I decided to go ahead with a whitebox build instead of trying to buy a used server. It was more expensive, but the performance will be a lot better, and by doing a "green" build I will be shaving about $15 a month off the electricity bill. This server should be powerful enough to last 5 - 10 years, so over the lifespan those savings will cover the cost of the box. I really liked @Rootwyrm's Baby Dragon. Chris Wahl did a variation of this that I liked even more. He used a Synology NAS box for all of his storage and populated that with some "green" hard drives for even better power savings. Both of these guys were fiends on noise and wanted to go fanless, but I decided to use a platinum certified power supply (with fan) and put it all in an old 4U server case I had. The case uses 3 wire fans and neither cooling or noise is an issue for me since the rack is in the sub-basement.

I had not upgraded the network since the original install in 2003. Because I have to be able to remotely manage the entire system from China I wanted IPMI on the server, and remote management of the switch, router and NAS. A HP ProCurve 1810G switch replaced the old Catalyst 1650. The old switch had taken a couple of lightening strikes and I had lost almost half the ports. Because of that I knew I needed some beefy protection, so a APC 1500C UPS was added to the rack.

  • Intel Xeon E3-1230 “Sandy Bridge” – 3.2GHz, 4 Cores, 8 Threads, 8MB
  • Supermicro X9SCM-F – Intel C204, Dual GigE, IPMI w/Virtual Media
  • 16GB (4 x 4GB) Kingston 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1333
  • Lexar Echo ZX 16GB
  • Rosewill 450 watt Platinum Certified

That fingernail drive is awesome. There are no hard drives in the server, everything boots off the 16 gig fingernail drive. Installation was smooth using VMWare's Hypervisor 5.0 iso and the UNetBootin utility to prepare the USB drive.

I am still working on getting everything running, and then I will get the VPN setup completed and attempt remote management from the laptop. I struggle with VMWare because I am not Linux fluent, but this is a good opportunity to polish up that skill set.

VMWare Whitebox Build