Host a Debian web & email server at home with a dynamic IP.

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Host a Debian web & email server at home with a dynamic IP.

Postby kedaha » 2019-09-13 08:26

This topic, which follows on from some of my previous topics, is intended mainly for forum members who are not familiar with the configuration of web servers, email servers and routers and who would like to learn, but of course, any comments from others who are familiar with such things will be more than welcome.

While most "Linux" users run a Gnome, KDE, Mate or other desktop system they don't run their own personal internet server complete with domain, blog, search engine (searx) and email in a similar way to running a desktop computer and aren't sure how to do this. So I'd like to encourage readers of this topic to consider doing so.

I think some old laptop or computer connected to your router via a wired Ethernet connection would be the way to go but a microprocessor like a raspberry pi (perhaps even a raspberry pi 0 for YunoHost) would be ideal, but not everyone has one. Naturally a desktop system could also double as a server but I haven't tried it. I've read in the past it might be inadvisable but this may not be the case today. Another very interesting option would be running it in VirtualBox.
Configuring the router (for another topic) can be slightly complicated if you haven't done it before. If this isn't done you find yourself contemplating "server not found" or blank screens, which is a bit of a pain.
There are many ways to set up your own server and I know from experience that doing it all manually is not exactly a walk in the park. However, here are two links about how to set up a personal home server running Debian which simplify the task very considerably:

1. FreedomBox. This is a pure Debian blend which adheres 100% to Debian policy. By the way, see Eben Moglen's talk on the story with its "dramatic" musical introduction, reminiscent of the spotlight in Batman. :wink:
2. YunoHost See also the Distrowatch review at YunoHost_Review

Note that it is not necessary to acquire either a domain, since both provide subdomains, or a static IP address because a dynamic IP address, once configured, will be automatically updated. So no expense is involved.
YunoHost, in addition to numerous other applications, will set up a fully-functional personal email system allowing you to send and receive mail on your own host while FreedomBox at present only provides the Roundcube interface for email set up elsewhere; they are, however, working on it!
Having tried both, I prefer the first option which, though currently providing fewer options, is fully compliant with Debian policy; however, YunoHost is based 100% on free & open source software.

If you prefer to use your own domain, be sure to get one from a company that provides a dynamic IP update option in their DNS configuration services; then you can configure the dynamic IP to be updated whenever it changes on the home server.

Thanks for reading & for any comments.
Mate DE & OSSv4.
FreedomBox in Debian
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Re: Host a Debian web & email server at home with a dynamic

Postby lxkraken » 2019-09-13 20:28

Yunohost really looks great. It has a full mail stack out-of-the-box which is a big plus over FreedomBox. The only issue is that most home ISPs block port 25 for sending mail, mine included.

It might be fun to experiment with Yunohost and a cheap VPS instance though.
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Re: Host a Debian web & email server at home with a dynamic

Postby kedaha » 2019-09-14 05:51

lxkraken wrote:Yunohost really looks great.

I've tried it and agree it looks great; however, the model's completely at variance with that of a stable Debian server. It's certainly user-friendly in that it can be used "out-of-the-box" by users unacquainted with systems administration but while it uses a Debian base, it installs stuff from outside Debian's main repository. You can install exim4, roundcube, phpmyadmin and wordpress but they're all from upstream versions and so haven't gone through the Debian experimental-unstable-testing to stable route. So apt-cache policy shows that none of these programs is installed even though they have been! YunoHost is therefore a Debian-based distro which doesn't follow Debian's developmental rationale.
lxkraken wrote:It has a full mail stack out-of-the-box which is a big plus over FreedomBox.

To get a full mail stack up and running manually can be quite a lengthy process but YunoHost automates it and makes it a matter of a few clicks. This is highly convenient but, in my view, not ideal if one prefers "the Debian way" of doing things, which is to install the entire stack from Debian's stable main repository including postfixadmin or whatever email system one likes.
lxkraken wrote:The only issue is that most home ISPs block port 25 for sending mail, mine included.

How about port 587? Is that also blocked?
lxkraken wrote:It might be fun to experiment with Yunohost and a cheap VPS instance though.

Absolutely. It is a quick, useful way to get a personal home server up and running via a browser like Firefox as the graphical user interface, not the command line, specially when apt is not used to install software from Debian's repositories. It contains a lot of very useful software.
To conclude, FreedomBox is a Debian distribution and part of the Debian Project while alternatives like YunoHost and sandstorm—which I haven't tried—are not.
Mate DE & OSSv4.
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