I’ve moved (only a couple of blocks from where I was before), and as the new place has Webpass I’ve reluctantly given up my Sonic.net connection, along with its static IPv4 address and ISP IPv6 tunnel. Hard to resist a 200Mb/s ethernet connection for the same price I was paying for 18Mb/s ADSL2 though.

However that leaves my DGN3500 router somewhat inappropriate for providing my net connection. Freed from the need for an ADSL/cable router I decided it was time to build an all in one house server (I’m a believer in as few always on boxes as possible). I already had a nettop acting as a media box, but wanted to build something that would handle:

  • Gateway for the external network connection
    • Routing to internal ethernet
    • 2.4GHz wifi router
    • 5GHz wifi router
  • Printer server
  • House NAS
    • Backup server (syncing externally as well)
    • DLNA server
  • mpd server
  • ATSC based PVR

Probably in that order if it turns out I’m asking too much. The intention is the box is the only one that always needs to be on, so I wanted it to be low power consumption. I also wanted the option of hooking it up to the TV if it turned out to have enough grunt, so the case needed to be something suitable for the living room.

I like Intel’s approach to graphics drivers, in particular the existence of Free video acceleration support, so I went with an Intel Core i3-3220T as the processor. It’s a 35W Ivybridge processor with HD 2500 graphics, plus I got it for a decent price.

For the case I chose a CFI A2059. There’s a local supplier I was able to pick it up from, it has a couple of large fans which helps keeps the noise down while keeping things cool and as I was aiming for backup / file sharing being more important than a media box the 2 hot swap bays tipped the balance away from an AV style case.

The small case limits the motherboard options. I wanted twin GigE ports so the external was entirely separate from the internal (my switch does VLANs so I could have made do with a single port, but with a 200Mb/s connection I didn’t really want to share the port). The Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI seemed to fit the bill, with the added advantage of a built in WiFi card (an Intel 2230 in a mini PCI-E slot) which leaves the PCI-E slot free for either a TV tuner or a second WiFi card to cover 5GHz.

I maxed out the board with 2 8G G.SKILL DDR3-1600 DIMMs. I normally go Crucial because I’ve found them reliable, but these were slightly cheaper and available from the same place as the motherboard.

Finally I added a Seagate ST4000DM000 for storage. It actually came from a Backup Plus that Costco were selling for about $20 less than the bare drive sells for. The plan is to add at least another 1T drive to RAID1 the most important bits (or possibly a 2T - it depends which of my existing drives I can tidy stuff off most easily).

Of course it’s running Debian and I took the opportunity to try out the RC1 Wheezy image. For extra giggles I did an EFI install; this all worked fine except I didn’t end up with grub-efi installed at the end, instead I had grub-pc. I booted with legacy BIOS enabled and followed Tanguy’s switch to UEFI boot instructions.

Further notes on software setup to follow…