I’ve been wanting to set up a home Linux server for some time. I’d gained a bit of a soft spot for UNIX after using Ubuntu on the desktop for a while, and also hacking the command line at work and on my OS X machine. However, none of these have given me the opportunity to really get stuck in with the administration side of Linux, so having a bit of spare hardware knocking about I thought I’d have a go at my building own server.
There are a few things I’m aiming to get out of this experience, in no particular order they are:
- A playground I can use to learn more about Linux.
- A network drive that can act as a central mp3 repository for the house (and an opportunity for me to poach my housemates extensive collection!).
- A mythtv server so I can watch TV on my laptop, and more importantly schedule recordings online!
- A webserver that I can test out new ideas on without the restrictions imposed by my hosted account.
- A personal subversion server for projects outside of work and the excellent Google Code.
I built the server using a spare Abit NF7 motherboard and Athlon 2500 cpu. I brought a new media centre style case that sits quite nicely under the TV, but more importantly looks good and can fit the ATX motherboard. A new heatsink and fan and an antiquated 16mb graphics card to reduce the noise and we’re away!
As far as software goes I was eager to get Debian installed, however I ran into a few problems with the install process. It wouldn’t recognize the Ethernet card on the NF7 board. After a bit of fruitless Googling (try it with a new network card?) and coupled with my complete lack of patience I decided to go for Ubuntu Server Edition. Who said Ubuntu was for those that can’t configure Debian?
So the Ubuntu install went well and I am already hacking away at the TV card with help from the brilliant Linux TV site. I’m hoping to document a few more of my experiences here, and am finding guidance from my new copy of the Linux Administration Handbook
So far everything has been going well, although a couple of things have slightly bothered me. Firstly there seems to be an exorbitant amount of software installed with Ubuntu Server Edition, a lot of which I guess I’ll never use. Kind of makes me wish I’d stuck with the Debian install which I’m sure would have been more minimal. Secondly every time I try to install something new using apt-get install Ubuntu asks me to insert the install CD. This is actually really bad default behavior for a server. I have my server in the lounge so for me it’s not such an issue, but what if you hosted your server off-site? A major pain me thinks. Anyway it can easily be remedied by editing your sources.list