Today, servers come in many many flavors, If your reading from a web browser you got your IP address from a DHCP server, sent information to a DNS server, more information to a web server, which accessed a database server. It is inescapable. And although it is undeniable that servers are everywhere (and will one day take over the world and rule with an iron fist) Why would you need one?
I use a server in my home for a number of reasons. I have 2 desktop computers, a laptop and a home built router. My server is the place where everything is put together and all the behind the scenes work happens. I never have data loss (theoretically that is) and all of my data and internal information is stored. I also can play games with my friends on it and it also allows my printer to be accessible from just about anywhere. This all happens because I have a server running Ubuntu 10.04
Ubuntu server edition has a few small differences to the desktop edition, notably, a different kernel IO scheduling method (processes certain types of process faster), no GUI install by default and has a number of other processes which are better suited to a server operating system.
The reason I chose Ubuntu server edition over say a straight Debian or a Fedora or CentOS or any other distribution is the amazing work done by the people at canonical and the large user base of both developers and standard users. If you look at the Ubuntu forums pages, and the Ubuntu wiki or development guides or any Ubuntu help page there is a vast amount of solutions for just about every possible problem you could have. If I have a problem, there is most like a solution already been found.
Anther Reason is the limited number of changes between releases. And I mean this in terms of a solution for a problem on a 8.04 release will still be relevant on my 10.04, software has been upgraded and things have changed, but for the most part, the core of the system is exactly the same.
The final reason for Linux (not so much Ubuntu on this one) is that my server is an old PIV with 1 GB of RAM and a very limited motherboard. I paid about $AU50 for it and its still much more powerful than I need. This, without a doubt is the best thing about Linux. (especially as I’m a student and have no income to speak of)
So. If you need a server
And if you can justify the time needed to learn how it works
Then Choose Ubuntu 10.04 (10.10 if your daring) server edition for your server.
Over the next few weeks i will go in detail into many aspects of setting up and operating a home server. Not just how, but some of the ins and outs of making it properly, first time every time.