How to set up an all open-source IT infrastructure from scratch

Jonathan MathewsPublic

How to set up an all open-source IT infrastructure from scratch

Hypothetical: You need to set up the IT infrastructure (email, file sharing, etc.) for a new company. No restrictions. No legacy application support necessary. How would you do it? What would that ideal IT infrastructure look like?

I decided to sit down and think of my ideal setup — based on quite a few years of being a vice president of engineering at various companies — and document them here. Maybe you’ll find my choices useful; maybe you’ll think I’m crazy. Either way, these are good things to consider for any organization.

Run services on your own servers

The first thing I’m going to decide on, right up front, is to self-host as many services as I possibly can.

Sure, there are noteworthy benefits to paying another company host and maintain your services for you (primary that you don’t have to have someone on staff to perform that function) but the drawbacks far outweigh the good points.

Having full control over your own data — how it is stored and who it is shared with — is critical to any business (and any individual). Most of the choices I make below would also work as a remotely hosted option. But, where possible, I will focus on them being self-hosted.

Some of the following functionality can be hosted on a single server, but I recommend breaking out key services to run on dedicated servers — possibly many, depending on your particular needs (such as an expectation of large file repositories) or large numbers of employees.

Only open-source software

For security and customization reasons, I will be opting to utilize only open-source and free software here. There are simply far too many drawbacks to basing a corporate infrastructure on closed source systems.

This decision was easy and obvious for anyone who’s worked in IT for more than a few years.

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