It all started when I got a server. Actually, it was two. Two beautiful Dell R710 servers, which I still own, and where this blog is at the time of writing.

How I started torturing myself

As some of you might know, I work at Purdue University's supercomputing center, which means that I get to work with servers all day. It took a while for me to get this through my head:

"A server is basically a big and powerful desktop"

Once I understood that, I decided to buy a couple of used servers, and see what I could do with them. It was also around the time when I was taking my Windows systems administration and virtualization class, so I was pretty into the ESXi and Active Directory thing. It started off pretty simple, I installed ESXi, set up a virtual machine, installed Windows Server and started IIS. I did not like it.. So, deleted the VM, got a new VM, installed Ubuntu, and set up Apache web server. Perfect. I guess I am a fan of open source now, because open-source usually means free. I somehow ended up having a lot of free time that semester, and even more free time the next one, so things spiraled pretty quickly from the web server.

Why am I writing this?

So after I got my server operational, I decided that I wanted to use the server for as my stuff as I could. I have fallen into many traps, troubleshooted a million issues, and learned by breaking (and getting hacked!). I want to write guides for people who want to get the most out of their server, and follow my steps to achieving technical greatness (not really greatness, but more like being technically meh...). I want people to learn from my mistakes, and create awesome, fully-integrated systems, so that they can boast about their web-hosting skills, systems administration skills, and just their basic technical prowess.

What's this One IP?

I have some FANTASTIC internet speeds, thanks to Metronet. But here's the thing, I only have one public IP address, which REALLY sucks. I could probably pay more, and get more IP addresses, but I am just a college student (Side note: This is why we should move to IPv6 ASAP so that I can get my /64, aka quintillion IP addresses, probably for one small price!).

What's the Mo' problems?

I want to do a lot of things, but I am limited by that single public IP address. That's why I have a LOT of problems sometimes.

What does one need to do similar stuff?

  1. A computer - Does not have to be server, although they are pretty cheap on eBay. You can use any computer with sufficient computing power and RAM.
  2. An internet connection - If you have metronet in your area, get it! If you go to a big university, chances are that they have some awesome internet offerings. Purdue, for example, offers gigabit speeds on wired connections almost everywhere on campus!
  3. (Optional) A hypervisor - Simply put, a hypervisor basically allows you to have multiple virtual machines on a single real computer. A great idea if you plan on having multiple machines doing multiple things. If you use a hypervisor, you may need something that supports NAT (unless you have the luxury of multiple IP addresses)
  4. An operating system of your choice - It would be easiest to use Ubuntu, as it is free, and that's what I will probably write the most about.
  5. Some willpower/motivation - Actually, you may need a lot.

There you go, you are now ready to get on an amazing adventure filled with frustration, research, and a little bit of satisfaction when everything actually works!

Please let me know if you have anything specific you want me to write about, or tackle a specific problem!