Turning a spare computer into a server

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Power

If you live in an area prone to power surges, rolling brownouts, or the like, or even if you don’t, some sort of intermediary between your machine and the AC socket is a good idea. This can be as simple as a $10 surge suppressor (not just an extension cord) or an elaborate power conditioner with hours of battery backup.

Video

Step 4: Test It

Test it out, when you’re sure the server is running open a web browser and type:http://localhost into the address bar, this should show up (see pic).

Yay, it works, now do something useful with it (will be covered in future instructables. maybe)

The Operating System

There are many, many options for an open source operating system. You can install Fedora, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, Gentoo, and the list goes on and on.

Another option is to install the open source home server from Amahi. This will do alot of the ‘heavy lifting’ to get you up and running, including installing and configuring apache, MySQL, a Ruby on Rails deployment environment, file sharing, a VPN and a range of share web applications. You’ll find alot of useful information on this topic at the Amahi website.

Streaming Home Media Content on a Local Network

Creating a DLNA media server using your PC or Mac is a great way to quickly stream your movies and photo albums to your other devices. You could also think about streaming photos and videos from Windows to an Xbox. Or, if you want to use your PC elsewhere, you could stream your entire desktop using a Chromecast.

If your media collection is too large, you could also think about setting up a network attached storage (NAS) device on your network. These often come with DLNA and other media streaming capabilities built-in, including Plex support. You can also build your own Plex server with enough storage to store and stream from a single device.

How to Set Up a DLNA Media Server on Windows 10

Many devices support playback from a DLNA server, but to stream the content, you’ll need the server set up in the first place. If you don’t have a DLNA media server already, you can quickly use the built-in DLNA media server on Windows 10 to begin streaming. 

This service requires a bit of configuration, so you’ll need to follow these steps to set it up first. You may need to update Windows 10 and configure your network to allow other devices to connect to your PC by setting your network as a private network on Windows.

  1. To begin, you’ll need to access the Windows Settings menu. Right-click the Start menu and select Settings to do this.
  1. In the Find a setting search box at the top of the Settings menu, type media streaming. Select the Media streaming options recommendation that appears in the drop-down menu.
  1. This will open an older Control Panel window. In the Media streaming options window, select the Turn on media streaming button. This will activate the built-in DLNA media server on your PC, as well as change your firewall rules and network setup to allow for media streaming.
  1. Allow a few seconds for Windows to switch the service on. Once this is complete, you can modify your server settings. To change the name of the DLNA media server, replace the text in the Name your media library text box.
  1. If you want to share your media files with other DLNA-capable devices on your local network, make sure that the Allowed checkbox is enabled. You’ll see it next to the Media players on this computer option.
  1. Media is shared from your Libraries folders in Windows File Explorer. This is hidden by default in Windows 10. So to view these folders, open Windows File Explorer and right-click an empty space in the tree menu on the left, then select the Show Libraries option.
  1. Once Libraries are enabled, select the arrow next to the Libraries option in the left-hand tree menu, then select one of the available options (eg. Documents, Music, Pictures or Videos). This will display the list of folders within those Libraries (eg. the Videos folder in your Windows user folder).

Any of the content held in your Libraries folders (such as photos or video files) will be accessible to DLNA-capable players on your local network while your PC is switched on. Make sure to move any files you want to stream to your selected Libraries folders to allow you to stream them to supported DLNA players.

Set Up FreeNAS

You’ll see the Console setup screen after your computer boots. You can tweak settings from here, but you don’t have to. Locate the URL at the bottom of the screen and plug it into a web browser on another computer to access FreeNAS’s graphical web interface.

(You can now unplug your monitor from your FreeNAS box, if you prefer. It should no longer be necessary.)

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FreeNAS will immediately ask you to set a root password, which you’ll need to log into the web interface in the future. Set a password you’ll remember.

You can now use the web interface to set things up

You can now use the web interface to set things up. This is the same sort of interface you’d see if you purchased a dedicated NAS device.

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