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Building a Home Server with an old PC

So I had an old PC laying in the closet that I haven't touched in probably 2 to 3 years and decided to turn it into a new toy for the house. In today's post, I will go over installing Ubuntu on our old desktop, configuring it as a network drive, configuring Remote Desktop, and talk about the things I want to do with this.

There is a ton you can do with an old PC acting as a server. Load it with storage and store all your photos and 4k videos on it. Stop paying for cloud storage and photo storage and run open source software on your server. Plug it into your TV so that it's easily accessible as a media device. Give yourself a free VPN.

Here is my plan:

  • Install Ubuntu Desktop onto the PC, wiping out the Windows 10 OS previously installed

    • I'm going with the Desktop version because I'm thinking I might also plug this PC into the living room TV as it may provide additional use case. Plus, I've never played with Ubuntu Desktop so that would be something new for me.
  • Configure the drive as a network drive

    • I might as well have the storage accessible as a network drive so I can easily read/write to it.
  • Configure Windows Remote Desktop

    • This way I can easily remote in my home computer when I want to make updates or changes to the server instead of doing it from the TV screen.
  • Configure various tools for the server

    • Configure my own "Google Photos" using an open-source tool.
    • Configure my own "DropBox" using an open-source tool.
    • Configure an open-source VPN service.

Install Ubuntu Desktop

Installing Ubuntu Desktop is pretty straightforward when following the documentation. This will involve downloading the OS image which is an iso file, burning it on a usb stick, then booting your PC up into bios by restarting and hitting F12. I used balenaEtcher per the documentation to burn the iso which worked great.

Configure the Server as a mapped network drive

The first thing I figured I would do was get the server to act as network attached storage (NAS), by allowing myself to map a drive from my desktop computer to the server computer. The documentation to accomplish that can be found here.

Configure Windows Remote Desktop

The next thing I figured I would do was to set up Remote Desktop. This was also fairly straightforward and documented here.

Next steps

I'll continue to document in future posts the next steps!