My perfect server – Part 1

Today I want start a new series of articles on how I set up my perfect server. For this I use my server, a HP ProLiant Micro Server. This server is really cheap. You can get it for example here: HP MicroServer. However, this tutorial should also work on all other normal desktop computers with current hardware. I experimented a lot and finally found this solution which works perfectly for me. I hope someone of my readers also can use some thoughts of the whole configuration. I start here with my requirements for such a server:

  1. stable system
    The most important requirement is, that the server should be stable. It should run many years with no or little additional configuration.
  2. dynamic system
    I use my server to test, to install programs, configure scripts, download files and remove files. This should be possible without destroying the stable system. So there should not be problems that stop or damage this server.
  3. hybrid system
    I want to have a fix stable system, but I also want to install or deinstall other system. Just to test it or to use it as development server. I do not want to use a fixed operating system. I want to be flexible and use every possible system.
  4. hardware independent
    The system should not be have to use a special hardware configuration. The system should run on as many hardware configurations as possible.

Maybe someone of you already get it. All this points are typically for a virtualization. A virtualization is quite simple, because you only need to install a virtualization software on a operating system you want to use as host system. I discovered some problems and want to give you a todo list, how you can setup you own server.

Virtualization

Virtualization is a software based simulation of computer hardware. This means, that you can simulate a system with certain hardware on a complete different system with different hardware. With this, it is possible to run many different hardware settings or systems on one computer. Today hosting provider use this technique to sell VServer (virtual server). I already wrote an article about virtualization of a Windows system. Some important things:

  • host system
    This is the operating system of your computer, which boots as default system. On this system you can run your virtualization software. A host system should be small and fast.
  • guest system
    This is the system, that is installed on a virtual machine and runs parallel with your host system on one computer.

Step 1: What do I need?

The first step is to find out what do you really need. I discovered the following things:

  • Hardware: a computer, or better a server machine
    Without a computer nothing works! I use, as mentioned before a HP ProLiant Server, which you may find for about 340 € or less. It also works with all other PC hardware. It is important, that this computer has at minimum a Dual-Core Processor, becaouse it has to compute at least two running systems parallel. The next thing is enough memory. Each system needs memory to run and every program too. Windows needs more than Linux for example. I would recommend at least 4 GB. My server hat 8 GB RAM. The last thing is a big hard disk. For Linux systems you should use 10 GB for each system at minimum and for Windows it is a good idea to use 50 GB. For this I use 2 hard disks with 2 TB each.
  • Software: a virtualization software
    Currently, there are different virtualization software products available. Linux has his own Open Source software called KVM which is often used by hosting providers. It is quite complicated to configure. A really simple one is Virtualbox from Oracle, which is also Open Source. Many Linux distributions support this software directly through its packet manager. It is also available for other systems like Windows or Mac OSX. There is also commercial software available, which is sometimes better (some systems support 3D graphics card support to play games on virtual machines). Examples are VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop.
  • Software: a host operating system
    Choose any system you want. Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, Sun Solaris,…. The only important thing is, that the system has to support your hardware. If your network does not work on your host system, you wouldn’t be able to use it in any of your guest machines.
  • Software: some guest systems
    You are able to install each possible guest system on your virtual machines as you like. DOS, Windows 8, Windows 3.1 of Ubuntu Linux 13.04. You can test and install all systems that you like to.

The next part is about the host system. I show you how to decide which operating system you should install and how to configure it.

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