Turn an Old Computer Into a Do-Anything Home Server with FreeNAS 8

Thoroughly clean your “new” home server

With use it is inevitable that dirt enters the PC, and if we talk about an old PC it is quite likely that it is quite dirty. The first step you should take is a thorough cleaning of your old PC and, in fact, if you have some experience in assembling hardware, you should completely disassemble each one of its parts to be able to clean them correctly, and reassemble everything again. time clean.

Even if you do not have experience, you should open the equipment and clean it well inside, being careful not to damage or disconnect anything, in order to keep it as clean – and quiet – as possible and so that it can continue working for as long as possible .

Optional: install more disks

Since you are going to open the equipment to clean it from the inside, and always depending on the use that you are going to give to your “new” home server, it may be a good idea to take advantage of installing more storage, as long as you have unused hard drives at home. In this way, you will provide the pc with a greater storage capacity that you can take advantage of, and this will be especially useful if you intend to use it as a file storage server or as a multimedia server.

Likewise, this optional step will depend on whethe

Likewise, this optional step will depend on whether you have hard drives available, as well as if there is space in the box to install them, if the board has enough SATA connectors, and if you have cables (both power and data) available.


5) Set up SSH to access the server remotely

Accessing your server from other devices on your network is good. You can only have a network (CAT6) cable with a power cord plugged in. For this tutorial, we need to download some software to log in to our server.

Step1: Get the IP address of the server.

After installing the server software, we can sign in to the server to get the server IP address.

If you see a login screen with other info, you can press enter on your keyboard to enable the login option. Type your username, press enter, then type your password.

You can now type ip addr to get the server IP address. You can also view the IP on your router or with an application called "Angry IP Scanner". We will set a static in the next steps that will keep our server on the set address.

Step1: Download Putty (Old school).

Putty is u super lightweight SSH client to log in to servers and devices. You can use any SSH client, however, we are using putty for this setup.

Download putty: Here

Awesome, you can now sign in with your username and password.

Switch to root access.

With root access, you can install most software without typing any sudo or passwords. We can continue to install our LAMP Server in the next step.

Turn Your Old Computer Into A Media Server

Until recently it was challenging to turn an old computer into a media server. In theory it should be easy to access any Windows computer on your home WiFi network, find the file you want, and then watch it on a different computer, a device such as a smartphone, or even on your WiFi-connected TV. In practice, however, the Windows file system is not particularly intuitive, making it confusing to find and play the files you want. On top of that, trying to play a movie  can be a real challenge, depending on the codec that’s being used.

This is where media server software comes in handy. This open source software can transform your PC into a media server that can stream your content anywhere over the internet. And the content such as movies and music doesn’t necessarily have to reside on your old computer either: a media server will allow you to send content from your newer computer or device to it to stream onto your TV or home theater.

One minor caveat here: setting up a media server can be challenging. In theory you can take advantage of Windows’ native DNLA capability, but it takes a bit of effort and some trial-and-error to make it work properly. There is free media server software to choose from, such as Universal Media Server or Serviio, but these are often difficult to set up and may lack some important features.

This is why Plex is such a great choice.

Setting up FreeNAS

When FreeNAS initially boots, you’ll be presented with a simple text menu with 11 options.

After booting to the flash drive, you’ll ultimately see a simple text menu with 11 options. By default, FreeNAS will be configured to use DHCP. Assuming that’s how your network is set up, it should acquire an IP address and list it right at the bottom of the menu. That’s how you’ll access FreeNAS’s browser-based interface. Command-line jockeys can configure many options right from the text menu, but it’s definitely easier and more intuitive to log into the web GUI.

The first time you access the FreeNAS Web GUI, you’ll be prompted to set a new password.

The first time you hit the FreeNAS IP address, you’ll be prompted to set an administrator password. Note, however, that the default user name is not “admin” or “administrator,” but “root,” which is the Unix system’s rough equivalent of a Windows admin.

You’ll have to follow a few steps to configure your storage volumes and make them accessible to other systems on the network. First, hit the Storage > Volumes > Volume Manager section and select the hard drives you’d like to use with the operating system. Critical note: Any hard drive you select to use with FreeNAS will be utterly wiped.

Which drives to use, the preferred file system, permissions and share names need to be configured before you can access the storage volumes on your FreeNAS server.

You’ll also need to select the file system, enable any services or protocols of choice, create and name a shared folder, and set folder permissions. It’s pretty straightforward, and this article walks you through the process. You can access your FreeNAS server just like any other shared PC on your network (typically via Windows’ Network settings).

If you’d like to enable advanced FreeNAS capabilities—like hosting an FTP server, or installing some plug-ins—the FreeNAS community is a great place to start, as is PCWorld’s own guide to advanced FreeNAS configurations.

Scrap Parts?

Yes, the computer can be junk enough that it is not worth the time and effort to do either of the above options. It comes down to the hardware being so underpowered and obsolete that it is not capable of what you want. Sometimes even the most lightweight of Linux operating systems can’t work well. At this point, you could throw it away or you could have a little fun and make a little money.

Old PC cases are in high demand in the custom PC building space. Many users love the idea of sleeper builds. These are builds where the computer appears to be old and useless. Yet, when you open it up, it is an overbuilt modern-day behemoth. Your PC could also be in high demand. There are many old PCs which are collectibles. Some people pay good money on auction sites like eBay for vintage technology. If everything else fails, then the ram in the PC is worth trying to sell. Computer ram contains a bit of gold, which is always in demand. This is in part why ram prices have increased over the years.

Make sure your computer has a large enough hard drive

If you want to stream video, you’ll want to use a newer computer. If you just want to stream podcasts, though, you might be able to eke by with an older computer. Ideally, you want a system that runs Windows 10 and has at least 4GB of RAM.

Another good step is to check the hard drive for any issues. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to do this. Tap or click here for six sites that will help check if your hard drive is failing.

7) Install Webmin for Reporting and notifications

Webmin is super simple to install, it allows you to manage your server through your favorite browser. You can run scripts, commands, and a huge array of functions, plugins in a more visual way. Webmin gives you access to many things you’d normally need to access through the console.

We install Webmin for reporting, alerts and will be using Webmin to monitor our system health, as well as our hard drive status. You can set up an email account to send you email notifications if any hard drives have errors or need attention.

ℹ Hint: Nano is a text editor for Linux. The commands can be confusing in the beginning. When you run nano, the text editor will open to change data.

Keep this in mind.

  • Use the keyboard arrows to move up and down.
  • Right-click to paste.
  • Ctrl O will ask to save the document. Press enter to save.
  • Ctrl X closes the editor.

Type this command to open the sources list

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

You will now see the file opened in the nano editor.

Copy this code: deb http://download.webmin.com/download/repository sarge contrib and paste it at the bottom using right-click

Press CTRL O to save, then press enter to accept.

Press CTR X to close the window.

Next, We download the Webmin PGP key with wget and add it to our system’s list of keys.


wget -q -O- http://www.webmin.com/jcameron-key.asc | sudo apt-key add

You will get feedback saying “OK”. We now run a system update to fetch the new Webmin Packages.

sudo apt update

When the update is done, we will now install the Webmin packages with the install command.

sudo apt install webmin

Do you want to continue? — Type Y and enter.

Wait until Webmin is finished installing.

If the installation is completed, you can visit Remember to paste or type the full link before you open the webpage. You will get an SSL warning and this only means that you do not have an SSL certificate installed. Don’t worry, click on advanced, then click “proceed anyway”

Sign in to your Webmin server. The username and password is the default system login details used when we set up the server.

Webmin offers various system settings, reports, and notifications. Assuming you wanted to check the status of your hard drives, you can visit Hardware, Then Linux Raid. You can see the health status of the drives.

Check this feature on Windows 10 to see if you can run a media server natively

  • First, head to the Control Panel.
  • Search media in the search box.
  • Next, select Network and Sharing Center. Then, head to Media streaming options.
  • Click Turn on media streaming.  
  • Next, select Media Streaming Options for Computers and Devices.
  • Click OK. This means you just applied the settings to your computer. Now, any device on your local network can access the media files in your computer’s media libraries.

However, this software may not be enough for you. Maybe you want to extend your homemade media server — or maybe your Mac or PC doesn’t have the pre-installed media server software capabilities, period. (This may be the case if your gadget is a lot older.) In that case, it’s time to look for some third-party media servers.

Final Notes

The performance of your old computer may affect playback quality on your television. For example, an older computer with an older chip and less RAM may have a bit more difficulty streaming HD files. However, Plex should be able to handle the job with flair.

As well, if you’re going to use your old computer as a media server, it’s going to need tobe left on. Computers tend to “run hot” when streaming media, so this means that you’ll have to choose a well-ventilated spot to keep things cool. As well, cooling fans can be noisy and distracting, so keep this in mind when deciding where to locate your old computer-turned media server.

Let us know how things turn out!

If you have some ideas of topics you would like us to cover or have other feedback to offer, email us at: newsletter@compuclever.com.


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