The iWombat Server Project

The challenge: Install a web/mail server for under $100

The story behind the solution:

Step 1 - Shopping

The first step in the endevour was a trip to RE-PC. A quick trip through the "boot-only" systems yeilded a spanky little p-133. Complete with 2g hard drive and 24meg of Ram and (this was the kicker) a built-in CD-ROM drive, I needed little else. Total cost $65.

A quick inventory of other necessities resulted in an additional purchase of

  1. network card - $10
  2. keyboard - $5

I was up to an entire $80 already, only $20 of wiggle-room left. Turns out I wouldn't need it.

Step 2 - Installation and Setup
Fortunately I had RedHat 7.1 already kicking around on CD-ROM (hence the requirement for CD-ROM). A quick installation of a standard RedHat server (without gui), some additional packages for pop services, a litle setup and plug in to the firewall and I was ready to roll. Only one thing was lacking - I didn't have muck room before swapping could get to be an issue. Especially if I wanted to fiddle with tomcat and servelets. Fortunately, one of my collegues had some 16meg DIMMs sitting around. So, a quick upgrade to 48meg and all is now well.

Step 3 - Expanding the Scope
Well, not wanting to let any cycles on a perfectly good server go idle. I decided to recently make it the cvs repository for my opensource project(s). Perhaps I'll get around to making it a news server if I can find a cheap disk.

The Wrap-Up
Total spent: $80. Services on the box. Mail, hosting 2 websites (,, CVS repository. 

DNS etc. 
I'm currently using for hosting my DNS entries as well as mail back-up this service currently runs me $10/year. Not a bad deal. So, I'm using dynamic DNS with a DSL connection. DNS info is refreshed twice daily via a cron-job. I had some initial issues with my DSL provider dropping me every once in awhile. Those days seem to be over, but the refereshes are a decent fail-safe.

9/10 - Since the initial write-up I've been doing nightly builds of the opensource repository on this machine as well. The P-133 was getting a bit long in the tooth for that, so I bought a second hand Celeron 333Mhz motherboard for $25 off of Ebay and installed it. Fortunately I was able to recycle some P100 memory modules I'd recently upgraded on another box. So, now I'm up to 384M.