I got some free hardware! What should I do with it?

So my cousin was cleaning out his closet and was game me an old HP ProLiant DL380 G5 server fo' free! It's a little bit older hardware but I thought it would be fun to screw around with.

It has:
dual quad core xeons E5450s
32GB of ECC RAM (DDR3?)
4 gigabit ethernet ports (2 off mobo, and 2 off an addon card)
8 146GB 10k SAS drives and a raid controller to match
Windows Server 2012R2
virtualization capabilities

I was thinking of using it as a NAS, either though the Windows Server that's on it or something like FreeNAS. However, just using it as a NAS seems like wasted horsepower.

Any thoughts on what I can do with it? Game server? Something fun with virtualization? I'm a noob when it comes to networking stuff, but I've got the summer off atm and plenty of time on my hands :)

You can use it for all the reasons you mentioned and more than that. The options with that server could be endless. DHCP, DNS, Hypervisor, Filesharing, Active Directory, Games server, etc. With that amount of power and resources you could go wild on your network. I would keep Win2012R2 and use the HyperV function for spinning up more machines. It will save you time, money, and headache as well.


Excuse my ignorance but what does Hyper-V do that other hypervisors (namely Proxmox or oVirt) don't? I've never used Hyper-V because I can't justify the cost, so I'm wondering what's so great about it?

It really does basically the same thing with the exception of a small list of things. Depending on the operating system Hyper-V has trouble with certain distro's of linux.

Ah, I see. Well in that case, OP, if you can get the key to your Windows Server install then personally I'd install Proxmox on the bare metal and then run Windows Server in a VM. Proxmox has been my goto virtualization solution for a while now, I love it.

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I think I want to play around with the Win2012R2 before I burn anything down, but I'll be sure to give Proxmox a look.

For starters I'm thinking of using it as a Router/Firewall, and NAS. Does Win2012R2 support this stuff or should I run a virtual machine of something like PFSense on top of Win2012R2?

Also, what's the best way to set up the raid to do something like this? (there are 8 146GB drives)

I would recommend spinning up a virtual machine for your router since your have the extra hardware resources along with extra ports. I would look up the specs of the HP server. It might have a on-board RAID controller. If it has a controller they usually support RAID 0,1,5, JBOD.

Oh god lucky you, it would make my year to get something like that for free. Definitely virtualization, I'd run my own software on that, since I'm a developer, but the possibilities are endless with that thing.

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I know Server can act as a NAS, as a DNS server, and as a DHCP server, I'm pretty sure it can also act as a NAT gateway but I'm not sure.