Simple Home File Server (Based On Ubuntu)

Version 1.0
Author: Xam

This tutorial explains how to turn an old PC with additional hard disks into a simple home file server. The file server is intended for home use. The home file server is accessible by Windows and Linux computers in the home network.

The existing tutorials do not describe how to add additional disks or have a complex authorization or access procedure. Freenas ( does have too many features for home users and more important it does not support the NTFS format. 

This Home File Server can work with hard disks formatted in NTFS. So when you need or want to move the hard disk into a new computer, they are accessible by Windows and most Linux operating systems.

The server is built with Ubuntu Server 7.10 & Samba. Do not use Ubuntu Server 5.04 LTS because this version does not support the latest SATA Controllers (in an Pentium II or III you likely want to use a PCI SATA RAID controller to attach SATA hard disks).

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

1 Requirements

To install such a system you will need the following:

The hard disks for data storage in the file server must be formatted in the NTFS format. You can use the Gparted live CD to do this job, download the iso from:

I assume that you already know how to install a hard drive. I also assume that you knew how to make it a master or slave, you’ve checked to make sure that it shows up in bios, and that it was intalled properly. 


2 Preliminary Note

In this tutorial I use the hostname with the IP address and the gateway These settings might differ for you, so you have to replace them where appropriate.


3 The Base System

Insert your Ubuntu install CD into your system and boot from it. Select Install to the hard disk:

The installation starts, and first you have to choose your language:


Then select your location:


Choose a keyboard layout (you will be asked to press a few keys, and the installer will try to detect your keyboard layout based on the keys you pressed):

The installer checks the installation CD, your hardware, and configures the network with DHCP if there is a DHCP server in the network:

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13 Comment(s)

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This is fine if you already have a NTFS-formatted disk to use, but if you are going to go to the trouble of using GParted to format a disk, use the FAT32 format so that all your computers can easily read and write to it (Windows, Linux, and Mac).


Cool howto but for a more powerful home file server with a very intuitive web UI try the BSD based FreeNAS. You only need one drive since the OS can be stored on CD or CF and run in memory without installing onto a hard drive so the entire hard drive can be used for user files.


"Do not use Ubuntu Server 5.04 LTS because this version does not ..."
You mean 6.06 LTS? 

By: Anonymous

But you can't configure settings such as static ip's and have them be persistent in this case.

By: Anonymous

Also, from a cursory glance, it doesn't support NTFS out of the gate.


I would like to see a similar how-to but with a way to encrypt the samba traffic over somelike like ssh. 


I've been trying to set up my file server with varying degrees of success but this has been my most successful so far!

 I recently installed Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron) Server and was dropped into the command line.

 By following this, for the first time my server was seen by the Windowx XP box AND the Linux laptop! Previously connections like this were sporatic (like Windows could see it, then it can't, or it can see the folder but cannot get into it..)

 My next step, now, is to look at setting permissions and speeding up the access time.

 Great HowTo!



By: Stas

Thank you!

By: Chris

 Anybody else getting stuck when installing the kernel?  It happens to me every time at 83%.

By: Gusanto

It's very good tutorial, though I don't see a topic about printer sharing covered in the tutorial. So my question is by following the tutorial, sharing a printer in the network will become possible?


By: Anonymous

could I use a raid array instead of a single drive?

By: notSafe AtAll

Unless you are using 12.04 or 14.04 for these instructions... this is not at all safe- since these older versions have known unpatched security problems and are no longer being updated.

By: doom

# The primary network interfaceauto eth0iface eth0 inet static address netmask network broadcast gateway


how does these values looks for networks at ???