I've been using an HP ProLiant MicroServer (N40L) as my  home server for about 3 months now.  It's been a reliable little work horse and has ticked along quite happily.  I thought it was maybe time for me to share some of my thoughts on the box.

Like most people, I bought it during the seemingly endless cycle of HP cashback deals.  If you're in the market for a home server and the cashback deal has ended, then just waiting for a month or two, it'll be back!   Be careful where you order from though!  Many of the cheap(er) re-sellers on Amazon are NOT official HP re-sellers and you will NOT get your cashback deal.

HP MicroServer N40L

I bought my server from http://www.serversdirect.co.uk/ and opted for a Kingston 8GB memory kit from Amazon, a Remote Access Card Kit, and a 2TB hard disk that I had to hand.  if you're planning on doing any DIY on your server, I'd encourage you to take a quick look at the HP MicroServer Self Repair Videos before hand.  The MicroServer is quite a dense little box of tricks and although I'm sure you'll work it out by yourself, the videos do give you a bit of extra confidence.

Remote Access Card

The Remote Access Card is a slightly cut-down version of HP's Integrated Lights Out (iLO), which provides over-the-network "lights out" remote access to your server.  If you haven't used a KVM or Lights-out facility before, it basically lets you log into a web GUI where you can power up your MicroServer, mount an ISO as a virtual media device, and then control the server as if you were physically in front of it - including POST and BIOS.  It's perfect if, like me, you're server is located somewhere inconvenient place (like a cupboard above your stairs!).

There is a catch with the Remote Access Card though.  The supplied documentation is appalling, and there's very little information online.  So, here's a few pointers:

Installation

When you are installing the card, check your BIOS configuration to ensure the server will choose the primary display card automatically (the default), rather than hard-coded to use the onboard VGA controller.  This ensures that your Remote Access Card will have access to the video output of your server.  If you don't have this set properly, you'll see an "OUT OF RANGE" error when you use the KVM feature of the Remote Acces Card.

Initial Network Configuration

The easiest way to configure the card is to initially use a keyboard and monitor.  The back of the card has a standard RJ45 Ethernet connector and a VGA port where you need to plug your monitor in.  When prompted, press F10 to enter the ROM setup. From here, select the Advanced page and IPMI Configuration:

Select Set LAN Configuration:

Set the BMC LAN Configuration option to Static and then enter an IP address, subnet mask and default gateway appropriate for your network:

Exit the ROM setup and save settings. Reboot the server. If everything has been configured successfully, you can now disconnect the monitor and keyboard.

Once configured, open a browser to the IP you previously configured and you should get the login screen:

The default username for the HP MicroServer Remote Access Card is admin and the default password is password.

I originally had a few issues on return visits to the login page.  I'm guessing its a cookie problem or something.  My workaround was to bookmark "index.html", rather than "login.html".

Once logged in, you'll be presented with a menu down the left hand side, with the main content on the right. Most of it is pretty self-explanatory:

Further Reading

If you'd like to do a bit more, then there's a pile of useful information, hacks and mods here.