|1) Just plug it into any of the 24, 100 Mbps ports on the switch. If you have a 1000 Mbps port, it's likely a GBIC used for uplinking and you won't want to plug your server into that. Even if it's an RJ45 connector in the 1000 Mbps slot, don't use it, stick to the 100 Mbps ports. Your server should only have one connection to one switch.|
As to how it connects to the internet, compare it's TCP/IP settings to the other computers that are working. It's settings should be identical with the exception of the actual IP address.
2) I would definitely redo the config on the switches. Then you know exactly how they're setup. Since this sounds like just one big network, you can basically default them and leave them be. They'll work for a single subnet/VLAN just fine with the default config. I would however, password them so people can't get in and change the config on you.
I hope you have at the very least a SOHO Router between your network and the internet. If not, spend the $$$ and get one and plug your switches into the LAN ports on it once you have it setup and working.
Personally, I would set all client computers to DHCP and let them get their TCP/IP settings from the router itself and the only computer that would get a static IP would be the server.
A typical SOHO Router's default settings are something like the following:
IP Address: 192.168.0.1
Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
DHCP Enabled = yes
DHCP Scope = 192.168.0.100 to 192.168.0.199
Default Gateway IP = 192.168.0.1
With regard to the above TCP/IP info, I would give the server the following:
IP Address: 192.168.0.10
With those settings, it would be able to communicate with the internet and all other network clients.
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.