Most of the time when I work on computers they are “Windows” PCs and the software is mostly made by Microsoft but from working with different companies I have gain some knowledge on other programs made by various vendors and in-house programmers. Although I have had exposure to Linux, Unix, and FreeBSD I have never really done anything significant with them. Part of this because there are not many home users that understand or operate anything outside of Windows and also because I have not found a good reason to even use a Unix flavor for anything I need at home.
Lately I have been toying with the idea of building a system that would be a central server for just my house to handle various environmental issues and maybe act as a media server as well. If not to do something that grand I would like to have a machine that could run my copy of Subnautica …
I have tried to use Linux in the past but had problems with the interfaces being so vastly different than what I am used to. Ubuntu uses a GNOME interface by default and I absolutely cannot stand it. Ubuntu Server is all text-based and I was completely lost because none of the UNIX commands I new would work and of course DOS commands are of no help either. Eventually I found Linux Mint and that opened up a greater understanding of what was going on and from there I was able to formulate a plan.
Then I go into “thinking and planning mode” which can last years if left unchecked. Pretty much any hardware available nowadays can run Ubuntu Server, the flavor I settled on using, and the download is free so really the only thing holding me back was, me.
The other day I pulled out a system I obtained though an upgrade of one of my clients and figured that with a couple upgrades it would work nicely for what I was trying to accomplish. I like to max out systems to get the most out of them and when you get something for free, the upgrade costs are less of a concern but to put the biggest CPU into this system meant spending around $300 and that didn’t include new RAM. That idea was then put on hold.
Then I pulled out a system that the school had been using for their previous security system. The case had a lot of moisture damage since their server room is also their janitor closet so I wasn’t even sure if it would power up. Soon I had the monster running but the motherboard had a problem in that two of the six SATA ports were dead and from the looks of it, whoever built this system for the school knew that when they sold it to them.
When I couldn’t get it to configure the way I wanted, I saw something in the specifications that made me really happy. The CPU sockets were the same on both systems and the processor upgrade that I wanted was actually in this second system. So with a bit more handy work I was able to upgrade the first system and get it running with Ubuntu Server. Although purists will scoff, I put KDE on it so I could see what I was doing and now it sits in my living room waiting for my next move.
Since I like to do strange things, I really would like to make this system so that it isn’t connected to the Internet and instead connect it to my unused landline. Then if I need anything from it remotely, I could just call it and if it needed to alert me about anything, it could call me. Somehow there must be a way to dial out a text message …
Until then I need to figure out how to get the sensors I want to use and get the computer to not only recognize them but also log that information. It will be my own Jarvis but I’ll give it some other name and instead of talking back to me I will set it to just mumble and randomly swear.