Building a headless linux box : Part 1

I recently bought a used Dell GX280 small form factor (SFF) desktop to build a multipurpose server using Ubuntu. The main purpose of the server was mainly to run updates on my website and backup data from website regularly.The specs of the machine is: P4 2.8GHz, 1.5GB RAM, 40GB HDD and CD-RW drive. Pretty decent specs for a linux box.

Since my current hosting company does not provide with “cron”, I had to use other methods. Running the server just for cron didn’t seem like a good idea and hence I wanted to make the most out of the box. I am currently using the server for NAS (network attached storage), backup, web development, code repository and HTPC (home theater PC).

Before getting started on setting up the box, we would need to use a monitor for installation of the OS and updating it with latest updates. Once updates are done, we need to install a SSH server so that we can securely ssh into the box and then perform further installation and maintenance.

Getting started, first thing is get to the latest release of Ubuntu (or your choice of linux) and install it on the machine. Next step is to install the SSH server. In order to install the SSH server, open a terminal window and run the following commands (specific to Debian linux distro)

sudo apt-get install openssh-server openssh-client

Once the openssh server is installed, it starts running in the background by default. Incase if you do need to start the SSH service, run the following command:

sudo /etc/init.d/ssh start

Now, test if you can SSH into the box from another computer using a SSH client like PuTTY. Now, that we are able to connect to our linux server, we can safely remove the monitor and start using it as a headless server.

In next blog post, I’ll show how to setup the NAS and start using it for file sharing and backup.

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