Recently, I constructed a secondary file server – physically. It isn’t a file server software-wise. It’s just an ordinary Windows 10 Pro computer with eight hard drives crammed into it. After much deliberation, I’ve narrowed my options to experimenting with OwnCloud, which is free, or experimenting with Windows Server Essentials 2016, which I have a spare license for. 

Unnamed File Server is running a Pentium E8400 and 8 GB of DDR2-800 MHz RAM on a 120 GB SSD, with two of the infamous Seagate 3 TB 7200 rpm drives that were so prone to failure but haven’t, plus two Hitachi 2 TB 7200 rpm drives, and three Seagate 1.5 TB 7200 rpm drives. The mainboard has no RAID capabilities, nor do any supplemental controllers I have available for my budget of 0 dollars, so if I decide I must have any type of redundancy, which I should if I start actually loading data, I’ll have to rely on Windows’ volume mirroring or some other scheme in their Storage Spaces – that is if I go with Server Essentials at all. Else I will have to find out what OwnCloud even supports and go from there. NextCloud also looks like a potential option.

I do have vague concerns that the Unnamed File Server fluctuates between 120-160 watts of power round the clock (when it’s on). I think the lowest it hits is about 100 when absolutely standing still. It seems high for what it’s doing and I’d like to have a low power CPU in it like is in the primary server (10 watt 4-core Celeron J1900). I wanted to build the Unnamed File Server around an Asrock J3455m mATX board running the Celeron J3455 (10 watt 4-core) but I can’t even spend 70 dollars to get new components for a server I’m probably not even going to use. 18 dollars on the primary 120 GB SSD was even excessive.

The Unnamed File Server is tangentially related to being interested in a Raspberry Pi 4 but having no particular need for one. After following a video to finally set up a PiHole on my Raspberry Pi 3B+, which was supposed to be PiHole+OpenVPN but there was a significant failing somewhere along the way, following the seemingly self explanatory guide, it became just a PiHole and then proceeded to not work very well at all. Apparently YouTube and Twitch have JUST updated their ad handling and now no combination of PiHole, AdBlock, and Ublock Origin blocks the video ads. So. There. Plus no functioning VPN. 

I’m also uncertain of whether the piHole will work locally when also configured to function on the VPN, for remote piHoling. Then I’d have to re-implement a Dynamic DNS.

What I’d really like is to have a device doing ad-blocking, VPN, and possibly file serving. Depending on what device is doing all of that – power requirements are always a concern – I wonder if my Plex Server could even be rolled in. That’s currently a totally separate device.

I would more easily have separate devices performing each of these functions but that’s hardly efficient.

The renewed interest in these sorts of network and internet functions sprang from a video about turning an old Mac into a (new) server. I thought I had the same components as the video showed, but the nearly dead MacBook I had on hand was a 2007 model and apparently they’re using a 2009 model which is just some kind of quantum leap forward I guess because I am stuck on Lion 10.7.5 and they can go all the way up to High Sierra 10.13 ish and are running El Capitain 10.11. Lion Server can no longer be installed at all to my knowledge and that means the 2007 MacBook “Lea” is of no value now, in spite of still functioning against all odds.

Then I literally stumbled upon the fact that I still have the marvelously well preserved mid-2010 MacBook Pro 13 inch from Dean who I checked with and he no longer wants.

The only trouble is that the 2010 MacBook Pro “Dean” is way too nice to relegate to being a server.

… hm.

I threw Server on it but haven’t configured anything yet.

I can’t believe the battery I bought to make it portable/make the trackpad configurable again under High Sierra actually holds a charge of maybe a couple hours still. 

I also downgraded to Sierra from High Sierra to restore much lost functionality thoughtfully removed by Apple for High Sierra.

When consulting with my old college friend Mike about all things Mac, he recommended checking out Docker for a sort of a virtual machine/sandbox style way of working with applications which seems promising but a little over my head at the minute.

I think that’s as far as I can go backward. YouTube just randomly showed me that Turn a Mac into a Server video I guess based on what I’ve been watching – in spite of what I’ve been watching been almost entirely anime soundtracks and Regular Car Reviews. Still, it was of interest and while my work on Mac Servers hit one really hard wall and then resumed only to hit a much softer wall, I killed a couple evenings formatting and reformatting a couple old Macs.

Unused file server and several attempts to concoct servers all with very limited results to show for it. 

Also the old displays not sleeping hit the new work computer. The primary home computer no longer sleeps reliably which it did for a nice long time. And I briefly ran into the good old can’t move a goddamn file from one local machine to another, so, some things never change.

Prior to this onslaught, I’d been lamenting the fact that between the X230, the MacBook Air, the freshly repaired and then immediately dropped Asus Zenpad 8.0, and the first generation iPad Air, I had nothing even resembling my desired portable device. And then I bought a 2018 iPad and discovered they so, totally, only have a single backlight element. I kept it anyway, since the value was good enough and I cant shell out twice the money for the newer model of iPad Air.

That would have been incompatible with my old iPad keyboard anyway.

Looking backward, I was making big mistakes with too many NUCs and still have an extraneous not so mini mini-ITX case.

Lastly, took one tiny look at learning Linux (again) after stumbling on a video and deciding to watch. I had a moment of feeling like it could be possible until watching the follow up video and just totally getting that glaze over feeling all over.

Last but not least I have a Verizon FiOS promo credit for Samsung products but not phones ironically. I have an unknown amount of time to decide whether I want a free Chromebook or basically a middle of the road Samsung TV – 4k, 50 inch – for about 200 bucks.

I’d like both. But I kinda don’t need either.

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