My question: I would like to buy or build a small, portable server to serve a web application to a very small number of users (as in a dozen or less), as well as some file server functions. Cloud based solutions are out because I won't have internet access at my location, so I need to carry this box with me to the location. What kind of specs do I need for this?

The background. Every year, I help out with a convention for a youth group. There are competitions of various kinds: the kids take tests, they compete in athletic competitions, they make art and submit it for judging, the list goes on. My part in this is I compile the scores in a database and process them to determine the winners. This takes place at a youth camp, and I set up in one of the buildings at the edges of the facility, and other convention helpers bring me the results to process.

Right now, I'm doing this in an Access database running on a decently powered Lenovo laptop. This is fine as far as it goes, but it limits the score entry and processing to only those who have Access on their machines. That means we end up having one, maybe two extra machines if we're lucky, for people to enter contest results. I have been thinking recently that it would be nice move away from that to something that would run in a browser. People submitting scores could use any laptop that was handy or we could potentially just hand them a tablet to use. It could greatly streamline our process.

closed as off-topic by JakeGould, DavidPostill, mdpc, agtoever, Wes Sayeed Nov 12 '15 at 1:46

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "Questions seeking for hardware shopping recommendations are off-topic because they are often relevant only to the question author at the time the question was asked and tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead of asking what to buy, try asking how to find out what suits your needs." – DavidPostill, agtoever, Wes Sayeed
  • "Questions seeking product, service, or learning material recommendations are off-topic because they become outdated quickly and attract opinion-based answers. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve. Share your research. Here are a few suggestions on how to properly ask this type of question." – JakeGould, mdpc
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I sympathize with your situation. I run a fundraising gala every year and face the exact same challenges. Unfortunately, in addition to hardware shopping recommendations being off-topic on SU, your question is also much too open-ended to answer. It would depend highly on the specifics of the software and your circumstances. – Wes Sayeed Nov 12 '15 at 1:45
  • Ah, I didn't know hardware was outside of SU's scope. As for the specifics, do you mean like I'd like to build a site on Django, probably with a PostgreSQL data store, probably on Windows, but Linux would be doable as well? That specific? More specific? Less? What kind of information would have made it a better question? – Carlos Nunes-Ueno Nov 12 '15 at 3:27
  • I have to say I'm rather frustrated, because I feel that my question does both of the things that the voters say I should be doing. In my question section, I'm asking for specs, not products. I'm looking to learn what I should be looking for in my situation. As describing the situation, I describe the current state, the issues with it, some ideas I have for solving those, and a little bit of how I'd like to do it. In the end, it doesn't matter much, because Keltari gave me a useful answer, with a useful back and forth. – Carlos Nunes-Ueno Nov 13 '15 at 3:39

You dont need a "server class" machine to do this. In reality, any old laptop will support serving a simple web application and will be able to handle a dozen concurrent users with ease. You didnt go into any detail about your file sharing needs. However, even an old laptop can serve files under a light load, which is what I am assuming. As a laptop, it is inherently portable, which is what you wanted.

  • About the file sharing: some of the results are machine processed using optical scan forms, and the results are posted as text files, which I import into the database. Therefore, I have a public folder available to post those files into. As for the rest of the question then, it sounds like I'm really over thinking it. – Carlos Nunes-Ueno Nov 7 '15 at 3:40
  • Again, if the load is light, which it sounds to me like it is, then any laptop made in the last decade should easily handle that. – Keltari Nov 7 '15 at 3:44
  • Actually, machines even older can do that. :D – Keltari Nov 7 '15 at 3:49

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