Your own privacy-aware, personally controlled server, part five

Sat, 1 Dec 2012

Based on the previous parts I'm going to assume that you have the hardware you want to use for your server, have registered a domain name that is safe from being be seized, know whether your ISP has assigned you a static or dynamic IP address, and that if you're behind some type of device that hands out private IP addresses to the computers in your home, you have found the manual for your router so as to figure out how to configure it to assign a static private IP address to your server and open any ports htat may be needed.

The next step is to download Trisquel GNU/Linux. Head on over to https://trisquel.info/ and do that.

You'll probably notice that there are multiple editions. Trisquel has both Short Term Support (STS) and Long Term Support (LTS) editions. The Short Term Support editions are newer but not supported for as long as the Long Term Support editions, which are older and more tested.

I opt for the Long Term Support edition because I like my server to sit quietly in the corner going about its business without me needing to get involved too much. The Short Term Support edition would mean I would be upgrading to a newer edition more frequently since they're not supported for as long and a server doesn't necessarily need to be running the latest bleeding-edge versions of stuff anyway.

Whichever you choose each edition has multiple options. I recommend downloading the NetInstall image. It's small and there's no need to download the full 700MB image because a server doesn't need a graphical desktop. In the server world, less is more.

Once this file is downloaded you can either burn it to a CD or put it on a USB stick. Not all computers can boot from USB but not everyone necessarily wants to use a CD for something that might only be used once. The decision's up to you.

I'm using Trisquel 5.5 as I write this, running the GNOME desktop envrionment, so to burn the downloaded file to a CD I would just right-click on the file, select Write To Disc, and follow the instructions.

To make a bootable USB stick I would open System Settings and run the Startup Disk Creator, where you specify which downloaded file and which USB device to use.

Either way you now have something that can be used to boot your server for the first time.

When the installer starts you'll have a menu of choices. I recommend going to Advanced Options and selecting Command-line Expert Install.

The Trisquel installer main menu will appear. Just select the first item in the menu to specify your preferred language. The installer will advance down the menu items as you progress.

You'll be asked for basic information like language, location, and keyboard information before coming to the section about configuring the network. This touches on parts three and four of this series where your ISP may assign you a fixed or dynamic IP address, and where you may be connected (more or less) directly to the internet, meaning that your computer has a "public" IP address assigned directly to it or there may be a router in your home (often, the very same device that handles your internet connection) that is assigned that public IP address instead and hides all of your devices behind it by assigning them "private" IP addresses. If you have this later setup there are additional things to consider when setting up your server.

Once you select Configure The Network the installer will ask if you want to automatically configure the network. Whether you say yes or no here depends on how your access to the internet is established, using the information I mentioned in parts three and four. Here's a chart of how to answer the question:

Situation Answer
Your server is assigned a dynamic public IP address from your ISP Yes
You have configured your router to assign a static private IP address to your server
Your server is assigned a static public IP address from your ISP No
Your router has no way to assign a static private IP address to your server

Once the networking is configured the installer will continue to walk you through the rest of the installation, advancing down the main menu as things progress. Eventually it'll complete and you'll reboot into your new installation.

Where you go from here is entirely up to you and depends on what you want your server to do for you. There are so many possibilities that I can't really cover them all but if you'd like me to cover something please contact me. One thing that will be needed is a domain name server, which I mentioned in part three. I'll cover that in part six.