My server needs a purpose
February 6, 2008 8:32 AM   Subscribe

What would you do with a fresh install of Ubuntu 6.06, perfectly functioning LAMP configuration and a 200gig hard drive with a high speed connection?

It took me a few hours last night (mainly just learning how to use the command line) but I now have a brand clean install of Ubuntu serving itself up to my home network. As a complete Linux n00b up to this point I'm rather proud of myself.

After configuring my router, Apache, MySQL and giving the server a static IP address I decided to install Ampache, a web based music manager. I have yet to test it out it's music managing capabiliities but at first impression it is all installed and configured and I can log in over any computer on our network.

(My desire in terms of a local music server include streaming music to my roommates iTunes via RSS feeds, similiar to how iTunes handles podcasts - this is a whole other topic)

Ultimately I want to turn this into more than just a music server. I am a web developer at heart and if I no longer had to pay to host my personal domains I would be quite please.

With LAMP package all set up and running this should be easy right? I own a few domain names but I have no idea how to point them to this server.

I have never run a server before and am basically looking for any interesting projects that would help ground me in terms of what this technology is capable of. Preexisting projects are great but I would not object to getting really hands on and mucking around with PHP and MySQL and whatnot.

I like to tinker as well as think outside the box.

What would you do?
posted by jofuu to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
MythTV? Or for a simpler option, just set up a torrent server / video repository?

Whether your box can serve up your websites depends on what kind of traffic you get. Even on DSL, upstream speeds are usually pretty crappy, so you won't be able to handle any kind of volume well. If nothing else, it will make for a great dev server.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:38 AM on February 6, 2008

To find your computer from the outside world, you'll need either a static IP address (usually seen as a business feature, so it's pricey) or a dynamic DNS provider.

If you have a static IP, go to your registrar's web page and edit the DNS records for your domain to point to your address.... if using dynamic, then your dynamic DNS provider's web site will tell you how to redirect your domains.

Then you'll have to fiddle with the NAT settings on your local router to direct the outside world to your linux server. Edit /etc/network/interfaces to give your Linux box a static IP address on the intranet.

Besides LAMP, some other fun things to do with your own server:
- Install FreeNX or VNC... use your Linux desktop from anywhere.
- Run your own mail server
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:12 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

First thing I would do? Go through the upgrade process up to 7.10
posted by jozxyqk at 9:18 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Do you have enough bandwidth down/up to handle your personal domains?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:37 AM on February 6, 2008

jozxyqk: 6.06 is a long term support release and is perfectly fine for server usage.

jofuu: If you're looking to share music off the server to iTunes, take a look at firefly, it may be called mt-daapd in apt.

It will allow your cache of tunes to show up as a shared iTunes instance to other iTunes users.
posted by jbroome at 9:56 AM on February 6, 2008

I use GraniteCanyon to forward my domain names (including to my IP addresses.
is running on a linksys "slug" on my LAN (this is basically what you want to do). forwards references to to the IP address provided by my ISP - it's not static but has only changed a couple of times in the past 5 years or so. If I suddenly realize I can't access my webserver, I check what my new IP address is, and update my granitecanyon entry.

On my router I need to forward http and ftp requests to my server. This is pretty easy to do - it's a matter of saying that "if you get this tcp request on this port, send it to this local IP address). I've never set up a mail system however. I really should do that someday.

You are right to ask "having done all this, what should I do with it?" After a while you'll get tired of running a computer 24/7 for your friends to see what you've put on it, and either start looking for a low-power alternative or just get a cheap external hosting site. :-)
posted by thomas144 at 11:02 AM on February 6, 2008

To Serve Music? SlimServer.

Logitech/Slim Devices hardware not required. Just install SoftSqueeze on your clients.
posted by notyou at 12:33 PM on February 6, 2008

Best answer: Some things I've done with my box (to varying degrees of success, but consistently high degrees of nerdery:

- Put all your photos on it, install phpAlbum or something similar. With a dynamic DNS, you can share all your photos with friends family instantly, full-sized and ready to print, with no uploading anywhere.
- I suggest in addition to (or in place of) streaming, get a radio transmitter card (or wholehousetransmitter), so you can broadcast to any radio in the house. Ampache can be configured for this "localplay" setup.
- Get a bluetooth adapter, and use hcitool to determine when your bluetooth phone is in range (usually meaning you've arrived home). If your roommate is home and you're not, switch playlist to his favorite music. When you come home, switch playlist to your favorites.
- X10 controller. Can be combo-ed with bluetooth module to turn on outside lights when you get home, etc.
- Install torrentflux, to manage downloads remotely
- Wake up a voice reading you customized traffic/weather/email by combining your alarm clock, the transmitter card mentioned earlier, RSS, and text-to-voice software. You can see it in action by following this shameless self-plug

Also, to save power, I recommend pulling out the video card if there is one, once you're set up for ssh. After disconnecting ROM drives, unused cards, and my video card, I got the machine down to 45W, which is less power than a light bulb being on.
posted by coondognd at 2:08 PM on February 6, 2008 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Awesome response coondognd, in particular the mention of RSS. I had some downtime this afternoon and I read a large portion of the XML Bible (I don't know the actual title, will link later) and was quite intrigued. The motherboard + graphics card are one so I can't do that but I was wondering if OpenSSH is acceptable?

btw congrats and good luck!

@chrisamiller: I hadn't thought about putting any media other than music on here. The torrent idea gave me a further idea; This Drupal module installs a bittorrent tracker. Not sure if this is tangible. Maybe I have a friend who wants to share something he's written or a funny photoshopped picture - even if he was the only peer uploading, the file isn't too large that few folks that did snag it would be upset over their upload or download speed? I guess I'm planning on controlling who visits this project with a restricted registration? Maybe someone can argue me down on that one. *shrug*

@stupidsexyFlanders: yes! Traffic is one thing I don't have.

@qxntpqbbbqxl & thomas144: I'm waiting for my password from DynDns right now. DynDns says on their Dynamic DNS page that you can forward a domain name to a dynamic IP. I suppose I will then have to forward my domain name to A little messy but it's free(?).

@jbroome & notyou: I was a little intimidated by Firefly and decided that maybe it's not so necessary to stream to itunes as it creates an unecessary hassle, so right now i'm investing slimbox/softsqueeze combo.

posted by jofuu at 5:42 PM on February 6, 2008

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