FTP/WWW Server (Or Other?) On USB |
If Windows users want to run an FTP or WWW server, they need to purchase a Windows license and the server software as well. They do not have too many options to run a server off a USB flash drive. This unpleasant restriction is caused chiefly by the commercial license policy that does not allow users to disseminate copies of proprietary operating systems. Unfortunately, unlike Unix users, Windows fans cannot expect any change for the better in the future unless they find time for Unix lessons.
The advantage of a bootable USB flash drive with a preconfigured FTP/WWW server for file storage and file/document sharing is that the computer's operating system on your hard drive stays unaltered and that it will be always geared up for any task you used it before. Thus, when your computer is not running off a USB flash drive, you may do other tasks with it. And this is not the only boon that a USB Live solution gives you. You can also take the USB flash drive with you anywhere and start your server in any place in the world. Live USB allows users to work with an OS and tools without modifying the hard drive, which means that anybody can use it without fear of destroying or inadvertently deleting the priceless data. The advantage of Live USB's is that they are much faster than Live CD's and that you may modify them without much hassle. Live CD's will not bestow you with such an effortless environment.
Particularly Windows (nowadays with Linux hanging a few steps behind it) is too frequently exposed to security risks due to many viruses, Trojans and backdoors. BSD operating systems are not so frequently deployed and, unlike Windows, they are and will be virus free, as the authors of the enormous number of malicious codes want to harm as many computers as possible and their main target is Windows.
Why Your Own FTP/WWW Server?
Today, many households already have small networks and a lot of people, businesses too, even more increasingly need to share files. My son, too, wants to share videos and documents with friends, as he has tons of pictures and videos. To do this, the best thing for him is to operate his own server. He searched for FTP server software on the Internet and it took him a while until he found MaheshaBSD Server - the software that met his requirements. It is both an OS and a server - a FreeBSD-based software. FreeBSD is a superbly fast and free operating system that many companies use. For example, the Yahoo search engine started its successful business on it. Since today mostly only Linux is getting on popularity, I must remind those who are familiar with Linux only that the difference between the two is that BSD systems handle very heavy network traffic and are rock solid stable. The Netcraft Uptime website lists sites ordered by failures and FreeBSD has been listed there for a very long time as the first one in the top-notch performance list.
Although today some routers offer an FTP service with a possibility to attach a USB flash disk/drive to them, it is much easier to travel from place to place with an FTP/WWW server in your pocket than with such a router in your bag. However, such a router solution opens the door to a number of questions. Can you add unlimited number of users? (With FreeBSD this is not a problem.) Does it have IP control that will allow you to choose which IP addresses have access to the server? (Just use the FreeBSD native firewall for this.) Can you apply rules for the number of megabytes a user may download to his/her account? (MaheshaBSD Server has disk quotas enabled in the FreeBSD kernel for this.) Can you work with Unix file systems (some of them are incredibly fast, especially when you work with tons of files)? As you see, these are only a few questions. Without getting the satisfiable answers it is always much more pleasable to feel the touch of a small and cozy USB flash drive in your pocket. Unfortunately, some advanced FTP servers for Windows are very expensive and carrying your notebook in a bag (because you need the operating system with you as well) will make you feel very uncomfortable.
All you need to do with MaheshaBSD Server is to boot your PC off the USB flash drive and then copy files via network to its storage environment. The files will be immediately available for anybody. In addition to superbly efficient and fast FreeBSD FFS (Fast File System) you may also work with NTFS and FAT32 disks/flash drives and utilize them for FTP/WWW data storage, too, as FreeBSD supports a multitude of file systems.
MaheshaBSD Server has a number of functions. You may choose from its several firewalls (OpenBSD Packet Filter - pf; native FreeBSD firewall - ipfw) and set control which IP may access the server; you may also use the Network File System (NFS) with it. The advantage of NFS is that local workstations will use less disk space and that directories will be available to all users on the network. Machines on the network can use peripheral/storage devices such as CDROM/DVD/Blue-ray drives or large-capacity USB drives. MaheshaBSD Server supports quotas, which means that you can assign a limited number of megabytes to any user (for upload or file storage). You may even set a restriction on the file size users will keep (or upload) in their directories. Webmin, a remote administration tool, is available too (adding new users via web browser or changing their passwords, etc., will be as a light work as movement of a breeze on your skin). Even little children will easily set up IP Forwarding, as every modern router has this function today. It allows you to operate a public FTP/WWW server (or any service) from home. MaheshaBSD Server (FTP/WWW/Webmin) is connectable via aliased IP's on LAN that all end with 200. All you need to do is to connect to the following range of IP's (depending on your LAN configuration): 10.0.0.200, 10.0.1.200, 192.168.0.200, 192.168.1.200, 172.16.0.200, and 172.16.1.200. If your LAN is set up for the range of 10.0.0.1 addresses, for example, just boot MaheshaBSD Server off your USB flash drive and the server will be connectable from any browser: ftp://10.0.0.200 (FTP server), or http://10.0.0.200 (WWW server), or https://10.0.0.200:10000 (Webmin, remote administration). The passwords are in the guest5 account downloadable via SCP. To fetch your passwords, log in as guest5 user. The password for this user is "guest6". To do this in Windows, Google and download WinSCP, which is an Open Source free SFTP client (Secure FTP) and SCP client (Secure Copy) for Windows. Its main function is file transfer between a local and a remote computer.
With a physical access to the computer on which MaheshaBSD Server is running you will see the password for root in a blue text when the system boots; to see all the local passwords, just log in and cd to /home/guest5.
MaheshaBSD Server is free for personal use, so anybody is welcomed to share files with friends. It is based on MaheshaBSD, which is a completely free LiveCD distribution - a FreeBSD modular toolkit; however, this software is copyrighted. You will have a graphical environment in MaheshaBSD; you may use this software for anonymity, too, if your children get harassed by dating sites, which happened recently here. If you are a journalist, you will have both the server and anonymity. Or you may use the software for presentations (showing PDF documents, giving lectures, or viewing pictures, etc.).
The author of the project also maintains other BSD LiveUSB projects like MaheshaNetBSD (the same thing as MaheshaBSD, but based on NetBSD), or MaheshaDragonFlyBSD (DragonFly BSD is a fork of FreeBSD). All these projects are free. If you are a skilled Unix user, you may set up your own MaheshaBSD Server in MaheshaNetBSD. There is a lot of news in Open Source. Although you may object that 200 dollars for this server is a lot of money, some open source pro editions cost no less than 300 dollars (for example, iRedMail-Pro; a mail server; however, its non-Pro version is free like MaheshaBSD).
I would like to share this information with more people, as the security issues are urgent these days and I am really happy that my son and all my family can now operate a home, free and secure FTP/WWW server. One of my son's friends underwent a harsh virus attack recently and he could not log in to his Internet accounts anymore. As a consequence, he could not continue in his schoolwork and it took him about three days until he got back to the environment he had been accustomed to. This was pain. With Windows running on his PC the situation may repeat any day. With a server running off a USB flash drive all people will be safe.
MaheshaBSD Server is downloadable at the following link: http://www.freebsd.nfo.sk/maheshaeng.htm
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