Beginner-Friendly DIY Linux Server Projects

As a Linux enthusiast searching for beginner-friendly DIY projects, you have a wealth of options. Linux offers a diverse range of opportunities for hands-on learning and experimentation. From virtualization to server management and security, there’s a project out there for every beginner.

In this article, we delve into some DIY Linux projects that are perfect for beginners. These projects are designed to provide practical experience and enhance your understanding of various aspects of Linux.

Why DIY projects on Linux?

For beginners, Linux is not just an operating system; it’s a gateway to understanding the inner workings of computers and networks. The Linux community is known for its collaborative spirit, where members actively share their experiences and projects, like unixdude from, whose innovative use of m5stack as a display for Home Assistant sparked the inspiration for this article.

While the m5stack does not run Linux, it is often used in conjunction with Linux-based systems and devices, particularly in IoT (Internet of Things) projects, home automation, and similar applications where integration with a more comprehensive system (like a Linux server running Home Assistant) is beneficial. This got me thinking about the myriad of possibilities that Linux offers for DIY enthusiasts and beginners alike.

Creating your Linux Home Server

The Raspberry Pi makes an excellent Linux home server for small DIY projects
The Raspberry Pi makes an excellent Linux home server

Transforming an old computer or Raspberry Pi into a home server using Linux helps you learn about server management and network configurations. It’s an engaging way to repurpose old hardware and gain practical experience. Also, read Must-Have Devices to boost your Linux skills.

Ubuntu Server

Ubuntu Server is a great choice for setting up your home server, offering a stable and user-friendly platform. Whether you’re interested in file sharing, web hosting, or running a media server, Ubuntu Server provides a solid foundation.

Fedora Server

Fedora Server is a powerful, flexible operating system that includes the best and latest data center technologies. It’s an excellent option for beginners who want to experiment with a home server setup, especially for those interested in the cutting-edge features of Linux servers. Also read Bonus tip for RHEL and Fedora.

If you are already familiar with Ubuntu, give Fedora server a go! That said, for even more recommended Linux server distros, read Choosing the Best Linux Server Distro.

Setting Up a Virtual Machine

Explore the world of virtualization by installing and running different Linux distributions or even other operating systems within your current setup. Virtual machines make this possible, allowing you to experiment with various environments without affecting your main system. For example, learning System Administration, understanding Network Disaster Recovery, experimenting with server applications and much more.


VirtualBox is a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise and home use. It is not only feature-rich but also high performance, making it ideal for several scenarios. As a beginner, you can use VirtualBox to run Linux distributions or other operating systems within your current setup, providing a safe sandbox for exploration and learning.

VMware Workstation Player

VMware Workstation Player is another excellent tool for personal use. It allows you to run a second, isolated operating system on a single PC. With its user-friendly interface, it’s perfect for those who are new to virtualization and want to try out different Linux distributions or Windows within their Linux environment.

For absolute beginners, VirtualBox is often recommended due to its simplicity.

Linux Shell Scripting

Oh My Zsh is an open-source framework for Zsh configuration
Oh My Zsh is an open-source framework for Zsh configuration.

Learning shell scripting is a fundamental step for anyone diving into the world of Linux. It’s not just about writing commands; it’s about automating tasks, simplifying processes, and gaining a more in-depth understanding of how your system operates. For beginners, starting with basic shell scripts can significantly enhance your efficiency and confidence in handling Linux systems.


Bash, or the Bourne Again SHell, is the default shell for many Linux distributions. It’s a great starting point for scripting, offering a wide range of scripting capabilities. From automating system maintenance to handling files, Bash scripting is an essential skill for Linux users.


Zsh, or the Z Shell, is another powerful shell that offers features like improved tab completion and globbing. It’s particularly popular among users who enjoy a customized terminal experience. While slightly more advanced than Bash, Zsh scripting can introduce you to a more extensive range of scripting possibilities.

The above screenshot is from

Setting Up a Firewall

Linux provides robust tools for safeguarding your system. For beginners, understanding and setting up a firewall is a crucial step towards ensuring the security of your Linux system.  Learning to configure and manage a firewall, is a critical skill for any Linux user, especially for those interested in system and network security.

UFW – Uncomplicated Firewall

UFW, standing for Uncomplicated Firewall, lives up to its name. It’s a user-friendly way to manage a netfilter firewall, offering a simple interface for creating firewall rules. It’s perfect for beginners who are taking their first steps in network security.


iptables is a more advanced tool for setting up and managing firewall rules on a Linux system. It provides a framework for defining firewall policies and is suitable for those who wish to delve deeper into network security concepts and configurations.

Update: Community kernel member, Mick rightly points out: “Learn NFTables instead of iptables as it’s going away and there’s no real point in learning iptables.” Also see:

For those new to Linux and firewall management, UFW is the recommended starting point.

Learning to Use Git

Git is an indispensable tool in the world of software development, especially for those working on Linux. It’s not just a version control system; it’s a fundamental tool for collaboration and maintaining the integrity of your projects. For beginners, mastering Git is a stepping stone to participating in larger, collaborative software projects.


The original Git tool is the foundation for version control systems. It’s robust, flexible, and widely used in the open-source community. Learning Git on Linux helps you understand the core concepts of version control, making it an essential skill for any aspiring developer.


While GitHub is an essential platform for hosting Git repositories. It offers a user-friendly interface for managing Git projects, making it a popular choice for beginners and professionals alike. GitHub extends the functionality of Git, providing tools for issue tracking, project management, and social coding.

Git is a tool for managing code changes locally, while GitHub is a website for storing and sharing code. Also see GitLab.


Configuring a Web Server

Setting up and managing a web server is a valuable skill in the Linux ecosystem. It gives you insights into how websites and web applications are served, along with the complexities of managing server resources. This project is an excellent starting point for those interested in web technologies and server management.

Apache HTTP Server

Apache remains one of the most popular web servers in the world. It’s known for its robustness, rich feature set, and active community support. Setting up an Apache server on Linux is a great way to learn about website hosting and server management basics.


Nginx is renowned for its high performance, stability, and low resource consumption. It’s increasingly popular for modern web applications and as a reverse proxy server. Learning to configure Nginx on Linux offers a deeper understanding of handling high-traffic websites and optimizing server performance.

Personally, I recommend starting with Nginx. Or be different, try Lighttpd used by less than 1% of the web but a great

Embarking on your Linux Journey

The projects we’ve covered in this article represent just the tip of the iceberg. That said, for beginners, each project serves as stepping stones to learning understanding Linux and the principles of computing.

As you progress through these projects, you’ll find that your confidence in handling Linux systems will grow. The knowledge you gain will prepare you for more complex and challenging projects. Check out these websites that provide hundreds of beginner to advanced project ideas:

Instructables – Offers a wide range of DIY projects across various categories, from electronics to crafts. Great for hands-on learning and creative ideas.

Makezine: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers – Focuses on hardware, electronics, and DIY projects, with a strong community aspect for sharing and learning.

Adafruit – Provides numerous project ideas, particularly in electronics and robotics, along with tutorials and learning resources.

Hackaday – A site for electronics and technology enthusiasts, featuring innovative DIY projects and engineering hacks.

Element14 – A hub for electronics projects and discussions, offering a wealth of resources and project ideas for various skill levels.

Related reading

Home Lab Beginners guide (Hardware).

Home Lab inspiration – A letter from a reader.

Best Linux Distros for Desktop.

5 Network Devices for work-from-home and Small Business 2023.

90 frequently used Linux Commands.

60 Linux Networking commands and scripts.


We’ve explored a range of activities that lay the foundation for deeper understanding and proficiency in Linux. From setting up virtual machines and home servers to scripting, security, and web server management, each project offers practical skills and insights. These endeavors will bolster your confidence in handling Linux systems and prepare you for more advanced challenges.

For continuous learning and inspiration, even beyond Linux, websites like Instructables, Makezine, Adafruit, Hackaday, and Element14 are treasure troves of project ideas, ranging from beginner to advanced levels, catering to a broad spectrum of interests and skills in the tech world.


  1. Very nice set of beginner advice here. Today it is so easy to get started with Linux – you can literally do it for under $50 with raspberry pi!

    Back when I got started (1993?), it was Slackware and it came on 50 floppy disks. Very time-consuming to install, and to do the install my friends and I would set up a row of PCs, and we’d pass the floppies down the line. One guy would write the floppy image, and the rest would install. The guy at the end of the line would pass it back to the first guy so the floppy disk could be used for another image.

    I should check out Zsh. ZFS is the best filesystem, so Zsh is the best shell, right? :smiley: True story: I still use tcsh. (And I still prefer vi – not to be confused with vim.)

    I never did learn nginx by itself. I was always an Apache guy, but at this point all of my websites (I run about a dozen) are nginx-powered and running in a container, and all of them use TLS from Let’s Encrypt, using traefik to orchestrate it all. If you look at my Github repo, you can see the web source and how the Docker images are built. Another repo holds the Ansible used for deployment.

  2. When I first began to learn Linux, I purchased a basic Mini PC and installed Proxmox on it. This helped me a lot to learn most things you mentioned. The best part was that I could create and delete virtual machines as many times as I wanted, which made the learning process more convenient.

    Working with virtualization also gave me a chance to learn Linux networking, which is important for anyone aspiring to become a system administrator. I learned how to create private NATs for server groups, enable multiple NATs to communicate between themselves and work with iptables and firewall applications. In summary, virtualization is a great way to learn networking as well.

  3. Great article, one small suggestion though. Learn NFTables instead of iptables as it’s going away and there’s no real point in learning iptables. I do agree with using UFW for beginners it’s easier than falling off a bike.

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