3 - Your Personal Server

This guide is intended to assist people who wish to set up their own personal server. This can be used to be your own virtual “home” on the web, one that you own and have full control over.

What is a “server”?

The word “server” is traditionally used to describe a computer that holds information that can be shared over a network. This can be a physical computer in various forms, like a common everyday PC or a rackmounted custom server. It can also be a virtual machine, a server which runs inside another computer. As long as it is a dedicated computer for provisioning network services, it can be considered a server.

A server is traditionally connected to the Internet and can “serve” its content to users that way. Servers can serve simple web pages, media files, more advanced web platforms, email services and many many other types of data.

People can use the word “server” to refer to either a piece of hardware or a piece of software. This guide may do both, but you should be able to tell the difference depending on the context.


  1. Why a Personal Server? - for those unconvinced, or looking for more information on the forms a personal server could take
  2. Before You Begin: Options, Configuration and Hardware - plan out what you want your server to do, then get tips on what equipment to purchase and what information to give your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
  3. Assembling Your Server/PC - Step-by-step instructions on how to assemble your new server
  4. Installing and Configuring Ubuntu Server - Downloading and installing your server’s operating system
  5. Getting In: Project to SSH and VNC - connecting to your new server to make edits with any network-connected computer
  6. Networking: Setting up DHCP, DNS and NAT Forwarding - use your server as a router to provide fine-tuned control of your Internet connection and resources
  7. Email: Setting up Postfix and Dovecot - host your own email service at your own domain with these two tools
  8. Website Hosting: Setting up Apache Server - host your own website with various platforms or services available to you
  9. Cloud Services: Setting up ownCloud - host your contacts, calendar, and files and make them accessible/syncable from anywhere
  10. Security: Firewalling and Threat Detection - protect your server and its internal network resources, and block potential hacks and threats
  11. Managing and Streaming Your Media - host a repository of media and easily stream them to various devices or computers in your home
  12. APPENDIX: Guide to Virtual Machines - learn what a virtual machine is and how to set one up on your server
  13. APPENDIX: Guide to FreeNAS - get started with the popular network-attached storage system and create a dedicated media server