The best way to get started is to install an SME Server and start experimenting with it. Download a copy from http://mirror.contribs.org/pub/smeserver/releases/7/iso/ and burn your own CD.
If you (or any developers at your organization) have multiple computers on a home network, a cablemodem, DSL, or dialup connection, and an old Pentium machine that you don't need, we recommend installing the SME Server software on the old Pentium machine, and using it as a home gateway and firewall.
Note: The SME Server software erases all data from the PC on which it is installed, to turn it into a dedicated server that can run 24x7. Do not install it on a PC unless you are prepared to erase all of its data!
Alternatively, you can install the SME Server on a corporate LAN in server/gateway mode (creating a small private network behind a firewall that occupies a single IP address on the Internet) or in server-only mode - in which the SME Server provides network services to other computers as a peer on the network.
Note: Warning! The server-only mode is designed for LAN environments that already have a firewall/gateway.
In addition to feeling comfortable installing and using the SME Server software, you should also have a working knowledge of Linux, including use of the command line tools.
You should also be familiar with the perl programming language. Most of the SME Server software is written in perl, and the configuration template mechanism is based on perl.
It is strongly recommended that you obtain and read a copy of the book Maximum RPM (ISBN 067231 1054) or study the on-line version available at http://www.rpm.org/max-rpm/.
You also need to know how to use one of the Linux text editors such as vi, nano or pico. It is also possible to edit files on a remote machine and copy them to the server. However, it is important that the files are converted to Unix text format.
Packages which do not require compilation, for example shell and perl scripts, can be built on the SME Server platform. All of the examples in this documentation can be performed on a standard SME Server installation.
Before attempting to compile any software, you should check whether the package is available from one of the many well-maintained RPM repositories. Using these RPMs will ensure compatibility with the other RPMs on the SME Server. You are likely to find the package you want in either the CentOS or Dag Wieers repositories.
If an RPM does not already exist, you should install a CentOS developer workstation or server for SME Server development. You will also need to install the e-smith-devtools packages which can be found on the SME Server CD.
Note: We strongly recommend against installing development tools, such as compilers, on any production servers, especially those which are accessible from the Internet.