A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

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A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:03 pm

I'm actually looking into almost the exact the same thing as this guy.

I want a dedicated machine to serve up Minecraft (via Bukkit), Mumble/Murmur in-game VOIP, and Team Fortress II for my friends and I -- and FTP, VPN, and media streaming services for myself. This would allow me to keep my more power-hungry desktop to sleep when I'm not using it, and provide better quality service for connected users.

I'm having trouble deciding on platform, AMD versus Intel. On the one hand, I live in Wyoming. Energy costs are cheap, so going the AMD route each month might not cost me all that much, and I could get killer performance for a hell of a lot less upfront money than with an Intel-based system. An FX-8320 with 2 x 4 GB DDR3-1600 ECC RAM, along with a 60 GB OCZ Agility 3 SSD and maybe a cheap low-RPM "green" hard drive would get me a great deal of stability and performance for not a lot money. I could conceivably save even more money (but not power) by choosing to go with the severely discounted Phenom II X4 965. On the flip side, it's entirely possible that a decent Core i3 system, with two strong cores and two side "hyperthreads" would handle the workload I'm proposing just fine, and sip power to boot.

On the flip side, I'm told Minecraft Server is not multithreaded except where chunk loading is concerned (which is actually the area I'm most concerned about). I have no information about how multi-threaded Mumble/Murmur is, despite spending the better part of an hour or two searching for that information. I'm unaware of how well Source Dedicated Server multithreads, nor how well Filezilla Server multithreads.
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:52 pm

The CPU is probably not the biggest concern as long as it is relatively fast (either a Vishera based FX system or an i5 would work fine). One advantage of the i5: if this truly is a *server* then for light graphical needs you have the IGP right there. I'm a Linux guy so the word "server" for me == headless so Vishera would be just fine too, but keep that in mind if you need to run Windows. If you don't really mean *server* and want to play games on this thing, then you'll need to consider the GPU too. Oh, and 8 GB RAM should probably be enough for your purposes. Keep the OS and system lean & mean (no crapware) and if you can get away with only running one service at a time it will help too.

I'd really focus on making sure you have fast storage and good networking. If SSDs are within your budget, then focus on those and you'll be fine. If SSD's are not in your budget, I'd consider getting a more expensive but hopefully more reliable hard drive. The greens sound nice, but WD-reds are supposedly designed for NAS configurations and might work better long-term.

As for networking, the gigabit networking built into most motherboards is adequate, but if you really think things are "slow" on the server, there's a good chance that it is the network or hard drives that will be the bottleneck instead of the CPU. There are some nice Intel NICs that have excellent drivers if you need to add more networking capability.
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:13 pm

chuckula wrote:One advantage of the i5: if this truly is a *server* then for light graphical needs you have the IGP right there.


I considered the i5, but when I can get a quad-core Athlon II X4 or Phenom II X4 for less than half the price and get a board that not only has SATA 6 gbps, but has six of 'em (and get ECC memory support to boot), I'm hard-pressed to go that route. Especially when you're telling me CPU performance probably isn't the biggest concern...

chuckula wrote:I'm a Linux guy so the word "server" for me == headless so Vishera would be just fine too, but keep that in mind if you need to run Windows.


I haven't decided, actually. I've been poking around with Linux lately, and the fact that I can get a server-class operating system for free interests me. The holdback for me is that I know how to do everything I want to do in Windows. I can set up a Minecraft Server, I can set up a Mumble/Murmur server (Minecraft and Murmur seem easy enough in Linux, though) and I can set up a Filezilla FTPS server. I'm still lost on VPNs (last I used was Hamachi, and I'd really like to go OpenVPN), but studying.

chuckula wrote:If you don't really mean *server* and want to play games on this thing, then you'll need to consider the GPU too.


Negative. I want hosted services, no games. I've got two good desktops for games -- one for me, and one for my girlfriend. The entire reason FOR this server is so that I can offload some of the work of hosting that my desktop is currently performing (well, not currently, since the power supply died) to it, and let it go to sleep. I just don't want my desktop running 24/7, out of concern for both reliability of parts (the fan died on my PSU, and it overheated -- thankfully taking nothing else with it), and out of concern for power consumption -- my desktop has a couple hard drives and a Radeon HD 6850 running alongside, so it consumes more power than necessary during periods when I'm not using it and it's just serving external connections.

chuckula wrote:I'd really focus on making sure you have fast storage and good networking. If SSDs are within your budget, then focus on those and you'll be fine. If SSD's are not in your budget, I'd consider getting a more expensive but hopefully more reliable hard drive. The greens sound nice, but WD-reds are supposedly designed for NAS configurations and might work better long-term.


I'm not made of money, but I do want an SSD rather badly for this build. Not necessarily for storing content (I think HD video can adequately be served to my local network from the low-RPM hard drives), but for fast application performance. Like I said, the 60 GB OCZ Agility 3 was looking rather good, given the performance and the size of it. I think I could probably put and run all the servers off of the SSD, maybe get a 16 GB USB 3.0 stick as a dedicated temp file drive, and store music/video/backups on the hard drive. I figure the low-RPM hard drives would work for my uses (they're also cheaper than most equivalently sized-hard drives), but I'll take a look at the WD-Reds.

chuckula wrote:There are some nice Intel NICs that have excellent drivers if you need to add more networking capability.


I might, if they're cheap. I'm on a budget, but I'm willing to spend the money I need to to get this thing doing well. Additionally, I want it to be useful for a few years -- so adding hard drives as space runs thin is definitely in the works.
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:29 pm

Well.. on the OS side it looks like you can run just about everything you need under Linux. One exception may be Filezilla (no Linux server), but FTP servers under Linux are a dime a dozen so there are alternatives. The issue may come down to experience. I'm always willing to recommend Linux, especially on a server. Even Ubuntu (not my favorite distro) can be setup to do everything you want and there are good online resources that you can use so you don't feel lost.

As for SATA, I think you'll be fine either way with Intel or AMD. If you have > 2 SSDs then you might get a boost on the AMD boards, but with any spinning media there is no practical difference between 3 Gbit and 6 Gbit SATA. I'd lean toward AMD for somewhat lower-priced motherboards (but don't buy the cheapest one or you may regret it later!)
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:41 pm

chuckula wrote:One exception may be Filezilla (no Linux server), but FTP servers under Linux are a dime a dozen so there are alternatives.


WHAT YOU SAY! Filezilla doesn't have it's server software on Linux? Crazy talk, man, that's crazy talk! Well that sucks. Got any recommendations for an FTP server that supports FTPS.

chuckula wrote:The issue may come down to experience. I'm always willing to recommend Linux, especially on a server. Even Ubuntu (not my favorite distro) can be setup to do everything you want and there are good online resources that you can use so you don't feel lost.


If I went Linux, it would almost certainly be Ubuntu. Probably Ubuntu Server. It's the version of Linux I'm most well-versed with. Which would you recommend for server tasks, instead?

chuckula wrote:If you have > 2 SSDs then you might get a boost on the AMD boards...


Bwuh? Why is this?

Here's what I'm thinking of going with, based on our chat:
  • MSI 880GMS-E41 (880G + SB850, Realtek 8111E GbE)
  • AMD Athlon II X4 640
  • Samsung 8 GB DDR3-1600 (2 x 4 GB)
  • OCZ Agility 3 60 GB SSD
  • Seagate Barracuda Green 1 TB 5900 RPM
  • Antec VP-450 PSU
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:02 pm

A_Pickle wrote:
chuckula wrote:One exception may be Filezilla (no Linux server), but FTP servers under Linux are a dime a dozen so there are alternatives.


WHAT YOU SAY! Filezilla doesn't have it's server software on Linux? Crazy talk, man, that's crazy talk! Well that sucks. Got any recommendations for an FTP server that supports FTPS.

Which would you recommend for server tasks, instead?


OpenSSH, of course. :) OpenSSH has SFTP built in, so you don't need to futz around with a FTP daemon, unless you just want to.

Scientific Linux 6, CentOS 6, or Debian Stable would be good alternatives to Ubuntu server. Debian will be familiar, and all of them have long support cycles.
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:51 pm

A_Pickle wrote:
chuckula wrote:If you have > 2 SSDs then you might get a boost on the AMD boards...


Bwuh? Why is this?



Simply because most modern Intel boards include 2 of the 6 gigabit ports and SSDs are the only drives that can really exceed the slower SATA ports in any meaningful way. If you have more than two SSDs, then the extra 6.0 Gbit ports can help (although frankly if you stress 6 ports at once with SSDs I wouldn't expect perfect scaling efficiency).


A_Pickle wrote:Here's what I'm thinking of going with, based on our chat:
  • MSI 880GMS-E41 (880G + SB850, Realtek 8111E GbE)
  • AMD Athlon II X4 640
  • Samsung 8 GB DDR3-1600 (2 x 4 GB)
  • OCZ Agility 3 60 GB SSD
  • Seagate Barracuda Green 1 TB 5900 RPM
  • Antec VP-450 PSU



A few notes:

1. This motherboard is listed as a 95 watt TDP max motherboard, so don't expect to get a big CPU upgrade down the road even as the FX series chips get discounted. If that's OK with you then fine, but keep it in the back of your mind.
2. From what I can gather this motherboard does not have ECC support (see here: http://www.crucial.com/eu/upgrade/MSI+% ... rades.html). You mentioned that this was important to you, so you may want a different model of motherboard if ECC is not supported. MSI's own website makes no mention of ECC for this mainboard.
Edit: 2.5: Here is a link to the manual for this board. Note: The manual makes no mention of ECC memory AND this board does not include any 6 Gbit SATA ports, only the slower 3Gbit ports! You may want to look at the 990 chipsets (more expensive though).
3. RAM: Obviously you need to get ECC RAM too in addition to having an ECC compatible mainboard.
4. SSD: Ok, there are pop-up sales for the Samsung 830 series which is a *much much* better SSD. I hope this link is still working for you, but it is $66 for a 64 GB 830 that is a *much* nicer drive than the OCZ: http://www.amazon.com/SAMSUNG-2-5-Inch- ... amsung+830
5. Hard drives: We've already discussed hard drive options. One note that my Dad pointed out to me: You can tell where a Seagate was manufactured by its warranty. One year warranty (cheapest drives) made in China... yeah, you probably don't want one of those even if the list price is cheaper.
6. PSU: Should be just fine.

Hope that helps a little.

P.S. --> Filezilla has a Linux client but is Windows-only on the server side. As flatland suggested, you can just get SSH running on this box and login using SFTP/SCP (Windows GUI clients are available, with WinSCP being a nice basic one). Using SSH/SFTP is much more secure since everything is encrypted on the wire and you don't have to deal with the wacky reverse port setup of traditional FTP or using "passive" FTP.
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:22 am

Flatland_Spider wrote:OpenSSH, of course. :) OpenSSH has SFTP built in, so you don't need to futz around with a FTP daemon, unless you just want to.

Yup. FTP is a legacy protocol (over 30 years old now), which was designed back in a time when the Internet was a very different place. Unless you need backward compatibility with legacy FTP clients for some reason, my suggestion is don't bother. Just go straight to a modern SFTP implementation.
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:10 am

Don't get an Agility SSD if you value reliability, OCZ cost-optimizes *cough* them too much with cheaper flash so I'm not just talking about the Sandforce issues. Vertexes are better, but if you want an inexpensive and reliable SSD this is a ridiculous deal: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications ... No=4969041 Not the fastest, but I don't think the real-world difference will matter for a server.
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:22 am

MadManOriginal wrote:Don't get an Agility SSD if you value reliability, OCZ cost-optimizes *cough* them too much with cheaper flash so I'm not just talking about the Sandforce issues. Vertexes are better, but if you want an inexpensive and reliable SSD this is a ridiculous deal: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications ... No=4969041 Not the fastest, but I don't think the real-world difference will matter for a server.



Nice catch on that drive! If you want to stick with the original motherboard that can only do SATA II speeds anyway, then I'd definitely go with the Intel drive and save yourself $25. The OCZs are not known for the greatest reliability.
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:31 am

Flatland_Spider wrote:Scientific Linux 6, CentOS 6, or Debian Stable would be good alternatives to Ubuntu server. Debian will be familiar, and all of them have long support cycles.


I'm noticing that Debian is using the 2.6 kernel -- how's that going to fare with SSD's and multi-core/module CPU's? Is it aware of these things, and well-optimized for them? Or am I asking ridiculous questions about the mighty Linux? :D

MadManOriginal wrote:Don't get an Agility SSD if you value reliability, OCZ cost-optimizes *cough* them too much with cheaper flash so I'm not just talking about the Sandforce issues. Vertexes are better, but if you want an inexpensive and reliable SSD this is a ridiculous deal: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications ... No=4969041 Not the fastest, but I don't think the real-world difference will matter for a server.


Hella find. I doubt if I will be buying the parts before Halloween, but damn. I could maybe find $40 to put away for that... barring that, though, I was completely unaware that the Samsung 830-series drives were ever selling for near the price of the Agility 3's. Hell, I'd pony up an extra $15 to get an 830-series.

chuckula wrote: The OCZs are not known for the greatest reliability.


I have heard this from now enough people that I'm not confident enough in their reputation to throw down money on one.
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:27 am

A_Pickle wrote:
Flatland_Spider wrote:Scientific Linux 6, CentOS 6, or Debian Stable would be good alternatives to Ubuntu server. Debian will be familiar, and all of them have long support cycles.

I'm noticing that Debian is using the 2.6 kernel -- how's that going to fare with SSD's and multi-core/module CPU's? Is it aware of these things, and well-optimized for them? Or am I asking ridiculous questions about the mighty Linux? :D

Not ridiculous at all. Debian tends to be very conservative rolling out new changes into their "stable" branch, which means that -- while being extremely stable, as the name implies -- it does tend to lag on incorporation of new features.

Full on-the-fly TRIM support didn't appear until 2.6.33; it looks like Debian "stable" is currently at 2.6.32. So damn close. You can either pull in a newer kernel (not as scary as it sounds); run a nightly or weekly batch TRIM instead of having it done on-the-fly (some people claim this is actually preferable); go with Ubuntu Server 12.04 instead (while based on Debian, Ubuntu is a lot more aggressive with pulling in newer versions of things); or just punt on TRIM.

FWIW I've been using a Sandforce-based SSD on a system at work for several months, and took the "just punt on TRIM" approach. In spite of the fact that I've been using the drive pretty heavily (lots of churn, came close to filling it up a couple of times), so far it doesn't seem to have resulted in a noticeable slowdown.

Given its long history in HPC and server roles, multi-core CPUs have been well-supported in Linux since pretty much forever. The scheduler in Debian "stable" might not be Bulldozer-aware (i.e. treat the two cores in a module as if they are hyperthreaded instead of fully independent), but at worst this would have a tiny effect that you likely wouldn't even notice in actual use.
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Re: A Simple Home/Friend-use Server

Postposted on Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:55 pm

just brew it! wrote:Full on-the-fly TRIM support didn't appear until 2.6.33; it looks like Debian "stable" is currently at 2.6.32.


There is a wipe.sh script that simulates TRIM support for kernels that don't have it built in, and it should come with the Debian 2.6.32 kernel. A_Pickle would just need to setup a cron job to run it nightly, or more, but he shouldn't need to more then that unless he is just thrashing the disk.

Debian 7 is supposed to be released early next year, so you wouldn't have to go that long with out TRIM. If you track "stable" versus tracking "squeeze" you'll be able to do a dist-upgrade to the next version once it's on the mirrors. As an alternative, you could check Debian backports for a newer kernel, or you start tracking "wheezy" from the get go.

Of course, RHEL/CentOS/SL 6 has it's own 2.6.32 franken-kernel with the TRIM patches backported to it.

A_Pickle wrote:I'm noticing that Debian is using the 2.6 kernel -- how's that going to fare with SSD's and multi-core/module CPU's? Is it aware of these things, and well-optimized for them?


Yeah, the 2.6 kernel will be fine with multiple CPUs. Support for multiple CPUs was one of the big features about the 2.6.x kernel, and it's been used on some massively wide systems. Previously, the 2.4.x kernel was a uniprocessor kernel, but could be patched to support multiple CPUs.

Well-optimized kind of depends on the workload. It's not a magic bullet, and there are trade offs in the stock kernel settings. Overall, it works really well as a server OS, and the stock kernel parameters work well.
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