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I'm new to serverfault, and server computers in general, and I got a few questions. Forgive me, they're quite basic, but I'd like the clarity.

So, lately I've been doing quite a few CPU intensive tasks on just standard workstations, and I realize my life would be a lot easier if I picked up a server to use as a CPU bot. When I say tasks, it includes things like testing hashes against wordlists. A friend of mine has an older HP server he's not really interested in anymore (specs), which he's willing to give away, which includes a mobo with two CPUs, 8GB of DDR2, and a 250gb HDD. It's left me with the following questions:

  • Does the BIOS function like a normal workstation? As in, selecting boot devices, changing system settings, etc.
  • Could I install a, for example, Debian ISO via USB and expect it to work properly?
  • Does the server require any hardware to function that isn't included?
  • It's a rack server, and I don't have a server rack. Does that cause any issues? Could I just stand place it atop something, giving it a fair amount of breathability, and expect it to cool fine? (I'll only be using like 80% CPU).

Thanks in advance. If you think there's any other info I need to know, feel free to tell me.

closed as off-topic by kubanczyk, Jenny D, Ward, womble May 22 '18 at 0:22

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "Questions on Server Fault must be about managing information technology systems in a business environment. Home and end-user computing questions may be asked on Super User, and questions about development, testing and development tools may be asked on Stack Overflow." – womble
  • "Questions should demonstrate reasonable business information technology management practices. Questions that relate to unsupported hardware or software platforms or unmaintained environments may not be suitable for Server Fault - see the help center." – kubanczyk, Jenny D, Ward
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  • That thing is ancient, which is probably why he's giving it away. It'll likely cost you too much in electricity to run it. – Michael Hampton Apr 3 '18 at 2:31
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    While I echo Michael's comment, the answer to your questions are: Yes, you will recognize the BIOS in general form, yes you can install Debian via a USB drive, no it probably does not require special hardware, and yes you can just set it on the floor or a stool or something. It is old. If you game with your desktop, it is likely significantly more powerful than the server. – Slartibartfast Apr 3 '18 at 3:02
  • Thanks for the comments, guys. Regarding the power comments, according to HP, it has a 650w PSU, which I'll be able to support just fine. Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that my desktop runs faster on far less of a power supply. My DT is pretty powerful, but booting it into a Debian environment every time I want to use its CPU for tasks is pretty annoying, as for a general use PC I keep it sitting in Windows 10. – user463604 Apr 3 '18 at 3:06
  • Are you aware of virtualization technology for your desktop, such as VirtualBox or Vmware Workstation? It seems like that would solve your underlying problem of access to both environments simultaneously without need for a separate machine from your desktop. – Spooler Apr 3 '18 at 4:05
  • SmallLoanOf1M, I am quite aware. My situation simply requires the use of another CPU, and though I could start a virtual session on my desktop, I'd need to pause the instance every time I started using my desktop for other purposes, and it just seems relatively tedious. – user463604 Apr 3 '18 at 4:38
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Does the BIOS function like a normal workstation? As in, selecting boot devices, changing system settings, etc.

A server really isn't any different than a regular desktop machine, except that they're typically tuned differently and use hardware that's tuned for continuous operation.

Yes. The BIOS should be extremely similar to a desktop workstation.

Could I install a, for example, Debian ISO via USB and expect it to work properly?

Yes. As long as the hardware is supported with the version of Linux being installed (which is pretty much everything). You may run into issues if you're using bleeding edge, or extremely obtuse hardware.

Does the server require any hardware to function that isn't included?

I can't say. You need the basics just like a workstation. A CPU, RAM, storage, etc. There's nothing special about a server you need.

It's a rack server, and I don't have a server rack. Does that cause any issues? Could I just stand place it atop something, giving it a fair amount of breathability, and expect it to cool fine? (I'll only be using like 80% CPU).

This is fine. As long as the vents aren't covered and as long as it's not in a tiny room that traps heat, it doesn't matter.

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