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I want a "high performance" server where I can run perhaps MySQL and also different types of batch jobs. I want high performance CPUs (lots of cache, etc.) and as much RAM as possible (e.g., 64 GB) for cheap.

By looking at sites where I can buy used servers I found that one can buy a HP ProLiant XX for a reasonable price but I have no experience with servers. I am reasonably good with Linux and working with PCs but I have no idea if this experience is transferable.

It also seems like there are a lot of Cloud services available for cheap but I would rather do it myself. (I mostly want to learn!)

What do I need to get started?

Do I need a rack, or can I just put it on a desk?

Can I just put in a 64-bit Linux dist on a bootable USB and install, say, Ubuntu as I do on a PC?

Any sort of resource akin to "Servers for Dummies" concerning both hardware and software aspects is greatly appreciated! Its a bit funny that I have a Masters degree in Computer Science but don't really know where to start.

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closed as off topic by Dave M, Indrek, ChrisF, Siim K, Canadian Luke Dec 3 '12 at 17:18

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

1) You don't need a rack until you have lots of servers.

2) Yes, you can just boot and install Linux.

Note that if it's on your desk you need to sort out external internet connectivity (ability of people to make inbound connections to a real fixed IP address), if you want to use it as a "cloud" kind of server.

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Thanks! Have you any experience with HP servers, are they a good option? – user1443778 Dec 3 '12 at 14:08

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