SME Server: Swiss Knife for SOHO

In the last article we saw how hMailServer provides a robust and free Email server. But hMailServer is still a mail server. Which means for the remaining requirements, you still have to look elsewhere, requirements like Domain Controller, Web Mail, etc. In this article we look at another popular linux distro, SME Server which is specially targeted towards the SOHO segment as an all in one swiss knife. SME Server started with the name e Smith and soon became very popular for its ease of use and simplicity.

SME server distro is based on CentOS, so the installation remains same like CentOS. Also note CentOS is the free edition of RedHat Enterprise Edition. The installation media is in the form of ISO. You can either mount it or burn it on a writable media.

Booting and Installation of SME Server.

Once booting, the options which appear on the start are as shown below. The first option which is enabled as default is for fresh install or an upgrade.

SME Server installation

Once the OS image gets loaded in the memory, the first task is to carry out media test. This is recommended to ensure no hiccups in the later stages.

Next screen is to setup language, location, time zone and basic keyboard options to help start with the installation process.

After selecting the necessary options, it gives a final prompt before starting the install process.

Once the installation process is completed you need to remove the media and reboot the system.

Initial Setup of SME Server.

This part involves a series of actions that will be done one time to configure the server.

After setting the administrator password, you will move to setting the domain name. To understand it, at this point it will suffice to say that this is what your users/subscribers will type in the Address Bar of their Web Browser.

Here we will take a fictitious company called Global Exports. So the domain name suggested is globalexports.coy for this article.

Enter the name in the space. Next comes the option for name of the PC on which SME Server is being installed. We will give it the name ‘server’, though you have to plan the name as per your networking plan for the firm.

Next setting is the IP address of the PC on which SME Server is installed. Again we will take, but this has to be as per your office network plan or the LAN Plan.

Next, we put in the DNS settings. Keep them default, unless the LAN setting are different.

Next setting is the IP address to connect to Internet which we will keep blank for this tutorial.

Next setting is whether you want DHCP to be activated or not. We keep it off, presuming a static IP setup for the network.

In the end of configuration, the server does a reboot and we get the following screen.

Configuration of SME Server Role.

Three types of configuration are allowed by SME Server.

  1. Server and Gateway allows you to connect to the outside world or other networks. This is when your office is part of the larger network. Also you are able to host the email and web server to the outside world.
  2. Private Server and Gateway allows you to have a private network but connected to the outside world.
  3. Server only is for internal or local networks.

Final and Detailed configuration.

After a reboot the following screen is displayed in the server.


For Server Login there are two options, Login by root and Login by admin. By default these two users are created by the system. The password is the same which has been created at the beginning during installation.

Login by root will give shell access.


Login by admin will give the server console.


Though Web Interface over LAN is the preferred way to change settings, some important ones are provided at the server console to perform some basic admin tasks.

Server Manager for SME Server.

The server manager can be accessed from any PC on the network via the WebBrowser. In our case it is

You will get the following login screen

Username : admin

Password : what you choose in the beginning

s18weblogin s19Collaboration

SME Server works out of the box literally. But with an email server, you need to do some settings. Primary of which is setting up users.

Here is what the welcome screen looks like. Head over to the Users section under Collaboration

Click on Add new user. We will add two users here.

Note, we need to reset the password for new users created for the first time.

For webmail access, use the following address in the web browser

Information Bay or i-bay in SME Server.

To understand i-bay simply see it as a file server, but with a small twist. We create an i-bay named KingPage with access given to everybody and no password required on Local LAN.


After we create the i-bay, the password can be assigned by using the reset password option.

If we open a WebBrowser and type the following address and we see the following web page, we can be sure that the i-bay has been successfully created.


In the Windows Explorer for the network we will be able to see three folders, cgi-bin, files and html. cgi-bin contains the scripts you can run for the webpage, files hold the content for the file server and html holds the webpages.


Access to i-bays can be modified to suit different situations and configurations. Like setting no password on internet will make a nice public downloads page on the internet for viewers.

The following URL can be good start point for help and references on SME Server.




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