OK, for the sake of this discussion, let's avoid any concerns about price. Let's just assume I have an infinite amount of money and it doesn't matter what the alternatives cost. I may go with a very expensive solution simply because it means I have more buttons to pick instead of command line stuff. I'm like that. I'm VERY familiar with Windows, and while I'm not necessarily afraid of Linux (I've used it as a virtual machine), if it means I need to fiddle around more with command line stuff or text files, I'd rather not.
JJ, your assumption about my needs are pretty right on. Definitely less than 10 computers will be using the server. My main purpose is simply file storage. I want a central place to put a bunch of hard drives and access them from several machines. So, I'm talking about anywhere between 5-20 drives, and 10-20 TB of information, including double and sometimes triple redundancy. So I don't actually have that much data, but once you multiply it for the backups, I do have a lot.
The backup stuff will be handles by SFFS. These are all just file syncing, nothing more. No RAID. I want to be able to pull a drive out at anytime and use that drive's contents standalone anywhere else...so just files and folders. Some of the drives will be used to stream media, so the drives that have things like videos will be used by other computers to play them. No big deal, I think. Nothing normal OS's don't do already.
I mean, what if I just ran regular ol Windows 7 on the server machine? Would that work? Is it going to have issues with all the hard drives? I'm not going to us Linux if I have to get used to a lot of new things like a new type of file structure, command line things, different programs to learn. i have no desire for that. I'm a Windows guy, I'll stick with it until I have time to explore other options. I'm extremely good with Windows and very comfortable getting all up into it without worrying about it.
I'm not that concerned about crazy security things, like corporate level firewalls and so forth (unless I should be). I mean, I'll do it if it's relatively painless. But i don't want to buy thousands of dollars of hardware firewall equipment, and learn all the security things. I've heard that just my normal wifi router is good enough, no? I mean, I recently tried setting up an SFTP server, and I never got it working. It was a huge pain. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I don't have the time now or later this year to learn too many new things. but I do need to do something about my storage issues, because I am full right now and I'm tired of burning DVD's and keeping track of what I'm keeping/removing/backing up. I literally spend 2-4 hours a week now just dealing with running out of space issues.
Anyway, if there is a nice Linux distro that handles this well and wouldn't require me to spend ages on Linux forums, I'd be very interested in checking it out.