Sorry about the spelling I am dyslex....
to I am Mel;
I am not trying to be orquid when I say "Read the manuls" Apple have some very good manuls online. If after reading the manules you still have theres sort of questions then you most probley don't have the temperment to run/install/adminastrate a server.
To your first point's hears my answer simple answer's. "......is used correctly" there is no correct way of using a computer, I have one as a door stop LOL I don't know what you have read that says "must run 24/7" No! a server dose not have to be on 24/7. Next you say "..my regular mac.." the term "a server" is a confusing one for some "a server" a "regular mac" and and dose run server software on it as part of the desktop OS. If you goto "System Preferences/Sharing"(at least on all OS X's from 10.n to 10.6 (I run snow learpard) you will see a list of services that you can run all of witch are "Servers" now if you have any running then your meachine is a "Server" the only difinces between you computer and a "Server" meachine is a server often has reduntant parts, hot swapable parts things like RAID and no monitor or keyboard and mouse and the admin is done at diffent computer using forms of "Remote Management"
As for the " server features, but I don't need the rest!" Often when admin'ing a server it not a case of what features you will need it a case of the features it needs. e.g. you may not need! a DNS server but if there is not a propley setup DNS server on you system/network then some services you need will not!!! work.
Now point two)
Running a server on a older meachine? ammm Yes and No the server parts or services are sub parts of the OS some are independant of the OS like "Web Sharing" witch on the Mac Apple chose to use "Apache or Apache2" whitch runs on any OS (OSX,Windows,Linux.........etc) the same is true of the mail server and DNS server etc... BUT!!! if you need services specific to "Mavericks" or Mac has to be capable of running "Mavericks"
If this is ALL TO MUCH!!!! then running a server is not for you and the best thing to do is stick with the way Apple want you to work using iCloud. (I DO NOT!!!!!!!!! like the way Apple want to lock you into using iCloud esp after the way they stop MobilMe some day they may do the same to iCloud.)
IF ALL THIS DID NOT PUT YOU OFF THEN I WISH YOU SUCESS/WELL
If you run the server on the same macbook as you are using then I am unshoure what you mean by "geographically independent"? Your server will be where ever "geographically" your macbook is.
Do you mean you want to access your server/macbook from a nother device from another "geographical" location?
May be you need to readup on routting IP
The IP address of your computer is iver set by your ISP or if you making a privat unconnected network by you or it can have more then one IP addresses the one set by your ISP to connect to the internet and the privat address. In that case the computer that is connected to your router is used as a gatway from your privat network to the internet.
Understand IP (Internet Protocal) and routing is VERY inportant to server admin. All of the above is posable even if you are useing one meachin (a MacBook/Laptop) but please rember:
No matter where you go and whitch ISP you use even "WiFi Hotspots" your interface you use to connect uses the IP address it is given/gets from the ISP and the interface used for your privat network uses one of the privat network ranges of IP address: the ranges I know are:
192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.255 with a netmask of 255.255.255.0
10.0.0.1 to 10.??? (I can't rember this one) and a netmask of 255.0.0.0
If you don't understand or can't work out what this all means I am sorry to say you are not ready to run a server.
I hope this is all of help
Thanks TopSteve. I intend to run the the server (if I get myself to do it) on the same Macbook I am using a) because I only have a much older machine I could use for this purpose and b) I would like to be geographically independent if possible, but I suspect I will only be able to use the server to sync on my home network only as I probably won't be able to configure it elsewhere. I am also very interested to find out the answers to I am Mel's questions.