advice on making old laptop into home server
June 19, 2007 10:56 AM Subscribe
Converting an old laptop into my first home server - what should I know?
posted by penciltopper to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I've acquired an old thinkpad with a bad integrated graphics card - getting video out only works by going in via RDP. So I figure I'll turn it into a headless home server for media, sharing, something to control from work when I realize I need to start a torrent so it'll be ready when I get home, etc.
I've done some reading, but this is all pretty new to me.
I'll do something with DYNDNS, etc. to get at it from outside. The other computers at home are Macs and an Ubuntu desktop, so I imagine it's only a matter of setting up the shared files on it in a format and sharing scheme that OSX and Ubuntu can read.
Three questions I'm querying the hive mind for experience/advice on:
1) Security: Since I'll be opening it up so I can access it remotely, what should I think about for securing it? I'm not so worried about anyone getting access to the contents of this PC, but I want to isolate it from the other computers at home in such a way that it doesn't make them more vulnerable to badness.
2) OS: I'd like to use a GUI to work with it. I've got the choice of using MS Server2003, XP Pro or Ubuntu. Do I really need to use server software, or can I just use a desktop/workstation install on it if I'm just going to treat it like the one computer I can remotely administer, that happens to have an external HD with shared music, etc on it? Meaning it doesn't have to be a "server" per se as far as I know. I'm new to DYNDNS, but I don't think that I'm required to set the laptop up as a domain controller, etc. What's my least-hassle option?
3) Hardware: It's a laptop, meaning it wasn't designed to be running 24/7 like a server. What, if anything, should/can I do to keep it from burning out? Do I need to mod the case or even remove the guts from the case and put them in some other kind of enclosure? It's a ThinkPad, which have a reputation for durablility, but the person I got it from thinks that the graphics problems came about because it got overheated and this burned out the graphics components on the MB. I bet there's more than one meFite who's turned an old laptop into an always-on device. What did you learn?
Thanks all for your knowledge.