Old Dell + Debian Etch = Instant Development Server

October 6th, 2008 by Jeff

Earlier this year I replaced my desktop PC, a Dell Dimension 4700, with a Mac Mini as part of my effort go 100% Mac for my home computing.  OS X is a terrific platform for the desktop power user because it looks great, feels great, is well supported by open source projects.  It also runs on a variant of Unix giving you full shell access and lots of other great stuff.

Since then, the Dell has been sitting by my desk, waiting for a good use.  I already have a Linkstation Live that I use for a low power home server (print server, mt-daapd, subversion, samba, etc.) so I didn’t have an immediate need for another PC around the house.

Last week I started playing with OpenWRT as part of a neat new project that will be an upcoming feature on this blog.  I suddenly needed a Linux environment and some extra computing power to help build custom OpenWRT images.  Debian to the rescue!

Before anyone says anything, I don’t really have anything against the incredibly popular desktop Linux distro Ubuntu.  The real reason I choose Debian is that I know Debian, and Debian just works.  My new server runs headless and I use ssh to login and compile from my Mac, so the advanced graphical features of Ubuntu would be lost on me.

Installing Debian is a breeze.  Within 30 minutes of burning the Debian quick start CD, I was up and running.  After installing a few addon packages, I was compiling OpenWRT images.

Instant development server.  Awesome.

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