What is a server? The definition is: a computer or computer program that manages access to a centralized resource or service in a network. Some may say this isn’t really a server but I disagree.

We have decided to build a dedicated machine to host various projects in-house. One great example of a project it will host is the web page we created so that members can sign forms digitally. Here are the technical details:

  • Intel i5 3.2Ghz 1150 CPU
  • 32Gb DDR3 RAM
  • 240Gb SSD
  • 1Tb HDD
  • Gigabit Ethernet

Now you want to build your own right? Well head to your favorite e-commerce website and pick up some computer parts. Once you have the basics: a motherboard, hard drive, ram, and cpu, you can begin to build.

I started off by unboxing the case and laying it on it’s side on the table and making sure I have all the tools I need (a screwdriver). Next I put on rubber gloves so I don’t accidently shock any of the electronics. I then got the motherboard out and lined it up over the mounting points on the bottom, carefully screwing each one down. I then put the power supply in, followed by the SSD, and then the ram. It was at that point I realized the power supply is in the way of putting in the HDD… So after taking that out and putting everything back in I went to install the CPU but for some reason it wasn’t fitting. I glanced over at the empty boxes and saw my mistake, I bought a CPU that supports the 1151 chipset and my motherboard only supports 1150, thankfully we can get the correct one with two day shipping. I then connected up all the cables and used some cable ties to tidy up the interior. Now, I wait…

With fresh parts in hand I attempted to boot off my Ubuntu 16.04 flash drive. I pressed the power button and the computer responded with a series of disappointing beeps. Something was wrong. After some trial and error I realized that the motherboard was not connected to the CPU properly, bent pins. Another week passed and I finally was ready to boot for the first time. This time however it couldn’t find my flash drive! After some probing of the BIOS I made the pesky server obey and got the OS installed.

It’s been two months since I ordered all the components. After reinstalling the operating system a few times, accidentally erasing everything, and sweating over apache and php configuration files, it is done. It’s now doing it’s job, storing data and serving our intranet.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this experience is that it pays to be patient. I could’ve finished everything in one weekend if I had not rushed to order all the parts and ensured the correct ones were sent the first time. I could have checked the MD5 SUM of the OS download to ensure it wasn’t corrupted. Finally, I could’ve left the configuration files alone because I only created problems for myself.

About Author
Josh Bowen, Community Technologist