Linux Servers on the Horizon

The other idea I was toying with was a Linux based home server. I installed a server here a month or two ago (as a home / office server) and it’s performed rather better than I’d expected. I have it running Ubuntu Server / LXD (containers) and it’s doing all manner of interesting things, including handling my backups and all the backups for and some live websites / single page applications. ( for example)

Looks like this;

It’s the little box next to the mug with the red light on the front.

Specification is;

  • Quad-Core 1.8G CPU
  • 4Gb of RAM (ARM Cortex V8)
  • 1Gb NIC
  • 1Tb M.2 (SATA) Storage at ~ 280Mb/sec
  • Operating temperature ~ 45C, typically silent operation

Currenty it’s running;

  • VCHECK - full-stack Python project
  • ZERODOCS - full-stack Python project
  • BORG - backup
  • Local PyPi mirror
  • Local NPM Mirror
  • Instance of Mail-in-a-Box
  • I’m about to add an S3 clone so I can back this forum onto it with the Discourse S3 interface
  • There’s still more room …

LDX interface looks like this, so essentially it’s running a bunch of containers, each one has it’s own instance of Ubuntu server in it (some running different versions of Ubuntu).

I reckon we could do this for £199 delivered. You could use it as a desktop, indeed there is an 8Gb model with would be better for this, but I’m not totally sold on the graphics drivers just yet. So although it would work (and indeed it can drive two screens) currently it makes a better server.

(yes, it’s a Raspberry Pi in a box, but when you want something silent that draws 3w of power, 1Tb of storage and can handle lots of containers …)

Any thoughts on the Pro’s and Con’s of this? (too expensive?)

I don’t understand all the technical stuff but 3W is amazing for all that power! I can cope with one computer at a time and that’s my limit!
Perhaps I should simply swap my laptop for one of these tiny things, although the separate VDU would soak up quite a lot of power. Worth a thought, though.

Mmm, you can buy some quite low power monitors, but by comparison my workstation drinks between 50w and 150w depending on how busy it is. The Pi can draw more, (say 6w) if it’s busy, but reckon it’s using 1/10th a standard power desktop. (maybe on a par with an LED light bulb).

It is fast enough to run Ubuntu desktop (albeit I’d recommend XUbuntu) and indeed it can run two screens, however I’d be opting for the 8Gb RAM option, and I wouldn’t be expecting flawless Youtube playback. (yet)

If you just want browsing and email (rather than media player), it works fine. I have an older Pi-400 here and it does the job, although it’s a 4Gb version so it starts to get a little tetchy once you open lots of browser Windows :wink:

A little expensive, perhaps, for a Pi 4, Argon ONE case, power supply and an SSD, but I suppose it depends on the intended market. Raspberry Pi tinkerers may prefer to roll their own but people who want a ready-to-run linux server may be willing to pay more.

Those cases really are lovely - I have two on my desk.

Mm, absolutely, anyone up for putting their own machine together will get a cheaper deal. (Same goes for USB keys)

This is aimed at people who want a finished item pre-configured as a home server solution.

Incidentally, its an Argon One M.2 case, the Argon One doesnt facilitate internal M.2 storage :wink:

Currently re-evaluating, it turns out things may not be quite as complex as first thought. There seems to be some excellent support available for small businesses and with the advent of the RPi5, things are looking up!

Ok, just floating the idea, but it looks like it would be possible to produce a server based on the new 4Gb Raspberry Pi5 with Ubuntu pre-installed based on an external USB SSD for something like £150 (incl) with 240Gb and £175 (incl) with 980Gb.
(or add £25 to each to make it an 8Gb desktop capable variant)

Version 5 of the RPi looks like it comes with enough juice to be a capable desktop providing good playback at 1080p. Power consumption still seems to be ~ 5w on idle or ~12w under load, which looks like a third of comparable “mini-PC”'s and a tenth of my workstation.

Does anyone have any thoughts as to whether there would be any demand for this?

As I am knee-deep in old computers and could do with the desk space, I would consider buying one to play with as I have no experience of the Raspberry Pi. The lower power requirement is a plus, too.

Overall, I would say that these devices are so powerful and flexible that if the average computer user were aware of their capabilities I am sure that they would fly off the shelves - but my impression is that they are regarded as being for experts. Certainly, I would want to play with one before committing all my stuff to it.

Perhaps it’s time to bite the bullet.

Mmm, the other thought is that they’re very up-gradable. Although the board is fixed at either 4GB / 8GB, pretty much everything else is interchangeable.

Previously my concern was raw CPU and graphical ability to process video. Both of these seem to have been addressed and although it’s not going to be great at 4k+ video, my current machine can really only do 1080p so it’s really no different to what I’ve been using. I have been wondering whether I could get away with a Pi to essentially drive my desktop, then a server behind it to do all my development work.

Just done a little testing on my kit, the 27" ASUS display seems to be fairly constant at 22w, and the server itself anything from 50 to 150 depending on the workload. (but then the screen goes to sleep for at least half of the day, so say 11w on a 24x7 average)

Hmm … I just installed Wordpress onto my current Pi (4) that acts as my backup / test server (1Tb SSD). It seems faster than the wordpress instances running on my machine. Now wondering if I can move all my persistent workloads off my server onto the Pi …

Incidentally, a complete container installation with a blank Wordpress instance (and this includes a MySQL database, NGINX, php-fpm etc) all fits inside of 1.4G.