Build a(n Ubuntu) home server in one hour…


…and secure it too.

When Aaron, Matthew and I incepted our Linux classes, we did so with a nebulous aim of offering a course of comprehensive beginner material, with our ultimate, nebulous goal being to offer “more advanced stuff”. Well, here we are. I dove into the basics of manipulating the Bash shell, simple scripting, SSH, and confidently administering a headless system as root. In the midst of my preparations for these classes, I had a theatric lightbulb-over-head moment: How hard would it be, really, to turn a desktop into a basic home server? Set aside performance and security concerns for a moment and just consider accessibility and turnaround time to live access on the Internet.

As it turns out, this takes about one hour. Maybe two if you are installing Linux from scratch. All you need to begin is a method to connect your dynamic home IP to a static domain and then a method to remotely access your home server:

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade
apt-get install openssh-server openssh-client

Sign up for a free DynDNS account and domain (remember to complete checkout!).

apt-get install ddclient

Populate three lines in /etc/ddclient/ddclient.conf with:

  1. Your DynDNS user name.
  2. Your DynDNS password.
  3. Your DynDNS domain.

/etc/init.d/ddclient restart
/etc/init.d/ssh start

Now give DynDNS and ddclient about five minutes (on the safe side) to update. Congratulations, you have a live Internet server for your file-access, media streaming, jerking-around-while-at-work, and general geek needs.

Now, we have a server. Locking down its Internet connection? Mmm, ten minutes. It was actually over an hour for me because I was engrossed in crash-learning netfilter/iptables syntax from scratch.


# Clear all existing iptable rules.
iptables -F
iptables -X

# Drop all incoming, outgoing and forwarded packets.
iptables -P INPUT DROP
iptables -P OUTPUT DROP
iptables -P FORWARD DROP

# Permit loopback activity (client and server programs on this machine).
iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
iptables -A OUTPUT -o lo -j ACCEPT

# Permit TCP connections to and from this machine on port 22 (SSH).
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -dport 22 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp -sport 22 -j ACCEPT

You’ll eventually need to open up ports for NTP, mail, DNS and others, but really: This is all there is to it. And because I am awesome, I wrote all of this up on Google Docs and made it freely available for download. Any notes suggesting alterations, additions or deletions can be made directly on the document, or by email to me directly.

Your Home Server and You

Processing and Arduino Meetup

Thursday 26th at 4pm is the first Processing and Arduino meetup at 091Labs. From Thursday 2nd September on we will be meeting regularly once a week at 6pm in the space.

For starters we will be following the O’Reilly Online course

‘Processing and Arduino in Tandem’

Creating Your Own Digital Art Tools

Starting Tuesday 31st 11pm GMT O’Reilly will stream the course which you can follow for free online, quick go sign up, but it you cant make it to every class we have pooled together to download the course video which we will be following week by week 6pm every Thursday at 091Labs.

Sooo what is Processing?

from –

Processing is a programming language, development environment, and online community that since 2001 has promoted software literacy within the visual arts. Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context, Processing quickly developed into a tool for creating finished professional work as well.

Just check out all the crazy fun stuff people are doing with this at

Check out artist and course instructor Joseph Grays website  to get an idea of what possible

What is Arduino?

from –

“It’s an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board.

Arduino can be used to develop interactive objects, taking inputs from a variety of switches or sensors, and controlling a variety of lights, motors, and other physical outputs. Arduino projects can be stand-alone, or they can be communicate with software running on your computer”

Put them together and you get really great interactive art works and installations.

But first you will need to get yourself some materials

the list can be found here

We are currently looking into getting these bits and pieces together from local suppliers details of which we will add to the wiki asap.

As the weeks go by we will also build a resource of documentation and links on the Wiki.

Looking forward to seeing you there

Introduction to Linux – Summary

As part of 091 Labs’ series of workshops for Irish Hackerspace Week, one event for which we received a great deal of positive feedback was our “Introduction to Linux” class, tutored by Matthew Kolder, Barry Coughlan and Aaron Hastings. The class, which we are looking to hold more of in the future, covered the very basics of Linux and Ubuntu (our Operating System of choice) – installation, initial setup, cool applications and benefits of running Linux over Windows and Mac.

By putting an 091 Labs laptop and an Ubuntu disc in front of each attendee, we guaranteed that everyone could get hands-on with the system, while having comfort in the fact they weren’t messing up their own computer.

A summary of the topics covered can be found on our Wiki, at the following link:

Introduction to Linux – Summary

If you would be interested in attending a future “Introduction to Linux” event or have any suggestions for Linux or Ubuntu-themed workshops, we’d love to hear from you at

Converting a PC Power Supply to a workbench power supply

To all of you electronics heads out there, you’re probably aware that workbench power supplies that can give you the common 5V/9V/12V outputs are pretty expensive.

Gerry Kavanagh will be running a workshop on converting the Power Supply from an old PC into a workbench power supply, a very useful tool for anyone into electronics.

ATX Bench Supply

What would cost you €70+ in the shops can be built for around €15 worth of parts if you have an old PSU lying around.

The workshop will take on Friday August 20th from 11am to 1pm.

Admission and Pre-booking

As we have to buy the materials in advance, please be sure to pre-book for this workshop by Sunday August 15th. Pre-book by using the contact form (just to let us know you’re attending). If paying through Paypal use the ‘Donate’ button to your left add 5% to the cost for Paypal fees. If paying by cash let us know in the contact form and we’ll arrange that.

Admission (includes cost of materials ~15 euro):
Members: €18
Unwaged/Student: €22
General Public: €25

Full details of the workshop are on our calendar here.

Busy month ahead

Its proving to be a busy time of the year on the domestic hackerspace scene. Cork moved into their new home in July, Limerick are actively recruiting new members and TOG in Dublin have completed a 2 month refurbishment of their new home on Chancery Lane (before, during and after videos here). August sees the first annual Irish Hackerspace Week take place August 14th-22nd. Events and workshops are being organised by each location to promote hackerspaces throughout the country. We are busy finalising details of our workshops, events and talks which will be announced next Monday.

On the local Galway front things are continuing apace. NUIG plays host to this years International BlogTalk 2010 Conference on August 25th-26th. The organisers have pulled together another great lineup of speakers with the full schedule here. Tickets for the event are still available for those interested in attending. 091 Labs is delighted to host Galways first IGNITE event in Galway on September 10th. There are still slots available for speakers and sponsors. BizCamp Galway takes place on September 11th in NUIG so it promises to be a very special weekend. In closing we would like to thank the Ubuntu Ireland team for sending on desktop and server disks for our space which arrived in time for our build your own pc workshops!