hmmm... tested some more and looks like it IS the network thats failing... what i thought to be "asleep" was just the screen being locked and even after logging in i cannot get it to ping or open up a web page. Will try Ubuntu server 14.04 soon. although my original plan was to use fedora server, it seems that samba is not that customizable on fedora due to strong security features line SElinux and firewalls etc.
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Thank you for the idea. I'm using Ubuntu 16.04 currently and the board was not stable. I've blacklisted the NIC's driver (r8152) and I am using a well-known USB ethernet device (9710:7830 MosChip Semiconductor MCS7830 10/100 Mbps Ethernet adapter) currently. It seems more stable but we will see...