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Replacing a Personal Rack-Mounted Server? 108

Posted by timothy
from the microsourcing dept.
Starky writes "Many moons ago, I cobbled together a 1U rack mount from parts which has since been diligently serving up my homepage and web sites for family and friends. It's a truly "Mom and Pop Shop" setup, running on a rack secluded in a closet at home over a DSL line. At the time, I was able to piggyback my order on a large order placed by a company for which I was working, allowing me to get a substantial discount. Now, the time has come to consider a replacement. However, I no longer work at a company that orders chassis and chips by the dozen. I would like to get a rack-mountable chassis, but don't know where to go as a lowly individual consumer looking for a box with minimal specifications (1 processor, dual drives, and 1G RAM is about all I need) at a reasonable price. Any recommendation from Slashdotters who maintain their own rigs?"
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Replacing a Personal Rack-Mounted Server?

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  • Granted, my home server isn't rackmounted (exactly because I don't know where to get the rack, etc...), but it runs OpenBSD and currently uses a whopping 31Meg RAM. It does routing/firewalling, DHCP server, NTP server, Samba Server, DNS server (not forwarding, but a full one), email server, webserver including a webmail interfact, IMAP and I'm most likely skipping some stuff.

    It's only a P-III 800MHz with 768Meg (my old desktop) and I have playroom if you consider the load average: 0.32, 0.19, 0.12

    Hey, bu

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by shadow349 (1034412)
      I am just in the process of evaluating a new server to replace my home rack-mount.

      As the previous poster mentioned, if you don't need a lot of power, the D-Link DNS323 [dns323.info] with two SATA drives might fit the bill. I just got one and put in two 500GB drives. So far, it is doing a good job replacing my home server for file serving, web serving, email, dns, dhcp, and rtorrent.

      It cost about $300 ($160 for the unit, 2 x $70 for the drives on sale). The big payoff is that it uses (well, supposed to use since I haven't
      • For exatly those reasons, and the fact that we don't have a basement, so the machine makes noise in our office room, I want to go Soekris [soekris.com]. Small, silent, power efficient. It's a bit more expensive than your solution though...

    • by B'Trey (111263) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:06PM (#23420076)
      I've been running whitebox servers like that at home for years but recently decided, like the original poster, that I wanted to go with a rackmount setup. If you're deadset on building a custom system, then I can't offer much advise. Me, I picked up a couple of these. [geeks.com]

      Even after paying shipping and picking up a could of larger hard drives, I don't think I could have build a similar system any cheaper. One is my mail/web server and the other is an internal domain controller and file server.

      They don't come with rails, so they're sitting on shelves in my rack rather than actually installed but I can live with that.
      • What's the advantage of a rackmount setup? I can see it if I could put it in your basement in a real rack, but sitting on shelves? I'm just wondering, really... Any reason?
        • by sumdumass (711423)
          The biggest advantage is space used and organization. The cable managment on a rack is phenomenal compared to sitting 4 or 5 boxes in a row and attempting to hit a switch then playing with power cords. 1U systems are around 2 inches thick. (1.75 inches or 44mm I think to be exact.) If I remember correctly, the U denotes 1.75 inches so to get the hight of the server, you would multiply that by the number in front of it. So a 4U chassis would be about 7 inches tall. If you had three 1U servers and two 3U serv
        • by B'Trey (111263)
          In my case, I already have a rack - a cabinet, actually. I have my router and my switch installed, and having rackmount servers allows me to put everything in the cabinet and close the door. The servers are sitting on shelves but they're on shelves mounted in the cabinet, so the effect is no different from if they were mounted. I just can't as easily extend them if I need to open them up for some reason.
      • Why do you need that much horsepower for home?

        My home file/mail server is a P233, and if anything it's overpowered for the job.
        • by B'Trey (111263)
          In my case, I really don't need that much horsepower, although it's nice when I decide to recompile my kernel. :-) But these were about the cheapest rackmount servers I could find. If I could have picked up something with half the power for half the price, I'd have done it but there's nothing out there I could find.
      • by Holi (250190)
        Not very helpful as those systems are out of stock and being refurbished who knows if they will get anymore.
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      I suspect he is wanting something new for fear of something breaking or failing unexpectedly. Otherwise his used system that works right now would be as sufficient as a used system for what he described the usage for.

      He could still get the basics like the chassis, power supply and maybe with a backplane for SCSI drives so they would be hot swappable. The rest of it, I would think he would want new stuff. Most ATX and extended ATX form factor main boards will work in a 1 us chassis. For a limited volume serv
      • by dwater (72834)

        I suspect...
        Yes, but it would be nice to actually know. All he gave is "Now, the time has come to consider a replacement.", to which my first thought was "why?", and my second is, "why not just leave it well alone and let it do the job it's been doing just fine for so long?".

        I think knowing why the existing equipment is no longer good enough is actually very good information to have when recommending a replacement.
  • Reuse the chassis (Score:5, Informative)

    by eln (21727) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:45PM (#23419646) Homepage
    The rack-mounted chassis is what costs more than the normal PC parts, so just re-use the one you already have and order the rest of it from anywhere. You should be able to buy what you're looking for for less than $400 if you don't have to order the chassis.
    • Consider the Geode (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dj245 (732906)
      I would consider an AMD Geode chip. It likely faster than you need, and you can get a motherboard/cpu/heatsink combo for around $100. They usually take DDR1 memory and 1GB DDR1 is very inexpensive. Video is built in, like most proper server boards. The power savings will probably be substantial over a "server motherboard" type computer also.
    • by Loualbano2 (98133)
      If you cannot reuse the current chassis, I would take a look at these guys:

      www.plinkusa.net

      They have about the dirt cheapest bare rackmount chassis and accessories that I have run across.

      ft
    • You could also try some of the lower-end Supermicro Chassis:

      (SuperMicro SC512 - roughly $80) [provantage.com]

      Rackmount chassis, in my experience, only get really expensive if deep (requiring more oomph from the rail kits) or have hotswap bits.


  • You can get a low cost dell server for cheap, 1u or even cheaper if you go with a low end desk-side server.

    Why do you need a rack mount? Seems like for a home server a quiet desk-side server would be easier to keep cool and quiet, and more space conservative.
    • by emag (4640)

      You can get a low cost dell server for cheap, 1u or even cheaper if you go with a low end desk-side server.

      I'm going to have to second this. As much as I loathe Dell's consumer products, and especially their laptops, I'm really in love with their rack-mount servers. The last I checked, there are often deals on low-end servers in their SMB server section. Granted, it's not going to be a $199 PC, but it's still in the "reasonable" realm for rackmount... (ie, just speccing out a 1U PowerEdge R200 using the specs given, it comes in at under $1k. If you look at over the course of "many moons", that's a decent pr

      • by Sentry21 (8183)
        If your quality/reliability target is that of 'off the shelf' parts anyway, you can get the R200 for around five hundred bucks and spend another five hundred upgrading the hard drive and ram. Heck, you could hit 2x2G of ram and 2x1TB SATA hard drives for not that much more. If you don't need a DRAC then you're saving a nice chunk of change at that price point.
      • Use ebay.

        1000s of rackmount servers being sold second hand cheaply (and you can find trustable sellers - most sellers are businesses regularly selling old equipment)... (We got a 1U Proliant DL360 cheap however it sounds like a jet engine -- I would't want one in the house!)
  • by Ted Cabeen (4119) * on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:50PM (#23419726) Homepage
    The one thing I will note about rackmount servers is that they are all very noisy. For home installation, a desktop chassis will nearly always fit your needs and will be much quieter and more power-efficient than a rackmount. I recently replaced my home server with about $850 in parts from newegg. If you're interested in making a quiet desktop, take a look at SilentPCReview [silentpcreview.com].

    If you're set on a rackmount server, I've been very happy with Silicon Mechanics [siliconmechanics.com], but their cheapest machine is still ~$1000.
    • I can't agree more. For something of his needs, something like a MacMini or a small Shuttle XPC would be perfect, and very cheap to build.. (if your insistant on using a "rack" you can get a shelf for your rack for dirt cheap. On the mac-Mini, the lack of a fan in the chasis, as well as the external power supply work great. Less moving parts to break, and less heat from the power supply. You can find them on Ebay cheap.
      • by peragrin (659227)
        newer mini's do have a fan. It only comes on with certain temperatures though and doesn't last long. The loudest part of my mini is still the Hard drive. In a quiet room I can hear it spin up. of course with the lack of blinking HD activity lights that noise is the only way to know the unit is active. I routine can her my mini's fan kick on while playing games(unreal, homeworld, etc) even then it is so quiet I have to try to hear it.
  • Just upgrade (Score:5, Informative)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:51PM (#23419740) Homepage Journal
    NewEgg or ZipZoomFly have motherboards, CPUs, Drives, and memory. But the big question is why update? What is wrong with the current server? I am sure you could saturate that DSL line with the server you have so why upgrade? Maybe just upgrade the disk? Or maybe more memory.

    Your other option is to watch Geeks.com. Every now and then they have cheap refurbished servers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      But the big question is why update?

      To impress the babes, dude!

    • If you really don't want to just swap out the guts, I bought one off ebay several years ago. Mine happened to be from Berkeley Communications, but any high volume refurbisher or reseller with a clean record who resells good, working gear, probably has a deal for you.
  • Pogo Linux [pogolinux.com] has some nice gear for cheap.
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Agreed, Pogo's stuff is good, and their people know what they're doing there. Plus, you can buy servers and workstations with or without the MS tax; your choice.
  • by Grey_14 (570901)
    You really even need to ask? E-Bay! That or suck it up and just use a desktop tower, it'll take more room but give you much more flexibility on the cheap,
  • Actually, I've had some good luck finding older but still very very usable rackmount systems on eBay. Seems there's never a shortage of companies getting rid of year-old kit they just upgraded.
  • NewEgg has some relatively inexpensive Asus and SuperMicro chassis to chose from: http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=8&name=Server-Barebones [newegg.com]
    • Second that on newegg.com! Also, if you're looking for a true telco-style rack, look no further than http://graybar.com/ [graybar.com] , although they probably charge enterprise prices, they do have just about everything. I would suggest if you don't really need a full-on, telco rack that needs to be mounted to a cement or other reinforced flooring go with a rolling 19" guitar effects rack. They are usually sturdy enough to support a 1U or 2U racked computer as well as your sweet guitar effects, plus you don't need to
  • Dude, (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MoOsEb0y (2177) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @12:59PM (#23419952)
    You're getting a Dell! Srsly tho, you can get rackmount servers from them for cheaper than you can build them yourself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jeffmeden (135043)
      Dead on. If you really need a rackmount server, dell has low prices on single units that you can NOT beat. But the question remains, if you only need one why the heck are you getting a rackmount? Taking a serious look at your logic behind this decision is in order. Here is a start: they DO make server-class computers without 19" rack ears on them.
    • by Vrallis (33290)
      While I've always been a big 'do it yourself' (coming from a geek who has a 42U rack cabinet full of servers in his living room), for 1U or 2U systems I'd say to go Dell. Their systems are reliable and dirt cheap. Try to find a vendor that offers one of their 'special buys,' which also have support contracts for 1/5th the usual cost.
  • by slashkitty (21637) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:02PM (#23419996) Homepage
    both have slightly older rack mounted computers on the cheap. in the order of $100 - $400. I've seen a dual xeon with 4 drives for like $250.
    • geeks.com have just jumped on this market. They have a couple of really nice lowish-end (in terms of expandability) 1U servers that would be great for such projects. I don't know if I'd use those in my datacenter, but they're great for home use.

      I was looking at some of their dual-core xeon options with 2 SATA bays. You can get one of those for $400.
  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:05PM (#23420052)
    I am just wondering if it has to be 1U. You can get a nice 4U server complete for $350. It is close to your specs already. Just upgrade RAM, and add a second hard drive, possibly upgrade processor (it has an Intel 775 socket motherboard with 1066FSB Core 2 Duo processor support). So $30 for extra RAM, $60 for disk, and possibly $200 for new CPU, you are still just in the $500-600 range, which isn't bad at all. http://www.superlogics.com/rackmount-computer/rackmount-computers/SL-4U-CL-M900-HA/316-2541.htm [superlogics.com]
    • +1

      I have a couple of the Antec 4U rackmount ATX cases that I use as "glorified servers" at home and they function great! You can get the cases for under $200, more like around $150 maybe less online. Then just buy whatever ATX-based components that you need and you are set.
  • I am also in the market, but I am worried about heat issues in the closet. Are there servers that are more heat tolerant than others? I tried looking at some military grade stuff, but a lot of these vendors are hard to place orders with. Is there a way to build a machine that is very tolerant of heat?
    • It's easier to just avoid making heat in the first place. Use old h/w or massively underclocked new-ish HW, with onboard video or a really crappy video card.
  • by jonesy16 (595988)
    I agree with most of the points on here. 1) Rackmounts are excessively loud in "most" instances, so unless you need a small height factor or already have a rack to put it in, I'd recommend getting a desktop of some sort. Power usage should be another concern if you're going to have it running 24x7. That being said, ebay is a great place to pick up rack mount computers. One example are the IBM e326 servers which use AMD processors. You can pick up one of those for ~$250 with an Opteron 250 and 1 GB of R
  • Come on, there are tons of rackable servers out there. If you don't feel like putting together parts, go to dell. They start at $800. http://www.dell.com/content/products/category.aspx/rack_optimized?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd [dell.com]

    If you don't want to spend that much, go to newegg, search for 1u and enjoy the 379 results.

    If you want something in between; http://www.google.com/search?q=1u+server [google.com]

    There's no need to place a huge order for this type stuff. And there's no need to ask /. I guess next we'll b
  • System76 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:23PM (#23420440) Homepage Journal
    www.system76.com [system76.com] if you're into Ubuntu...
  • by JWSmythe (446288) * <jwsmythe@jws[ ]he.com ['myt' in gap]> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:40PM (#23420820) Homepage Journal
    My friends, their friends, and their friends (like, people I've never heard of), always end up coming to me for this same advice.

        Sometimes I give/sell them parts out of my garage, because their old equipment also somehow ends up in my garage. :)

        I tend to like SuperMicro equipment, so if you have a few bucks to spend, go find yourself a nice SuperMicro 1u. But since this is your personal machine, and you don't have a huge budget, you'll have to shop like I do.

        Check out the VisionMan machines on tigerdirect.com. For about $550, you can get a 2Ghz dual core with 1Gb RAM, 2 160Gb SATA drives

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/search.asp?page=2&mnf=1286&sort=Price%20asc [tigerdirect.com]

        I haven't bought any yet, but if I ever run out of parts in my garage for new servers, I'll probably buy one. :)

        You can always go browsing on eBay. Sometimes you'll find a good deal, but generally you're not going to get much decent for under $500. There are resellers on there all the time, who grab up anything cheap (or bid them up to over $500), that they're going to sell to their customers. If you do, be cautious of home built machines. They're the best thing in the world if they're done right, but if they weren't, you can experience lots of nasty problems. Like, if there isn't enough air flow, the CPU can overheat, and in a week or two you may end up looking for a new machine again.

        I was building my own 1u machines for quite a while. When we approached 1Ghz, I had to start doing some special cooling. After that, since the company was making good money, it was cost effective to get the SuperMicro machines.

        The final option is... I needed an incoming mail server to filter viruses and spam. This was a rather urgent matter, and I didn't really have time to go through my garage piecing a machine together and test it. I also didn't have time to order anything. I went down to CompUSA (they re-opened close to my house), and picked up an eMachines AMD64 with 1Gb ram for $250. It's a tower case, but if I felt ambitious (which I didn't that night), I could have easily rebuilt it into a spare 2u case. The memory was not seated well when I unboxed it, but that's the only problem that it's had so far, and it's been running hard for a few weeks.
  • I mean seriously, a few minutes of quality time spent with Google shows many, many low cost server options.

    I tend to agree with a lot of the posters here though who ask "Why rackmount?" I see no logical reason for it other than the 'cool/geek' factor.
    • Dude, you must be new here. 90+% of Ask Slashdot questions can be answered in some form by Google, people ask questions here to get a particular informed answer to the question from a group of fellow geeks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      I mean seriously, a few minutes of quality time spent with Google shows many, many low cost server options.

      And almost all of them are worthless unless you already know exactly what you want. Hardware changes so fast that sometimes it's hard to know what the good gear is this month.

    • I've spent the last couple of weeks searching in Google, with 1U and various search terms like Taiwan, China, Ubuntu, Linux, etc.

      Google doesn't have an informed opinion about what I'm searching for, and doesn't really give me any of the options I've even seen posted in these responses.

      I grant you, I'd get some sort of answer from Google, but not necessarily a good one.
  • by JohnnyGTO (102952) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:59PM (#23421232) Homepage
    They specialize in like new lease returned hardware, including Big Iron. I got an HP Proliant from them for a song last year. www.escorp.com
  • Quiet low power 1U (Score:3, Informative)

    by DDumitru (692803) <doug@eaELIOTsyco.com minus poet> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:00PM (#23421244) Homepage
    I have build a couple of these for colos, but they are low cost, quiet, and low power, so you might be interested.

    Start with a Supermicro 1U 510. This is 11" deep with an 80+ efficiency 200W power supply. It will house most uATX motherboards, although you will have to nibble out the back panel to get non supermicro boards to fit.

    Then add a low cost AMD socket-AM2 motherboard.

    Put a low power 45W dual core like a BE-2400 or one of the newer series. You will need a 1U blower for this.

    Put one 3.5" drive (or up to 4 2.5" drives).

    With a Gigabyte board and 1 2.5" HDD + 1 2.5" SSD, my system draws 37 watts in use as measured from the power line. It is not 100% quiet, but is the quietest of any 1U I have worked with.
    • by brobak (683932)
      I just put together a rig based on your suggestion on newegg. Looks like a decent setup, but I'm wondering which CPU cooler you run with?
      • by DDumitru (692803)
        we use dynatron A48G for AM2. Not quiet, but if the OS can fan control it stays reasonable.
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:09PM (#23421434) Homepage Journal

    I'm replacing a dying server, and for various reasons I'm getting a Dell [dell.com], probably the PowerEdge 840. My questions:

    • AMD or Intel? It seems like the ball's back in Intel's court these days, but I don't track hardware news so closely anymore.
    • Pentium E2180 @2.0GHz (free), Core 2 Duo @2.2GHz ($50), or dual core Xeon at 1.86GHz ($100)? Cycles aren't everything, but I'm guessing that the Core 2 Duo at 18% higher clock speed ought to be the sweet spot.
    • For RAM: 1GBx2 or 512MBx4? In some systems, more sticks == more interleaving == faster. In others, more sticks == more latency. What's the current thinking?
    • Why doesn't Slashdot display bulleted lists correctly anymore?

    To those who would tell me (and this story's poster) to Google it: I'd rather get today's recommendations from an interactive forum than try to find a website with the same information from the last year or so. Besides, what geek doesn't want to talk about hardware?

  • Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by leoxx (992) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:10PM (#23421452) Homepage Journal
    1 processor, dual drives, and 1G RAM is about all I need


    Perhaps I am confused. Why exactly do you want a rack-mounted server for this? Why not just use an old PC, most people have scads of these things sitting around. Better yet, use something like the VIA NAS 7800 [via.com.tw] and throw it in a nice small quiet case. Compared to some crappy old 1U server, you'll save hundreds of dollars a year in electricity costs alone if the thing is on 24x7.

  • I have a Soekris 5501-70 in a 1u case. Currently it serves 14 smallish websites that get about 5000 hits a day (combined) and does DNS, email and several Postgress databases for my own use. It feels snappy enough.

    I'm thinking about adding another 5501 in the same case for firewalling, routing and providing wireless for the rest of my network.

    Power usage is minimal, it is *completely* silent (no fans) and it has been proven to be rock solid.

    More info at Soekris [soekris.com] or kd85 [kd85.com].

    Disclosure: I'm just a happy cu

  • Rack mount is dying (Score:3, Informative)

    by pseudorand (603231) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:25PM (#23421764)
    Are you #()*& insane? Why would you want a rack mount anything, especially in your home? Rack stuff, especially 1U, is noisy (it has to have small fans that spin really fast) and it's an inconvenient form factor unless you really need to pack a lot of equipment into a space. The rack alone takes up 21"x42"xheight, so unless you actually need something on the order of 336 CPU cores (42U of two-way quad cores), rack mount is a horrible idea. Ditch the rack and buy yourself a Shuttle barebones P238 (no, I don't work for them, but I do have shelves, not racks, full of them and they work great). Put 8G of memory, a few Raptor HDs, and a quad core in it and the whole thing will be less than $2500 from NewEgg for a sweet system. Then, put it any where you please because it's dead quiet and always ice cold (we do weather modeling on them, so we run the CPUs at 100% for days at a time).
  • by tgd (2822) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:33PM (#23421928)
    Seriously.

    I used to have a dual CPU P3 1U rackmount server I used for those sort of things. A day of running it through a Kill-A-Watt showed me it was costing almost $40 a month in electricity.

    That buys a LOT of hosting when you look at places like dreamhost, etc.
  • by pugdk (697845) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:51PM (#23422270) Homepage
    Seriously, I had the exact same concerns recently, however I refuse to listen to the insane noise usually coming from an 1U rack..

    I bought a cheap mac mini (intel core solo) on ebay, gutted it, replaced the CPU, added 2 GB RAM and a 250 GB drive.. I then put an external 250 GB drive on top of it. Alternatively buy a brand new Mac mini with the specs you need.

    There you go - $600 or so and you have a totally silent "home server".
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Dead on. I used to have a whole server room in my house, and replaced it with two Mac Mini's that quietly sit in my living room. I've given away anything bigger, noisier, and more power-consuming.

      Really, for the size, noise, and economy of the Mac Mini... its not worth having a server room/closet at home anymore.
    • I bought a cheap mac mini (intel core solo) on ebay, gutted it, replaced the CPU, added 2 GB RAM and a 250 GB drive.. I then put an external 250 GB drive on top of it. Alternatively buy a brand new Mac mini with the specs you need.

      There you go - $600 or so and you have a totally silent "home server".
      If all you're going to do is gut a Mac mini and add components, get a POS laptop off eBay instead. Same thing, no Mac markup.
      • by pugdk (697845)
        Most likely not as silent. The mac mini is surprisingly silent compared to all laptops I've ever used.
  • by macdaddy (38372)
    I bought a pair of 1U dual PIIIs on eBay for about $50 each. The drive bays were missing of course but they can also be found on eBay. Toss in a couple of drives and away you go. Cheap and effective.
  • by Polo (30659) * on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:56PM (#23422390) Homepage
    I got a small 1U 150w celeron system for less than $50, but you have to go in to find that kind of stuff.

    They have nice current systems too.

    http://www.weirdstuff.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?category=10174 [weirdstuff.com]

    highly recommended
  • For my home server closet and rack, I found a nifty 5u unit on ebay for about $75; there's a vendor out of LA who sells them for about $40+$35 shipping on a 'buy it now' basis. It's not the best engineered case, but it was also easy to take apart and noise-reduce with massed vinyl and rubber grommets, etc.

    Personally, I wanted a rack server for several reasons:
    a) more space for hard drives
    b) easier to fit in than putting a server on a shelf unit.
    c) looks cool, and is easy to cool.

    It is still loud, but it's a
  • For rackmounts, after searching for a place for decent custom rackmounts i finally found this shop:

    ABMX.com [abmx.com]

    Unlike most custom shops they dont totally rape you on component upgrades and they have a wide selection of form factors and options, and anything they dont offer on the site they're pretty open about customizing. And everything if very cleanly laid out and tied down, very professional and its all standard form factor parts. And theyll preload many flavors of linux at minimal cost. No i don't
  • by mr_mischief (456295) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @03:09PM (#23422616) Journal
    Consider Anysystem.com [anysystem.com], where you can get dirt-cheap Sun gear. Check out the Ugly Duckling specials for working systems with cosmetic damage dirt cheap. They sell IBM server stuff, too, but that's pretty much all marked "call for pricing".
  • Unless you're really strapped for space, you can save a good chunk of money by going with something other than a 1U chassis. 2U costs less than 1U (generally). 3U costs less than 2U, and 4U is generally way cheaper than 3U. 4U is the sweet spot since it's little more than a mid-tower case turned on its side -- not that there's anything wrong with that, of course!

    There's other reasons to go with a 4U case. You can use standard PSU's in a 4U case. You can use standard PCI/PCI-X/PCI-E cards in a 4U case (
    • by argent (18001)
      Since this is a home server I'd second this recommendation. 1Us are great for colo because they generally charge you per rack unit, but they're really poor value for money where space isn't a premium.
  • Although I tend to go with them at work, I've been happy with Penguin Computing, and their prices are reasonable enough that they'd be good for home use too.
  • Newegg always has rackmount chassis and such available. I've never ordered that stuff from them so I can't vouch for any of it, but I've priced it out for comparison purposes before.

    Dell will also sell rackmount servers to individuals. I'm not horribly impressed with their servers, but I'm forced to use them because my employer contracts with them and unless there are some very, very big exceptions, we buy all of our hardware through them. Ironically the prices listed for home users are often a lot highe
    • by MBGMorden (803437)
      EDIT: should read prices listed for home users are often a lot lower

      4:00pm so I can't claim lack of coffee as the culprit. Just weird typo :).
  • I would get an HP DL360 series machine off eBay, at whatever generation you happen to need (G2 should be OK given your specs.) They are quite inexpensive by now, *very* well built, and remote-manageable. The downside is they take only SCSI disks, which would be a problem if you need more than a few tens of gigabytes of storage, but if you can spare a second U you can buy an inexpensive eSATA enclosure and put in an eSATA card in the machine.
  • I recommend getting IBM xSeries servers off eBay. Most of the ones you find are returned leases which have been checked out and re-sold. I've personally purchased three x330 eServers (1U/2xP3 1G+/2GB memroy, etc..) for $100 each and have seen many x345's (2U/2xXeon) for as low as $350.
  • Don't get me wrong, I would love to put a rack in my house, and several rackable systems most likely of the Apple - Xserve variety (definitely not low power).

    In the past year however I have dumped the over sized, excessively power hungry gray box servers for an Intel based Apple - Mac mini, only a 110W power supply. Then opted for a couple of external SATA drive enclosures for additional storage, the power bricks / wall warts used for the external drive enclosures are low wattage (though I do not have the
  • eBay is your friend, as is google. :)

    Seriously, I've found many sources for inexpensive rackmount chassis online. Often you get what you pay for, of course, but places like "rackbuy.com" have some great deals on generic ATX rackmount chassis that will probably be good enough. I have several of the 3U chassis, and I think they're great. They're just tall enough to support a standard ATX power supply and full upright cards instead of using a PCI riser board or some-such. (one caveat-- don't buy anything elect
  • by kriston (7886) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:01PM (#23424482) Homepage Journal
    First, if you're looking for inexpensive rack-mounted servers, check geeks.com which sells several machines of recent vintage.

    However, you might consider this idea. I decided to be more flexible for my own home after observing a small dotcom that acquired several smaller dotcoms, some of which used towers and others that used rack mounted machines.

    I opted to install a two-post rack, the kind some people call "relay racks," and I installed shelves on them. The shelves allow me to install whatever computer I want, whether rack-mounted or tower configuration. They also allow me to use non-rack-mount communications gear like routers and modems. I also have punch-down blocks at the top for cabling and power hanging off the side. Naturally your four-post 19-inch rack would have similar if not somewhat less expensive shelving available for it.

    Back to my setup, the all-aluminum two-post rack came from American Power Conversion and only cost me $150.
    The shelves vary from $35 to $70 each. The shelves holding the smaller gear are cantilevered and vented. The rest are center-mounted.

    For your rack you can use your old rack-mounted computer as a shelf for the other components.

    There shouldn't be a reason to restrict your options to just rack-mounted computers. The more flexible and less expensive tower form factors are definitely going to satisfy you more.

  • by Xoc-S (645831)
    First you need a rack. I got my rack at the local used computer equipment store in Seattle, RE-PC. Got a 75U rack for $75. Didn't need that much U space, but allows for further expansion. 45U takes as much floor space as 12U!

    Next you need cases. I got 4U cases. There are lots around. As others have mentioned, 4U cases allow you to use any standard hardware.

    Next you need slide rails. Search for "rack mount slide rails" on eBay. I bought from ArrowMax for $18, plus shipping. The shipping is expensive, so buy
  • I've run a home server of one kind or another since the early nineties. But, because of having to move, I reconsidered why I wanted one, and decided that using a hosting service was more cost effective(money AND time) for a 24/7 server. Not having to maintain the hardware/software, deal with the heat and noise issues made it an easy choice for me. When I was learning it was helpful to have my own server to monkey with, but, now that I'm beyond that, I let someone else do that work. For local file servers NA
  • Then, unless you've got a blistering need to fit it into a rack, consider either a small PC (Compaq Deskpro EN comes to mind) or a Mac mini (with an external HDD, I guess.) The Mini in particular is low power, low heat, low noise. I've had one in my bedroom doing hosting duties since February '05. Before that, it was a Compaq Deskpro EN SFF for a few years.
  • ...has some core2duo mobile based 1U barebones with room for a CF card, two SATA HDDs and "enough" memory, which make almost no noise at all unless under heavy load, and even then probably a lot less than your current box.

    I use them for firewalling, and they are teh sweet, with 2 gigabit and 1 FE intel NIC onboard. /Eirik
  • I recommend an SGI server :

    http://www.sgi.com/products/servers/ [sgi.com]

    They start with the minimal specs you quote (I think) and they tend to scale quite well, so I'm lead to believe, in case you increase the size of your family and/or circle of friends...and they start at a very reasonable price, I'm sure.
  • I've had a lot of servers running on mini-itx boards. Like yourself, I've no need for anything really powerful.

    The Travla C146 and C147 cases are fantastic. If you need a system with a few PCI cards, go for the C146, if you don't need any expansion, the C147 will hold two mini-itx motherboards and disks, all in 1U of space.

    The benefits are low space consumption and low power too. They aren't very deep either so can fit in a small size rack, unlike a lot of off the shelf servers from the big companies.

    Darren
  • If your CPU horsepower needs aren't massive, Mini-ITX is the way to go. I've recently put together 1U devices for a firewall and a general purpose/file server, and an Asterisk box is on the way. It's hard to beat this form factor for low power consumption, which of course translates into less heat and less noise. The downside is usually cost--Mini-ITX motherboards tend to carry a price premium over their larger counterparts, as do the mobile CPUs which often go with them.

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