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I'm sure many of us have servers setup at home for testing and development, learning or just for experimenting with. What sort of setup do you have and what do you use your server for, anything more exciting than simple file sharing or print servers for the family?

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closed as off topic by sysadmin1138 Jun 24 '11 at 14:53

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26 Answers

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I have a nice large raid 5 (4x500gig sata2) for backup, torrents, and upnp streaming to my xbox. Origionally I ran windows on it and got fedup with lack of support for apache and a few other linux things I was used to. (Try to get svn to mirror a repo in windows - much harder then it has to be.) So I switched to Ubuntu linux and beat my head over poor support upnp support. I can't say everything was broken but barely any the programs I used ever seemed finished.

I now run windows home server with a few additions. WHS supports upnp streaming for video after you get it's updates (sorta out of the box) and adding something to properly stream the audio is very easy (google around the forums)

uTorrent (like most torrent programs) can pull torrents out of a folder and move them somewhere else and start torrenting them. There are also lots of instructions for running it as a service. I've also setup dropbox (www.getdropbox.com) so I can "drop" torrents on it from anywhere. And uTorrent has a wonderful little webgui.

So I no longer have an ssh client and bash, but I can still backup my repos over smb and I've moved towards git instead of svn so my life isn't any harder on windows. What I really want to be able to do is watch my movies and TV on my TV and not have to play with it every two days. And by golly it finally does that.

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With RAID 5 you want a spare disk. Once had two disks die at the same time. Expensive. –  pi. May 27 '09 at 10:17
My controller card, an Areca ARC-1110 only supports 4 channels and beeps horribly when a drive dies (as well as emails me) and in the odd event that I loose two drives, I'll be sad but but I have dvds my favorite movies and backups are backups. –  reconbot May 27 '09 at 14:33
@pi: Eh, with RAID5, a spare disk wouldn't help. RAID6 would be the right way to do that, since you have two parities to calculate from. –  Matt Simmons Jun 18 '09 at 13:08
It's hard to say where the crossover point comes but yeah the higher the number of members of the raid array the higher the chance that one will fail while another is still in the failed state. Whether its cross effective to implement higher levels of raid at home... lots of people think I'm excessive for having a RAID 5 NAS at home. –  RobM Jun 18 '09 at 14:58
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Just the standard stuff. Store music, serve movies, control legion of killbots, print...

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Excellent :) –  scraimer Apr 30 '09 at 20:52
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I stopped running any home servers a few years ago when I realised:

  • It cost me a fortune in electricity.
  • I can virtualise any machines I need for test purposes.
  • I deal with that stuff enough at $JOB.

Now I just have a relatively low-powered and sufficiently featured DD-WRT box with which I can connect to the Internet and VPN home. Those are the only essentials.

Saying that, I do have a personal colo box. It handles:

  • IMAP mail.
  • Mutt mail.
  • Web hosting.
  • IRC.
  • An all important shell.
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Not to mention taking up space and contributing to noise pollution. –  Nic Mar 1 '10 at 8:06
I don't know what electric rates are where you are, but here it's less than $1/year/watt. –  Chris S Dec 22 '10 at 15:38
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CUPS, privoxy, tor

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Hehe - Paranoid? ;) –  jkp Apr 30 '09 at 18:20
Smart - reminds me of this januspa.com –  reconbot May 27 '09 at 14:35
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  • Media
  • Backup
  • Version Control
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I have a Mythbuntu 8.10 home server / media center.

  • Two 320GB harddisks in software RAID1 for important files
  • One 500GB external disk for media (movies etc.)
  • Serving files trough Samba and Apache
  • Downloading torrents with rTorrent and rtGui
  • OpenTTD dedicated server
  • Playing movies and tv shows on the TV at full hd (with HDMI) using VLC.
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Apart from all the basics and state-of-the-art windows domain lab setup with hyper-v and a dozen virtual servers doing actual work - one server runs two instances of Winamp as a service, directed to two different soundcards. They use the ajaxamp plugin for web-based control and both cards are directly wired to each room's sound system using standard audio cabling.

This makes it possible to play the same music in all ~five rooms, or have two different "channels" playing if there's a need - completely user-selectable with the web ui from locally stored music as well as predefined web radio channels.

The reason for wiring it this way, apart from the cool factor and having the server announce stuff for me, is to prevent network streaming delays which always occur with any ip-based streaming to more than one receiver. Also, I like my music to continue playing when my workstation reboots or whatnot.

Of course, wireless audio could be possible but the delay involved could still create annoying echo-effects when hearing the music from two different rooms at the same time. There was a student network streaming project using NTP to sync the playback accurately but it was never finished as far as I know.

A Telldus Tellstick controls lighting in all rooms as well - scheduled tasks for generic on and off at useful times, and web ui + command line control - apart from the regular remote in each room.

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I don't have a great setup, mostly because of hardware/time limitations, but I've a few services running:

  • CUPS
  • File sharing (with nfs)
  • Web server (mostly for testing)
  • BitTorrent (with Deluge)

Deluge is a cross-plataform BitTorrent client that works great in a server. It has a daemon that runs in the background and various UIs that interface with it. A web ui (with https support) to use over the internet, a GUI that can connect to the daemon through the network, and even a CLI. It's really great.

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I have 2 servers in my home. One is for my software development. The other one is for movies, pictures and music. We have 5 home PCs 2 desktops (wife and mine), 2 laptops (wife and mine) and a spare for visitors (read: for when nephew/niece comes to visit :D ).

Edit: Oh! I forgot about my former main PC! That is a Windows XP machine that now I use only for accounting software, MS SQL Server, VS.NET Development, Testing Web Pages in various Web Browsers and Google Earth.

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I'd be interested in moving my torrent program off my desktop and onto a server. Since I'd want the files to be there anyway, do you have any suggestions for how to setup a torrent client (say utorrent) to be installed on the server, but add torrents from any client on the network? –  p.campbell Apr 30 '09 at 17:53
I am sorry. I do not use torrents. Ever. –  vmarquez May 1 '09 at 8:01
Deluge[1] works great for that. It runs as a service, and has 3 different uis. A web interface with https support so you can use from outside your network, a gui that can connect to the service running on another pc in your network (not really safe for the internet, though, at least not safe if you're not in a ssh tunnel), and a command line interface, which I guess is good to have so you can manage torrents when you're sshing into your server. [1]deluge-torrent.org –  Flávio Amieiro May 11 '09 at 23:51
Thank you Deluge. I do not use torrents. If I ever need to download something that is only available as torrent (say a vmWare's virtual appliance), then I use Opera. –  vmarquez May 12 '09 at 9:20
uTorrent does have a built-in web interface that you can use to add torrents. If you set it up to move completed downloads to another folder and share that folder they will be available to you wherever you'd like to get at them –  TrueDuality May 12 '09 at 12:26
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I have two Sun Netra X1 servers, each configured with JET so they can jump the other. My primary Netra also acts as a software repository. The secondary does most of my lab duty with zones. Below them is a pair of 3-com matrix switches so I can set up whatever I need from a network perspective.

Next in the rack is a Sun 420R connected to a loaded D1000 array for heavy lifting projects. In the last spot is a small 1RU Intel box I use for OpenSolaris or various Linux flavors depending on the project.

I use these for a bunch of what I call science projects... The "side tracks" that there's never time for when I have a project on a time-line at work. At this point I don't use them for home infrastructure at all; I have a Linksys appliance running OpenWRT for those functions.

At some point I plan to put in a yet to be identified box that will take over some of the OpenWRT's jobs and handle backups, but I haven't made time or budget for that endeavor yet.

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Server is Intel Atom 230 (single core), 250GB Samsung sata II, MiniITX motherboard/case, very silent, minimal power usage.

  • Debian Lenny as XEN dom0, has LVM
  • Main development machine - Gentoo Linux as a XEN guest


Samba, ssh, sftp, apache2 with Ruby/Rails and PHP/ZF setup, MySQL 5.1, Subversion (thinking of learning git already).

Mainly a development machine I can use from my Windows workstation. I like to experiment with my workstation, having to implement the dev environment after every reinstall was a PITA, now it's all in the Atom :)

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I have several server machines running:

  1. ipcop gateway
    1. Routing
    2. DHCP
    3. Firewall
    4. Caching name server
  2. Debian box
    1. Linux tinker machine
    2. Torrent client
    3. Tor client
    4. TV recorder via tuner card
    5. OpenVPN server
  3. Mac OS X 10.5 Server box (can't run 10.6 because it's PPC :/)
    1. Web server
    2. File Server
    3. Mail Server
    4. Mailman list server
    5. External SSH target
    6. Mac NetBoot server

My debian box is pretty beefy. I've been considering turning it into a VMWare server, and having all 3 of these boxes be VM's on it (but that takes work :p)

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I have a Dell PowerEdge 2950 - 2x Xeon 5080 CPUs, 8GB RAM, and 6x146GB SAS drives in RAID-5

Using it for mainly for learning (for fun and work, as I have only been working in a corporate IT environment for 6 months with no previous qualifications)
VMWare ESXi 4.1 as the base Hypervisor
Virtual machines running are

Turnkey Linux fileserver - http://www.turnkeylinux.org/fileserver
Ultimate Deployment Appliance, for networked OS deployment - http://www.ultimatedeployment.org/ Windows 7 and XP desktop environments

I would also like to setup a dedicated game server on it as well.

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I set up Ubuntu Server 8.04 at my house for experiments and the like.

Right now I've got a headless torrent server (screen + rtorrent) with a samba share so my Windows laptop can put torrent files in. rtorrent watches the shared folder and automatically starts downloading :)

I also have mpd (music player daemon) running to get my music fix. I hooked up speakers to my server so I could listen to music and control what's playing from any computer in the house. I also had some fun by letting people control it from the Internet (just using a no-ip domain and their free dns services).

I also have the obligatory ssh installed so I can configure it without having to be physically at the machine.

I threw CUPS on there as well and hooked up a USB HP printer. I never could get it working right with windows though :-/

Just for fun about a month ago I swapped hard drives and put CentOS on there, installed bind and dhcpd and used that as my dhcp and dns server for awhile.

I also had openvpn for awhile to try and get a friend to connect to it but it turned out to be more trouble than it was worth.

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Right now my workstation is doubling as a server, but here are the server type functions I have it doing:

  • Media server for my PS3
  • Web server for my private wiki
  • Backup server - have a huge secondary hard drive that I drop backups from other machines on to so that Mozy will pick them up.
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I've had to combine my laptop and my servers into one piece of hardware (massive spring cleaning), but it's doing :

  • Media server
  • Web and application server (ColdFusion and .NET development)
  • Database server (Oracle)

I also run VMware workstation to be able to spin up Solaris or Linux guests to play around with stuff (now that I no longer have my legion of Pentium I, II, and III machines :( ).

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I use Ubuntu 8.10 Server edition on an old Dell Dimension 4600 right now for some basic stuff: SSH server as an entry point to my home LAN, web server for development/testing purposes, fileserver, and the one thing I'm actually really happy about is that I have Bip set up now, which is an IRC proxy. I log into the Bip server from anywhere, and it joins me into the channels I have it connected to. It enables you to connect from many computers under one nick, which is very nice. I can be in Japan and fool people into thinking I'm at home.

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  • Linux server with 500G RAID-1 with 3 disks for storing my entire photo collection(*).

The server does nothing else really. I use appliances for telephony and routing because I am lazy.

(*) Not really cozy with this setup. Very big RAID arrays tend to accumulate defects without a possibility to tell on which disk is the defect. Really a problem of the filesystem though. My plan is to have a look at ZFS on either FreeBSD or OpenSolaris some time in the future.

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I always trying to set up own SIP server for telephony, But without much success.

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I have an opensolaris box at home that I use for a file server. It has 6 SATA drives and stores my digital photographs mostly.

Also picked up a 24 port managed gigabit switch off Ebay that I've used to put a few ports in each room of the house. It and the file server live in the basement where it stays cool and the noise doesn't matter.

For most other IT experimenting and learning however I just use virtualization.

My network gateway/router is running dd-wrt.

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I have p4 3.2ghz with a msi board, 2gb ddr2 and one 250gb sata2 hdd running Ubuntu 9.04 Server.

I have this to:

  • Share printer
  • Share external drives
  • Have a svn repository
  • Learn more about Linux
  • Have a dns server

As a php web developer I really need a Linux environment.

I also like playing with networks etc, so the server helps me with that.

I am currently trying to get the svn setup correctly so I can commit files from my windows machine (having really big problems with this)

The printer sharing is done via cups and also the sharing of external drives via samba. I am still trying to figure out how to mount and umount the drives automatically.

As soon as these items are taken care of I can start using it as web server and move all my stuff there and create svn repositories with hooks so that when I commit a file I can view it in a Linux environment.

Maybe one day I will be able to also use the server as dhcp server instead of the router.

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Server is a P3/700 with 512MB RAM and stacks of 1TB external disks. It runs:

  • Fetchmail/Procmail/Courier/SMTP Relay to ISP
  • Apache 2/PHP/Perl/MySQL
  • Samba (for media and other storage)
  • Caching DNS (ISP's DNS is woeful)
  • SSH for shells/sshfs (ports 22 and 443 exposed/forwarded for best access) - screen sessions have irssi and other crap running :)
  • Squid - don't use it so much any more since started using socks5
  • Bitlbee
  • NTP

...anything that I like to be always on. The machine handles it all admirably. The only service on the desktop machine is MPD :)

Use Slackware for learning purposes (at one time at least) and the fact that I've had dependency resolving package manager issues with Debian, Ubuntu and RPM distros in the past. Prefer managing that myself now. Not like I install packages all that often :)

So, started out for learning, then became indispensable.

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Server is just whatever one it happened to be at the computer store. If I were doing it again, I'd focus significantly more on making it quiet & low energy usage.

Right now it handles:

I want it to also handle

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Right now my main server is WHS (Windows Home Server) it has all my data and all the backup from the others computers, apart from WHS there is a Dual Opteron running ESXi 4 and a few VMs (12) ranging from LAMP to Exchange 2007 Organization.

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I use Ubuntu 10.04 (LTS) Server running headless in Silverstone case located just under the stereo in the media cabinet. Looks great, low wattage dual core to keep heat down, vented.

  1. XBMC Media Center (HDMI to Stereo, HDMI to TV)
  2. XBMC remote interface via web browser.
  3. FTP Server (3 private accounts)
  4. VNC Server (over SSH for secure remote access)
  5. Torrent Server (Vuze, also supports web interface for remote control)
  6. File server (Also networked with a NAS box for backups)
  7. SSH for LAN and remote command prompt.
  8. PhPMyAdmin to access MySql database.
  9. Webmin, for web-based administration.
  10. Apache2 for website (haven't done much with this yet)
  11. UDPn to share media via other capable devices such as game consoles.
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