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I want to create a home file server using my old desktop. I plan on using Arch Linux for this as I'm familiar with it. The desktop has 2 hard drives - the old 20gb one & a new 1TB hdd. I plan on using the 1tb hdd for keeping all my files & the 20gb one to install Arch & keeping the system files. Is this a good approach?

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I've answered with one suggestion that came to mind, but this question is really hard to answer. SE sites focus on one question at a time that can have a right answer rather than general discussion. In the future consider breaking big problems down into specific questions. –  Caleb May 26 '11 at 12:00

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That sounds fine to me.

Do look into using LVM for the partition on your big drive. If you ever add a second drive or migrate to a larger one it will make your space much easier to manage. The thing to do then is mount that LVM volume on /home. Everything will pretty much take care of itself then.

If you setup LVM later instead of as part of the installation, make sure you move everything from /home to your volume before your mount it on home or you will loose the home directory for any users setup as part of the initial install.

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+1 for mentioning LVM –  Source Lab May 26 '11 at 15:24

You're approach is fine, but before you do make a final decision, consider buying a cheap NAS device. They are small, silent, cheap, support standard HDs, many of them are based on Linux and hackable. I personally like DNS-323, but I'm sure there are others worth recommending.

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I think it's a pretty normal approach, only that I maybe used Debian for that purpose (being die-hard desktop Arch user).

Anyway, having archwiki, you should set up your server pretty easy and probably add some extra features like ftp or dlna or even a git repo for ypur hobby projects.

If it's an old desktop, consider taking care of coolers (maybe replacing them) so that they run noiseless and make sure the place where you are going to keep it is fire safe just in case.

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