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I am Looking to build a Linux home server box from the ground up for my family and I. Id like the server to support file sharing, media streaming, print, virtualization, and remote desktop services. I don't anticipate needing it for any more than 3 or 4 people at any one time.

My question is... Would there be much benefit in spending extra $$$ for a server motherboard/CPU? or would the load simply not justify the extra cost?

Also, as this is my first build I'm a bit unclear as to what kind of power draw I should be targeting. What would be a reasonable power draw for a system like this (and still have it operate well)?

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What do you intend to be running on this server? Just file-sharing or something? – Simon Sheehan May 25 '11 at 23:27
@Simon ... file-sharing, media streaming, serving virtualized windows applications, print services... basically a multi-purpose home server box – Hari Seldon May 25 '11 at 23:43

If it's for a family of 4, I wouldn't see no harm at all running it with normal desktop components, server components are used for systems with high load, where 100+ users and connections are made into the system.

  • Find a CPU (Dual or Quad) with a low power requirement
  • Find a Motherboard with inbuilt graphics
  • low-profile low voltage ram is needed

With file sharing server you won't really need extreme requirements.

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Thanks... will that work still even with the virtualization aspect? I'd like to serve windows applications as well from the box. Are there any other special hardware considerations for that? – Hari Seldon May 25 '11 at 23:39

The low-end pedestal servers from companies like HP, Dell and Lenovo have similar hardware to average desktop PCs, and they can be bought for very low prices.

The main difference between these machines and typical desktop computers is that they have the ability to use ECC RAM and remote access cards.

Remote access cards allow the computer to be accessed remotely (even through the internet), so that you can use them completely headlessly (without keyboard, monitor or mouse). You can turn the computer on and off through the card (which is always powered, like NICs), so even if it crashes, you can start it up again. You can also install operating systems remotely, and you can get into the BIOS settings.

The popular HP ProLiant ML110 G6 is an example of an affordable low-end pedestal server.

The intermediate range of pedestal servers come with embedded remote access, like the HP ProLiant ML350 G6.

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.. The remote access is an interesting feature I hadnt considered. I would like to build the box myself though. I think I will look to the ProLiant machines, and other pedestal servers for some hardware inspiration. – Hari Seldon May 26 '11 at 0:00
It's a really, really handy feature. There are PCI cards available that have the functionality (basically a NIC plus graphics card), and though I haven't seen any new ones being sold recently, you can usually find used ones on ebay for $20 or so. – user55325 May 26 '11 at 1:50

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