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Home/Small Office – Introduction

In Environments, System Administration & Devops by Željko JaguštLeave a Comment

My girlfriend is running a small business from our home. She is a graphics designer, running her entire business on her computer, and she is okay with it. Now, I am a system administrator. I believe running an entire business on one computer (SINGLE DISK!!) is a considerable SPOF (single point of failure) and a looming disaster. Thus, I went on a quest to build a safe and secure small office environment for her, and in the rest of this introductory article, I will give you essential details on how I plan to do it.

The Goal

My goal here is a home/small office environment built around the machine running Debian server operating system. I am also building a new house with a small office space, so I planned a 10GbE network running through the house. I will hook all essential business devices on that 10GbE network, while everything else will be connected to a WiFi network which will also be available. The rest of this introductory article gives a bit more elementary details on how everything will be done. Enjoy.

Step 01 - Machine Preparation

In this step, we will focus on the hardware for the machine which will host our Debian server. And since our chosen environment is a home/small office, we don't need a fully-fledged server.

Hardware Selection

In a home or a small office environment, "servers" are usually intended primarily as a storage/document archive. So, the main focus is usually disk space. And since everything you have in your home (or small office) will be connected to that server, network throughput is something you should focus on too. Besides that, it would be best if you also considered a suitable power supply.

You can check our complete guide on home/small office environment server build on the link below:

Step 02 - Home/Small office network overview

As I already mentioned in the previous section, everything you have in your home or small office will be connected to your server, making it a focal point. To achieve good connectivity, if possible, you should consider 10GbE hardware. It would help if you also considered "prioritizing" your devices; the ones which require high throughput should be on "the wire" and everything else on WiFI.

Network Hardware

If you are on a tight budget and cannot afford a 10GbE network, at least ensure you have a proper unmanaged 1GbE switch with at least eight ports and a decent WiFi access point. But consider the following; a good investment leads to no regrets later. So if you have money to spare, invest in suitable network hardware:

  • Dual-port 10GbE adapter for your server
  • 8-port (or more) managed PoE++ 10GbE switch
  • Managed WiFi 6 or WiFi 6E (802.11ax) access point

Having hardware like that will give you "a ton" of throughput and no worries about how many devices you can connect to your network.

Prioritize Devices

It would be best to decide which devices have a "higher" priority regarding the network. For instance, devices intended for your work should have a higher priority. Based on that, consider the following:

  • Configure a bond on your server dual-port 10GbE adapter
  • Use a wired connection for all your work-essential devices
  • Use WiFi for your home smart devices, mobile phones, TVs, gaming consoles, and similar

Our detailed guide on home/small office network environment is available on the following link:

Step 03 - Debian Server Installation

Here we will focus on how to install the Debian server. To do it "the right way," we will start with only what is required for Debian server operating system to boot and allow us to log in - the minimal installation.

Test environment - Virtual Machine

It is always good to have a test environment in IT, no matter what you do. For example, in our case, the virtual machine will allow us to test everything before we are ready to install the Debian server on a real machine.
Hyper-V LogoVirtualBox Logo - RectangleLibVirt Logo
We have two guides that can help you with setting your test environments, and you can check them out on the link buttons below:

Installation Media Preparation

In this sub-section, you will learn which Debian server image to download and how to prepare the installation media (usually the USB stick).
Debian LogoRufus Logo

Debian Server Minimal installation

Installation of a Debian server minimal system will be described here in full detail. Along with the installation, we will also cover disk preparation, partitioning, and RAID assembly if multiple disks are present. For more information, please check our guide on Debian Server minimal installation on the button link below:

Post-installation steps

You won't be able to do much once the installation is complete. As a matter of fact, besides logging in and executing a few basic commands, your server is pretty much useless at this stage. But don't worry. We will show you how to perform basic customization and install the essential software. As a plus, we will provide you with a script that will automatically do all that for you. You can read more about that in our Debian Server Initial Customization guide:

Step 04 - Services

We do not need much to satisfy the needs of a home or small office environment. Services required for network management and storage will suffice, along with a couple of helper (optional) services listed below:

Network services

This section will cover the installation and configuration of required network services. A DNS (domain name system), DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol), and a basic firewall will be required. The following services will be configured:

    • BIND9 (DNS Server)
    • ISC DHCP Server (DHCP Server)
    • IPTABLES (Firewall)

On the link button below, you can check our complete guide on how to set up a forwarding DNS server with DHCP support:

Storage subsystem

There is always a choice here to acquire a small pre-built storage system like Synology. If you opt to build something yourself, you can configure a CIFS (Samba) or NFS (network file system) on the machine you already have or intend to build. Since I already have a machine with some disks inside, I opted for NFS. It is simpler to configure than CIFS and perfectly suits our home or small office needs.

Once everything is configured and connected, our small home office environment will be up and running. As I go through the environment, I will post a link to an article below each subsection in this introductory article. In the meantime, if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to post them in our comment section below the article. Thank you, and enjoy!

Share if you like. Thank you in advance!

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