You have been doing a lot of linux stuff in the past couple of weeks and it's easy to get overwhelmed. Just step back and relax a little and give it some time to digest.
thanks so much for the help. i know it can be frustrating helping less experienced/totally ignorant people with this stuff...couldnt have done this without your help. I have everything humming close to perfect now. Quite the feeling of accomplishment learning all this. I will have the server on and ssh into it just to see what other funky stuff i can do with this.
Couple of other things i wanted to get working and have been experimenting with:
hdparm. downloaded via pacman but hdparm -i and hdparm -y or hdparm -Y dont seem to be working for my external usb enclosure. it says putting drive to sleep/standby but my drive is still humming. Maybe its because its an old program meant to work with ide drives? WOuld be nice to be able to set something up to put my drives to sleep when not in use to save electricity and also keep away extra drive wear and tear.
Another thing was i've got everything automounting perfectly for my currently configured drives. But is there a way to get any drive i plug in to automatically be configured as a samba share, instead of explicitly configuring it in smb.conf? sorry we've talked so much abuout automount that i have a feeling of dejavu. were these part of some previous instruction set?