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Thread: Setting up my own server?

  1. #1
    Child's Play CharitySon of Krokodile XVI
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    Setting up my own server?

    Hey duderiños, so I wanna have my own server where I can host stuff. The internet has gotten to be a place where doing that isn't so simple anymore. It's getting difficult to hotlink images on forums, for instance.

    Now, the only problem is that I've never done this and I have no idea how to go about it. I have an old laptop that I'm wondering whether it would suffice for running a server. Failing that, I guess I could put together some sort of server machine out of parts that I don't use right now. From what I gather, Linux is popular for servers, but I'm rather daunted by having to do a bunch of stuff in it that I know nothing about, and perhaps Windows would be easier somehow. Then again, I've never tried running a Windows computer as a server either, so that may be all kinds of tricky for all I know.

    Then there's getting the computer online and acting as a server. I don't even know how that works. People running servers seem to pay for traffic (so whenever someone loads anything hosted on your server, it costs you).

    Hey maybe I could google some stuff to even get a basic idea as to what a server is. I guess I'll do that later, now I just wanted to post this thread to make my idea known, and maybe you can shoot it down or something.
    Looks like we're not going down after all, so nevermind.

  2. #2
    What kinds of things do you want to serve?
    And when the moment is right, I'm gonna fly a kite.

  3. #3
    I don't know how useful it is to you right now but check out IPFS
    sniff

  4. #4
    Admiral of Awesome
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    13,987
    Quote Originally Posted by gbk View Post
    What kinds of things do you want to serve?
    Also, what is your goal? If all you want is to learn how to set up a Linux server, that's going to be a very different discussion.


    You generally shouldn't self-host anything. It's okay if it's internal-facing and firewalled (for hosting sensitive IP, where the security and maintenance concerns are attenuated). It's also smart to self-host if your core competency is hosting the service, so you aren't paying rent to Amazon and Google. But if all you're hosting is e.g. marketing copy, use wordpress.com or something.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Spook View Post
    I don't know how useful it is to you right now but check out IPFS
    Your blockchain bias is showing. Don't recommend alpha software to beginners.

    IIRC there was a thing you could use called GeoCities, which should be considerably more mature than the service you recommend, by now.

  6. #6
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    The specific use case was to add images to forums, which would mean the host he uses must allow remote linking/display of images. Many hosts check referrers and refuse to render images if they're coming from a separate domain. I would check into that before using a place like geocities or whatever newfangled replacement they have. Even dropbox sucks ass nowadays -- it used to be you could drop whatever you want into a "Public" folder and then put those images on forums and the images would show up, but they completely removed that functionality recently. Running it off a home server can be problematic if your ip address changes or even if you just decide you don't want to run the server anymore, all your forum images will go away. You could get a cheap ($5/month) linode or digital ocean server and learn how to run a simple web server. The risks are relatively low if you only allow SSH logins using keys (not passwords), run a simple web server w/out any dynamic content (like, just serve your images), and keep it up-to-date using something like UnattendedUpgrades. It will give you a chance to learn but you'll be shelling out that $5/month basically forever.

  7. #7
    Admiral of Awesome
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    13,987
    If that's all he wants, I'd recommend imgur. Unless he has a very specific reason he needs to administrate his own server.

  8. #8
    Monty Hall's Favorite Contestant
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    735
    Download and install XAMPP to your laptop. The XAMPP packages contains a web service (apache), email service (mercury 32), database service (mysql), and FTP service. Basically, everything you could need in one neat little package for a basic setup. Run the XAMPP console and make note of the ports that the services are running. Turn off any service that you don't want. At this point, the only service you probably need is apache. It should be running on port 80. You will need to go into you firewall and make sure that you have a rule for port 80 (plenty of tutorials online that will show you how to do this on your version of windows).

    Open your web browser and type in either "localhost" or "127.0.0.1" and you should see "It Works!" If not, then you don't have your firewall configured correctly.

    Open a command prompt and type the following and press enter: ipconfig

    Under the IPv4 settings you should see 3 IP address. Make note of all 3. The first is the IP address of your computer. The second is the network mask. The third is the gateway address (the address of your router).

    The following isn't best practice, but it will get things working for you. You will need to first go into the properties of your network adapter IPv4 properties and change it from dynamic to static. Then manually key in the 3 IP address you noted in the previous step. You will also be forced to manually enter in at least 1 DNS IP address. You can use 4.2.2.1 and/or 8.8.8.8 for the DNS.

    Next you will need to open a browser and type in the router IP address. This should take you to the login page for your router. Hopefully you have the login, if not you can google the default logins for most models. Once you are logged in, you will need to create a firewall forwarding rule. Use your IP address of your computer, port 80, TCP.

    Now you need to know how to access your server remotely. In your web browser go to "whatismyip.org" and this will display your external IP address. If your router is configured properly, then a friend should be able to enter that IP address into their web browser and also get the "It Works!" page.

    In the XAMPP console there's an explore folder button. This will open windows explorer to the xampp folder on your computer. Under apache there should be an "htdocs" folder. You should be able to dump the files you want to share in there and share links to it with your "[external IP address]/filename.ext".

    Note that residential ISPs normally rotate your IP address about every 3 months (or sometimes if you power cycle your modem/router). There are ways around it. You can get a domain name for $0.88 on namecheap.com and there are free dynamic DNS services such as afraid.org that will allow you to not worry about the dynamic IP rotation. Setup is pretty easy. You just point your domain name to your current external IP address. Then there's an application that you can install on your server that will check every 5 min to see if your external IP has changed and if so, automatically sends a DNS update records command.

    I know this wasn't super specific, but should get you off in the right direction for a first time server setup. You'll also learn some fundamentals about networking along the way.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Reverend Jones View Post
    Your blockchain bias is showing. Don't recommend alpha software to beginners.

    IIRC there was a thing you could use called GeoCities, which should be considerably more mature than the service you recommend, by now.
    NeoCities is the one that is integrated (or something) with IPFS.
    sniff

  10. #10
    ^^vv<><>BASTART
    Posts
    3,564
    Is this gonna be a thing where a skiddie hacks your server on the first night

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Spook View Post
    NeoCities is the one that is integrated (or something) with IPFS.
    No! Not NeoCities, I'm talking about GeoCities! Not the Chinese knock-off.

    Wait... you're telling me that it hasn't existed for decades? Well, I still think you should buy American--try Lycos.co.uk instead, maybe.

  12. #12
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    We used to call it geo****ties. But anyway, later in its life geocities denied externally embedding images as well.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Reverend Jones View Post
    No! Not NeoCities, I'm talking about GeoCities! Not the Chinese knock-off.

    Wait... you're telling me that it hasn't existed for decades? Well, I still think you should buy American--try Lycos.co.uk instead, maybe.
    Luckily in my world it is still the late 90s/early 2000s.
    sniff

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by gbk View Post
    What kinds of things do you want to serve?
    Literally look at which forum member started this thread.

  15. #15
    Child's Play CharitySon of Krokodile XVI
    Posts
    4,656
    Quote Originally Posted by Alco View Post
    Download and install XAMPP to your laptop. The XAMPP packages contains a web service (apache), email service (mercury 32), database service (mysql), and FTP service. Basically, everything you could need in one neat little package for a basic setup. Run the XAMPP console and make note of the ports that the services are running. Turn off any service that you don't want. At this point, the only service you probably need is apache. It should be running on port 80. You will need to go into you firewall and make sure that you have a rule for port 80 (plenty of tutorials online that will show you how to do this on your version of windows).

    Open your web browser and type in either "localhost" or "127.0.0.1" and you should see "It Works!" If not, then you don't have your firewall configured correctly.

    Open a command prompt and type the following and press enter: ipconfig

    Under the IPv4 settings you should see 3 IP address. Make note of all 3. The first is the IP address of your computer. The second is the network mask. The third is the gateway address (the address of your router).

    The following isn't best practice, but it will get things working for you. You will need to first go into the properties of your network adapter IPv4 properties and change it from dynamic to static. Then manually key in the 3 IP address you noted in the previous step. You will also be forced to manually enter in at least 1 DNS IP address. You can use 4.2.2.1 and/or 8.8.8.8 for the DNS.

    Next you will need to open a browser and type in the router IP address. This should take you to the login page for your router. Hopefully you have the login, if not you can google the default logins for most models. Once you are logged in, you will need to create a firewall forwarding rule. Use your IP address of your computer, port 80, TCP.

    Now you need to know how to access your server remotely. In your web browser go to "whatismyip.org" and this will display your external IP address. If your router is configured properly, then a friend should be able to enter that IP address into their web browser and also get the "It Works!" page.

    In the XAMPP console there's an explore folder button. This will open windows explorer to the xampp folder on your computer. Under apache there should be an "htdocs" folder. You should be able to dump the files you want to share in there and share links to it with your "[external IP address]/filename.ext".

    Note that residential ISPs normally rotate your IP address about every 3 months (or sometimes if you power cycle your modem/router). There are ways around it. You can get a domain name for $0.88 on namecheap.com and there are free dynamic DNS services such as afraid.org that will allow you to not worry about the dynamic IP rotation. Setup is pretty easy. You just point your domain name to your current external IP address. Then there's an application that you can install on your server that will check every 5 min to see if your external IP has changed and if so, automatically sends a DNS update records command.

    I know this wasn't super specific, but should get you off in the right direction for a first time server setup. You'll also learn some fundamentals about networking along the way.
    Whoa thanks. Now I want to try this for kicks if nothing else, because your instructions are very clear. Some of that stuff I was already familiar with because I've been messing with my routers quite a lot over the years.

    Jon, imgur sucks unfortunately. Well maybe that's unfair, but it would suck for me. They like to ban hotlinking to high-traffic places altogether.

  16. #16
    Child's Play CharitySon of Krokodile XVI
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    Is this gonna be a thing where a skiddie hacks your server on the first night
    Years ago there was this wild night where GBK hacked into my router. I was using the router's default password at the time, so it was easy as anything for him. I didn't send my army of lawyers after GBK because I like that guy and I took it as a learning experience. If anyone were to hack my server, he'd be the prime suspect.

  17. #17
    Admiral of Awesome
    Posts
    13,987
    My point is, every minute you spend administrating your server is a minute you aren't working on the content you want to host there. That is almost never a good deal.

    If you want a server for the sake of having a server, that's fine - go do what Alco said. Worst case your box'll get rooted and you'll get kicked off of your residential ISP for a TOS violation.

    If you actually want to host content, then basically everything upthread ^ is useless to you. Find a cloud or managed service that does what you need instead.

  18. #18
    Child's Play CharitySon of Krokodile XVI
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    Point taken. I suppose a premium cloud service would work best for me. These free ones have gotten to be too limiting.

  19. #19
    As others said, don't run your own server. Not located elsewhere, and not locally. Unless you're willing to maintain it (and learn HOW to keep it maintained) you're just creating a ticking time bomb, until some drive-by botnet can take it over and add it to the collective.

    If you want unlimited image hotlinking, use Imgur. They've been around for a while now, they're fast, they're free, and they have effectively zero limits. They should not be banning you unless you are trying to use them for undesirable purposes, like mature content or as literally webhosting. They don't want you hosting your entire website's worth of images. They want you linking it from forums, like here. They're used on reddit ALL the time, which is one of the highest-traffic places you can find user posted content.

    If you want more than images, like a blog or something, get a hosted blog. Like wordpress.com (and use as few plugins as possible, ideally none, as plugins are huge security traps).

    If you want just a random website, use SquareSpace. It's not free, but they manage the server side and handle most of the HTML for you, ensuring your website doesn't become a security nightmare years from now.

  20. #20
    Child's Play CharitySon of Krokodile XVI
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    My main forum that I frequent has been banned from hotlinking images to Imgur. Nothing else besides that was going on that would have prompted the ban, and the forum is definitely smaller than Reddit so it aught to cause less traffic. All Imgur images appear as empty error boxes, and you need to copy and paste the images' links to your browser's address bar to open them. This is a Finnish forum on a Finnish server, so I don't know if foreign servers get banned more easily or something. Or maybe Reddit, being the prominent forum that it is, gets to be an exception. At any rate, I don't go to Reddit and I do go to this other forum, so I will never use Imgur because it simply doesn't work.

    I abandoned the server idea after reading these earlier posts. Thanks for all the info though CM.

  21. #21
    Admiral of Awesome
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    13,987
    Quote Originally Posted by Cool Matty View Post
    If you want unlimited image hotlinking, use Imgur. They've been around for a while now, they're fast, they're free, and they have effectively zero limits. They should not be banning you unless you are trying to use them for undesirable purposes, like mature content or as literally webhosting. They don't want you hosting your entire website's worth of images. They want you linking it from forums, like here.
    This is my understanding, too.

    Was that forum using imgur to host avatars, etc.? Imgur doesn't want to be your CDN, that's pretty much the only rule they enforce.

  22. #22
    Child's Play CharitySon of Krokodile XVI
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    Avatars are hosted on the forums' server. There is a subforum for blogs, though, and some of those are really heavy on the images. There have also been some threads where the whole point was to reply with an image.
    Looks like we're not going down after all, so nevermind.

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