Build Your Own Server

Author: Tony C. Caputo
Pages: 368
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional
ISBN: 0072227281


I’ve had the pleasure of reading several books that build system administration skills essential for successfully managing a system. This time I went through a title that covers not only the configuration of an operating system on a server but also the actual building of a server. Do the step-by-step instructions deliver? Read on to find out.

About the author

Tony C. Caputo is a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) and certified for e-Business with both IBM and the University of Chicago. He’s a business system analyst and strategist with over 20 years of experience in multimedia, and over 8 years of experience using technology to improve how companies do business. He is currently a senior manager and consultant for Intellisys Technology, LLC.

Inside the book

The book kicks off with an overview on what a server is as the anatomy of the server is explained. Caputo depicts all the components: the motherboard, CPU, hard drive, network adapter, etc. Every piece of equipment is backed up by a photo. New users will be happy to even see the difference between cable types.

Moving on, the author shows you how to go out there and get some good hardware deals. Here you learn about what to watch out for at computer shows, online auctions and online retailers. The author notes that all he suggests in the book has been tested with a specific configuration and brands of components.

Before moving on to the juicy stuff we get an overview of Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003. The presented topics include scalability, expandability and business integration. And now finally, step-by-step instructions. At the beginning of each chapter in this part of the book, Caputo notes all the tools and components you need in order to perform the tasks depicted successfully.

The journey inside the key components of your server begins with a discussion on various motherboard related topics. If you’re wondering should you choose AMD or Intel, Socket A or Socket 370, this is the chapter for you. After going through this part of the book things like the core multiplier ration, the core voltage regulator and the installation of a CPU won’t be a problem anymore.

As we move forward we see information on RAM, video, hard drives, SCSI, cabling, and much more. Here you realize why some components are more important than others when building a server. If you’re new to this it will teach you the basic difference between a desktop machine and a server.

One of the most important things in a server room is the cooling. Your server needs to be properly cooled and the author illustrates to way to place fans as well as the hard drive cooling system that secures your hard drive within an aluminum casing.

After you’re done building your server, you can use a handy pre-operational checklist provided by Caputo.

The third part of the book covers the installation, configuration and troubleshooting of a dual-boot Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 system. Among other things, here you learn how to setup your web server, troubleshoot hardware, configure DNS, the DHCP server and Internet connection sharing with network access translation (NAT).

As regards security, the author underlines the danger of a default installation and writes about permissions, viruses, Denial of Service attacks, PKI and certificates, etc. But don’t be fooled, it’s all just in one chapter and it’s pretty short. Although also not long as it should be, at the end you find a summary of what you should consider when evaluating the security of your system. It’s a good thing for new users as it points the way of things they must look out for. In any case, you can always build your knowledge in any direction at a later stage.

Although all of this space dedicated to the installation of the Windows operating system will be interesting to new users, I wonder why some space wasn’t dedicated to the installation and configuration of a Linux distribution. I mean, Caputo shows you how to search for cheap hardware and then he recommends the installation of Windows Server 2003. If you want to save some money when building a server, wouldn’t it be logical to use a free open source operating system?

What I think of it

This book is all hands-on information with a myriad of insightful tips and tricks that will certainly make you work more efficiently and enable you to solve problems much faster.

Every chapter is packed with photographs that do a way better job in depicting what’s being explained than, for example, diagrams we find in other books of this type.

The text is written to the point with clear language you will not have a problem understanding. If you want to build a good server and you feel you don’t have enough knowledge on the subject I recommend you get this book, it’s definitely a great guide. Just keep in mind that, as regards the operating system, you are stuck with instructions related to Windows.

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