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Thread: Suggestions for building a small server

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    Pseudo-Mad Scientist Whiternoise's Avatar
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    Suggestions for building a small server

    I help run a summer camp (astro related) for students at university/late college and in the past we've had infrastructure for LAN gaming, etc. What I thought would be cool next year would be to bring along a small server box - like nano-itx small - slap on linux and then use it for filesharing, have a shoutbox, that sort of thing. Participants do a science-based project over the course of 3 weeks within groups of 7-10. My vision is that I can patch together a simple CMS using php/mysql and have it serve lots of useful information as well as allowing some interactivity between groups, etc.

    The heirarchy would be simple:

    server -> wireless router <- lots of people with laptops

    EDIT:

    Ok, having looked around for a bit, Synology's NAS boxes look ideal. Only question is how powerful does it need to be? The 1-bay one has 128MB RAM and would cost around £150 with a 1TB in it. Going up to 2 bays and 256mb costs £224 (or really £270 with a 2TB 5200rpm in it). So, for projected use of maybe 50 people connected, is that enough RAM? I suspect yes, but I really have no idea about bandwidth.

    Just noticed that Scan's selling the DS211+ for £300, 512mb RAM. That looks like a good choice...!

    The built in software looks very, very slick and has convenient options to put on things like phpmyadmin amongst other things. It also has the option of letting you just blam everything and using your own server which is really what I'd like to do for experience's sake. That's the bit where I get stuck!
    Last edited by Whiternoise; 11-08-2011 at 02:12 AM.

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    jim
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    Re: Suggestions for building a small server

    You're probably aware already, but what about the HP N36L server for £130?

    Dual core processor, as much RAM as you want (within reason), and then you can just whack linux on there. 4 bays if you need them.

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    Pseudo-Mad Scientist Whiternoise's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions for building a small server

    Looks great for what I'd like at home, but not portable enough I'm afraid

    2 bays is the maximum size, so if I went for proper-build I'd be looking at mini or nano-itx. But then I'm stuck with finding a case small enough to house them, most of them are larger. Again the benefit of the NAS shines through with the low power demands, not sure how much an itx needs? Most of the cases I've seen are 50-100W+ and they're pretty expensive!

    http://www.idotpc.com/TheStore/pc/vi...&idproduct=805 that looks nice though

    http://mini-itx.com/store/a1100 so does that - the case is a bit naff, but I guess we can't pick and choose... Ironically it's a slower processor than the NAS box, but you can slap up to 2GB in it.
    Last edited by Whiternoise; 11-08-2011 at 02:54 AM.

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    Re: Suggestions for building a small server

    The problem with a lot of the cheaper NAS devices are the underpowered CPUs and limited data transfer rates as a result.

    Edit!!

    I would go for one of the following NAS devices:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/netge...s-ultra-2-plus

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/thecu...-d525-1gb-ddr3

    They both are powered by an Atom D525 dual core CPU and have 1GB of RAM. They also both have dual Gigabit LAN too.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 11-08-2011 at 03:00 AM.


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    Re: Suggestions for building a small server

    Quote Originally Posted by Whiternoise View Post
    Looks great for what I'd like at home, but not portable enough I'm afraid
    Fair enough. In that case I would go with Cat's suggestion. Myself and some friends have used the Netgear boxes very successfully - well built, good firmware, no complaints. And they're incredibly compact.

    You've got the same power you'd get from the mini-ITX builds you're planning, but in a much smaller unit. Any of the mini-itx cases, with design to fit pci cards and so on are going to be far, far bigger.

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    Re: Suggestions for building a small server

    Yeah, it's a shame nano boards aren't more popular (see the picture next to the can of coke in my last post!) or powerful.

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    The problem with a lot of the cheaper NAS devices are the underpowered CPUs and limited data transfer rates as a result.

    Edit!!

    I would go for one of the following NAS devices:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/netge...s-ultra-2-plus

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/thecu...-d525-1gb-ddr3

    They both are powered by an Atom D525 dual core CPU and have 1GB of RAM. They also both have dual Gigabit LAN too.

    I did have a look at the Netgear boxes, they look pretty good - fairly pricey, but I guess that's to be expected. As for rates, the Synology ones are very highly rated in most of their reviews - not sure how that would scale though. For the £300 range, that's looking towards the DS211+ which has similar read specs but half the write speed (ouch!).

    So yeah, Netgear looks like a good option if I go for spending a bit more - have you had any experience shoehorning your own flavour of Linux onto one? Ease of setting up a webserver is a big factor - data storage is secondary

    I couldn't find much documentation on the Netgear, though the specs are encouraging.

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    Re: Suggestions for building a small server

    Quote Originally Posted by Whiternoise View Post
    Yeah, it's a shame nano boards aren't more popular (see the picture next to the can of coke in my last post!) or powerful.




    I did have a look at the Netgear boxes, they look pretty good - fairly pricey, but I guess that's to be expected. As for rates, the Synology ones are very highly rated in most of their reviews - not sure how that would scale though. For the £300 range, that's looking towards the DS211+ which has similar read specs but half the write speed (ouch!).

    So yeah, Netgear looks like a good option if I go for spending a bit more - have you had any experience shoehorning your own flavour of Linux onto one? Ease of setting up a webserver is a big factor - data storage is secondary

    I couldn't find much documentation on the Netgear, though the specs are encouraging.
    Here is a review of the Netgear:

    http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1594/1/

    It seems to be running a version of Debian:

    http://gibbalog.blogspot.com/2011/04...ra-2-plus.html


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    Re: Suggestions for building a small server

    There is also the cheaper Ultra 2 which has a single core Atom and also has 1GB of RAM:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/netge...y-nas-(no-hdd)

    Here is a review:

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/net...as-ultra2.html


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    Re: Suggestions for building a small server

    Ooh choices, choices... really nice feature set. Not sure about having to install PHP via apt-get (which isn't installed), seems like a bit of a bum on Netgear's part.

    Any thoughts on QNAP's offerings? I know they're more in line spec-wise with the synology, but just wondering.

    Had a look at write/read tables, read speed will probably be more important for me. If it takes twice as long to dump the data onto it, meh, so long as it reads out fast! Interesting stuff here http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/nas/n...-filecopy-read - the 211+ is on par for read speed and oddly plummets for write speed, though transferring a gig in 20 seconds is pretty good in my eyes!

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    Re: Suggestions for building a small server

    The Netgear ReadyNas Ultra 2 has a 1.8GHZ single core Atom and 1GB of RAM too. IMHO,it seems pretty decent for around £223.

    The higher end QNAP NAS devices seem to use Atom CPUs.


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    Re: Suggestions for building a small server

    With all three vendors (Netgear/Synology/QNAP) it's what the firmware can do that will primarily concern you.

    Netgear's Ultra devices differ in hardware while the Pro 2 (£335 - Scan) is an Ultra 2 Plus with additional firmware features such as replication.

    Synology seem to use the same firmware and allow the hardware to distingush the models.
    For example a DS411+ and DS1511+ are very similar on paper (and I suspect performance) but the latter adds a 2nd gigabit port, 5th drive and expandability.

    Qnap are akin to Synology but there are more models so the differences more subtle. Pro models may offer hotswap or wake-on-lan for example. Regardless the firmware appears to be the same for all models.
    QNAP Comparison Chart

    I'm still trying to decide between them myself!
    1 : i5 4670K | 8Gb | ASUS Maximus VI Genie | HD6890 | MX100 512GB | TX650W | CM Black Widow | Dell U2713H | 8.1 Pro
    2 : Q9450 | 4Gb | ASUS P5E-WS Pro | HD4650 | M4 256GB | 2 x 750Gb (RAID1) | Enermax 525W MODU 82+ | CM RC-590 | 17" | 7 Pro
    3 : i7 3570K | 16Gb | ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe | GTX 660 TI | 2x 1TB 840EVO | Sugo SG05BB-450 | Dell U2713H + 17" | 8.1 Pro
    Svr : X2 4200+ | 2Gb | ASUS A8N-SLI Premium | HD6870 | SonicFury | 8x 250Gb (2x RAID10) | 3Ware 9650SE-8LPML | Seasonic 700W | CM Stacker 830 | XP Pro
    NAS : DS1511+ | DX513
    W1 : Dell Precision 690 | X5355 | 4Gb FBDIMM | Quadro FX3450 | 2x 146Gb 15k SAS (RAID1) | 2x 500GB (RAID1) | Dell SAS 5/iR | 2x U2412M | XP Pro
    W2 : Dell Precision T3610 | E5-1650 V2 | 16GB | Quadro K2000 | 256GB SSD | 1TB HDD | 8.1 Pro


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