Build a Ubuntu fileserver: The Hardware
With the planning of a new computer done, it’s time to begin the process of buying and assembling the parts together. The more you read about compatibility and user satisfaction, the better your final product will be. I highly suggest perusing Newegg.com (or .ca in Canada) to read about other users’ experiences with a prospective part. I used this site to read about parts, then sourced them locally to get instant gratification.
While I won’t talk about physically assembling the computer (there are hundreds of articles like that across the web for that), I will explain what parts are necessary and which ones I bought.
- Case — In Shin M135 Mini Tower
- Motherboard — ASUS P5KPL-CM
- Processor — Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale
- RAM — 2GB
- Hard drive 1 — Western Digital 500GB 7200RPM SATA
- Hard drive 2 — Western Digital 1TB 7200RPM SATA
I purchased these parts because each met very specific needs for a fileserver. The case includes 4 internal 3.5″ drive bays, with 3 5.25″ and 2 3.5″ external bays. This leaves plenty of space for expansion. Additionally, the case includes a 120 mm chassis fan, meaning it will blow a lot of air, but will remain quiet. The cooling and noise factor is especially important for computers that will be on constantly.
The Intel E5200 was picked because the 45nm manufacturing process means it will require less power and cooling that comparable processors. The fairly high clock speed is just a bonus, but one that allows this computer to work as a video processing station. Remember, a few extra dollars spent at the outset means your system will likely satisfy your needs for much longer.
The hard drive choice is largely a matter of budget and ambitions, but I highly recommend a separate drive for the OS and main storage. Originally I didn’t really want a 500 GB boot drive, but my local store had a sale. The separate drives mean you can upgrade or even replace the operating system without touching your media files. It also means you can create filesystems like RAID or LVM without modifying your home folder.
The motherboard is perhaps the most important component in the build, and requires the most research. As previously mentioned in the planning post, the motherboard will make or break the connectivity of your machine, both to internal components and the network. The ASUS unit I chose has 4 SATA connectors and Gigabit Ethernet. It was one of the few — if not the only — motherboard I found that has both of these features and a MicroATX form factor. The gigabit connection means I can transfer data across the network at speeds of 40 MB/s!
A central storage database can make using multiple computers much simpler and convenient, and with properly chosen components, it can be built with a fairly small investment.
Newegg provides a small affiliate payout for items purchased through these links. I recommend Newegg because of their rapid shipping, low prices and excellent customer service.