This is how it finally turned out – my server rack within a shoe rack. It is not much to look at, nor does it claim to be the greatest server rack in the world, but it is the nicest server rack that I have at home.
The rack itself is made from a re-purposed shoe rack from Carrefour/Tesco (I forget which). The shoes were all removed and a hole was cut into the back to let wires through. A single power cable goes from the external socket to an internal 5-way extension. Everything is powered from this.
The middle rack holds the networking equipment – an ADSL modem provides the Internet connection, a wifi access-point that provides an older 802.11b network, a wireless router that provides a 802.11g network and runs DD-WRT. In the future, this whole rack can be consolidated into a single device that acts as a modem and dual 802.11b/g router.
The top rack holds the servers – a proxy server running Debian (lenny) and the file server running FreeNAS. The proxy server runs a local web proxy using squid and a repository proxy for Debian and Ubuntu using apt-cacher-ng. It runs a bunch of other less interesting services too. Basically, it serves as a multi-purpose server.
However, the computing power available is fairly limited. They are both VIA Eden 533MHz machines. It maybe worthwhile to replace these servers with a single dual-core Atom 1.6GHz based system in the future. I could feasibly run a virtualised instance of FreeNAS within the Atom system, which would get around the pesky problem of FreeNAS not recognising the ethernet chip on the Atom boards.
Thermally speaking, everything is passively cooled. Therefore, it gets a little warm inside during the day. According to the sensors, it reaches 50C during the day but drops to 40C at night. When a 12cm desktop fan is placed inside, it can bring down the temperature by a further 8C but it is rather noisy. I like things quiet.
I plan to put the printer/scanner on top of the shoe rack. This would make the shoe rack my central computing hub in the house. The rest of the computers in the house are connected to the central hub via WiFi. I particularly like the idea of having my local debian/ubuntu repository, which would save a ton of bandwidth when I install/upgrade the computers at home.