Need recommendations on desktop network build

Do you have a question? Post it now! No Registration Necessary.  Now with pictures!

Threaded View
I have a client who needs a three computer network (one server and two
PCs) built and setup. I will be building all three systems. Though my
build skills are competent, my network experience is minimal. The
client, a lawyer, has requested Win XP because she said her legal
software will only run on XP. I told her Win 7 Pro and Ultimate will
both run older software with their Win XP proxy and MS will be
discontinuing XP support in 2014, but she still wants XP.

My questions are: what differentiates a server PC from a regular PC (I
have some ideas, but would like some input). And, if she insists on XP
what version(s) should I install? She also wants Office 2007. Will she
need two separate licenses (I assume one Office 2007 license will run
on two computers), or will one version sit on the server to be used by
the other two PCs? Thanks.

Re: Need recommendations on desktop network build

On 3/9/2011 7:35 PM, sillyputty wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

It depends on what is being served.  Often, it's nothing more than a
file server which just means it's another machine on a peer-to-peer
network that has shared folders.  Setting up a mirror array and an
aggressive backup plan is a good addition to this simple scenario.  The
performance of this machine need not be spectacular--don't put a $500
processor into the build.

There are also domain servers that administer security settings for a
network; Web servers to deliver content to the intertubes; Application
servers that can execute programs within their resources, and be
accessed by "thin" clients that are basically just providing the
monitor, keyboard and mouse.

I don't know your client, so it would be rash of me to make a value
judgement.  That said, though, it's common enough to run into people
that throw "server" around when talking computers because it makes them
sound smart.  Deciphering what they mean reveals that they're using it
to mean "powerful computer" or really nothing at all.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

It sounds like she already has insisted.  Don't get in the way of that
train.  There is not a lot of difference between Home and Professional
editions--essentially none once you enabled some extra kits in Home.
(Media Center Edition does not seem warranted here.)  Still, I suspect
that going with Professional edition will satisfy your lawyer's sense of

Be careful in obtaining your licenses, as the legitimate sources I'm
familiar have dried up.  I have no doubt you can obtain an installer
from some source, but I don't think you want to be installing hacked
software/fake keys in a lawyer's office.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

There are a slew of license options for Office.  The standard
single-user license does have a provision for installing it on two
devices: (1) home work station, and (2) portable device, like a laptop.
  Single-user license is not perfectly descriptive, as there's no
injunction against several people using a workstation, but I'll wager
that simply setting up two workstations using the provision above would
be frowned upon.

Installing Office on a file server and executing it on two different
workstations does not get you around the licensing agreement.  You would
still need two licenses as I understand it.

There were license 3-packs running around for the Home and Home Office
version of Office 2007.  If there were such an animal for the
Professional edition, it would be ideal.  (Edited to add: I see some
"out of stock" references to Office Pro 3-packs what used to sell for
around $1000.)

Getting quality software that is also properly licensed is not a cheap
endeavor.  As you've described this project, I cannot advise you to
expose your client (and yourself) to risk by trying to skimp.

Re: Need recommendations on desktop network build

On 3/9/2011 8:35 PM, sillyputty wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Buy Cheap Software is one source of older software. They do
have Office 2007 and XP Pro listed still.
There are others but I'm not familiar with any.
She will need 2 Licenses for Office and 3 for XP,
but since you're building machines OEM versions are OK.

Re: Need recommendations on desktop network build

sillyputty wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

A desktop OS, has a limit when it comes to functioning as a "server".
If you use Windows XP as a server, there may be a limit of ten connections
to that server.

They make various server packages you could use instead.

I'm not an IT guy, so I can't advise on how you select a solution
from all the kinds of software available. Yes, you could load three
computers with desktop software, keep home directories on each
one, back up each one independently. Or, you could keep the
home directories on the server, and only back up the home
directories on the server (then, it's your choice if you
want to back up the C: partition on each desktop drive).
You can run many services on a true server, whereas a
desktop might not be the absolute best platform for that.

Some of our departments at work, used to abuse desktop systems
as servers. And on some of those setups (managed by the
departmental secretary!  cute, and... reboot), you'd have
to wait for someone else to drop their connection, so you
could get to the documents on there. Perhaps with only
two other PCs in the picture, it's not a big deal.


Re: Need recommendations on desktop network build

On Wed, 9 Mar 2011 17:35:18 -0800 (PST), sillyputty

Quoted text here. Click to load it

XP Pro will suffice for the server in this context.  It sounds like
the server won't be running much of anything, you don't need anything

You're looking at something like my server.  The board & processor are
cheap although it has 4gb of ram.  Onboard video, the only cards are
drive controllers.  Everything in the box is raid 1.  My main printer
is connected to it rather than my primary workstation which means I
can also print to it from my laptop.

You'll need an XP Pro license for the server, 2 licenses for the
workstations (whether they are pro or home I don't know) and two
Office 2007 licenses.

Site Timeline