Serve Me

Back when I moved into this house in late 2000 there were only 2 computers in this house. (the horror!!) After a few months I wanted a way to easily transfer information between the two computers without having to use a floppy disk (oh yes!) or a CDR. Thus began my foray into home networking.

I was working as a assistant store manager at Electronics Boutique at the time, and we had a decent array of computer equipment back then. I picked up an unmanaged 5 port Linksys switch, 2 Linksys LAN cards, and a CAT-5 cable. I had no clue what to do with this stuff since my only experience with networking up to that point was with the AppleTalk network at my high school. I talked to one of my part time associates, Jerry, (not that one) and he gave me a quick tutorial since he had experience with ethernet networking. I brought the equipment home with me that day and decided to get started. Within a matter of an hour I had both computers talking to each other. Little did I know this would light a fire under my ass. Although I wouldn’t realize this for a few more years, I knew I wanted every piece of electronics in the house to be networked together.

A few years later I found myself living here on my own and licking my wounds from a 7 year relationship gone wrong. I decided to embrace my inner geek. Over the course of the next year I would amass a small lab of computers in my home. To give you an idea of what I had, here is a picture of just my computers that I had, removed from my computer room to rearrange it back in 2004.

Not only did I embrace my inner geek when it came to things at home, I also jumped in with both feet into my website. Not only was I constantly working on my site but I was doing websites for other people as well. Being the geek that I am, I decided to take one of my old computers, a Pentium II IBM Aptiva (still have it!!) and turn it into a server. I got a copy of Windows Server 2000 from my man JP, installed it and configured it over the course of a week or so. In the end I had a fully functioning DHCP, web development, file, and FTP home server. I used that for years, finally getting rid of it when I had to abandon my computer room to make way for Jackson. Since then, I have wanted to make another home server but just haven’t found a viable way to do it.

About 2 months ago I got the bug again and pulled out my old IBM Aptiva from storage. I was going to start working on recreating that server but then things started getting bad with my dad’s health and pretty much everything was put on hold. Fast forward to the beginning of this week. Things have started to stabilize regarding my dad — unfortunately not so much with his health, but with all of the paperwork that needed to be completed regarding his condition. With that said, my mind started to wander back to that server. After thinking about how much work it was going to be to get that up and running, and the reality that having a server running a 17 year old operating system probably won’t be able to handle today’s current releases of PHP and MySQL, I wanted another option. I tried around Thanksgiving to do just this with my Mac Mini but I ran into the same problem I feared with my Aptiva — the OS and machine were just too old. After mulling it over for a while, I got an idea — a Raspberry Pi. I did some research and found that the latest build of Raspbian (custom Linux distro for the Pi) can get me everything I want in a web development server in under an hour. Not only that, but I should be able to install a Plex server on there, freeing up that task from my iMac. I was sold. I ordered another Pi, power supply, heat sinks, and case yesterday afternoon from Amazon. I’m kind of an impatient kind of guy so I paid the extra $8 and did next day shipping. It’s for delivery right now. I got out a 32gb SD card yesterday and put an image of Raspbian on it, so when it arrives this afternoon, I simply have to assemble the unit, pop in the memory card, and go to work. Right now I’m like a little kid on Christmas Eve looking out the window waiting for Santa — in this case the UPS guy — to arrive. The nice thing is I am off today and I only have work until 10am tomorrow, which means I have plenty of time this weekend to get things configured exactly how I want them. I can’t wait!!

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