About six months ago my MediaSmart Home Server started acting strangely. I did quite a bit of research and my conclusion was that the new software I installed about a year ago (which gave it a ton more functionality) was kind of bloated for the underpowered hardware.
What to do? I love my home server, I love the fact that it did backups and all kinds of nice little things, but honestly in the 4 years I’ve had it, I’ve only used the backup features twice (once to save a corrupt hard drive, once to save Char’s computer from a virus). Other than that it worked as a NAS and a media collector.
As a NAS it was wonderful, until a hard drive failure made me lose a few files. That was irritating. As a media collector it was horrible, duplicating files and creating a labyrinthian file structure that hurt my face.
Plus my needs have changed. I don’t like having a separate PVR in my house sucking up power, I have a Boxee and an Apple TV in my house now, and I’m sure there are wonderful things they can do as well. Wouldn’t it be great if I could have a cheap secondary NAS to do all of my backups to (maybe 2TB of RAID1 duplication), and on top of that have a second NAS that could do media collection and PVR everything? What would be extra cool is if it could do it with my extremely power conscious hardware and maybe take 2-3 computers out of our equation here in the homestead. As an added benefit, if I can figure out how to do all of this via the internet, I can probably cut the cord.
The first part was to buy a DLink DNS-323, it’s a little NAS box that has 2 drive bays, is incredibly hackable, and has a bunch of different little features in it. It’s Linux based, so in order to do cool things, I’d need to break out my long dormant bash skills, but I love a challenge.
I mounted the box, got a hard drive in there, and went out to find some of the features I’d need to make the box better. I added the FireFly media server, a dynamic DNS server, and an update to create better SMB (regular networking) shares. It was dead simple, and probably the best $100.00 I could have spent. I moved my files over without much effort and then looked at my Home Server.
So now I have this beautiful piece of hardware that is essentially a brick. What to do with it? Enter Amahi. I’ve been reading about it for a while, it’s a lightweight server based on Fedora Linux with a slick web interface. It does regular NAS stuff, allows for automated scheduled backups of computers, and has some extra things like SickBeard (automated download of TV shows) integration.
I downloaded and installed it according to the instructions on How To Geek: Upgrade Your MediaSmart Home Server, and everything worked pretty much as advertised. I then put the drive in my Home Server, and had it configured to do some cool things.
Up first, SickBeard, which schedules downloads of TV shows.
So how does it work? After the first week it’s recorded all of our TV shows, saved them to the network share, and we can watch them in the basement on the Boxee Box.
Where do we go from here? Well first up, I’m getting a new internet connection. While I have no problems with Rogers, from a technical point of view, I HATE doing the constant mental calculations about how close to my limit I am and whether I can download that ISO from Technet, or if I can download that game on the PSN. I’m going with TechSavvy, and I’ll probably cut the cord once we get our HD Antennas working properly.