Saturday, 23 February 2013

Homeserver - Install Chrome

I'm going to be really lazy with this one, but I found a good guide that describes how to do it so no point re-inventing the wheel!

Link at

Friday, 22 February 2013

Homeserver - Setting up VNC

You will probably learn to do most things on the server over SSH, but it is always nice to have a VNC session that you can use if there is any GUI applications you need to setup. I decided to go with XFCE as my shell as it is lightweight (perfect for occasional use).

  • Update your repo references - sudo apt-get update
  • Install XFCE - sudo apt-get install xfce4
  • Get a cup of tea, it will take a few minutes to install :)
  • Install the VNC server - sudo apt-get install vnc4server
  • Launch the VNC server - vncserver
  • Enter a password, this will be required every time you try to log on to a VNC session.
  • Kill the session we created - vncserver -kill :1
  • Edit the VNC xstartup file - vi ~/.vnc/xstartup
  • Your file should look like the following:
# Uncomment the following two lines for normal desktop:
# exec /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc

[ -x /etc/vnc/xstartup ] && exec /etc/vnc/xstartup
[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] && xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
xsetroot -solid grey
vncconfig -iconic &
x-terminal-emulator -geometry 80x24+10+10 -ls -title "$VNCDESKTOP Desktop" &
startxfce4 &
  • You are now ready to launch VNC, you can specify the resolution of the screen while launching -  vncserver -geometry 1920x1080
  • When you log in to the server using a VNC client (I recommend VNC viewer or Tight VNC) you should get the below:
VNC session using the XFCE shell
  • Now you are ready to go! You can have multiple VNC sessions that are different resolutions for different devices. 

Homeserver - Assigning a static IP address

Its a good idea when setting up a home server that you use a static IP. That way its guaranteed to get the same IP every time meaning you will not have to make any configuration changes to your devices that point at the server. This post will show you how to set a static IP (I'm using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS server)

Disclaimer: I am not very good at unix/linux! I am not suggesting this is the best way to do it but this is the way I did it!

I followed the instruction on the Ubuntu help site (the version is old, but the instructions still work).

  • Open the interfaces file - sudo vi /etc/network/interfaces
  • Add an entry for your interface using the below example. "address" is the address you want your server to have, "gateway" is the IP address of your router.
auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static

  • Activate the interface - sudo ifup eth0
  • You now have to assign a nameserver (DNS) - sudo vi /etc/resolv.conf
  • Add a nameserver(s) - e.g nameserver
If your resolv.conf has text up the top saying not to update by hand do the following steps
  • Open the following file - sudo vi /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/base
  • Add a nameserver(s) - e.g nameserver
  • Restart resolvconf  - sudo resolvconf -u
And that's it! Your server now has a static IP that is persistent across reboots.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

HP N40L Microserver Overview


In my effort to find components to build a low powered home server, I came across a cashback offer on the HP N40L which was not bad value to begin with as the case is perfect for a small home server. I bought mine off Ebuyer (I paid £210 + postage, although at time of writing the price has gone up to £260!). I used Parcel Motel as Ebuyer will not deliver to Ireland. (Use Google wallet to pay).

It is has a pretty decent spec for the job:

  • AMD Turion™ II Neo N40L (1.5GHz) 
  • AMD RS785E/SB820M chipset
  • Two (2) DIMM slots 
  • 2GB (1x2GB) Standard or 4GB (1x4GB)/8GB Maximum, using PC3-10600E DDR3 Unbuffered (UDIMM) ECC memory, operating at max. 800MHz 
Storage Controller:
  • Embedded AMD SATA controller with RAID 0, 1 
  • Embedded AMD eSATA controller for connecting external storage devices via the eSATA connector in the rear of the server 
Internal Drive Support:
  • 4 Internal HDD Support 
  • Maximum internal SATA storage capacity of up to 8.0TB (4 x 2TB 3.5" SATA drives) 
Network Controller:
  • Embedded NC107i PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Server Adapter 
Expansion Slots:
  • Slot 1: PCI-Express Gen 2 x16 connector with x16 link 
  • Slot 2: PCI-Express Gen 2 x1 connector with x1 Link 
  • Slot 2-2: PCI-Express x4 slot for optional management card 
  • USB 2.0 Ports: 
  • Seven (7) USB 2.0 ports: 4 front , 2 rear, 1 internal (for tape) 
Power Supply:
  • 150 Watts Non-Hot Plug, Non Redundant Power Supply 
I received it today and it looks great, a really solid looking machine. I have not bought any extra hard drives for it at the moment (I'm banking that the prices are going to keep falling :) )

I have thrown Ubuntu LTS 12.04.2 64-bit Server edition onto it. I installed it using a USB disc drive. In future blog posts I am, mainly for my own records!, going to document the set up steps I run on this machine to get it working as a home server.