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,

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Step 1: 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

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

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.
mred25 months ago

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)  mred25 months ago

Thank you very much!

james.m.k1 year ago
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.
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...
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....

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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 Tachyon11 months ago
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_bloke8 months ago
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.
umm tyme to think abut 3.0 usbs now? an also firewire set up as well, dont 4 get abut scuzzy drives
Horatius.Steam (author)  claudiopolis1 year ago

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.

Horatius.Steam (author)  claudiopolis1 year ago
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.
Horatius.Steam (author)  claudiopolis1 year ago
steve581 year ago
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)  steve581 year ago
Yes, I thought about these boards. But there are very expensive....
not if u go through
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.

peebee11 year ago
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...
peebee11 year ago
Your server is da bomb. Best looking server I have ever seen (i had to say it)
peebee11 year ago
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...
peebee11 year ago
I need your help with ftp. How to make it accessible to the world wide web? Thanks.
Horatius.Steam (author)  peebee11 year ago
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.
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)
Phoenix171 year ago
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)  Phoenix171 year ago

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,

Phoenix171 year ago
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)  Phoenix171 year ago
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.


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!!
netneo1 year ago
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.
This was a great ible, but TBH the first thing I thought about hiding a server in a book is heating and cooling problem. Hiding an external HDD in there will definitely present some of those. I'm gonna work on using Pi as a media server though.
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 :)
Horatius.Steam (author)  annguyen1 year ago
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.
Horatius.Steam (author)  netneo1 year ago
This is a good idea.

Please look at this:

Have a nice week,

H. Steam
Yeah, I already have a Pi running Samba, but never thought about adding the LAMP stack for other things like the usual WEBDEV type of NAS. I use mine as a media server (and have another PI connected to my TV running XBMC as a player). Just love the idea of hiding the server bit in a book and popping it out the way on a shelf.
cool asome good job
Horatius.Steam (author) 1 year ago

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) 1 year ago
For those, they like to use a PI and USB drives I found this tutorial:
Makes things easier :-)
Tachyon1 year ago
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)  Tachyon1 year ago
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
darrennie1 year ago
Have been looking for something like this for some time, very nicely done.
Horatius.Steam (author)  darrennie1 year ago
This is, what this pages are for. Sharing information, ideas an inspirations :-)

Thank you
agis681 year ago
cool!!! love it...i have a server in a aluminioum suitcase but this is really small and hidden too!
Horatius.Steam (author)  agis681 year ago
A good idea as well may I allowed to "steal" it?

Have an nice day,

H. Steam
bfk1 year ago
Very nice... If your bookshelf is large enough, you could turn it into a secret super computer:)
Horatius.Steam (author)  bfk1 year ago
Good idea! :-)

The device is ssh enabled.....
espdp21 year ago
Very nice. This mystery object / hidden secret steampunk theme reminds me of the game Myst.
Horatius.Steam (author)  espdp21 year ago
Thank you
Dale_D1 year ago
I think you are a little confused as to what a NAS is, and what it is used for. Now, I'm not knocking your project... not at all. You obviously put some time and effort into this project. It's well done and looks great. I built my Windows Home Server, now re-purposed into a media PC since I bought a NAS, into a cabinet we bought when Linens & Things went out of business. It (the cabinet) was supposed to be for your bathroom as towel & other stuff storage. The top holds what is left of our DVD collection that hasn't been ripped yet, and the bottom holds the motherboard/power supply/hard drives.

NAS = Network Attached Storage

What you built is more or less a web server (so far), and as such is nicely done. But a NAS it isn't (yet). NAS servers are generally used for client back-ups, raw storage space, and serving media for streaming to clients. A NAS should have redundancy built into it... RAID 1, 5, or 0+1, and contain multiple disks. 2 are required for RAID 1, and at least 3 for RAID 5. Most of all, to be considered a true NAS, it has to have lots of storage space.

I just purchased a Seagate Black Armor 440 NAS. It has 4 terrabytes of storage, 2.68Tb usable in a RAID 5 array. It's about 2.5x the amount of space I currently need. We use it as a central location for all of our media (about 750 ripped CD's & over 160 ripped movies from our media collection, and about 75 DVD's to go - including the whole collection of Monty Python's Flying Circus!!!). We also back-up our personal files, and my wifes e-book library, store copies of installed software/service packs/drivers.

So why did I buy instead of building? A custom NAS box with the amount of storage I needed would have cost me around $850, even using free software like FreeNAS or NAS4Free (both Linux based). The BA 440 was under $500 from Newegg (with a discount and promo code = $160 off + free shipping), and came with 4 1Tb hard drives pre-configured in RAID 5 for 2.68Tb of actual storage.

Now, if you can add some mass storage to this you will have a true NAS (+ web server). Maybe get one of those old 5" thick dictionaries for all the drives.

Keep up the good work!
Horatius.Steam (author)  Dale_D1 year ago
*smile* No Sir, I am not confused (sometimes a little bit *muharharhar*) sorry ;-)

I cant remember, that I have had written about a NAS project.
I just wrote about a "secret server" that sit´s in a bookshelf and stores informations and some HTML pages for an exhibition in a museum and has a stiye that fits to that steampunk exhibition.

I am using NAS4free as a basic system because I know it quite well and it is easy to install and to use.
I build a NAS server for a friend of mine that holds the intranet and a lot of data for his company using NAS4free or freenas.

This system is still up and running. With UPS, rsync for backup and ftp access for some special purposes.

THIS (The secret server) is for the first Steampunk exhibition in Germany to hold some web pages AND some minor informations for a riddle, the visitors can solve by using there smartphones pointing on 2D barcodes.

It is NOT for storing data in a secure way like RAID5 or RAID10.

It was build for FUN....

And to show people that technology can be fun and can be used to have fun.

For using it for RPG´s, exhibitions, for use at a special spot for geo cahching etc. etc. So turn your fantasy on ........

With kind regards, Horatius Steam
"... Why do you have a UPS by your bookshelf?"
Simple, just put the UPS in the main power branch circuit--locate it anywhere. A UPS doesn't care how close it is to the devices it powers....
Horatius.Steam (author)  destructopop1 year ago
Sorry I don´t understand the question......
It's a joke. A UPS is an un-interuptable power supply. Keeps things running during black/brown-outs
Exactly. So servers are often paired with UPSs. :)
It's a joke. A UPS is an un-interuptable power supply. Keeps things running during black/brown-outs
wizodd01 year ago
Such a server, using a wi-fi or bluetooth access can easily be installed inside a wall next to any wall outlet or power line. Using either and controlling transmitter power could make a server that could only be used within a few tens of centimeters or even less, thus you would need to know where to put your access machine for it to work, and it would be very secret indeed!

There are full computers such as Rassberry available very cheaply which combined with a blutooth dongle and an ssd drive could fit in many small places...
MonkiMan1 year ago
Love it, our NAS is way too big to hide like that. Question, why do you need to hide
your NAS?
you'd be surprised how big books can get esp older ones
Horatius.Steam (author)  MonkiMan1 year ago

I am making Steampunk stuff and if you think about mad scientists, secrets and riddles a hidden server is perfect for this scenarios :-)

Beside this it was fun to create such a device.
I am organizing RPG´s as well and we like to use real devices for the players to riddle a bit around, finding the server in a book shelf, switch it on and then use one of the steampunk devices around to access it.

Its for jun......
Awesome!! :D
Pwag1 year ago
Extra points if you can install it into a copy of Conrad's "The Secret Sharer"
Fantastic. I hadn't considered this for setting up a local server. Thank you.
actionjksn1 year ago
Is this NAS4Free easy to use, is is a GUI or do you have to type commands? Is Windows Home Server easier? I'm not very good with Linux.
Horatius.Steam (author)  actionjksn1 year ago
As you can see on the NAS4free homepage, there is a GUI via WEB Interface.
See also step no. 5 for some details.
personally i like the concept of this server but i am wondering wy did you place the word windows on the html page that is displayed as the last picture when nas4free is clearly build upon freebsd

i personally would take the time to build the system from a freebsd base system but that's just me since i prefer to do everything over ssh and not over a webpage
but this would work for most people so i can understand haha ^^ also love the books next to the server
Picture changed, thank you!
Horatius.Steam (author) 1 year ago
Sorry, the picture is from a older screenshot. I will replace it. It is "for Windows".
Thank you for the hint.

I do not have a UPS because I don´t need it for that server.

With kind regards,

billbillt1 year ago
This is a great project..I would like to build something like this..
platty11 year ago
I love this.excellent
Horatius.Steam (author) 1 year ago
Thank you all, for the nice comments and questions. Let me answer the questions of Mr Clothier:

1. Why a thin client and why a CF card?

The idea was a secret storage thats is hidden and has no moving parts. The thin client has less power consumption and a CF slot. I do not need as much space for the data because the concept is designed for a museum to hold some web pages. The web pages can be accessed by a 2D barcode and the landing pages of the 2D barcodes will explain the objects of the exhibition. 

(First German Steampunk exhibition)

It is possible to add a SSD via USB if you like. The CF card will not extend the space of the thin client. so it will be compact.

2. Ventilation
You are right. The board needs some ventilation. If you look at picture No. 3 & 4 in Step2 you will see two slots in the back of the device. Due to the low power consumption, these slots are enough for the ventilation. Due to the cables there will be some space behind the wall and the "book". Never less, I decided to place some ventilation holes on the top of the book to make improve the cooling.

With kind regards,

Horatius Steam
That makes sense. I definitely get the point of having a thin client, especially in this situation. I just didn't understand the "NAS" part of it. And of course, without moving drives, a lot less heat will be generated. But if the processor is doing much of anything, it can be a huge source of heat as well. Again, it looks great, and the instructions are easy to follow.
NickIQ1 year ago
Do you happen to know if this or other thin clients could easily run a small, light terminal (ssh) server? I really just need something to pop into my home network from, to monitor other devices, but would rather not leave a hulking, power consuming gaming machine running all day, you know?

Great instructable, even if I don't use it, it gave me some good ideas for my own projects!
Horatius.Steam (author)  NickIQ1 year ago
You can SSH direct into the server as well. But what´s about the rsapberry pi?

With kind regards,

Horatius Steam
lafnbear1 year ago
Very nice; favorited! Three questions: 1) did you make the book-safe enclosure yourself? 2) any recommendations for US-available alternatives for the thin client (I'll do a US ebay search, but wondered if you had any actual recommendations), and 3) have you had any problems with heat?
Horatius.Steam (author)  lafnbear1 year ago
Good evening, the book save was a gift from a friend.

Regarding the thin client. You can use any type of client that is based on x86 architecture.

I modified the server this day with two holes on the top and bottom. The small slots in the back where not enough for cooling.

I will update the pictures after the weekend.


BigMrTree1 year ago
Awesome!! I love things that aren't what they seem!! Very cool idea!!
Luxurio1 year ago
Simple, craftily, impressive.
Thank you!
Dear Mr. Steam
A great project and a perfect tutorial about the setup of small server. I learned a lot!
Thank you very much for the inspiration.
Sincerely yours
The Chocolatist
miguipda1 year ago

you could have a better server I found. Have a look to Superb Mini Server :

Have a nice day,

Miguipda ;-)
Horatius.Steam (author)  miguipda1 year ago
This is new for me and thank you! I will give it a try. Even due to the special file format NAS4free is using.
So thank you all again!

Horatius Steam
diy_bloke1 year ago
Very interesting and well done. I have built my share of servers and initially I started with a CF card and NAS4Free as well.
Nas4Free is very easy, but as far as I remember it has its own private file format, so you are bound to keep using it, unless you would transfer all your files :-)
nevertheless, well done
Mr. Steam - Brilliant and elegant... As always;-)
The concept is great, and I love the "secret agent" aspect of it, but I have a couple of questions:

1. What exactly are you serving from a 32GB CF drive? I understand the point of a thin client, I just wonder what you are using it for with this setup since thin clients are not typically used as "NAS" and NAS systems usually contain multiple terabytes of data storage.

2. Considering this thing is housed in thick cardboard (book binding), surrounded by other books, and up against a wall with no noticeable openings for ventilation, how hot is that circuit board getting?

I don't mean to sound like a jerk or anything, just trying to understand some of your reasoning!
Horatius.Steam (author) 1 year ago

I have a power outlet and a network outlet just behind the bookcase.
This is really a challenge to hide the cables. The power (230V to 12V) supply is very tiny and can be placed in the bottom of the bookcase.

With kind regards,

Now when you say "with power supply" I'm guessing you mean that you have a cable coming out of the book (since no steps surgest otherwise). Have you any suggestions of how to get the cable coming from the bookcase to not look out of place?