Introduction: The Secret Server

Picture of The Secret Server
This is a very easy instructable.
It shows how to build, install and configure your own and secret Server - System.
  • It is cheap
  • It is easy
  • It is secret
  • It is steampunk

The idea behind this server was to hide it in a bokk or something similar.
The basic system is a thin client wich can be obtained for less than 25.- EUR. These cleints have very low power consumtion and most of them will have a CF - Slot.
CF - Card became less expensive in the last month and you can buy one with a capacity up to 64 GByte for a moderate price.


After some days off using the server I measured more than 40 degrees C during heavy load.
So I decided to drill additional holes in the top and bottom. Now there is enough airflow to keep the server cool.

With kind regards,


Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You need:

For the NAS - Server:

For the installation:
  • 1 USB CD or DVD drive for installation
  • 1 Keyboard
  • 1 TFT Monitor

Step 2: Hardware Installation

Picture of Hardware Installation

Disassemble the thin client and fit it into the book safe as shown on the pictures.
Slide the CF into the CF slot.

Attach CD - drive, the TFT and the keyboard.
Attach Power and Network.

Step 3: Installation of Software

Picture of Installation of Software

Download the ISO file and burn it to a CD.
Boot from CD and after a while you will see the main menu.
Choose install >> 9
Choose embedded installation with data partition. This will gives you space on the CF to use for the WWW server and for storing data.
If you have 512MByte and / or more RAM you can skip the swap partition. This gives you more space for data.

After the installation is completed, reboot the server.

Step 4: Configuring the Network

Picture of Configuring the Network

The NAS4free system will choose the first network interface automatically.
For the first configuration steps, it is a good idea to use DHCP for the installation process.
Skip IPv6 if you don´t need it.
After the configuration has finished it will display the IP address obtained from the DHCP - Server.

Step 5: Configure the NAS - System

Picture of Configure the NAS - System

Type the give IP address into the browsers address field.
Login with:

User: admin
PWD: nas4free

The server will show the main page.

Now we have to add and mount the CF.
From the Disk menu choose management and add the CF as a disk.
Make sure, you choose UFS as the pre formatted file system.

Now we have to configure the mount point.
Choose mount from the disk menu and define a mount point. Here I have chosen "data" as the mount point.
Make sure that you use the right parameter like partition number, file system and partition type.

Creating directories
From the advanced menu choose file manager
Navigate to the mount point you created and create two directories:


So the pr configuration is done. Let´s configure the WEB Service, FTP and the access for WINDOWS user.

Step 6: Configuring the Services Webserver and Ftp

Picture of Configuring the Services Webserver and Ftp

To enable the WWW service to be active on port 80 we have to reconfigure the access pot for the admin GUI.
Let´s set it to 8080.
Reboot the server and now it must be accessed via the port 8080.


Login again.

Now activate and configure the webserver like the picture below.
Activate FTP server.
Create an user upload and assign a password. Point the home directory to wwwroot.
Assign groups admin, ftp, www

Step 7: Configure Service Samba (WINDOWS Share)

Picture of Configure Service Samba (WINDOWS Share)

Activate SMB services and configure as shown in the pictures below.
Add a share as shown in the picture below.
Add a user to access the share.
I used a user without password.
 you can provide a password if you like.

Step 8: Upload an Access the First HTML Page.

Picture of Upload an Access the First HTML Page.

Use a ftp client to upload some HTML sites.
Type the IP address of your new server into the address field.
The page must be displayed.
Now try to access the SMB (WINDOWS) share.

OK? Yes? Congratulations you now have a secret server.......

If there are any questions, please ask.

Horatius Steam

Step 9: The Secret Server Reloaded

Picture of The Secret Server Reloaded

Time goes by and new hardware was developed.

Some of you mentioned that the storage inside the secret server is a bit low.

I found the BananaPi wich has a lot of dual core CPU Power and 1GByte of RAM on board. And it has a

SATA connector. So I replaced the old board by a BananaPi Board and added a 1 TByte hard disk.

The operating System was replaced by OpenMedia Vault wich comes with a lot of additional plugins.

I added the Wordpress plugin so the Secret server has also a secret BLOG :-)

The temperature inside the book is very low and the server is much faster.....


OpenMedia Vault

OMV for BanananPi



DJCoopes (author)2014-11-02

What is the exact website address to download nas4free?

mred2 (author)2014-04-01

I just wanted to point you to a Nas4Free addon I thought you might be interested in.

Most have heard of minidlna, however the gentleman here

has turned it into an extension that adds it to your menu making it easier to configure than having to edit files. Just add the directories you have your videos, pictures or movies in and they will stream straight to your PS3, xbox or other DLNA device.

Just thought I'd share.

Horatius.Steam (author)mred22014-04-02

Thank you very much!

james.m.k (author)2013-02-10

Very nice!

Too bad you must limit the storage to what can fit and be cooled in the book.

Though I suppose that you could go yardsaleing and buy a real HUGE book, glue the pages together, and hollow it out.

wizodd0 (author)james.m.k2013-02-10

Not really, large capacity ssd drives are very small, so at least a terabyte or tow can easily fit into a 'standard' hardback. And you might look for used books of any size, the really fat ones are usually far less likely to be grabbed off the shelf...

dogsgomoo (author)wizodd02013-02-10

You could always stack a few books together like in that recent stacked book-safe ible. Go all out for a hidden multi-drive RAID NAS.The whole shelf of books is really a server. ;) Even stick a wifi access point in the whole thing and make some book marks into the antenna....

james.m.k (author)dogsgomoo2013-02-12


That's true! I've got a 6TB raid device I'm going to turn into a NAS, and that would probably work. Vent the heat out the back of the bookcase.

But that would probably defeat the purpose of hiding the NAS in the first place, because the bigger it is, the more likely that someone may randomly try to pick up a book that's actually part of the NAS.

In that case, probably hiding it in the wall is probably the best bet, though you may end up with the same ventilation issues.

I'm remembering a TV show where someone was using an IR link to a NAS that was hidden in his wall. Pretty tricky. Not even any radio signals to give it away. Though it would probably be VERY SLOOOW. :) And if you could find an IR dongle for the USB port, it would be hard to track down.

dogsgomoo (author)james.m.k2013-02-13

Hrm... Good point! Maybe I could put the row of 'books' behind locked glass doors and tell everyone they are ultra rare limited editions printed on monk blessed paper recovered from the wreck of the Sultana, so no touchy. ;)

Doors would also muffle any sounds from a fan if I had to stick one in there. Then of course someone might try and steal the books and all they'd get is some torn up dime store hardcovers containing my lolcat image depository.

Yeah.. I'm way over thinking this.

Tex Arcana (author)dogsgomoo2014-03-02

go up: put the books/server on a high, inaccessible shelf, higher the better. that way, the chance of someone grabbing one of those books is far lower, and with them farther away from the ear, the sounds won't be as noticeable.

astral_mage (author)james.m.k2013-09-30

many home can be wired up 4 hdmi now a days. and or usb cables. so no one would take a second look at yr hdmi port thats reconfigured to a usb set up until they try to plug some thing in it

james.m.k (author)astral_mage2013-09-30

Hmmm. You'd either want a setup that either acted like it wasn't connected to anything, or with extra outlets configured the same way, as if you just happened to use outlets with USB, but then you'd need an excuse for having your computer hooked into it.

Tachyon (author)james.m.k2013-02-13

Choose books no one would possibly want to read.
I've seen Sarah Palin's book in the 99 cent bin at the bookstore. ;')

james.m.k (author)Tachyon2013-09-30

LOL! I'm not even going to touch that one! In every way possible!

Actually, you don't want to make it too obvious that you're trying to avoid investigation. Maybe instead of a set of books, you could choose a large art display that fits between the books. Maybe a fish tank, mirrored in the back to confuse the eye, that you, again vent out the back of the bookcase.

diy_bloke (author)2013-12-18


claudiopolis (author)2013-02-10

Nice build. But where's the storage? I doubt 32 Gb qualifies for a "storage" server. USB external drives will be heavily slowed down by the USB 2.0 speed. A wireless router with USB storage will do the same thing. Easier for the user, too...

Now I don't want to rain on your parade, that's a very nice thing you have. And if you don't mind the USB transfer speed then I would suggest you to buy an old WD Book drive as it already has the book shape. It would look nice next to the other books.

astral_mage (author)claudiopolis2013-09-30

umm tyme to think abut 3.0 usbs now? an also firewire set up as well, dont 4 get abut scuzzy drives


the storage is the 32GByte. Its a secret server to store less, very secret data :-).
And why this motherboard? It is extremely cheap. you can by it for less than 20.- EUR.
Including the 1Gbyte RAM!

Well in that case I stand corrected. Your 32 Gbytes of secret data is safe. Still, I would have used a hidden USB stick like stonehenge360 did here:
Cheaper than 20 Eur, I guess.

WOW this is a nice idea.
Thank you for the hint.
Do you ever heard about "Dead Drops"?

Yes, I saw it, a while ago. I don't like the idea. Security risks are huge.
I'll keep that file sharing idea in my mind for the day "the earth stood still" and the Internet crashes. Chicks will stay in line at the walls for the latest album of some weird star. Movies will launch "on a stick near you" :-) Stuff like that.


steve58 (author)2013-02-10

Fun idea! I've no complaints with your hardware choice, I just want to add some ideas for people. Look also at what is available on mini-itx and micro-itx form factors. I just set up a D525 based server, but it would admittedly require a larger volume...something along the lines of Tokien's Fantastiche Welt. :-)

Horatius.Steam (author)steve582013-02-11

Yes, I thought about these boards. But there are very expensive....

not if u go through

steve58 (author)Horatius.Steam2013-02-11

You are absolutely correct in that.

Just for fun, though, some of those cpu/motherboards are rather capable and are still fanless. Some folks like to mount their home servers in a rack with the the high tech look, but it would be fun to mount one's complete home server setup on a book case inside a classic book! Wireless keyboard in another large book.

Like most folks have said, thanks a lot for posting it. Even when I don't actually build what i see on instructables, it's a hoot to see the creative ideas.


peebee1 (author)2013-08-15

Thanks for your reply. I replied somewhere else on the article.

I think that I will be sticking to my setup which is a mac with windows virtual box, where I share folders and use a filezilla server on the mac side. I think I can add drives on the mac, share them on windows and then have more space for filezilla...

peebee1 (author)2013-08-15

Your server is da bomb. Best looking server I have ever seen (i had to say it)

peebee1 (author)2013-08-15

Does the linkage occur with dyndns? Because I have a ftp server (filezilla, free) and I configure everything inside the server. I tried doing the same with nas4free but there are no entries, except for masquerade address. I'm not even sure that I can have both a filezilla server and a nas4free server at the same ip address...

peebee1 (author)2013-08-14

I need your help with ftp. How to make it accessible to the world wide web? Thanks.

Horatius.Steam (author)peebee12013-08-15

You need to use DYNDNS to link your IP address to an public URL. Please refer to

Most routers are able to link up with dyndns.

BrefelanDesigns (author)2013-06-10

Congrats on making HaD (Hack-a-Day), Sunday Mention Links!
(Really should tag he congrats image I use, took a bit to find it in my library again... oh well..this project of your's has been in my favs for some time)

Phoenix17 (author)2013-05-03

Dumb Questions, I know, but I am totally new to html and web servers.

When you say "use an ftp client to upload some html sites."
What FTP client do you use, and how do you upload? And even what do you upload...? I could search for some sample html code to test it for now?

Horatius.Steam (author)Phoenix172013-05-05


I am using SANDVOX for MAC. The FTP client is included.
You can use NVU and FILEZILLA for PC´s if you like.

Have a nice week,


Phoenix17 (author)2013-05-01

Can I use HTTPS here instead of HTTP? (For the WebGUI and Webserver access? I have the certificate and key made already.) Or is there even a benefit? I'm just thinking security.

Answered one of those: WebGUI: yes, Just type in URL "https://( port, ie 8080, I chose 4433).

Another question: FTP: How secure is that? It's all unencrypted, correct? What about FTP over SSH? I know the idea, execution, not so sure about.

Horatius.Steam (author)Phoenix172013-05-01

Hi, please find the features of nas4free here:

ZFS is able to encrypt the drive.
I am using a TrueCrypt containervon the drive for the secured data.



Phoenix17 (author)Horatius.Steam2013-05-01

I'm thinking more for the transmission of data than the data storage itself (which yes, I will want to encrypt like you do).

As far as I know from my recent research, FTP sends data through plain text- usernames, passwords, and the data itself can be sniffed or copied. FTP over SSH or SFTP sends encrypted data packets. I switched my login to https and it works just fine (abalonsoft I think makes the Self Cert freeware to make your own personal certificates and keys). Chrome told me the certificate says its encrypted 256-bit. I assume setting web server to https on a different port does the same thing (as opposed to http).

Sorry if that was too long winded... I always do that...

I do love your -ible though! I'm most of the way through it and REALLY hope I can get owncloud to work!!

Phoenix17 (author)2013-05-01

If you are still concerned about it maybe look into Peltier cooling? It's active but silent. With a recycled heatsink from an old PC on both sides of the chip it just might cool enough. Just thinking out loud :)

the doctor who (author)2013-02-18

cool asome good job

Horatius.Steam (author)2013-02-16


After some days off using the server I measured more than 40 degrees C during heavy load.
So I decided to drill additional holes in the top and bottom. Now there is enough airflow to keep the server cool.

Horatius.Steam (author)2013-02-13

For those, they like to use a PI and USB drives I found this tutorial:
Makes things easier :-)

Tachyon (author)2013-02-13

This is a great project idea that can be modified in a hundred different ways to suit a users needs and materials on hand.
My first thought is to use another book or books to hide a large capacity external HDD and connect it via USB.
The RasPi obviously comes to mind too. Heck you could fit two RasPi's in a book.

Horatius.Steam (author)Tachyon2013-02-13

This is a really nice idea. If you put the storages into other books, then you can use a 128MByte SSD for NAS4free and put the main storage into the USB-drive.
Thank you for the inspiration.

Horatius Steam

darrennie (author)2013-02-12

Have been looking for something like this for some time, very nicely done.

Horatius.Steam (author)darrennie2013-02-13

This is, what this pages are for. Sharing information, ideas an inspirations :-)

Thank you

Horatius.Steam (author)2013-02-12

I just measured the temperature over night in a normal heated room.
It is this morning 28 C. I think this is OK. The specs. for the board are
around 35 C max. So, with a thin client, no temp. problems.
A normal MBT could cause problems. I agree.

agis68 (author)2013-02-11

cool!!! love it...i have a server in a aluminioum suitcase but this is really small and hidden too!

Horatius.Steam (author)agis682013-02-11

A good idea as well may I allowed to "steal" it?

Have an nice day,

H. Steam

agis68 (author)Horatius.Steam2013-02-11


netneo (author)2013-02-11

I love the idea of this. I will replicate this idea with a raspberry pi. FreeNas won't run on the Pi but I am sure the same idea could be done with Samba and a LAMP stack, and as the Pi is much smaller there is probably enough space for more "bits" like a small USB hub and some external laptop drives. Keep the excellent ideas coming.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a home constructor, an inventor and a dreamer. If you ask me who guided me and who inspired me then this people comes ... More »
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