Building a local Ubuntu server – Part 1: The hardware

My home network server: mother

In this post, I’ll talk about how I built my new home network server, “mother” (you know, like the main computer on the Nostromo in the original Alien movie).

The picture below shows the top of the bureau where I have my “server stuff”. From left to right: The Samsung SCX-3405W printer, the ZyXEL router (behind the lamp), the Nespresso U Black coffee machine (what can I say – I cannot be bothered to walk all the way to the kitchen when I’m sitting by the computer), the Western Digital MyCloud 2TB NAS, and my brand new orange and black server.

My new server (orange and black) and some other stuff.

My first multi-page post

This happens to be my first multi-page blog post. Splitting a post into more than one page turned out to be simple in WordPress, but I had some problems with getting the page navigation to work as I wanted. I spent quite a few hours on that before I gave up on using the built-in navigation functions and implemented my own page navigation “bar”. I guess I’ll make a separate post about that later…


IMAX Mini. Not the same model as mine, but similar enough.

IMAX Mini. Not the same model as mine, but similar enough.

I recently decided that it was time to set up a server on my home network. There are several reasons, but the main one is that it would make my web development work easier. Initially, I just wanted to try out the concept of having a server, so I dug up my old Packard Bell IMAX Mini N3600 from the cupboard to try it on.

It was relatively simple to install and set up Ubuntu Server on it, and since then it has been standing on the top of a bookshelf, doing its thing. The only cable connected to it is the power cord. There is no monitor, mouse or keyboard attached (I use SSH to administer it over the network from another computer), and I use its built-in WiFi to connect it to the network.

Sounds good, right? So whats the problem? Well, simply put: Lack of processing power and speed.

The IMAX Mini is not intended for doing any heavy lifting. I don’t remember when I bought it, but must have been 2010 or earlier, and it wasn’t exactly a high performer then either. It has an Intel Atom 230 CPU, 2GB (DDR2) RAM, and what appears to be the slowest mechanical hard drive in the known universe, so I didn’t expect it to last long as a server. In fact, I had already made a list of components for its replacement, and was pretty much ready to send an order – I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet – when the IMAX Mini decided that it’d had enough and committed suicide. Nah, that’s not quite true, is it? It was me. Is Computer-slaughter a word?

Anyway, that was yesterday afternoon, and I quickly realized just how dependent I had become of having a (working) server on the network in just the week or two I’d had it. So I spent a couple of hours revising my component list against what they had in stock at the only local computer store (which luckily is open on Sundays) and today I was there right after they opened at noon with my purchase list.

I felt rather lucky getting all of the components on the list since all of them, except for the hard drives, where listed as having just one item left in stock. In fact, while I was waiting by the counter for the guy who ran off to pick up my stuff, I overheard the customer at the next counter trying to buy “the cheapest internal DVD writer”, and the cashier replying that he was in luck – they had a single one left. The customer was happy for about three seconds before I said that I was pretty sure that “my” cashier was out fetching that writer for me. Turned out I was right.


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