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I have an Ubuntu PC (10.04) which I plan to use as a home server. It's main use will be NAS and media server with MediaTomb.

Should I:

  1. backup and reformat PC, and install Ubuntu Server.
  2. leave it how it is, and just install necessary software.

I've been using this PC as my main computer for three years+ now, so there is a lot installed. But I don't have much time to properly do option 1.

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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Performance wise, your Ubuntu "non-server" will run as a home server good enough without having to install or configure it, or even format it to put Ubuntu server on it.

I already did this 3 times, one in my own home, the other at a lan party place I go every so often and in my boss place.

There are little differences in performance between the server and desktop that you will notice in a lan environment.

My suggestion to save you time, money, patience is to just install the needed packages using the gui since it won't suck that much resources from the server. Which brings me to another point. Having or not having a gui will not have a big impact on your server (Specially for your home server). You will loose some memory which for a common 2GB or more ram PC is not even worth mentioning. It will not create problems and at the end, you will have a server that you can GUI manage.

Now, in what case-scenarios I would HAVE TO install the server version.

Well if you add to your question something like "I have a 32GB RAM server with 4 SSD drives and etc.. etc.. etc..". That puppy should better be a server version than a desktop version to use better the additional memory, cpu, drives, resources in general available.

Am assuming since you have used your PC for that much time is a common 4GB or less RAM PC with a common CPU and a normal hard drive. Just install the additional packages, don't give yourself so much trouble and time and enjoy your new Home brew server in which you can provide apart from the NAS and connection you want mentioned there many more server options that are generally available in the desktop (Like Web Cache with SQUID to speed up the internet for your family and network users, video sharing like VLC and more, folder sharing, printer sharing, etc..).

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I would go for option 1 since you won't be using it anymore for general purposes but only as a server. It really depends on how organized and clean you want your PC to be, since I'm really picky about it I would choose option 1, but if you don't really care you should not waste time, however you should check if it will increase performance and if it will then option 1 is the only option for this.

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As you are talking about an "home" server, I think you prefer easiness vs performance, and NAS and media server do not use so high resources.

So, I would choose Option 2, this will save you time and give you a more user-friendly system with graphical access, if you need.

The only downside is that the graphical components will take some RAM, but I think you have enough for your use.

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One way to remove a large amount of the desktop-type stuff that you have installed is to apt-get remove ubuntu-desktop. That should pull out virtually every gui app and library you have installed. Call it option 1.5.

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