Home Server ideas

Questions about applications and software
Forum rules
Before you post please read this

Home Server ideas

Postby gordon.cooke on Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:45 pm

Well, the old desktop machine gave up the ghost and time to get a new one. I want to set up a home server to tie things together. I am looking for input on two things: 1) ideas for "requirements" of what the server should do- perhaps a capability you wish you had at home or do have now and 2) ideas and input about software or tools to meet the "requirements" - thinsg youve tried or seen that work well or are crap.

The environment:
Laptop running Linux Mint 13
Laptop running Win 7
Android Phone
iPhone
iPad
Asus Transformer Prime tablet
HP usb printer (no wifi or airlink or anything)

Looking to buy a new machine as hardware for the server. Am seriously considering a server calss machine- Dell Poweredge tower or a bare bones kit.
Im very computer savy, but rets of family is not. So I can handle some in depth configuration and management tasks, but during normal use need to be simple and eay.

Needs / Requirements
- Shared storage space
- ease of backup/recovery
- Dont want data loss
- On the machine itself- want to run LInux natively and have easy access to Windows (thinking a virtualization solution, dual boot too much hassel)
Can I get it so linux runs full time and wife can sit down and bring up Windows simply?
- Music library (currently have maybe 200-300 GB of music)
- Video library(have only justtsrated ripping but maybe 100-200 DVDs worth)
- able to stream music and video
- would like to be able to remote into the server
- Im an engineer and do a lot of scientific and heavy computation work (R, Matlab, CAE, etc) access to those resources from tablet would be good

Ideas
- Im very familiar with VirtualBox, but KVM looks like it might be better (any input?) Virtualbox has issues with certain aspects of windows, esp graphics.
- RAIDed disk array
- Critical fiels backed up to 1TB portable drive and stored offsite (parents house of a safe deposit box)
- Plex media server (anyone used it? Any input?)
- VPN and SSH
- VNC server

Thanks for any help and ideas
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mint 13 64bit Cinnamon
Asus U56E Laptop, Core i5-2410M, Intel graphics, 6GB RAM
Mint 9 64bit
Averatec 2573 Laptop, AMD Turion 64x2, ATI Graphics, Atheros wireless, 3GB RAM
User avatar
gordon.cooke
Level 3
Level 3
 
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:48 pm
Location: New York

Linux Mint is funded by ads and donations.
 

Re: Home Server ideas

Postby eanfrid on Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:02 pm

Hello,

Some quick answers:
- KVM is far better on resources than VB except for multimedia and video support under X. You will hardly have an X session with more than 1024x768 (non-accelerated) in a graphical VM. I only have good 3D support (QXL driver) in Windows VM under KVM.
- Regarding data safety, prefer RAID1 (mirror with 2 disks) or the best of all in price/performance: RAID10 (minimum: 4 disks).
Main desktop: Debian GNU/Linux Wheezy 64bit w/custom 3.14 longterm kernel - MATE 1.8.1
(i5 2400@3.7GHz - 16GB DDR3 - HD6770 w/radeon driver - SSD+RAID1)
True private storage on SpiderOak
User avatar
eanfrid
Level 7
Level 7
 
Posts: 1776
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:49 am
Location: => ~

Re: Home Server ideas

Postby kwisher on Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:26 pm

My suggestion would be to purchase a dedicated PC for the server and server only. No need for server grade hardware for the tasks you listed. An AMD quad-core cpu with 2-4 gigs of ram will be plenty for a file/media server. In fact, a Raspberry Pi would suffice for file server duties. I would use either debian or ubuntu server for the o/s and make it headless. You can purchase 3 large hard disks and use software raid for a minimum of a raid-5 configuration. If you really want a user to be able to sit at the server and run Win-7 in a VM then I would up the ram to as much as you can afford or the system can handle. I run 2 VB Windows VM's at the same time from my workstation with 16gb ram just fine.
The instructions suggested Windows XP or better, so I installed Linux :)
User avatar
kwisher
Level 5
Level 5
 
Posts: 635
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:54 pm
Location: Greentown, Indiana USA

Re: Home Server ideas

Postby gordon.cooke on Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:02 pm

An update on progress. Took a trip to my local Microcenter and purchased the hardware. Completed the physical build.

CPU: AMD FX8320 - 8 core 3.5 GHz $140
http://www.microcenter.com/product/4017 ... _Processor

Motherboard: MSI 970A-G43 $70
http://www.msi.com/product/mb/970A-G43. ... v=Overview
http://www.microcenter.com/product/4084 ... otherboard

Memory: 2x 4GB Crucial Ballistix Sport $50
http://www.microcenter.com/product/3820 ... Modules%29

Graphics: Saphire HD5450 1GB $35 (-$15 rebate = $20)
http://www.microcenter.com/product/3570 ... Video_Card

Case: MSI Raveger ATX Mid-tower with 6 internal HD bays and 3 external bays, includes a front and rear case fan $55 (-$15 rebate = $20)
http://www.microcenter.com/product/3960 ... puter_Case

Hard Drive: 3TB WD Green 6 Gb/s $130
http://www.microcenter.com/product/3751 ... EZRX_-_OEM

PSU: Corsair CX600M 600W modular $70 (-$10 rebate = $60)
http://www.microcenter.com/product/4060 ... wer_Supply

DVD: Got an open box OEM SATA DVD multi drive $17

Total $567 and I have $40 in rebates coming

I also picked up a refurbished 19 inch dell monitor for $60

Assembled the computer and used a Seagate 160GB hard drive I had laying around at home to put the OS on, leaving the entire 3TB for storage.

The build went rather well. The front case fan uses a molex connector. Since I used a SATA DVD drive the front fan was the only molex connector I needed. Lost some of the benefits of the modular power supply there. The rear case fan connects right to the motherboard. I had asked the salesman about SATA cables and such- his anwer was no worries since the board comes with 6 cables (it has 6 SATA connectors). But in fact it only came with 2 SATA cables. Not a big worry- I picked up additional SATA cale online for under $2 with no shipping and it showed up the next day.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mint 13 64bit Cinnamon
Asus U56E Laptop, Core i5-2410M, Intel graphics, 6GB RAM
Mint 9 64bit
Averatec 2573 Laptop, AMD Turion 64x2, ATI Graphics, Atheros wireless, 3GB RAM
User avatar
gordon.cooke
Level 3
Level 3
 
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:48 pm
Location: New York

Re: Home Server ideas

Postby powerhouse on Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:14 am

Just saw the thread - so excuse my late reply.

I strongly suggest using either Xen or KVM for virtualization. KVM might be tricky, as it tends to crash the host when you leave the guest.

I've written a Xen how-to which can be found here: http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=112013

Regarding backup:

I formated my drives to LVM and the data drives to striped LVM (for performance). This should give similar performance compared to RAID0. You can also use LVM to mirror volumes, or use RAID in conjunction with LVM. If you have time, it might be worth to experiment a little.

I strongly recommend LVM as the media for your guest storage. Use RAW storage under Xen, as I've described in the tutorial.

Now to the performance:

http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=112013&start=40#p702361

Good luck in whatever you choose!
Asus Sabertooth X79, i7 3930K CPU, 8x4GB Kingston DDR3 RAM, Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler, Sapphire 7770 GPU, PNY Quadro 2000 GPU, Asus Xonar Essence STX, Sandisk Extreme 120GB SSD + various HD, Corsair 500R case, SeaSonic 660W Gold X PS
powerhouse
Level 5
Level 5
 
Posts: 641
Joined: Thu May 03, 2012 3:54 am

Re: Home Server ideas

Postby gordon.cooke on Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:20 am

Install update:

Been tinkering all week (only get a little time each day). Tried KVM a little and decided to go with Xen. Perhaps mainly because I could find better documentation as well as better hopes getting VGA passthrough working. I found a number of suggestions to use a Red Hat based distro for KVM since they develop it and in theory would be better support. I've been wanting to check out Scientific Linux anyway so I gave it a go. Nothing wrong with the distro, but I am way too familiar with apt and debian based systems. My suggestion to anyone- stick with what you are comfortable with! (I will eventually have a Sci Linux guest so I can build my skills)

Tried straight Debian. Got a Win 7 guest installed with KVM using virt-manager. It ran. But that was a vanilla VNC and moving a window around was very laggy! Couldnt figure out VGA passthrough. And as a general comment I was not happy with vanilla Debian gnome desktop. I was missing all kinds of Mint tools Im so used to going to.

Was considering usingsomething small and lightweight for dom0 with Xen. Found a distro called Alpine- they evenhad an iso that was preconfigured for Xen. Looked promising but when booted my USB keyboard didnt work and I wasnt inclined to try and find a PS2 keyboard try that. Next!

Installed Mint Debian Edition. I love Mint! Install went fine and my printer was already detected and configured. I followed powerhouse's instructions on the forum. Worked like a charm. Was happy to see that the vncviewer is actually TightVNC and I was very impressed with it's performance. Windows move around cleanly etc. Might be fine for regular light work but with no 3d graphics leaves a litle to be desired. Worked on VGA passthrough- havent gotten it to work yet.

I tried using an old (and I mean circ 1996) pci VGA card I had laying around- an S3 Turbo 64V+ to see if I could get Linux to use it and passthrough the Radeon to Win. No luck yet. I might actually have something too old for linux? Grabbed a second Radeon card (same one) before the sale/rebate ended. Had better luck but after installing drivers in Win7 the guest rebooted and the graphics were all messed up in VNC and nothing on the video card.

Tried to do a windows reinstall and Im not sure how I messed it up. May have messed up the Xen configuration so I decided to reinstall dom0. i reinstalled dom0 with LMDE, setup Xen, and tried to bring up the existing win7 guest with no luck. Tried to boot the install iso against the existing LVM to overright with no luck. Tried to creat a new LVM to install into with no luck. Kept getting errors related to the device model. i think I messed up the soft links for the Xen folders. Powerhouse gave instructioins for Mint 13 and 14, but looks like LMDE is a mix of the two- some things are the same as Mint 13 and others Mint 14. I couldn't get it right even though I had done it before.

Last night I reformated the entire drive and reinstalled with Mint 13. This weekends project will be to get Xen set up and get VGA passthrough working.

Thinking it through- Mint 13 LTS is supported to 2017 and may be more stable as a dom0 than the rolling release LMDE. I had not looked at LMDE since it first rolled out and Ive been running Cinamon 13 since it was released. After seeing it, I really like the LMDE. I may switch over my laptop and will definatly run an LMDE VM.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mint 13 64bit Cinnamon
Asus U56E Laptop, Core i5-2410M, Intel graphics, 6GB RAM
Mint 9 64bit
Averatec 2573 Laptop, AMD Turion 64x2, ATI Graphics, Atheros wireless, 3GB RAM
User avatar
gordon.cooke
Level 3
Level 3
 
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:48 pm
Location: New York

Re: Home Server ideas

Postby gordon.cooke on Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:23 am

As an aside: I realize I write really Loooooonnggg posts. Perhaps most people dont actually want to read them. But I like to use the forums as a way to document what Ive done and figured out. Perhaps it will help someone, but a more selfish reason is that I can hit "view your posts" and easily find things I've figured out in the past. I work in a research lab and detailed documentation is everything.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mint 13 64bit Cinnamon
Asus U56E Laptop, Core i5-2410M, Intel graphics, 6GB RAM
Mint 9 64bit
Averatec 2573 Laptop, AMD Turion 64x2, ATI Graphics, Atheros wireless, 3GB RAM
User avatar
gordon.cooke
Level 3
Level 3
 
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:48 pm
Location: New York

Re: Home Server ideas

Postby powerhouse on Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:37 pm

@gordon.cooke:

1. Looong posts: I have the same problem, for the same reason. I wrote the how-to so I could look it up when needed. Who can remember all these zillion steps (though by the 3rd time you'll know them by heart).

2. "Device model": Check the windows configuration file, there is a line like the one below (I'm now running LM 14 Mate):
Code: Select all
device_model = '/usr/lib/xen-default/bin/qemu-dm'


You can search your file system for "qemu-dm", in my case it resides in /usr/lib/xen-4.1/bin, and xen-default under /usr/lib is a link to .../xen-4.1

Just make sure the entry in your config file points to the actual file.

3. It's best to install Linux Mint 13 or 14 Mate, as described in the how-to. Once you got everything setup and running, you will find it quite easy to do another install, then with the Linux flavor you prefer.

4. I presume that you installed two Sapphire HD 5450. Have you installed the fglrx driver (AMD proprietary driver) in dom0? With two Radeon cards you may have to compile the kernel with pciback so you can detach one card at boot in order to then pass it through to your Windows guest. But first try to sort out the other stuff. When you're installing Windows (still in the VNC viewer), after the Windows reboot (or the second reboot?) check your device manager and see if your graphics card shows up. If yes, go to the AMD website and download and install the corresponding Windows AMD driver, then shutdown your Windows VM and start it again. If your passed through VGA card is connected to a screen, it should, at some point, show the Windows login. Use the VNC viewer to monitor the boot process, sometimes Windows asks for user input (via the VNC window).

Good luck!
Asus Sabertooth X79, i7 3930K CPU, 8x4GB Kingston DDR3 RAM, Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler, Sapphire 7770 GPU, PNY Quadro 2000 GPU, Asus Xonar Essence STX, Sandisk Extreme 120GB SSD + various HD, Corsair 500R case, SeaSonic 660W Gold X PS
powerhouse
Level 5
Level 5
 
Posts: 641
Joined: Thu May 03, 2012 3:54 am

Re: Home Server ideas

Postby gordon.cooke on Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:50 pm

As an update: I have Windows 7 working as a guest domU using Xen with Mint 13 as the host dom0. Using VGA passthrough for windows.

Some notes on the configuration with two hards. Im using the first drive for the OS and the second for data.
sda1 ext3 /boot
sda2 ext4 /
sda3 LVM for the guests, 40GB raw for Win7.
sda4 swap
sdb1 ext4

I have sdb1 mounted in linux dom0. In windows added a network share to a shared folder under the mount poit (ie physically on the sdb drive) and then I repointed (changed Location) of the user My Documents, My Music, etc at folders in the sdb1. That way they are easy to share the folders between systems, and the LVM on sda3 will contain the OS and programs but wont fill and expand with user data.

File and print sharing seem to be working very well from the dom0. Reconsidering if I should make a domU for NAS or just rely on dom0?

Still need to set up a media server domU with Plex. Planning to look at mediatomb also. Im open to any input on plex or mediatomb from anyone.

I am currently having some issues with errors during boot up, and with the system locking up. I believe the lockups may be related to some bad hard drives I was mounting to transfer data into the new system. Also cannot get cpufreq working just yet. (opened a seperate thread on that issue)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mint 13 64bit Cinnamon
Asus U56E Laptop, Core i5-2410M, Intel graphics, 6GB RAM
Mint 9 64bit
Averatec 2573 Laptop, AMD Turion 64x2, ATI Graphics, Atheros wireless, 3GB RAM
User avatar
gordon.cooke
Level 3
Level 3
 
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:48 pm
Location: New York

Linux Mint is funded by ads and donations.
 

Return to Software & Applications

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 3 guests