More Windows, less Linux

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 at 09:28pm

For many years I have run two desktop computers at home, a Windows desktop as my primary machine and a Linux box as a ‘server’.

This Linux ‘server’ started its life out routing internet. Over time it also became an (internal) web server, a file server, a mail server, etc. Over that same period of time it has stopped being some of those things. Also, for a period in the middle the services were split across two boxes, but then consolidated back to one, preston.

Right now core network services are handled by my router (WRT-54G running DD-WRT) so what services do I need:

  • Mail – but I am again considering moving that into the cloud
  • File sharing – both for media files and as a target for backups
  • Web server – mainly these days for internal interfaces for a variety of tools I have made, it has been a long time since I used the dev version of this site
  • Off-peak downloads – you know what this means
  • A variety of scripts – eg automatically downloading webcomics

Mail can be excluded as I will move it into the cloud, which makes file sharing as the next most important service.

Currently preston has 640GB for media and 260GB for backups. My windows desktop has over 2TB. This includes the primary copy of all my photos (around 200GB) but it also includes over 600GB that should be on the file server, but there wasn’t enough space.

It has been in the back of my mind for a while to at least upgrade the drives in preston. But that means going to SATA drives. So I would either need to get a SATA controller (preston is an aging P4 2.4 with no onboard SATA) or get a new motherboard/cpu/ram. I had decided to update shaun, my Windows desktop, to get two year old hardware. But since my recent signing of some paperwork I have put that on hold.

Why? Because I am quite likely to build a media centre in my new place. How do I make the media centre? This could be a computer with TV tuners running Windows Media Centre or MythTV, it could be a MythTV frontend with TV tuners in the backend, or it could be a simple device to play media from the network.

Due to ease of setup and use I am leaning towards Windows Media Centre. This means the backend only needs to be a file server. So how do you build a file server these days? With Linux it is still manual setup and apart from ZFS FUSE, the RAID options are still block level. I am drawn to the disk management that Windows Home Server offers. You chuck disks in and then at the filesystem level you can configure redundancy. Need more space? Just add another disk to the pool and it works it out.

But what about my scripts and other tools that run under Linux? I am not going to run them under Windows and I still want to have a Linux box available. But nothing says that the Linux box cannot be a virtual machine.

Some of the other feature of Home Server (eg backups) are also quite appealing. But for now I will wait for V2 to be released, sometime this year.

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