New I3 Retro Server - 2011
Intel I3 based 'Retro Server' was my starting point, and has been more
or less documented on the previous pages. The hardware was discussed beforee.
I didn't keep a step by step guide for this one, sorry. The I3 Retro Server
runs Windows 8, and can be used simultaneously for streaming movies / music
/ watching movies, and some limited gaming. (With a decent video card it
could be used for somewhat more serious gaming, though that would hamper
background file serving / transcoding / streaming.)
Vintage Xeon Server - 2015
about using an old 2007 clunker as a dedicated server? Here's an old Intel
Xeon server board that someone gave me, and why not use that as my new
(slower) media server? I've got the costs
covered (I hope) so unless performance is too low it should do fine.
used old hardware I had laying around, in this case I've put in 3 GB of
memory, I'm going to use Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bits so 3 TB should
be enough. I didn't bother going for dual channel mode (didn't have four
identical memory chips anyway, and on 32 bit Windows that last 1 GB doesn't
matter, neither did that 3% speed increase).
machine has on-board VGA graphics, good enough for a dedicated server.
ethernet port is 1 GB. Good. No need for an additional network card.
booting the machine is incredibly slow I've decided NOT to use a dedicated
SSD boot disk, but instead use a 500 GB (or larger) boot drive that I partitioned
in two sections: a 100 GB boot partition, and the 400 GB remainder that
is going to be used to store... euh... some data that doesn't need much
access. Books perhaps, or music? And if I need more space (seriously? this
machine has six SATA ports!) I could always replace the 500 GB with a 2
previous I3 Retro Server was using a Compaq case, Unfortunately the Xeon
mainboard wouldn't fit (due to placement of memory and connectors) so I
looked for the cheapest full ATX cases I could find. It should not be deeper
than 44 cm (the server is located in a closet) and the power supply should
be at the top of the case (due to exhaust ventilation holes). The only
thing I could find was the Antec VSK4000 which is, frankly, a piece of
garbage. But the Xeon board did fit...
Step by step
pretty much doing the same installation every time, so most of the steps
of the Celeron Server apply here as well.
the machine worked fine and costwise using an ol' clunker can even financially
be interesting, I still stopped using this one after a few weeks. There
were two reasons:
causes a serious load, one transcoding stream works fine, two might cause
some minor problems, three won't work
network performance was on-par with the I3 (hey, this was a former server
board after all)
whatsoever simultaneously streaming music to five SqueezeBox players and
and serving files to three XBMC media players
ports, connectors and memory modules are located in very inconvenient places,
I coulnd't use any of my cases so had to buy a (very cheap) new one...
time I switched on one of the Squeezebox units it took forever to wake
up the server, and the Squeezebox player would lose its connection. Then
I had to try to reconnect again... If you're on a budget and you don't
mind those two minutes wait you're fine. For me it reached a certain level
of irritation... (There's actually no real reason for the lack of standby
support, it was just something Intel didn't think necessary in a server
board back in 2007.)
of standby / sleep support
going to sleep / hibernate
as annoying was the tendency of this machine to stay 'on'. I suspect (though
I have no hard evidence) that Windows managed to detect this machine as
a 'server' and sneakily applied a different ruleset. When using powercfg
-requests this machine would forever report active clients, the
moment one came online. Even when properly logging off etc. etc. etc.
the Intel Xeon dual core board is gathering dust again. But... it worked
Low Cost Celeron / Pentium Server - step by step - 2015
/ 105 Celerons and Pentiums have become incredibly powerful. (Never thought
I would ever call a Celeron powerful, but there you have it.) If you are
going to use TVersity or Servetome with a lot of transcoding I'd say get
the Celeron G1840. The G1610 might be a bit tight. If you don't have to
do any transcoding the cheapest of the cheapest would do, you might even
consider a very low cost AMD build. I would not go for an Atom though,
I've tried that, and was quite disappointed.
you have other plans the 2014 / 2015 Pentiums are approaching the previous
generation of I3's.
machine is actually powered by a Pentium G3220 as the Celeron G1840 wasn't
in stock. As for pricing (feb 2015 Netherlands)... when I bought the CPU
prices were very close, and some CPU's were discontinued leading to even
is a weird one. It's perfoming less and costing more than the Pentium.
G1610 - 38 euro
G1840 - 45 eruro
G1850 - 61 euro
G3220 - 55 euro
definitely do not need an I3. (The I3 now powers a little 'steambox' gaming
PC.) But... the I3 has hardware encoding (for some formats) and runs cooler,
and has less problems with handling multiple streams simultaneously. For
me, after tweaking some BubbleUPnP
settings for ChromeCast playback the G3220 worked fine.
the Antec case for the Vintage Xeon build, and reused it here as well as
the power supply. The Arctec fan was a bit of a gamble... some of the cheaper
mainboards have no board temperature sensor (my last purchase the Asrock
H61M didn't) so the fans are only controlled by the CPU temperature. Just
to be sure I picked up a temperature controlled Arctic fan but I guess
in this case a regular PWM fan would have worked just as well. (In general
I do like the Arctic F12 fans, they can move a good amount of air, are
not too noisy, are affordable, and work well with most mainboards.)
Intel Pentium G3220 (boxed)
- Asrock H81M-DGS R2.0 socket 1150
- integrated Intel stuff
- 4 GB Kingston ValueRam
fan - Arctic F12 TC temperature controlled
reusing an old Xion 500W (going to be replaced with a Seasonic OEM 400W
- bunch of disks I still had laying around
just said: booting the machine is incredibly slow. I've partitioned the
boot drive in two secions: a 100 GB boot partition, and the 400 GB remainder
that is going to be used for data. I will only create a (backup) image
for the boot partition, keeping its size under control.
(7) can be somewhat messy when partitioning, so I use GParted Live on a
USB stick (Google for Tuxboot) to set up things the way I want.
most BIOS'es you'll have to specify a boot device to start from an USB
stick, often via setup (often F2, Del) or through a boot manager (often
F11 or via a BIOS menu).
to use the the second drive for temporary stuff, so perhaps I'll use the
same approach on disk 2. This would then effectively look something like
0 - 500 GB - 2 partitions
drive D: would contain the temp folder, so stuff that is often transcoded
should better not be placed in drive F:\
1 - boot disk - drive C:\ - Windows 7 stuff
2 - data - drive E:\ - movies or music etc.
1 - 500 GB - 2 partitions
1 - temp disk - drive D:\ - temp folders, download folder, etc.
2 - data - drive F:\ - movies or music etc.
2 - whatever - 1 partition - movies or music etc.
3 - whatever - 1 partition - movies or music etc.
Install Windows 7
7 contains all drivers for this machine (or I simply could not find any
better ones :-)).... Unless absolutely necessary I update all drivers in
a later step.
that Windows 7, at first, would recognize four physical harddrives
but would not automatically mount more than four logical
harddisks. After some updates (no, I didn't pay attention which one)s it
regonized all partitions / logical drives without any problems.
Windows 7 from a USB stick
whatever your fancy.
update update update update...
Tune Windows 7
don't have to do (all) the following steps, but I prefer it this way.
on an older SSD I would keep my temp folder on D:, on any
newer SSD I would keep my temp folder on C:.
to tune Windows a little:
also be a good moment to activate your Windows 7.
Panel / System / Advanced System Settings / Advanced
Effects - disable most, according to taste
/ Virtual Memory - add a system managed paging file on D:\
TEMP and TMP - change to D:\temp\%USERNAME%
variables: TEMP and TMP - change to D:\temp\windows
variables: Path - add C:\software\batch;c:\software\utils
people like to install all drivers at an earlier stage. As I've been using
a lot of older hardware with sometimes crappy driver support (and fooling
around with these crappy / alternative drivers have messed up my system
more than once) I prefer to let Windows do its thing first before I start
the network interface isn't recognized by the (older) Windows 7 installation,
so I first downloaded all drivers, put them on a USB stick, and after intial
installation of Windows I installed all drivers.
to be able to ping my machine. So enable ping:
server gets a specific IP address:
Panel / System and security / Windows Firewall / Advanced Settings / Inbound
rules / New rule / Custom rule
and Ports: Protocol / ICMPv4
out the driver properties for any Wake On Lan related settings and, if
required, enable WOL (was enabled by default on this intel board).
Panel / Network and Sharing / Change adapter settings / Local Area Connection
/ Properties / TCPIPv4 / Properties
specific IP address, for example 192.168.0.5
/ Local Drive C:
/ Layout / Menu bar
/ Folder options / View
down and disable Use Sharing Wizard
Internet Explorer, so...
access using VNC:
as default download folder for Firefox
The (latest) TightVNC installer is missing *something* causing an error
when installing. This error doesn't show up after first installing Firefox.
Firefox (if you haven't done so already)
Whatever the reason, installing on a fresh Windows 7 failed. But after
installing Firefox, OR installing some Asrock provided drivers TightVNC
would run. Weird.
to have certain standard tools in a C:\software folder. I have started
putting any 'non-standard installation' software (ie. anything that doesn't
go into Program Files) in here, as well as certain tools and utilities
I use on any and every system. You don't have to do this, but I prefer
it this way.
stage, the desktop will look something like this:
to C:\software\utils - this folder contains little command line tools like
nircmd, cmdow, arj, psexec etc. etc.
(aka Total Commander) to C:\software\wincmd
a shortcut on the desktop to C:\software\wincmd\totalcmd.exe (can't live
without Total Commander)
the .lnk's from power_shortcuts to the desktop (giving me icons to quickly
restart, shutdown etc.)
a file C:\software\batrch\startup.bat - my file contains at least the line:
start /B "" wallx adminmark keep resident
a shortcut on the desktop to the startup.bat file
shortcut to Start / All Programs / Startup
a shortcut on the desktop for 'notepad C:\software\batch\startup.bat'
background is courtesy of WallX.)
now have pretty much a standard PC, ready to turn into a media server,
HTPC, steambox, whatever. I pretty much do the steps above on every machine,
no matter what its purpose.
Create an image
moment to create an image. I use an USB stick with TrueImage. (I'm not
going to mention intermediate images / backups, I leave that up to you.
Make some, though!)
some users with limited rights. For example (whatever suits your purpose):
||Server maintenance and configuration,
all rights access everywhere
||Read Only access to all
media files, as well as R/W access to a dedicated 'Shared' folder
||Read Only access to the
folder with all installable programms
you don't want user names to show up when booting or when logging in, you
will have to hide them. Easy when using PowerToys TweakUI on XP, or with
Windows 8. On Windows 7 (Home Premium) it takes a little registry wizardry:
don't exist then create them
user name to hide
a 32 bit DWORD with the user name and value 0
7 doesn't have shared drives by default. There are good reasons not to
share complete drives, but I like them, so...
/ Advanced Sharing / Share this folder
for drive_d$ drive_e$ etc.
user account to automatically logon
'Users must enter a user name and passowrd to use this computer'
Folders and shared folders
you prefer. I try to organize my
files in such a way that I am not depending on whatever logic XBMC / Plex
/ TVersity / ... uses.
each shared folder:
/ Sharing / Advanced Sharing
when using a regular HDD I try to keep all temp and swap stuff on D:, with
a (modern) SSD I would keep them on C:.
an intranet page to local users - TinyWeb
required for Photostreamr (watch out for the addware, I hate that)
images to iPads - ImageBank aka
Photostreamr - port 17011
/ transcode music to SqueezeBox players using the Logitech
audio books to Windows Phones - Digital Audio Book
/ transcode video to (DLNA) devices and browsers - TVersity
movies to iPads - StreamToMe
- port 9969
(a browsable copy of) the book library on my main PC - Calibre
possible to remotely
shutdown Calibre Server
forwarding in the firewall
Startup batch file
*** immediately return to user login
*** startup applications
squeezebox server is started with windows
tversity service is started with windows
"WallX " /B c:\software\utils\wallx
adminmark keep resident
"TinyWeb" /B /D c:\software\tinyweb
"ImageBank" /B "C:\Program Files\PhotoStreamr
"ServeToMe" /B "C:\Program Files\Zqueue\ServeToMe\servetome.exe"
"Squeeze Server" /B "C:\Program Files\Squeezebox\SqueezeTray.exe"
"Task Manager" /B taskmgr
*** reorganize icons and minimize windows
win min stitle "photost"
win min stitle "servetome"
win min stitle "windows task"
win min stitle "calibre"
power down simply doesn't happen, for whatever reason. A custom schedule
makes sure the machine...
into sleep mode every night at 01:00, except...
when it will first do an update at 01:00 followed by a full shutdown at
Sa 01:00 - execute power_shortcuts\sleep.bat if idle for more than 10 minutes
- execute power_shortcuts\shutdown.bat if idle for more than 10 minutes
updates automatically every sunday at 01:00
works fine :-)
it works great. This machine hums away in a closet downstairs, transcodes
multiple streams without a sweat, wakes up quickly from a sleep state,
goes properly to sleep, etcetera. The one limitation I can think of is
the lack of SATA ports though perhaps that is a silly comment: who would
expect on a low end el cheapo desktop board more than 4 SATA ports... I
can always opt for replacing the existing HDD's with something larger,
or add an inexpensive PCIe SATA card to add two more ports.
advantage of using Windows 8 over 7 is bootup time. I've reconfigured the
mainboard to allow 'fast boot' which is just about fast enough to wakeup
and serve a SqueezeBox without having to ask a second time. When using
Windows 8 there's another option 'ultra fast' which shaves off another
And I would never ever again purchase an Antec VSK 4000 case. What a piece