Saturday, December 01, 2007

I’m All Over The Place On This One

It seems like I’ve fallen in to a tech world black hole of acronyms and emerging technology. The more I read, it seems like just about everyone out there is either doing some form of what I’m trying to do, or trying to sell something that will do it. There is just soooo much to chose from out there, it is a little bewildering.

This is a quote from one forum threads I read, and this is one of the better written ones…

"I've been doing this exact same thing for a while now with opensuse, but Ubuntu would work just fine as well. Just be sure to install SSH before you dump it in the closet

You can use samba to share files with windows and NFS to share files with linux. This is how I do it. For the streaming, you dont really need to stream the A/V, you can just use samba/NFS and play the files like they were local. If you really want to stream, you can use VLC, but I beleive you'll have to leave it running on a VNC session on the server.

For RAID, you can use linux software RAID. This is what I use and its worked great. I was confused at first with it because it RAIDs partitions rather than drives. So you have to make RAID partitons on the drives, and then create the array with whatever partitons you choose, and then create a filesystem on the array."

Two weeks ago I would have gotten very little of that, but now a lot of it makes sense. The one thing I am almost entirely sure of now, though, is that I will be doing a Linux based file server for the home. I’ve drifted away from that idea a few times over the past few weeks. Why, just Thursday I envisioned a house filled with Ipod enabled devices. I could just carry around a 30 gb Ipod with music and video on it and plug it in where ever I was. That idea quickly died a few hours later.

I’m not entirely sure on the cost yet, but it seems that I can have a robust file server, with plenty of storage, and with all of the routers and cabling for the entire house, for around a $1000. This would enable internet, TV, video, and music to the 6 rooms that will have cable running to them, and to a lesser extent, the entire house with some wireless additions. It may sound like a lot to some, but really its not. This should be suitable to do what I want to do for several years. I would imagine that once the infrastructure is in place, there would need to be minor upgrades every 5 to 10 years.

Of course, this is just the supply side of it. Even though the rooms would be enabled, there would be additional cost (TV, computer, etc) that would be needed in the individual rooms. I’m not really concerned with that at this point, because most of the rooms in the house aren’t at that stage yet. Really, just the parlor, kitchen, and one bedroom are there. You need to think of this part of the project as more of an infrastructure part, like electrical wiring and plumbing, rather than the end user stage.

I have found some more cool devices to think about. Most of the content below is marketing copy directly from the product site. This is not me endorsing it.

HP Media Vault mv2010 (300GB) - $199
* • Expandable home network storage for data backup and sharing
* • 300GB—holds up to 139,000 photos, 69,000 songs, or 90 hours of video in best mode
* • Media streaming to home entertainment center
* • Supports up to three printers
* • Automatic backups 24 x 7

Seagate® Mirra™ Personal Server – Price Unknown
The Mirra Personal Server lets you:

* Access—Retrieve digital content via the Internet any time.
* Share—Share files with anyone simply and securely.
* Sync—Sync content automatically between networked computers.
* Protect—Continuous data protection for networked Macintosh and Windows computers.
* Enjoy—Connect to your content from wherever you are.

Video Lan – Free

VLC media player (initially VideoLAN Client) is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG, DivX, Ogg, and many more) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. However in recent years it has also become a extremely powerful server to stream live and on demand video in several formats to our network and the Internet.

It started as a student project at the French École Centrale, Paris but is now a worldwide project with developers from 20 countries. (more).

VLC is built in a modular way. This means that you can choose from a range of different modules to decide how to control VLC and how to display the video output.

ATI TV Wonder™ 650 Combo PCI Express –$120

This is another TV Tuner card for the PC. From what I’ve read about the few PC/TV tuners, most are not really good enough to replace a TV. This one has promise though. This is the most recent review I could find. This card also has 2 tuners on it, so you can watch one and record off the other.

ATI Wonder 650 Review

Twonky Media – $40

The PacketVideo MediaServer enables you to share your multimedia throughout your home. It is available for many different platforms and interworks with a large variety of client devices including XBox 360™, Sony PS3™ and Sony PSP™. TwonkyMedia requires fewer resources and is faster than other UPnP media servers, and provides more features that help users enjoy large media collections. If you care about usability, TwonkyMedia is the right choice. It even enables you to define your own personal navigation structure. Whether you are an end user or a device manufacturer - we have the right license model for you.

So much to chose from….


Alicia said...

I am starting to need a schematic of what you are trying to do. You know, floor plan. I can't keep it all clear in my head.

Also, are you sleeping on the first floor or the second, right now? And how does that work for heating your place? I was figuring you lived pretty much in the sitting room and didn't heat the second floor at all. Just wondering.

EddieZ said...

I have been doing the same type of research for my home. I was going with a WMPC solution - but for the data storage I think I am going with a Drobo. What do you plan for data storage? I really don't want to try and do a RAID setup, but you seem a bit more tech savvy than I am...

Kevin said...

I'm really happy with my multi-computer ubuntu setup.

I'm a fan of:

old ugly cases
expensive quiet power supplies
older technology for cpu/motherboard
small low power/noise/heat boot disks
(laptop drives, or single platter
nvidia Fx5200 - but I guess now you
could get a 6200 or 7200 for just as
cheap. just make sure there's no fan
wired ethernet
western digital / samsung for the big
data drives - seagate used to be
quiet, now they're noisy. The new
1 TB western digital looks perfect
for media storage.
120mm orange Yate Loon fans. they're
big and quiet and cheap.

Greg said...


Well, for storage it will either be a NAS, like the HP Media Vault, or a big fat hard drive in the server. Depending upon what time of day it is, I could go either way.


Quite fans are important. Would you imagine a low point in the movie and you miss dialog because of the fans. Thanks for the info on which HDs are less noisy.

Greg said...


I am starting to need a schematic of what you are trying to do. You know, floor plan.

Ugh! That makes two of us. Ideas change so fast.

As for the heat, well, some rooms are heated and others aren't. It is not too bad right now. Talk to me in February.

Kevin said...

check out for really really obsessive reviews of the quietness of given bits and pieces.

I found though that even with "quiet" stuff in it, a computer with 4 hard drives still should still be stuffed in a room where you don't spend a lot of time..