Author Options:

Should I make my Ubuntu server an instructable? Answered

I built a headless Ubuntu server,with an embedded screen (connected to a custom internal s-video header). Its purpose is website and email hosting, as well as SAMBA sharing and BitTorrent Downloads. The server is accessible via Webmin, SSH, or (last resort) a KVM connected another of the home's computers. In addition to the embedded screen, there is also an internal amplified speaker (connected to a usb sound card) for alerts. The basic question is, should I make an instructable? The reason this question is asked is that I did not document the build as I went; therefore, any illustrations included with the instructable would be graphics, diagrams, sketches, and photos of the completed build. What do you think?


It might help me get over my jitters on just inserting the bootable disk for a trial :-)

lol all you have to do is stick it in. and boot from it. nothing is written to your hard drive so you wont screw anything up. the worst that will happen is it will not be able to boot from the cd. of course i guess there could be that freak accident where the cd drive catches fire and burns your house down, but what are the odds of that happening?

Ok, I finally got the nerve and the time to stick the Ubuntu 6.06.1 CD in the drive and reboot (to boot from it) The menu I got was less than intuitive as far as just booting from the CD. Everything looked like an install, and when I tried to just look at "additional options" it started to install (or so it said|), so I aborted that. Now I am a bit on edge about it again.

It should be the very first item on the menu. It will say something about installing, but it will load the live CD. There will be an icon on the desktop to install it from there. Unless you downloaded the alternate CD, which does not load the live CD, and then it might try to install it.

in the standard 6.06 LTS (Dapper Drake) install menu, the first option is "Start or Install Ubuntu". Selecting this option will run the Live CD. The dialogs about installing should just refer to components being loaded to a temporary RAM Drive for that session only. Once in the Live CD you will have the option of installing to your hard drive... however, I do recommend starting with Gutsy... its difficult to justify upgrading later, but community support for older versions wanes, the further back you go.

Gusty is prettier too. I couldn't remember what the option was called, but yep, thats the thing you need to select.

Well, I am familiar with "worst case scenarios" from the past, and maybe I am too paranoid, but I have had (again, in the past ) pointers messed up from introducing a program to a machine, that would not allow it to boot afterwards. This not "technically" being my machine (even though the wife and I share most everything else, including the payments for it), I am still a bit hesitant....but I am sure it is only unfounded paranoia.....well, not really sure of it, but am leaning that way *LOL*


Usually, what causes a hangup on startup is when you enable a feature but don't configure it properly. The feature starts and gets lost looking for or interpreting its config files. One tiny syntax (computer grammar) error can negate an entire script/process.

When following instructions for any background task in your OS. First read the whole procedure before starting. Double and triple-check your work before restarting. And finally, know how to turn off the feature from command-line mode or startup in "Safe" mode in case it does malfunction.

And at very least, set a return point, in case all else fails. I am just normally nervous about certain things I am not as familiar with.

YES!!!! i think it would make a great 'ible. i have been wanting to do this but havn't found a good tutorial that i understand well enough to setup a server.

Its actually not that hard. >Install (fairly simple) >Setup SSH >SSH in and... >Setup Folder Sharing >Install programs (a LAMP stack is installed, but I like Python, so installed that stuff) >Put files on >Setup Port Forwarding on Router if you want to host a website.

yea lets see, out of all the things you listed i could install ubuntu, put files on, and maybe setup folder sharing

. If you've ever setup (or just read about) any kind of network, then setting Ubuntu up as a local file/FTP/Web server is almost trivial - the install programs are very good. You might have to scratch your head for a few seconds every now and then, but the defaults will work for most ppl. It's when you want to tweak things that it _can_ get difficult, but most tweaks are pretty easy once you find a web page that explains it. . A headless setup and allowing access from the 'Net can be a little confusing, but nothing most ppl can't figure out by asking a few questions on their favorite DIY forum ... or reading an iBle. ;) . If your server is for LAN access only, then you don't need port forwarding. But it would be nice to understand how your router handles it, so you can check that it's not turned on accidentally.

>Yeah, Ubuntu server edition is pretty much plug-and-play, as far as servers go. I don't think it has Samba preinstalled, though. Everything else is just setting up passwords/users I'm actually thinking about getting a 2nd PCI ethernet card for my server, and have it be connected directly to the modem, then my wireless router. My wireless router dies every so often, and is very picky. (I actually have a dual setup, so that router1, who doesn't fail as much, but is B, is wired to the server directly, and router2 is routed into that with its Gness)

Ubuntu server edition has a hew nice features (more than 4 gig ram is recognized, and it has a minimal footprint), but it doesn't have any GUI, which can be daunting for a first jaunt into Linux. also, the 64bit version is really buggy. I'm running their standard 64 bit edition, and added lamp, amavis, samba, ftp server, and several other protocols that Ubuntu server doesn't come with by default. Although it uses MUCH more memory and HDD space, i think the trade off is copacetic. if your going to run your server as your primary gateway, turn your router into a switch, and let Ubuntu handle DHCP and routing... it'll be easier to access the server from the network, and will cut out one more web-based config page. remember to run a firewall, however.

I run static IPs anyway, so the DHCP shouldn't be a problem. I ran the 64 bit on my computer when I first started, and I really didn't like it. Although theoretically, it should be able to run everything x86 can, it couldn't. I gave up and switched back, and I've been happy since. (I do loose out on a bit of my RAM, I think, but its worth having working applications :P)

the big issues with 64bit version all seem to be with media and gui driven apps, a server uses very few of these, so I'm happy with the bigger floating point operations... even is getting gdesklets and azureus to work was a royal pain

If all you want/need is and SSH server, this would be fine. Most true servers do more than SSH. I have an 'ible in progress demonstrating only one aspect of a server (not SSH). So far, it's 15 steps.

We all have Server ibles, it seems :P I don't really have a use for just SSH server... I only use SSH since my server is headless.

is it a "head" if its doing the same task as a couple of led bars? its currently displaying cpu, memory, hdd space and network usage. I plan to add status of each component of lamp and azureus (as soon as I learn to write desklets). its true that you could use it as a 320x240 display, and it does show the terminal well, but that's about it... I thought the term "headless" meant no work station (both input and output) connected for local use.

I wouldn't call it a head, maybe a "hybrid" or something... If there's any input to that display, then I'd call it a head. You say the buttons are touch? What do they do? I wouldn't call a button that enables/disables SSH or the web server a "head", but if it was used to bring up an app on the little display, you're getting close.

actually, the touch panel is strictly for power and reset... I just can't stand grimy switches, so i got something I could clean... they, unfortunately, aren't my own. They came with my case (i picked it for them), however, i am planning to check out the QT circuit diagrams and make my own secondary panel with controls like: Restart Apache / MySQL / Amavis / Azureus. that's what i plan the one remaining external bay (3.5") to become.

. I'd like to see it. . If you can explain how to do RAID1 (software) and Windows file sharing at the same time, I would be forever grateful. . I'm also very interested in how you did the embedded monitor and touch controls - seems like a much better solution than headless to me. I'd like to see it used for displaying a monitoring/alarming application during normal operation - just plug in keyboard and mouse for maintenance. Use the touch pad for alarm ack/reset.

i would like to see it. i have no need for a server right now, but i do like these kinds of things. im also curious to see how you did the little screen.

Stock answer: Yes! Even if no current members of the site want to know how to do that, somebody, somewhere is probably googling for that information as I type - if you have posted the Instructable, then google will bring them here and to your 'ible.

Haha, I'm in the middle of a "how to set up a server" instructable :P I assume that they will be very similar, but I'm using a headless/mouseless/keyless setup, except for the install :P

An Instructable would great. I, personally would go the extra mile of partially disassembling portions to photop-document a particular assembly process. While it may be quite bit more work, it makes for a much better instructable. Think of it this way; Since you've already done it, it's a lot easier the second time and it would make you look more professional, since it skips any errors you made the first time.

The embedded monitor gives it a head. It could only be defined as "headless" if it had no monitor, Keyboard and mouse are optional always on a server.

Just do it ! =o)

Maybe you could unmount the box to show us how you mounted the little tv, etc ... That would make some more pictures.