Lenny, the portable server

Giga, my trusty Debian Linux server for the last six years needed a break.


When summer hit the Carolinas, extreme heat followed. Keeping my large tower server on all day was producing even more heat, constant fan noise and drawing more electricity. Keeping the home office’s room air conditioner on all day to compensate the central air, made more noise and drew even more electricity.

This prompted me to turn a five year old laptop into Lenny, the portable server. This laptop has a dead battery and last year needed the internal power jack connector to be replaced, so it was a prime candidate to sit on a desk, wired to power and our internal network.

First off, I needed to repartition the 60GB drive with GParted. I removed the Windows XP partition since there was a Gateway recovery partition, created a 1GB swap partition and a 50GB ext3 partition for Debian. Next up was a net install of Debian Lenny, chose only the base system, I would apt-get what I needed after I had a working operating system.

The laptop booted up just fine, using very little of it’s 768MB of ram. Did an apt-get of the usual suspects, Apache, PHP and MySQL. With very little tweaking I had a nicely working LAMP machine where I can work on my websites. I use XAMPP on my main laptop, and it works rather well, but having a true LAMP stack for testing is worth the dedicated machine.

Though I’m comfortable with editing config files in the /etc directory, Webmin does an excellent job. A few more tweaks, some more apt-gets and the laptop was flying along serving web pages just as fast as my huge tower server. Seeing how well the laptop was running, I decided to install Xfce from backports. I don’t really need a GUI, but it’s nice to be able to load up Firefox for testing sites on a Linux platform.

Four days into running Lenny on the laptop, I decided to repartition. I removed the 5GB Gateway recovery partition, moved the swap partition to the front of the drive, shrunk the /root partition down to 5GB and created a /home partition of 50GB. The laptop would run Debian for the remainder of it’s life, it felt like the right thing to do.

If the sun refused to shine
I don’t mind, no baby I don’t mind
And If the mountains fell in the sea
It ain’t me, you know you’ve got to be free