Venturing Into Web Server Territory With Viking Server
Viking Server: Combined mail, proxy, and Web server that is easy to configure and manage Viking is an all-in-one server well suited for small office networks. It provides everything from HTTP and FTP to Gopher, IRC, and NTP as well as firewalling, proxying, and assorted other capabilities. All for $100 in an easy to configure and manage package.
It's not often that one thinks to use the word "exuberant" in conjunction with server software, but once confronted with Viking Server from Robtex, we decided that might just be the word to use -- when describing its feature list, anyhow. Viking is an all-in-one server that provides everything from HTTP and FTP to Gopher, IRC, and NTP; with firewalling, proxying, and assorted other bits and pieces tossed in to boot. Robtex hasn't left much out, as the feature list reveals. And, to top it all off, Viking Server is a small (843 KB) download.
Fairly steep requirements for server packages is the norm these days, but Viking doesn't ask for much to do what it does: It can run on a Windows 95 machine (though limitations in that OS's TCP stack, duly noted in the Viking manual, limit the number of services available at once). A Linux version of the server is also on tap but isn't yet available.
A single executable installs the entire package in a matter of minutes. We were up and running on a Windows XP desktop machine in less than five minutes, and we were serving up Web, FTP, and POP3 on a small network just a few minutes later.
Configuration is about as simple as it gets: Viking Server runs a Web configuration interface that provides easy access to everything, and each configuration page is documented well enough for a computer enthusiast with knowledge of the basics to figure out.
So what does all of this make Viking good for? Small office networks come to mind: Given Viking, a hub, and a collection of desktop systems, a workstation of even modest capabilities can handle most of the things for which organizations often consider going out and buying a net appliance. With the small memory footprint (a Web/mail/FTP session consumes less than 700 KB), the workstation can probably carry on double duty doing whatever it's needed for in the way of word processing, Web surfing, or spreadsheet jockeying.
Viking's limitations are fairly evident: There aren't a lot of configurable options compared to most stand-alone server software packages, such as Apache, ProFTPD, or Sendmail.
On the other hand, Viking Server doesn't seem to have been written for a complex server environment with a massive user base. If we had to name an ideal niche, we'd recommend situations where deploying a Linux server on an old Pentium seems like overkill, or where there simply isn't anyone in the office who feels up to learning enough of a free Unix just to proxy some Web traffic and run an internal documentation server.
At $100, Viking isn't a bad choice in those situations, considering the ease with which it can be configured and the fact that it saves the machine it's being run on for other uses thanks to its small footprint. We're scoring Viking high because it does what it sets out to do competently and with no hassle.
Pros: Small memory demands; Reasonable price for the feature list;
Easy to configure
Cons: Limited configuration compared to comparable software in each class of service it offers
Reviewed by: Michael Hall
Original Review Date: 8/15/2003
Original Review Version: 1.9