Building a Micro Server – Part 2

(Missed part 1?)


I started writing this quite some time ago. I’m not sure why I didn’t finished it, but I found it here, half written so I will finish what I started and and then maybe move on to other server related blog posts

Let cut straight to the part where I finally have all the parts to make a micro server (don’t get me started on UPS’ leave-it-at-the-door policy)…

For those of you who have built your own computers before this is likely nothing new. In fact, building a server, small or otherwise, is arguably easier since everything generally fits on one plane and finger contortions are not required.

For those of you who haven’t done this sort of thing before, don’t fret. If you can unscrew the battery cover on you kids favorite toy, then you are fully qualified to build a server.

Getting Started

Make yourself a comfortable work area. A kitchen table will do provided you cover it with adequate matting or a table cloth to prevent dings and scratches to the tables finish.

Ground yourself. This is kind of tricky at home but static shocks can do some serious damage to chips and boards. Ideally you want to be wearing a grounding strap that is connected to ground… but at home, occasionally touching the steel chassis of a toaster (cooled down) or microwave will help ensure you don’t hold a static charge. It can also help if you go barefoot as slippers and/or socks can build up excess static charges.


Before opening any of the boxes you want to look them over and then look them over again. Check for damage, check for correct serial numbers, cross reference everything with your order… look over those boxes with a fine tooth comb because once you have broken those seals those products are yours for good. Most electronics dealers are pretty strict on their return policies.

Taking Stock

Once you’ve given the boxes the once-over, you need to open each box and double check its contents are intact and all accounted for. Check for damage on each of the components. Compare what’s in the box with what’s in the manual. Count all your cables and so forth.


You also need to find out what tools you should have handy. You shouldn’t really need anything more then a Phillips screw driver, but you might find a few pairs of pliers useful as well. Even having a small toolbox full of little tools nearby won’t hurt.

The Server Case

It’s the thing that your going to stuff the other things into, so it makes sense that we start there. Unbox your server chassis, and if you haven’t done so already, give it and all it’s parts a once over.

If all looks well then open the chassis and familiarize yourself with the surroundings. Be sure to read the manual first. It’s just a few screws, but still. Once removed, put the cover in a safe place. You won’t be needing it for a while.


On the inside you should see a power supply (or a place for one if it’s not integrated), a control panel, some bundles wires, ribbon, etc… that’s pretty much it. So let’s move on.

Mounting the Mother Board

Locate the mounting stanchions on base of the server chassis:


Lower the motherboard into the case over these stanchions:


Position the motherboard carefully until the I/O lines up as it should:


Locate the mounting holes so that they are directly over the stanchions:


Carefully screw the motherboard into place:


Be sure to use all of the mounting points available to the motherboard.

Installing the CPU

Placing the CPU is likely the most critical part. There are a lot of pins you can mess up on both the chip itself and the socket that you are placing it into. So please do this with care, lining up the CPU in accordance with it’s keyed (notched) placement:


Next you want to close the cover (1) and lock it into place (2). Don’t force it. If it doesn’t feel right then make sure that it’s positioned properly.


What’s next?

That’s all we’re going to cover for part 2. In part 3 we’ll cover installing the special CPU fan, RAM and the hard drive. In part 4 we’ll cover cable connections, powering the bus, booting and the BIOS.

In future posts I’ll cover installing Ubuntu Server, administration, ssh, web serving and file serving and tying it all in with a Mac.