you will find that other useful server software
such as FTP and SSH are included in your Fedora installation.

whitehat88-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
thanks for clear & prompt answer.

Subject: Re: What is a server?
From: leapinglizard-ga on 20 Oct 2005 04:03 PDT
Thank you for the rating and the generous tip.

Subject: Re: What is a server?
From: eppy-ga on 22 Oct 2005 10:33 PDT
Leapinglizard provided an excellent guide to understanding the role of
a server and tips for getting started with a server using "open"
software products.

Many small businesses prefer Microsoft's "small business server", as
this can be installed and run with a minimum of technical training,
"out of the box". However, you should consider a brief cost vs time
analysis before making your decsion.

The following is a link to Microsoft's small business server site;
specially the page "what is a server?"
Subject: Re: What is a server?
From: websectech-ga on 04 Dec 2005 20:14 PST
Leapinglizards! That was one heck of an answer for someone who
obviously has very little computer background. Really, if you aren't
even sure what a server is and you are planning to have 20 people use
it - I'd take this question to a professional and call a reputable
networking provider in your area. Anymore, the type of software/OS is
inconsequential unless you have existing infrastructure you want to
utilize or expand. There are really two camps: Microsoft and
Linux/Unix. Both have great products that could more than meet your
needs, it is really all about the service you get from your
administrators and associated technical support. If you want more
info, or a reference, let me know how to reach you.

By the way, I prefer to wear a Greyhat!

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