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I'd like to deploy a set of cheap servers across town.

I need to run LAMP stack or Java, with 1GB of RAM being 100% enough, but multi-core CPU would be a plus.

I'd need Ethernet Port on it a and Flash Drive only regarding peripherals.

I think the best solution would be a board with the box where there's only what I need (CPU, RAM, Flash Drive, Ethernet), with no need for WiFi, HDMI, Audio etc.

I have reviewed number of products like Raspberry PI and clones and I am not sure if this is suitable to run LAMP stack and Java. I've seen that Java is already available (JDK7) for Raspberry PI.

Stability of operation is important, the working conditions are normal home conditions (heating, low humidity).

The security is also important so that I can load updates to it over next 5 years.

Do you know any user-friendly product top off you head? I think something like low-end Pentium or i3 would be totally cool, if I can buy Chromebook like that for £100, then I should be able to buy server for £50, but I can't find any...

  • What is each server doing that lighting up a server on a cloud platform like AWS or Azure can't solve? – Digital Boffin Oct 10 '16 at 20:09
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Unless your LAMP stack will see high load, the Raspberry Pi 3 is a perfect choice for your purposes. It can even be overclocked decently if you add a few small heatsinks to its chip surfaces.

I have successfully run a low-use LAMP stack off my Raspberry Pi A+, which is a single core 700mhz ARM CPU (I had it OC'd to 900mhz but whatever) with 256mb system RAM divided between the CPU and GPU!

These systems are stable as all get-out too. Mine is currently sitting on day 50+ of continuous operation with a custom distro (DietPi) running my FTP, SSH server, and at one point an aborted attempt at a custom Asterisk setup.

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If you are looking for the next 5 years of life, why not look at a (refurbished) Dell Small Form Factor PC?

enter image description here

A core i3 or i5 (I recommend the latter) will be more than enough for 5+ years of use, plus you get the backing of a big name. Parts are simple and easy to come by and because this is an Optiplex product (meaning it's for business, not home), it comes with built in security features like:

  • case tamper switching
  • vPro technology
  • remote management
  • option for KACE management

The price point for these machines are about $150 to $200. They are more than the Raspberry Pi units but what you will save in time and debugging will more than make up for it. Remember, it will be much easier to get peripherals and devices working on this in Linux than on a Pi.

Upgrading is very easy. I upgraded one that I use for my pfSense router to 8GB of RAM for under $20 with memory found on eBay. I installed a 16GB SSD also found on eBay for less than $10. The most expensive component was my quad gigabit ethernet card for $60.

Since you are running a LAMP stack (may I also suggest you dump Linux and go FreeBSD as it much, much more reliable as an AMP server) you may want to add additional network ports. This is easy and very inexpensive on this - no so on a Pi - just get a PCIe network adapter and away you go.

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The security is also important so that I can load updates to it over next 5 years.

So, you want to keep this device for at leats 5 years, why not make a long time investment? I would recomend the UDOO Family or the Odroid Family (Both came with their own Ubuntu flavor - As in Raspbian, you could use Tomcat to deploy JSP or JSF.).

with no need for WiFi, HDMI, Audio etc.

The main attraction of the Pi 3 are the Wi-fi and Bluetooth, but you ain't going to use those. So better invest in RAM and a best processor.

For your budget an excellent investment would be the Odroid XU4

Processor: Samsung Exynos5422 Cortex™-A15 2Ghz and Cortex™-A7 Octa core

CPUs: Mali-T628 MP6(OpenGL ES 3.0/2.0/1.1 and OpenCL 1.1 Full profile)

RAM: 2Gbyte LPDDR3 RAM PoP stacked

USB: 2xUSB 3.0 Host, 1 x USB 2.0 Host

Ethernet: Gigabit Ethernet port

Size: 82 x 58 x 22 mm approx.(including cooling fan) <--- This is a BIG plus.

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1

I recently (2 month ago) bought a HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 G1610T.

Here is what you get for about 170€ (Here in Germany on amazon) at the lowest configuration:

  • 4 SATA III drive bays
  • One internal SATA slot which is intended to be used for the optical drive but it can be exploitet as 5th HD slot
  • 4 GB ECC Ram which is extendable to up to 16 GB
  • Intel Celeron dual-core with up to 2,3 GHZ
  • Socket 1150 (You could upgrade to a Xeon CPU if you like)
  • 3 gigabit Ethernet ports where one is shared with the ILO remote server management console
  • Yes you get a full blown remote management interface which allows you to monitor the hardware, install the operating system and you even have a virtual KVM which also allows mounting of ISO images over ethernet. However you need the professional license to use all features which costs about 40 €.
  • USB3 on the back (2), USB2 on the front (2) back (2) and internal (1)
  • one low profile PCIe slot which you could use to install a "true" RAID controller
  • An emulated RAID controller which can operate 1, 0 and 10 arrays.
  • And many more, have a look at the datasheet

I'm up and running with RHEL installed on a separate SSD so that I can use all 4 drive bays for my RAID 1 (4x4 TB WD red). I'm using it for several Docker containers to run LAMP stacks, NAS and cloud software and home automation servers but the device is running quietly and I'm satisfied with the performance.

Problems I ran into:

  • Only VGA graphics available, this was a little bit difficult at the beginning since I don't have a VGA or DVI compatible display here. I decided to use the ILO console to install things.
  • It was a little bit hacky to install the system on a SSD on the 5th SATA slot but there are manuals out there.

I can highly recommend this rig.

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