I recently purchased the book Networking for Dummies 9th Ed by Doug Lowe and now I've come to the chapter on setting up a server. The chapter specifically talks about setting up and installing Windows Server 2008. I don't really know much about servers I've never fooled around with one but it's my understanding that Server 2008 is a full blown server OS not software the I install it my existing Windows 7 system. That being said I'M afraid to put it on my main desktop but I have a few more desktops laying around that should work just fine. After looking at the price of Server 2008 I'M not really sure what to do. For the most part I'M just wanting to learn about servers and networking in general. At the most, maybe see how a server might benefit my local home network and maybe set up a media server for my TV's wireless D - Link. Is there a cheaper way of getting server 2008 and individual home users/learners? Thanks for any and all replies.
You are correct, Windows Server 2008 cannot be installed as an application. The next best thing though, specifically for learning and testing, is to install Windows Server as a virtual machine. However, if you are not comfortable with virtualization, you could just get another computer and install it there.
As far as a "cheaper" way, so for hardware, again, virtualization is the way to go for testing. For the server license...cheaper would be to download a trial version from Microsoft.
You could use Microsoft Virtual PC or get VMWare, or Virtual Box. These are all mature VM players.
In your case, the best way to learn networking is actually taking a course called "Network certification". You will learn the basic. Once you get the basic, you'll understand how to connect routers to the switches. I was lucky I actually learn from my job. It's good to have someone a mentor that can show you how to installed routers and swtiches and connect wireless firewall (Cisco or Netgear or etc) to the Server (2003, 2008) plus you will definitely need to learn .bat language and the word "ping" will be always on your mind (believe me) whoever going to teach you, you're gonna have alot of fun with .bat! So I hope you don't get discourage. If this is something you really want to learn then go for it!