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A new self-hosted home server

My ageing eSATA SheevaPlug is running a lot of tasks:

  • web, e-mail, and xmpp server;
  • database server;
  • NFS and DLNA (media) server;
  • sync server for contacts, calendars, files, and Firefox profiles (old protocol);
  • and various means of connecting remotely.

It is now running Debian Jessie, after having run Lenny, and then Wheezy, which shows just how long it’s been running, considering the long lifetime of a major Debian version :-D

With only a half-GB of RAM, it’s come to the point where swap is being used on a regular basis, although not too much so far. As for the processing power, everything works, albeit slowly; reasonably so… so far. And more importantly, anything more is impossible (eg. nice ownCloud modules, or a sound server…).

The time has come to plan a replacement, which is the subject of this post.

I wish to find a home-server with the following characteristics:

  • runs Linux on ARMv7 (32 bits), ARMv8 (64 bits), or x86-64;
  • at least 2GB of RAM and 4 CPU cores;
  • fan-less;
  • gigabit ethernet (1Gb/s);
  • fast storage, which means either SATA, eSATA, or USB3 (USB2 is too slow);
  • low power consumption;
  • an enclosure is a plus, although I don’t mind too much if the server has none.

And now, here is the most promising hardware that I found, with some notes. I thought other people might be interested too.

HardwareGoodBadPower(*)My conclusion
CubieBoard 3, aka. CubieTruck— SATA2
— only 2 CPU cores
6Not enough CPU power.
CubieBoard 5, aka. CubieTruck+
— SATA through USB2
12Slow disk I/O.
WandBoard Quad— eSATA
— Vivante graphics
— ethernet limited to ½Gb/s
— low-frequency CPU cores
7Not enough CPU power.
MinnowBoard MAX— open-source hardware
— Intel graphics
— SATA2
— USB3
— only 2 CPU cores
50Good! But there is better.
ODroid C2— cheap
— no fast storage
16Slow disk I/O.
ODroid XU4— USB3
— small fan
— expensive enclosure for fan-less functioning
20There’s no better board at this price, but there’s a fan…
CuBox-i4Pro— cute, nice-looking
— eSATA
— low-frequency CPU cores
— ethernet limited to ½Gb/s
10Good appliance in a living-room.
Not enough CPU power for me.
Banana Pi M3
— SATA through USB212Slow disk I/O.
Pine64+ 2GB
— very cheap
— no fast storage
— low-frequency CPU cores
12Slow disk I/O.
Not enough CPU power.
UP— powerful yet small
— no fast storage
— no enclosure
75Slow disk I/O.
UDOO X86— open-source hardware
— Intel graphics
— SATA III
— Arduino included
— can power a 3.5″ SATA drive without the need for an external disk enclosure
— slightly higher power consumption
100My choice :-)
(*) This is an absolutely unscientific, completely subjective, relative power notation, based on miscellaneous benchmarks found on the Internet, with the 100-mark serving as a reference (this is the power delivered by the UDOO X86).

Here are the main sources of information that helped me find what I wanted:

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