Home Server

I’ve kept a home server in various configurations over the last several years. Back in April, with an abundance of time at home due to the pandemic, I migrated my server from a old Dell tower running Ubuntu Server to a Raspberry Pi 4 that I had bought a while back and let sit on the shelf. That was fun to tool around with Raspbian and set it up for local network backups and media streaming. But recently it appears that the RPi SD card has gone read-only. I tried repairing it but nothing seems to work and I had thought about swapping to an alternate setup so I could experiment with the RPi for other projects anyway. So rather than flash the SD card and try to rebuild my server config (if the card isn’t essentially dead), I’m going to swap my server setup to an old Mac Mini I have collecting dust. I had previously installed Ubuntu on it in order to format drives and get the RPi server setup anyway, so the big portion is already done.

I’ll need it to have ssh and vnc, as it will sit headless next to my router, as well as sabnzbd for newsgroups and plexmediaserver for local streaming. It will have two external 4TB hdd’s for media storage and local backups of my other computers, and I’ll also need cron jobs to backup the one 4TB hdd to the other, and to move downloaded .nzb files to the watched folder for plex. I think that’s it? I’ll edit this if I remember anything else. Super simple compared to what some other folks do with their home servers. I’d like to get more use out of it eventually, maybe consolidating music storage to stream within the house.


Mac Mini (running Ubuntu)
4TB external drive, which Ubuntu mounts at /media/USERNAME/storage
4TB external drive, which Ubuntu mounts at /media/USERNAME/bu-storage


To install ssh: sudo apt install openssh-server
To open port 22 on the firewall: sudo ufw allow ssh
You can verify the status with: systemctl status ssh
and start, stop, or restart it with systemctl start/stop/restart ssh

To copy a local machine’s public key to the server: ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub USERNAME@servername.local
Test log in with: ssh USERNAME@servername.local


To install vnc: sudo apt install tightvncserver
Configure a password: vncpasswd
Install xfce4: sudo apt install xfce4 xfce4-goodies
Create ~/.vnc/xstartup: nano ~/.vnc/xstartup and enter:

startxfce4 &

Make it executable: chmod +x ~/.vnc/xstartup
Service can be started or stopped with: sudo service vncserver@1 start/stop
To have vncserver run on startup, create:
sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/vncserver@.service
Fill it as below. Replace “USERNAME” with the local user:

Description=Systemd VNC server startup script for Ubuntu 20.04
After=syslog.target network.target

ExecStartPre=-/usr/bin/vncserver -kill :%i &> /dev/null
ExecStart=/usr/bin/vncserver -depth 24 -geometry 1920x1080 :%i
ExecStop=/usr/bin/vncserver -kill :%i


To have VNC desktop 1 start after reboot: sudo systemctl enable vncserver@1


To install sabnzbd: sudo apt install sabnzbdplus
To start or stop sudo service sabnzbdplus start/stop
Create folders:
Open http://localhost:8080/sabnzbd to enter provider info and point to completed, incomplete, and watched folders
To run the service on startup, edit /etc/default/sabnzbdplus and set the required USER= to the local account


Install: sudo apt install plexmediaserver
Run sudo chmod o+rx /media/USERNAME so the plex user has necessary read and execute permissions on the media libraries
In the browser, open to configure through the GUI
Add a Library, name it Movies and point it to /media/USERNAME/storage/media/movies
Add a Library, name it TV Shows and point it to /media/USERNAME/storage/media/tv


Scripts to be run with cron live in /home/USERNAME/crontasks
Backup external storage drive with backup_storage.sh:

rsync -avP --delete /media/USERNAME/storage/ /media/USERNAME/bu-storage/ 2> /home/USERNAME/crontasks/logs backup_storage.err

Move downloaded .nzb files to the Plex watched folder with move_nzb.sh:

mv /home/USERNAME/Downloads/*.nzb* /media/USERNAME/storage/media/downloads/watched/ > /dev/null 2>&1

Load these scripts into cron with crontab -e:

0 5 * * * /home/USERNAME/crontasks/backup_storage.sh  
0 * * * * /home/USERNAME/crontasks/move_nzb.sh

Careful with your cron syntax. Check out Crontab Guru to verify any new settings.