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Setting up a Server

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Revision as of 18:02, 27 October 2017 by Sneak (talk | contribs) (Cloud storage)
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Need a fileserver that won't face the external internet? Check Home server.

Need to email? Set up a web server? Well, here's some advice. We're gonna try to write this page like you've never done this shit before. It does, however, assume you have at least some basic GNU/Linux knowledge. If you don't, you probably aren't ready for this. You weren't going to set up a server using Windows, were you? Jesus Christ, how horrifying.

A lot of this applies to both a physical machine as well as a VPS setup.

Common uses for a server

  • Install FTP software and run an FTP site.
  • Install a cloud service like Seafile to run your own Dropbox service, no privacy issues, full control, unlimited space (well, limited by how many drives you can cram in).
  • Always on seedbox. Start torrents with your phone through the web interface while out, they're done by the time you're back home.
  • Host a personal website.
  • Run your own mailserver just like Hillary!
    • Warning: Running a mailserver is a shitton of work. You will get hacked all the fucking time and it's very high-maintenance.
  • Run a dedicated game server.
  • Run various webapps, develop your own webapps.
  • SSH-tunnel to the server from work/school/etc to use it as a proxy, so that the admin of the network you're on can't see what sites you're going on.
  • Run a VPN for location spoofing or security when you're out and about.

Getting Started

Home or Remote?

Choosing an Operating System

Setting up your services

  • Mail
  • DNS
  • FTP
  • Cloud Storage
  • Web Server
  • ZNC
  • SSH

Centralized storage

A server is perfect for this job. It is (supposedly) an always available resource on the local network. If using this in your house, you can expect reasonable speeds, even over WiFi that will let you do many daily tasks. One option is to set it up with NFS (Linux-centric, can be used on windows but it's shit) or samba, so you can watch your chinese cartoons on any device and keep your documents/whatever synchronized. This synchronization is a key benefit of the network storage.

You may want to consider a RAID array for long-term file storage. RAID is not backup, but will protect your files in case of drive failure. NAS4Free allows you to easily set up RAID arrays using UFS or ZFS.

Web server

A web server serves up a page. The nice things about serving it from a server, than, say, Wordpress or your Dropbox share, is that now you can run web apps and server side code for a dynamic page.

Keep in mind that many server software installs (such as the email server below) involve setting up a webserver, so you may not even need to do anything.

Apache vs. nginx


The extra CPU burden of SSL is minuscule. Your server should serve up everything on HTTPS only. Keep port 80 (plain HTTP) open but redirect everything to HTTPS. If port 80 is closed, typing the address of your server into the address bar of a browser will probably fail (because the browser assumes you meant HTTP, but you have to go to HTTPS).

Issue a self-signed certificate. CAs are for jerks. Set the duration short (eg. a year) and don't forget to make a new one. If you've got a domain, get a Lets Encrypt-signed cert and set up a cron job to renew it. They're pretty sweet.

Setting Up Email the EASY way

See also: Email

Want to use your own email server to avoid the NSA? Good call! But setting up email servers can be pretty complicated. Assuming you mostly don't know what the hell you are doing, and assuming you're already secured your system per above, have a peek at iRedMail. iRedMail is an automated email and web server setup package. It works best if installed on a FRESH system - if you're already fumbled around with Apache and/or dovecot and/or postfix and failed, wipe your shit and start over with iRedMail. It will install and configure Postfix, Dovecot, Apache, and MySQL. It also installs and configures fail2ban and iptables. It includes spam filtering and greylisting. It just works. Its pretty awesome.

You will, however, still need to manually set up your DNS records (MX, SPF, and DKIM). Refer to the Email article for more on this.

If you want to get fancy and replace MySQL with MariaDB, or replace Apache with, say, Nginx, you can do that after you set up iRedMail, but any breakage is up to you to fix.

Remote access via SSH

GNU or BSD based systems

1. You usually enable the ssh server during the installation. Do this if possible, it is the simplest way.

2. If you did not setup sshd to auto start you can type:

  • /etc/rc.d sshd start, if you use System V init.
  • systemctl enable sshd.service && systemctl start sshd, if you use systemd.

3. If that does not work, you need to install sshd or openssh-server with your package manager.


Simply go into sharing permissions and enable fucking everything.



Create a tunnel and use it as a proxy for environments that block certain DNS requests or pages and to encrypt your data

Wake on LAN

Turn on a PC on your LAN Arch Wiki guide

Web hosting

Host webpages, use nginx or apache debian nginx guide


You can use a proxy guide


Ziproxy (Opera style web compression, including images)

Media automation


Use a daemon like Transmission or Deluge.

TV Series

You can use a daemon like Sickbeard


You can use a daemon like Couchpotato


You can use a daemon like Headphones


Setting up a Server/Security

External links

Linode Library - Good beginner tutorials.