Low-E Linux Home Server

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Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:15 pm

The server will be fairly general purpose, but will be used heavily for local network and some remote storage. Other possible use cases include anything I might need a 24/7 machine for, such as minor file hosting. I don't expect to have more than 5 users at a time, but any such usage will be occupying a good chunk of local network bandwidth.

Requirements:
- Gigabit NIC (or perhaps 2 of them, in case I mess around with routing in the future).
- Prefer Ubuntu Server since that's what I'm most familiar with. Open to other Debian-based options though.
- Need sufficient SATA options.
- Prefer ARM CPU for low power use and price.
- Low RAM (2GB) should suffice.
- I'll probably be throwing on a 2TB HDD on here as well.

I'm primarily looking to run Owncloud on here, but might also try to get SVN, Samba, FTP, and/or other services running. (In that order of importance.) I won't be hosting any public services, but I may want to open up to the web for specific user access such as for myself and friends, although at that point I may just pay up for Google Drive and web hosting anyway and keep my box set to LAN only. Perhaps the best compromise is to only open up the server to the web at specific times, although I've followed the Web Served article series on Arstechnica, and they seem pretty confident that setting up something secure from the home is a viable option. Still, I'm somewhat paranoid, and the web is a crazy place, so I'm probably better off sticking with the paid services for that anyway.

I may want to hook this up with Crashplan, although at the moment, I'm using GoodSync on Windows for backing up to external HDD's. I prefer my backups to remain fairly accessible, and I keep a few external HDD's and flash drives around to handle quick backups. I'm trying to reorganize my data better in order to account for the varying sizes of files I have. Generally, the larger it is, the less often it needs to change, which is a good thing for me.

As far as usage goes, the main purpose of this server is to have a centralized drive for the home where I can access all my large files at local network speeds wherever I am throughout the house. Instead of using it as a network drive, I'm using Owncloud so that each machine has local copies of the important stuff as an extra layer of backup. The exception to this is on low-capacity systems, with which I can't do that much about. (And is probably where the Samba server share comes in, although that may not play well with Owncloud.)

I think this multi-tier setup should help achieve my goals: work more efficiently, improve access to large files (especially when I'm on a tablet/Surface Pro, or when I'm out of the house), etc.

I have one alternative in mind: WD MyCloud. Saves a lot of time from messing around on Linux, at the expense of not being able to do so much. Still, the tradeoffs might be worth it, considering how much setup is getting done for you. Unfortunately, not having direct access to the files within Windows may be a dealbreaker.

Thoughts?
Last edited by C-A_99 on Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
C-A_99
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Re: Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:30 pm

There are quite a few options that are available that are still x86 based. I might look at the newegg.com motherboards at some of the embedded options, it's not too terribly more power draw wise than an ARM based chip, but anything it would draw extra would benefit in flexibility in programs it can run.
Lollertron
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Re: Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:42 pm

Hmm, good call. I forgot that the software being run has to be ARM as well, and I'm not familiar with the options in that case. Perhaps instead, I could build out a small form factor (Mini ITX? Edit: Or thin Micro ATX.) system with an Atom or i3. Space for 2 or 3 HDD's should be enough, at least if I buy a 2 TB or 4 TB.

I also had a last resort idea: WD MyCloud. Forego any flexibility at the benefit of having everything set up and taken care of, ready to go. Really, I would've already went forward with an old laptop as the home server, but the lack of GigE was too much of a concern.
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Re: Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:55 pm

I'm a big fan of the linux based distribution, everything that you could possibly want to do is there, so there isn't any kicking yourself later if you've got something you want to do, but can't due to the limited hardware. If you're primarily doing file server functions, the embedded Celerons are great, if you wanted a bit more power, you could always opt to build a very low power Pentium option, too. I personally picked up a Dell PowerEdge T20 with a Pentium G3220 in it, and it's idle nearly 99% of the time. Having a little horsepower does help, so I can run ps3mediaserver and do conversions for some of my lower powered and limited options that can't run all formats.
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Re: Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:46 pm

I was hoping to go for ARM for the complete silence, tiny form factor, extremely low energy use, etc. but a Google search for "samba server arm" is making me cringe a little. I'll have to investigate it further; I don't need huge software variety; just the basics (Apache/Nginx, MySQL/MariaDB, and network share) should do, but there's something to be said for the maturity and stability of the x86/x64 software base. Plus, with the HDD(s) added in, this machine can't be silent anyway. The slight noise generated by a modern Intel CPU and fan is nothing compared to that of the HDD's.

I'm looking primarily at Atoms and Celerons, but I'll leave the Pentium option open. I can't see ever needing that power, but nowadays it seems to make little difference in cost and power usage. The modern Intel CPU's seem to not require any manual underclocking and what not.

I'll search out some parts on Newegg and post back here. Thanks, everyone.
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Re: Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:11 pm

quad-core, 10w power, 2 NICs, passive cooled.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813128698

Add in a SATA card in the expansion slot if you need more. You won't find an ARM board with what you want for less money. AMD may change that soon, but for now I think this would work well for you. You can add a wireless NIC, too, in the expansion slot.
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Re: Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:32 am

There really isn't an ARM board that supports all of that without buying some expensive server. Ubuntu and 2GB of RAM are the only things on that list that are obtainable with an ARM board. (http://www.hardkernel.com/main/products ... 8745696275) If you just wanted a little infrastructure server, the Odroid-U3 at the link to the left will work fine, but an off the shelf storage server with ARM is a little bit of a stretch right now.

Losergamer04 wrote:quad-core, 10w power, 2 NICs, passive cooled.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813128698


That's one of the better options out right now.

Then there is the ASRock Rack C2750D4I
http://www.asrockrack.com/general/produ ... =C2750D4I#
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Re: Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:17 am

I had actually forgotten about that board. That's certainly a better choice, but I was under the impression that price was an issue based on the desire for an ARM CPU. If the price isn't an issue then that's certainly the one to go for.
Losergamer04
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Re: Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:24 am

If you don't mind interfacing on a serial console, you might want to look at a PC Engines Board. Their new APU based ones look pretty sweet - http://www.pcengines.ch/apu.htm

And if you need more sata - you could put a couple of this in the mini-pcie slots on the board - http://www.amazon.com/PM1061-SATA-Mini- ... B00CF5Y8BK
yokem55
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Re: Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:59 am

Is that the same board in the Netgate APU2/APU4?
Losergamer04
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Re: Low-E Linux Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:58 pm

Losergamer04 wrote:Is that the same board in the Netgate APU2/APU4?

It looks like identical hardware (the case and board look the same), but NetGate preloads pfSense onto it and probably offers a support package for it, hence the $299 price compared to the ~$150 or so to build your own.
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