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Quest for a Low-Power Home Server


December 29, 2008 by brian

For quite awhile I’ve been interested in setting up a low-power machine to do my home server tasks and allow for some geeky linux experiments. After doing the initial cost-benefit analysis it didn’t appear that I’d be able to build anything that would be cheap enough to give a reasonable return on investment, in terms of power consumption. However, after months I finally came across the MSI Wind PC barebones at NewEgg.

msi-wind-pcMy amazing wife bought it for me as a gift, and I’ve been nipping at the bit to get this thing going. This little guy has a low-power Intel Atom processor on-board and appears to be plenty of power for my needs. Also, I won’t need to purchase any additional hardware. I already have 200-pin DDR2 RAM that I pulled from my iMac, and I have a few SATA hard drives laying around to choose from. To start I’ve configured it with a 2.5″ laptop hard drive since it will consume less power and be less “loudy” (something a college professor of mine used to say – still cracks me up). I may add a larger drive in the 5.25″ bay for some storage if I need it later. I opted to leave it without an optical drive, since I can easily install GNU/Linux from a USB drive. I’ve installed a server configuration of Ubuntu 8.10 so far. When idle, the server only consumes 21 watts.

Here are some of my plans for the server, which I may write about in the future:

  • Run a VPN server for my home network, possibly OpenVPN
  • Build a web-based Wake-on-LAN system so I can wake up my iMac from an iPhone shortcut on my home screen, even while on Edge connectivity
  • A backup relay, to upload important data from my network to an off-site location

1 comment »

  1. Congrats on the new server! Keep us up to date on the power consumption and how the plans pan out.

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