John's Musings

Yeah, Me Neither

Parts! Parts! Too Many Parts!

Out of the current fiasco of building file servers I had one bad motherboard, however I wasn't sure at the time if it was the board or the CPU and because they were budget items I just bought new ones so I could complete the build in the interest of time. Turned out the mainboard was bad and I sent it back for an RMA and just received it back.

So now I have enough parts to build YET ANOTHER COMPUTER. I have no earthly idea what I'm going to do with this box but that's not going to stop the likes of me! The only thing I was lacking was a case. And since the motherboard I have can be powered from a 19v laptop brick and I have a big passive cooler that means this box can be silent. So I started looking for a box with some ventilation and came up with the Thermaltake Core V1. This case has almost as many holes in it as what is in my head or my wallet right now.

Here's the prospective build and bear in mind I already have most of this junk laying around. This is what it would entail if you bought into it cold. You could save some bucks by just putting in 8GB of RAM or getting a cheaper SSD or mechanical hard drive.






Asrock AM1H-ITX




Athlon 5350




Crucial DDR3 16GB




ThermalTake V1



Hard Drive

SSD Crucial MX300



Anyway for about $200 - $300 you can have a fairly impressive little rig. I wouldn't try to take it to a FRAG party or try for "Best In Show" at the gaming rig convention but for most folks this is still a lot of computer. Enough certainly to run a web or mail server. You could certainly build a file server as well but the ThermalTake Core V1 case isn't really suited well to that. Still you could cram two big hard drives in there and boot from a USB stick, so yeah, technically it could be a file server too.

After thinking about it a bit I think I'll make a web server out of it and maybe just run a tiny server off of it at home. My ISP forbids that but let old John clue you in on some stuff. What they don't know won't hurt them. Besides this server will have almost no traffic, and that's what they don't want. Is you using all their bandwidth without paying the business cost for it. I'll use my server to build and test web pages at home and then deploy them to my web host. Work out all the kinks first. While it's laying around it can be a LogitechMediaServer for streaming music as well, or some more network attached storage. Or I can hang my 3D Printer off of it. I'll find some other job for it to do to keep it practical as well.

I was partly inspired by this article in Linux Format Magazine.

So as in the article I'll use Debian Linux for this. That was the link to the small network image. No reason to install desktop software here. This computer will run without a monitor keyboard or mouse. I'll enable ssh and control it from my laptop. That's what real geeks do.

Now I need a domain name. You can get free domain names from a variety of places but they are always like Not being sure exactly what the master plan is here I just ponied up the $10 from for Not very inventive, I know.

On Linux you will need a program called ddclient to make sure you can always find on the internet even with your ISP changes your IP address.

Go to Advanced DNS under your NameCheap account for the website in question and scroll to the Dynamic DNS section and copy your password.

ddclient will have a ddclient.conf file that I won't go into much detail here with but you fill it in with directions from here:

Now your web host blocks you from running a server which really means they block port 80 on your IP address. So here's what you do. Change your default port from 80 to say.......2100 in /etc/apache2/ports.conf file depending on what version of apache web server you are using. Once you restart your web server to then get to your website you would need to type

Nobody wants to do that, not even you so then you go back to Advanced DNS in NameCheap and set up a redirect. Anyone that types in get invisibly sent to Cool, huh? Make sure the Type is URL Redirect Record and it is set to "Masked" That way no one sees the actual port number.

The build went really well and the case has tons of room and the cabling from the case is exquisite. The motherboard mounts on top and the power supply mounts on the bottom. The problem with that is that this build doesn't need a power supply. The AM1H-ITX motherboard can be powered by a 19v laptop power brick. There's even a ton of room in here and I was able to add a passive cooler. The Alpine M1.

I had a couple minor problems that my 3D printer had to solve for me. I added a 2.5" SSD and as you can see in the picture above there are two vertical trays for 3.5" hard drives. So I printed up an adapter.

Then because there is no power supply there is a huge hole in the back of the case where the ATX power supply goes. So I went to and found an ATX power supply cover which fit perfectly. The series of 3 photos below depicts.

So then it was just a matter of installing Debian and configuring the web server, Emby-Server, and Webmin, which is a web page based configuration utility. Very handy for controlling your server without a keyboard, mouse, or monitor. Headless. That's how geeks do it.

I have installed by haven't configured the Emby media server yet but I did configure my web server. Haven't put a site up yet but I did get the Apache2 test page which means it works!

I did it. A rock solid stable Linux server ready to deploy. Very low price, and only took a couple of hours to configure and that was me fooling around. Pick up a that copy of Linux Format and build one for yourself!