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Server newb in shared living wants advice on building a server for system administration learning

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Nov 12, 2011
I have 6 other roommates who are on our network. I don’t own the network. I want to build a cheap server to learn more and more about being a system admin. Any advice on how to set up a cheap server in this environment?
Use some left over gaming components to build a linux based server. make onboard video, network expansion card and fast storage device a priority. Setup daily backups and weekly backup of backups.
Pickup at least a couple Raspberry PI's...

You can start developing behind the isp modem as the primary router.
Later, build a router with PFSense or a custom OS. Request from your ISP to bridge your modem to your router with a public address block.
build a virtualization host with something like proxmox, KVM, virtualbox, or vsphere and learn to setup different types of machines/servers. Depends on what part of system admin you are wanting to do, as that is a super vague statement (Imaging, DNS, Active Directory, Webhosting, File Shares, Networking, Cybersecurity, Backup/Redundancy, etc are all sub-areas of being a SysAdmin but rarely do you do all of that in a job.

Also, at least both VMware and Microsoft have free hands-on-labs as well.
I just set something from my older stuff for tests/learning (generally RDS, domain, Hyper-V related stuff, GW, DNS, and other things like that).
Right now, it's 7800X / X299E-ITX / 3x250GB M.2 SSD (I have to change that for more space). It doesn't take much space but has 2x integrated LAN, so can play with teaming for a virtual environment and other things like that. LAN cards aren't expensive, so you can buy more 1Gbps NICs for a regular ATX PC. 2 ports/teaming is recommended so you can play with things like VM clusters without validation errors.

Windows Server 2022 can be set on a free license (180 days or unactivated retail) or can use Win10/11 ISO directly from Microsoft and activate Hyper-V for virtual machines. Another option is to get free VMWare soft from their website, which is better for other OS, Linux, etc. Virtualbox is a good alternative too.
I suggest the Windows environment as it's easier for beginners, and you can find many guides on the web that will probably use a part of the knowledge that you already have.