Use your old netbook as home server

I have an old-ish Sony VAIO netbook (this) which has few broken buttons on keyboard (I've probably shouldn't open the case). Thing has 1.83GHz Atom CPU (yay! calculator!) and 2G RAM.

This thing was sitting on the shelf since I realized that I can't bear the low CPU power. Lately decided to use it for something, but what?

After little playing around, now it's really doing something as a low-powered (I hope), 7/24 open home server!

Here is what I did:


- Installed Ubuntu Server LTS.

You can use everything of course. Selected Ubuntu Server because it's easy and I won't need an X interface. SSH is enough.


- Gave static IP on LAN.

You might want this to access from outside.


- Created a Virtual Server on my router's interface and redirected some ports (80, an ssh port and another custom port)

Now if I enter my router's IP address from outside, I'll go directly to the home server.


- Got a noip account.

I can't remember my router's IP address! Must gave it a domain. Luckily my router has DDNS (Dynamic DNS) support. Now I can use this domain name to access my homeserver. Even if IP changes, this service will refresh the domain name's IP address.


- Plugged an old webcam.

Why not? Thing was dying on corner.


- Installed fswebcam to get frequent captures.

Like a security camera. Well, not quite. I don't 'record' these captures. Also streaming a video is not for me. Not so much happening in my home.

Didn't configure it much: Using 'screen' to get a never-ending bash session and getting this command to snap a picture every 5 sec:

$ fswebcam -d /dev/video1 --no-banner --set brightness=80% --set lights=on -S 30 --no-shadow --scale 640x464 --no-banner -l 5 --quiet /var/www/webcam.jpg


- Installed a webserver to serve these captures (with http auth of course).

Be careful! You can violate privacy of yourself or your homemates. I'm running this command rarely to see my cat's evil actions. Hope to not to see anyone else :)


- Installed deluge torrent client with web interface to serve from that custom port (which I set up on router).

This is wonderful. I can add a torrent file from work and see download finished when I get back.


- Installed samba.

This is useful if someone in the house is using Windows. Deluge download directory could be shared.


- Installed 'wakeonlan'. 

I might wake up my main dragon with homeserver.


And some more shitty work.. I'm still thinking to expand it's usage area. But for now, it's running quite good. It's battery helps it to survive power failures.

$ uptime
20:04:53 up 39 days, 9 min, 1 user, load average: 0.14, 0.09, 0.06



One thought on “Use your old netbook as home server

  1. I set up an old laptop as a home server, too. As torrent client, I prefer transmission since its web gui is mobile friendly. Also, configuring nginx to serve downloaded files from torrent is very convenient if you want to access them from different devices such as ipad.

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