Why run a homelab webserver?

  • Spin up dev and test environments quickly eg for different projects I need versions of .NET, Python etc.
  • Leave them up and not incur cloud charges
  • Run a production website cheaper than running on the cloud

In this article I’m going to do the simplest possible thing

  • Ubuntu Server on bare metal (no virtualisation)
  • Nginx webserver
  • No DMZ
  • Dynamic DNS to keep a track of changing public IP address
  • Wire up own domain name


I’ve got a 48 MBits/s / 11 MBits/s Plusnet connection.

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I’m using the standard free Plusnet Hub One router.

Ubuntu Server

Am using a 4 Core (8 hyperthreaded) Intel i5-6600 at 3.3GHz with 16GB of RAM and have a new 1TB M.2 SSD in it.

To test the concept I put on Ubuntu Server 20.04.3 LTS including installing SSH Server.

I used https://www.balena.io/etcher/ to burn the ISO onto an 8GB USB drive (my motherboard didn’t like the 16GB Kingston).

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Can connect to the new Ubuntu machine called silver, from ssh on WSL2.

then installed Nginx:

sudo apt-get install nginx -y

As an aside I installed Ubuntu Server using the wireless network adapter which caused confusion as I had to disable the adapter when I went to wired. It was noticably slower on wireless.


# networking config files (comment out the wireles one)
cd /etc/netplan/

# show networking 
# local network
ip a

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Can hit the webserver locally from my Windows Machine. http://silver works as well. DNS resolution is handled by the router as all on DHCP.

External Networking

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Allowing port 80 to the home server which is called silver. Nginx is running (as we have proven) so should answer on port 80.

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Finding out my public IP using google.

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Using 4G connection from my phone to hit webserver externally - it worked!

Dynamic DNS

https://www.noip.com/ As I’m not on a static IP address I need a free service like to keep track of what is my current IP.

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After signing up on their website, my router can update their service when it’s public IP changes. Very handy.

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I can now access my webserver from this domain name which I chose from https://noip.com

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To use a domain I own, I can use an Alias record.

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We have a working website live on the internet.

Next steps are

  • Be more secure (DMZ / different subnet than main home network)
  • Test SSL works ie port 443 (it works fine)
  • Use a hypervisor so can have many VM’s on the box (article coming soon)
  • Transfer over a production website and turn off Azure