Install FreedomBox on existing Debian home server

I’ve been slowly building a Debian 11 home server for the past few months, adding applications and services bit by bit. I’ve recently been looking into FreedomBox, which looks like it would offer me some benefits over the piecemeal approach I’m currently taking.

I realize that Hardware/Debian recommends using a fresh Debian install. I suppose I could do this if absolutely necessary, but I’m curious whether others have installed FreedomBox over an existing Debian install that is less than “fresh.”

The existing server is an old laptop. It currently runs LAMP with Nextcloud, and Syncthing. I’ve also installed a desktop (LXQt iirc) and have the machine attached to a monitor just in case I want graphical access.

My plan would be to apt install freedombox and go from there.

Any pitfalls with this approach? Things I should watch out for?

I’ve read the Troubleshooting section on Hardware/Debian.

And a related question: will I continue to be able to login and use the already-installed GUI?

Thanks for your thoughts!

FreedomBox will do many invasive changes that you may not like (but are good for non-technical users):

  • Setup LDAP server and enable PAM auth using LDAP too.
  • Setup firewalld (set default firewall zone to “external”).
  • Use NetworkManager for networking (if you have /etc/network/interfaces the interface will remain as “unmanged” in NM).
  • Disallow non-admin users to login on terminal or SSH (this can be changed in System → Security).
  • Setup Let’s Encrypt.
  • Configure Apache to work with Let’s Encrypt. You have to manually merge your existing configuration for Nextcloud.
  • Setup mdns using avahi.
  • Possible some more.

Except for Apache configuration (which needs manual changes), the rest of the changes may be okay.

1 Like

Thanks so much, this is very helpful!

Hello @asc

I run freedombox on a old laptop my self and all is OK. It as a SSD drive and 2 gig of memory with a dual core cpu.

I would leave the machine you set up as it is and track down another old laptop or old desktop ? and setup freedombox on it to get a feeling of what what.

Check out my forum post about installing freedombox on a old lap top.

Regards: peter

Thanks, Peter! Good to know someone is doing something similar.

One option would be to install FreedomBox inside a container, I have done this on my desktop PC: FreedomBox in a container · Wiki · Veiko Aasa / FreedomBox · GitLab.

@asc You can integrate Nextcloud into your FreedomBox if you follow this post:

One note: at the time I set the LDAP server address to a public IP, so that’s why it’s hidden, but you can actually set too.