Building a local Ubuntu server – Part 1: The hardware

Testing the system

We haven’t installed the OS (Operating System) yet, but we can at least start the server up and make sure the UEFI settings are OK for our configuration.

For this, you will need:

  • A power cord.
  • A keyboard.
  • A network cable.
  • A monitor, and any type of video cable supported by both the monitor and the motherboard.

Connect the keyboard, the network cable, and the monitor. I used an HDMI cable to connect the server to the same monitor as my gaming PC (which uses a DisplayPort connector). That way I could easily switch between displaying the two computers at any time.

Finally, plug in the power cord, flip the power switch on the PSU to ON (if there is one), and press the power button on the chassis. If nothing happens, you have probably forgotten to connect one end of the power cord (no, I didn’t… this time…), or you have not connected the cables (specifically the one for the power switch) from the chassis to the motherboard correctly.

Just let it run this first time. It will end up giving you an error message about not finding a bootable device (or similar) but we don’t care about that right now.

Instead, just watch the inside of the server and make sure that all the fans are running. Particularly the CPU fan. If that one don’t work, shut down the server immediately and check the cables.

If all seems well, reboot (use the reboot button on the chassis to test it) and press F2 (or whatever key the motherboard manual tells you to use) to enter the UEFI settings.

The UEFI on this motherboard can (as most modern boards) connect directly to the Internet to update itself. We want to do that to get the latest UEFI version, and to test the network adapter. So, go to the UEFI Tool page and select Network Configuration. Check the settings, and then select Internet Flash (on the Tool page) to download and update to the latest UEFI version.

Note: I skipped the step above before my first attempt to install Ubuntu, and the installation failed when trying to connect to the network. After performing the upgrade as above, it worked fine. So either the update contained something important (thought I didn’t see anything of it in the release notes), or it was enough to simply activate the Ethernet adapter once by performing this update. Either way – don’t skip that step.

I initially intended to go over the UEFI settings here, but decided against it. I actually did change quite a few of them, but none of the changes were really important. My server will be standing in a corner with no monitor and no input devices connected, so I opted for stability when choosing the settings. For example: Absolutely no overclocking of anything, switching off built-in hardware that I will not be using (e.g. sound), etc. I also want the server to be as quiet as possible, so I chose the most quiet mode for the fans, and let the HDD spin down when not used.

Writing this final paragraphs, I realized that it has now been over a month since I built the server and started this post :O I hope that I will get around to finishing the follow-up post on installing the software faster than that…


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