Got a couple of prebuilt fanless mini-PC servers, for $350 and another for $250 on Amazon.
The first has a dual core w/HT 1.8 GHz Intel Atom cpu, 2 GB (max) RAM, 32 GB SSD, and five ethernet interfaces. I installed the latest pfSense OS, and made it our Internet router/firewall, because I can’t trust my Apple’s Time Capsule anymore (it’s starting to fail, and they dropped support for SNMP monitoring). pfSense is really powerful, and pretty easy to setup. Traffic graphs are built in, and you can add so many extensions. Awesome tech.
I’ve installed the latest Ubuntu Server on the other unit (same Atom cpu, 2 GB RAM, 64 GB SSD, two ethernets) and setup LXC, to run things like BIND DNS server, Apache web server, MariaDB database server, and openLDAP authentication system, in separate containers. My goal is produce something like easy to use puppet recipes that others can borrow and use to easily build these kinds of services themselves.
I’m drooling over the latest Intel NUC servers. They’ve got one prebuilt on Amazon for under $1,000, with a 4 core (w/HT) Intel Core i7 CPU, 16 GB RAM (max), 2 TB 7200 rpm disk, 480 GB mSATA SSD, one ethernet. Or you can buy the separate parts, and assemble it yourself for about $100 less. I want to setup a Mesos cluster, maybe play with Apache Aurora or CoreOS. I’d need at least 5 servers, but am not ready to drop $5,000 on a hobby. I’ll never get to learn about and use Linux Containers at my current employer. If I can do my POC on $300 Atoms, the whole cluster will only be $1,500. I can save up for that.
2015-09-08 I bought two more servers, quad core celeron, 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 5 gig ethernets, $399 each. A minimum POC OpenStack cloud only needs 3 servers, so I’m good to go.