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Consider A Netbook For Homehosting 2024-02-03


I am a fan of homehosting (the art of hosting things like webservers, mailservers, and other services on a computer at home). It comes with some advantages and some disadvantages, but in my mind it captures the spirit of a peer based network. I think allowing companies like Google, Cloudflare, and Microsoft to be the source/gateway for almost all content is a mistake. If you care about these same things maybe you should do some homehosting for your services. I should also note that homehost is actually hosting things at home rather than on a VPS or Dedi that you rent from someone else (which I would call selfhosting). It also usually means hosting on a residential Internet connection, which can complicate the process.

The Raspberry Pi is an SBC (Single Board Computer) that got a lot of people hosting services at home. It is a cheap little device that can run Linux, which can be quite good at hosting network based services like web and mail servers. There are some things about the Raspberry Pi though that kind of rub me the wrong way. For example, once you have bought the device, you still need to buy a bunch of other things to make it work. Truth be told, these days I am hosting my homestuff on a fancy Atom based server box, but clearly that is more money than most people want to spend on a homeserver. But if you want your homeserver to be easy-on-the-power you might consider the netbook as an option. Here are a few reasons why

Feature SBC Netbook
Comes with monitor No Yeah
Comes with keyboard No Yeah
Comes with power cord Usually not Yeah
Comes with storage Usually not Yeah
Comes with wifi In some cases Yeah
Comes with UPS No Yeah (sort of)
Comes with case No Yeah
Storage can be upgraded No In some cases
Memory can be upgraded No In some cases
Is low power Yeah Yeah
Runs Linux Yeah In most cases

Here in Ontario, when you account for TOU billing, it costs about $1 per watt to run a device all year 24/365. So a netbook running at 12W will cost you about a dollar month, which is less than a Tim Hortons coffee. A netbook can also be cheaper than an SBC, since the SBC needs to be decked out with the parts listed above before it can even be used. Another downside of SBCs is that they are often delicate and wind up with broken connectors (especially those SD card slots). So check your local classified ads to see if you can pickup a netbook for cheap, or if you're lucky, dig up the one you have buried at the bottom of your closet and get hosting!

photo of my Asus netbook I dunno how many watts this is, but it ain't many.

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