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Host your own server – Where do we start?

So you wish to install your own server to run may be a website or your own mail, or a specific application or service (Subsonic? Minecraft?…)

You will obviously have few requirement to match based on your needs.



You could have a dedicated server using OVH or any other provider, but I’ll assume your here to use your own hardware and host it at home.

In fact, a server does not need to be very powerful, so you could reuse an old laptop or computer if you want. For example a Rapsberry Pi (Based on Arm with 256Mo Ram) is enough to host quite a few services. But don’t except high reactivity tho.

My first dedicated server@HOME was a custom ITX (Small size) config based on:

Case: Thermaltake Element Q

Motherboard: Intel DG41MJ (ITX socket 775)

Processor: Intel E5300 2.5Ghz


250GB 2.5 7200tr/m Hard Drive

Paid 250e 4 years back

And I had a very good experience with it and I was hosting few websites with modest trafic (few hundreds per day) and dozen of services such as Subsonic, Ajaxplorer, FTP, Mails, …. No need to be much faster in fact.

Although my config now is way too powerfull for my needs (But it was my own gift xD)

I’m now having a i7 2600 with 16GB Ram + OCZ Vertex 3 SSD 64gb + 2x2To Storage (For duplication). I actually really enjoy using SSD in my machines now (Fast load time, very good performance with MySQL databases or heavy I/O tasks)


Obviously the faster your Internet connection is, the better but I would say there is no specific minimum, it will just limit your type of services and traffic.

If you could have at least 128kb/s (16ko/s) upload speed with your ADSL, that would be a good start. Download will not matter much usually, as upload is always the bottleneck in ADSL. (If you are having cables, ADSL2, VDSL2, or even FTTx, lucky you. In that case you will probably be very comfortable with upload)The server described earlier was on an ADSL2 connection at 16M/1M.

Now I’m having FTTB with 100M/40M (So much faster…indeed)

Another important aspect of your network will be your router, to route correctly the needed traffic to your server. You will need to open several ports to let enter the traffic.

Operating System:

GNU/Linux is THE Operating System for servers. Widely used, very stable and with good performance, it is a good choice to run your server on.

In the GNU/Linux family, it exists a lot of “flavor”, Ubuntu being the most popular and very easy to handle. Ubuntu has a dedicated server version called Ubuntu Server and will run quite well. But although I’ve started with Ubuntu Server, I’m quickly moved to Debian and could only strongly recommend you to give it a try.

Ubuntu being based on Debian, you will not feel much the difference as a server version. However I felt Debian to be much more stable and reactive than Ubuntu. However Debian got 3 majors branches (Stable, Testing and Unstable) with different version of application. Stable being based on very robust and tested set of application, while Testing has more up to date and Unstable being cutting edge version, with possible bugs for these 2 versions.

You want to play safe? I suggest you to use Debian Stable and if an application is not up to date enough, to install a more updated version from backport repositories.

Self host your services – Because your privacy worth it

I’ve started to self-host most of my services 6 years ago when I was still an international student, starting with Jabber, as I was bored of MSN and wanted to learn new cool stuff during my free time.

At that time, it was purely to learn and have full control of what I wanted to do/have. Actually I was using Gentoo distribution on my dualcore T5500 laptop, so, no need to mention how ready I was to get my hands dirty 🙂

And I was thinking having a XMPP server on my laptop that was off most of the time was not a problem. And indeed, it wasn’t! As I was using only my laptop as IM client to discuss with my friends, the server needed to be ON only when the client were ON too.

But things changed as the more I was learning and hosting many services, the more disconnected I started to be from all the progress done in targeted advertisement, SPAM received, intrusion in my personal life, etc….

It’s only after moving back to my own country and turning off all the services I was using that I started to be concerned by my privacy, respect of my personal life and most of all the “peace of mind” of using GNU/Linux and my own services on my own server.

I’m talking about very simple things like installing a software on Windows….better to go to the official website to get the latest version and virus free…. then download it….double click……next….yes….next… I don’t want the whatever bar……no I don’t accept my information to be used by the company….next….DONE. Neither the update….to check by yourself if no automatic checking…and to reinstall, etc…

Or I’m talking about the Google Mail account with localized advertisement based on the content of the email received….or suggested videos on Youtube based of what you watched previously…(Oh and no need to remind me I was looking for a porn movie on the platform…) or the habit to click too fast on the popup message that appear before to really read it and to find you have accepted to join Google+ or letting a lot of your print on the web and have tracked advertisement from the previous website you have visited displayed to the new one.Or having to check your SPAM box as frequent as your regular inbox to double check if any genuine mail was there…since it seems to be more like a black box…Or registering there and there and started to receive unsolicited request etc….

I’m sure we have all faced one of these annoying  unpleasantness.

The truth is Internet is a very transparent and free place and this is a good thing ! A lot of big companies are making good business there with “free” services (Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, etc…) and why not? Nothing bad about making money if it is legal and moral.

But you have to be able to control what you want to share and what you don’t want. And here is the difference between self hosting yourself or using 3rd party services and same goes with Free Software (Free as free speech, not free beer) and Proprietary Software. If you are not able to see the source code or use the software freely, what guarantee do you have of the treatment of your personal data?


For all these reasons (Full control of what I want to do and how I want, respect of my personal life, etc…), I decided few years back to self host as many services as possible. And there is reason for me to change that.

But don’t misunderstand me, this website will neither be about criticizing Proprietary Software (How evil are they?!) nor to initiate a crusade for Free Software. (Free is only what matter?!)

It will bring alternatives to popular services with news and (hopefully) clear tutorial to help you easily install them, because you will see, it’s not so difficult, if you are helped.

Because privacy worth it
NSA Prism – Watching us