building a home file server! suggestions?

Hi all!
I never used freebsd (or any bsd) in the past, as i always used windows (need some applications for work + games) and when i wanted to install something else i usually installed linux (different distros).

However, i am building a file server to serve content onto my htpc.
I already installed ubuntu on it but it seems that its slow (it appears slow to me for that machine, although dated, not that old) and it seems that it uses a lot of cpu time (seeing the cpu percentage high a lot). The pc is an amd Sempron (single core) 3000 am2, with an asus mn3c68 or something like that, with embedded gforce 8200, 6 serial ata ports, gigabit ethernet and a couple of hard disks for now.

What i need from the server is of course samba (or any other means but samba is great) sharing of my disks to my pcs & mac i use for my htpc. I need a GUI because i might need to browse the web from that computer in times of problems with my main computer or for whatever reason. I also need an os which will be FAST on that computer, given it can run xp GREAT. But i dont want to use that ;)

Will freebsd run fast? Is it easy to install, comparable to linux distros or not? I am not afraid to get my hands dirty, i have installed arch more than a couple of times and i have also used linux in the older days, when nothing was automatically setup. I just want it to be easy to save time. Is it easy to setup a GUI? Can i choose the gui or is a specific one tied to the system? I dont like kde really, i would prefer gnome over anything else but i will not stick there if everything else is ok. After all this will be a standby system and not used everyday, so the gui is not really a problem.

thanks for any answers, sorry if these kind of questions come up a lot but i am confused by all the possible solutions and i do not know what is best. And above all i do not have time to install 30 different oses & distros to find out myself something someone else might know already :)

George �e
You may want to consider FreeNAS

For the other questions about FreeBSD...
The install part is not difficult at all, it could be different from what you have seen before but I wouldn't say it's difficult.
You may want to have a look at the Handbook

For the gui part, FreeBSD doesn't have a default gui, it doesn't have one at all, but you can have full desktop environments as kde, gnome or xfce or just WM as fluxbox, fvwm, (other here, that are more lightweight and maybe more then enough for the purpose of the system you are going to setup.
You can find more info in the Handbook

I find freebsd to be very fast, faster than linux in certain circumstances.

I run my DNS servers on freebsd. I am on a XenServer enterprise cluster of VM Hosts and freebsd is a great os for a tiny dns server running bind9 on freebsd7. I can get a freebsd dns server in <200MB and 64mb ram which is a tad bit better than the same dns server on debian etch which needs twice the disk space and wants 96mb ram.

I used to run the freebsd based freenas but have moved to virtualization and havent invested the time in trying to paravirtualize bsd as fully virtualized systems dont perform as well under xen.

well, rant concluded...I suggest you try freenas out .

freenas is only on freebsd 6.4 so does not have access to zfs or any freebsd7 stuff, but zfs is not ready on freebsd yet and 6.4 is proven and unbelievably stable.

good luck
thanks for the answers so far.
While i thought about using freenas, i am not really that inclined on managing everything through web admin and i really need a gui ontop of the os for other practical reasons (some time downloading from there etc).

My only real question is how fast it actually is on a system like the one i posted. With a gui on top :)
For nothing more than serving files to a few machines in a home environment, the hardware you listed should be overkill on any operating system. It's hard to say what this means given that you've already had negative results with one Linux distribution, but it does make those results look suspicious.

Go ahead and try FreeBSD, though; I'd expect it to be quite competitive.

[Personally, for my home network I use server gear that is designed to be very low-power and quiet; as a result, it's also very slow, but that's rarely noticeable given what it's tasked with.]
as far as the file serving service is concerned, it works great. I just watched a divx encoded file and a high definition mkv over ethernet. What puzzled me is that the system is slow when used to browse the web/installing new packages etc etc.

Which makes me think its not the hardware at fault but probably drivers/packages that are incompatible or something else i cant pinpoint. Thats why i will try more things, including freebsd and even the live cd of the very same linux distro so i can understand whats the problem. What i noticed from the get freebsd link is that there are 3 cds. Are all of them necessary to install what i want or i can just download an iso that will download the necessary packages over internet? I will look at the documentation right now about it but thought of asking here as well.

geodeath said:
What i noticed from the get freebsd link is that there are 3 cds. Are all of them necessary to install what i want or i can just download an iso that will download the necessary packages over internet?

There are more than 3 CDs. The "bootonly" CD (which is extremely small) is just enough to boot, start the install program, and download everything it installs from the web. Disc 1 will do the same, except that it contains the base system and won't need to download those.