Server on a shoestring budget

Remco Bloemen

2009-10-15 20:55:13, last updated 2014-02-27

This is the story of the first Qubis server. Build on a shoestring budget, yet I’m convinced it’ll out preform most of the other equipment in its rack. And it looks better! :)

After rigorously going through tweakers pricewatch to find the absolute cheapest components and suppliers the following configuration was decided:

Component Product Price
Case Chieftec 2U Rackmount 360W € 156.72
Motherboard Asrock A780FullHD € 61.50
Processor Amd Phenom II X4 940 € 173.53
Memory OCZ 4GB DDR2 € 58.50
Harddisk 3×WD 500GB € 158.85
Video card ATI RV610 onboard
Network card RTL8168B 1Gb onboard
Raid controller Linux software raid Free
Software Gentoo Linux Free
Hosting 2U 19" 100 Mb/s 1 Tb/month € 59.– (monthly)

That’s how you build a quad core 3.0 GHz server with 4 GB ram and 1 TB raid-5 for just over € 600.

Now, you may wonder how low-budget consumer components will perform in a server setting, particularly software raid, onboard network controller and the non-scsi harddisks. Well, I think most of those doubts are unfounded, software raid is safer and performance is either slightly less or slightly better depending on your configuration. And this beast has much performance to spare!

Regarding the hardware quality and failure: Instead of very expensive components such as redundant powers supplies, etc. it is far more efficient to create redundancy by using multiple servers (scatter around the globe for good measure). Admittedly, there is currently only one server, but we don’t depend on it for anything mission critical.

Special touch:.

Spray painted our logo on the front.

  1. Print the outline of the logo unscaled.

  2. Spray glue on back of the paper sheet Bison lijmspray will do fine.

  3. Stick the sheet to the surface to be painted.

  4. Trace the outlines with an x-acto knife.

  5. Remove paper on areas to be painted.

  6. Use the cheapest car spray paint from your local hobby market in the brightest color you can find (bonus point for fluorescent colors).

  7. Remove the paper after the paint has become tacky, it should only leave some glue traces.

  8. Remove glue traces with solvent after the paint has fully set.

There you have it, perfect logo’s every time.

Some pictures of the finished and installed server:

Qubis Server in rack, De eerste Qubis server, net geplaatst in het rack van TransIP.

One of the many rack alleys, Just one of the many rack alleys at TransIP.