As of late, my roommate and I have thought it would be fun to build and administer a server for our apartment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem wise, for me, to spend money on a server at this point (I recently negotiated myself down from 60 hrs/wk to 30 at work in order to work on an iPhone app with a friend). However, my temporary self-justification is this:
I recently liquidated my position in palladium and am looking for my next investment. I have no idea what’s going to happen with the economy. I’m generally bearish, thinking we’ll have the Dow crash below 9000 before it hits 12,000 again. On the flip side, I’m worried about inflation, so I don’t want to maintain a large cash position either. TIPS might be good, but the government debt is so huge, I’m somewhat worried about default. So I don’t know where to invest. About the only thing I’m sure I’ll always have a good ROI on is… me! So, why not spend the money on a server? I’ll blog about all my decisions and research, and I’ll learn a ton. Right? Right? Meh…
So, assuming I decide to move forward with this, I will get to research and decide on lots of interesting things, including:
- Processor – Intel (i5? i7?) or AMD? What’s the difference? 32 or 64 bit? I think 64 because we’re going to stuff the thing with gobs of RAM.
- GPU – Do we want one? They’re really good for certain kinds of computation. If we could utilize it for Jason’s research, it would be pretty badass. I’ve heard a lot about this “CUDA” thing (or wait! OpenCL? Sigh…) — might be interesting to look into. (http://llpanorama.wordpress.com/cuda-tutorial/) Don’t really need it for computer game type things, though — servers aren’t really used for that. Maybe video re-encoding for the media server aspect.
- RAM – How much? My linode has like 20GB or something awesome like that, but it’s shared with several virtual hosts. We’ll probably want several gigs. What kind? I’m dimly aware of the fact that there’s DDR and other acronyms and different numbers after the acronym, but I have no idea what that all means.
- Motherboard — probably determined by everything else, I’d guess.
- Hard disk – here’s where we get especially awesome. Jason will want to store oodles of astronomical data, and I’ll want a media server with, again, oodles of data. Probably terabytes, lots of ‘em, and RAID so it’s fast and fault tolerant. What RAID, though? I guess I’ll be learning (again) what the different variants are.
- Misc – what else will I want? TV Tuner, wifi? Ethernet (will definitely want one, are there choices to be made?). Bluetooth for mouse keyboard? Or will this thing just be ssh’ed into from our respective laptops? Is there still other hardware I haven’t even thought to ask about yet??
- Software — have to decide what OS to run. That will probably to some extent determine what hardware I can get, for compatibility reasons. Probably some linux, but which? Gentoo, so we compile everything personally? I’ve had good luck with my Ubuntu 10.04 linode. Maybe some sort of Xen setup to virtualize several OSes?
Fun, fun, fun.
Lastly, what to do with the server? You may say this is the thing to determine first, and you’d be right. But I have no idea. I’m just operating under a “if you build it they will come” philosophy. I feel like if I have uber computing power under my command, I will think of interesting things to do with it. Probably at least a media server, although the server I want to build is probably overkill for that simple use. In addition, I *do* have my iPhone app that could utilize it, so there’s always that. I could save the $20/month I pay to linode, at any rate. And I suppose the negligbile amount of money I pay to nearlyfreespeech.net. Ah well, I’ll figure out something. It’ll be fun!
Wed, Sep 22, 2010 | For updates follow me on twitter