I’ve recently had an itch that I wanted more digital stuff in my life…
- A better digital backup solution (too many photos to loose). Some kind of NAS device.
- I wanted an always on computer to access media from.
- Possibly host a website (well, the computer is on anyway!).
- I also wanted to try the Ubuntu server.
- I wanted to build another PC
So to start with, I was looking at NAS devices – Synology or ASUSTOR or a homebuild. Doing some research into the purpose NAS devices quickly showed that they are not as easy to configure as they should be, and thing come with almost no memory (I spoke to my brother about this recently, and he had given up trying to get his Synology to do what he wanted). One article I read suggested that there should be about 1GB or memmory for each TB of hard disk space. I recently bought a “cheap” seagate custom NAS box, and it was so dreadfully slow, that I know that I would need something more powerful.
So you can buy a QSNAP TVS-471 NAS for just under £1000 – and that is a lot of money for an unpopulated NAS (i.e. no hard drives included). Now it may be that this would have been the perfect solution, but I wouldn’t have had the fun or building my own machine, and nor picking my own components. The i3 included is an older generation, and has a TPD or 54 W. I could buy a next gen i3 with a TPD of just 35W.
Anyway, I have gone the home build route for the moment.
i3-6100, 16 GB RAM, micro-atx asus, M.2 PCI-SSD, 2*5GB drives, small gold rated powersupply. This ended up half the price of an “off the shelf” product.
I’m a complete Noob when it comes to Lynux. I created a virtual box and installed ubuntu server. I thought about things like FreeNas, but decided to go with the server edition to start with. This worked reasonably well, but I could get the networking bridging working as I wanted – this could have been many things, but though I was able to access the external network, and did have some issues with SSH (openssh server) and remote admin.
So after having got this “working” in a VM, I installed on my new local machine. I made the mistake of allowing the drive to be encrypted (not really a mistake – more of a pain in the ass when you’re doing lots or reboots – especially with a long password).
OK, so I’ve got a running server, which is able to see the outside world, and everything is going swimmingly. I got samba loaded and configured (but just on the primary m.2 ssd. I did a server “software” RAID 1 on the 2 * 5 GB drives, and got these working with samba too. I was able to save, and access files from other locations in my home.
I then tried to access the media from my modern mid-range smart TV (to play music through – a LG770). The TV didn’t see the media. A little research later, and looking at the dlna standard I installed MediaTomb. Yay – that installed simply, and I managed to get it to look at the local drive (and I had a small amount of media copied there to practice with). However, I couldn’t get it to see my separate HDDs. On a separate note, I had given up trying to get the RAID working within ubuntu – I know that it can be done, but I had depriorised that whilst looking at other issues.
So I started to build this machine at about 11am, and had it physically finished early afternoon – 2pm. Basic ubuntu server installed with stuff like samba configured by about 4pm. I spent several hours with the raid, media tomb, and samba. I installed the ubuntu desktop at some stage in the afternoon, as it made some thing much easier. I got a bit annoyed with stuff by about midnight, and decided to try installed Windows 10, and see how that worked (remember that ubuntu is free, and windows server is £100).
I downloaded and installed a copy of window (I did call the Microsoft shop and they advised that the download could not be installed by USB key). I did a quick download of windows anyway (from the official MS site), but havn’t activated yet, as I want to check that it’ll do what I want it to.
I got windows working, with the RAID setup in under an hour. The TV didn’t see the media, however. I also discovered a “feature” of windows called “Homegroup”. The key to get the media working with the pc was found http://www.wikihow.com/Connect-PC-to-LG-Smart-TV – basically just add media player. I did also see that Plex server was also visible, but didn’t have time to further investigate.
I’ve not got the website working yet – though I know how to do that from an IIS standpoint – I’m not sure about the DNS, so I’ll need to do some investigation with my ISP. I’m not sure whether this is worth the added security risk.
It was a fun way to spend a couple of days holiday. I’m still not 100% there. I need to make an end decision whether to stay with Windows or put ubuntu server (or freeNas) back on – If I just install directly to the raid and ignore the ssd that would make life easier. I certainly found the Windows side easier, however I’m not yet convinced that its worth the additional cost. There are, however, a number of questions that I still haven’t answered about ubuntu though – for example – if I encrypt the primary drive, then does this mean that whenever I reboot the machine I need to log back into the system. Ubuntu is amazing really. There is a lot to like about it, however there are a lot of thing that are just annoying – just choosing a text editor – vi rather than nano or gedit.