Status Report Captain…

So everything has been pretty busy recently and here’s a quick update for some projects. I had some hardware problems with my home virtual server project. I think it came down to a motherboard that went bad, so I changed out the internals and then had some “less than graceful” shutdowns. I think this might have caused some trouble with terabyte drive, but interestingly the RAID 10 setup seems to be fine. In switching out the hardware I did have to downgrade as well, so I bought another Core 2 Duo from my university’s surplus sale recently and upgraded it back to original specs. I’ve also thought that I would dedicate the mass storage into a NAS build from another surplus computer. I’ll have some more about each of these in the near future.

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Thoughts on the Raspberry Pi board

You may have heard about the Raspberry Pi, which is a low cost ($25 – $35) ARM based computer that has been making the rounds with some geek/technology enthusiasts. Their stated goal is to get more kids interested in programming and computer science by creating a low barrier to entry as possible. There’s been a huge demand for the board from the community and some really cool projects have already been started around them. If I get any, these projects are what I have in mind for them.

  • As an “HTPC” probably using Raspbmc. I’ll probably want to use this as a receiver for a more powerful media streaming server.
  • Driving a wall mounted LCD as a digital signage type display
    • An upgrade would be to drive a touchscreen and make it a “Control Center”
  • Home monitoring and automation
  • Data Acquisition system – I don’t know what this means yet, but it sounds cool…
  • Car computer
  • Kitchen computer
  • Weather Station
  • Of course there’s always the option of using it as an actual computer too…

I think it would be a good fit for any of these type projects, and the low cost makes it ideal for specialty purposes. I’ve seen plenty of people say that they would use it as a NAS and while it would be able to function like one, the performance on it isn’t going to be good at all. The mass storage will be limited to the USB (2.0?) speeds. It could work if you’re wanting to play around with some concepts or as a Pogoplug replacement, but you’ll quickly want a more robust full blown NAS solution when you inevitably scale past the Raspberry Pi’s performance.

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Running a Home Virtual Server – Part 1: On Hardware and Hypervisors

In this last post I talked about picking up a computer at my university’s surplus sale to use as a replacement server in my home setup. The plan is to use this machine to run several virtual machines on, mostly to play around on but also as my home server. I didn’t go into to much detail in that first post, so I’m going to break this down into multiple posts that can go into more detail. I’m not sure how many parts there will be as of now, but I’ll be sure to try and link all the posts together so they should be easy to find. First up is a discussion about the hardware and my final decision about what virtual environment I decided to go with.

Continue reading Running a Home Virtual Server – Part 1: On Hardware and Hypervisors

Running a Home Virtual Server – Part 0: Reasoning and Requirements

There are pros and cons to working on any kinds of projects, and a setting up a home virtual server is one of those projects that you really need to weigh each and see if you’re up for it. Having started well down the path of implementing one in my home, I think for me it’ll be worth it in the long term going this route. I’ll tell you some of the benefits and drawback I think I’ll have as well as some of the requirements I started out with in my head.

Continue reading Running a Home Virtual Server – Part 0: Reasoning and Requirements

My Computer is How Old?

I came to a sad realization about a week ago now. My university will occasionally have a surplus sale about once a quarter and at least once a semester. They usually sell stuff like desks, chairs, and old couches from the dorms (disgusting). They also use this way to unload computers that get replaced and can’t find a home somewhere else in the school. I’m lucky because they sell computers individually (monitors separate), where a lot of other schools I’ve seen will bundle a pallet and sell them at surplus auctions. In order to sell them individually they have to sell them really cheap ($2 per desktop, $4 per LCD monitor, $10 per laptop) and this will draw quite the crowd. People will camp out the night before in order to be the first in line to get some computers/laptops, it’s a bit like watching footage of Black Friday shoppers.

Continue reading My Computer is How Old?

Implementing multiple Dynamic DNS providers

DNS-o-Matic LogoDynamic DNS services allow people with a dynamic IP address from there ISP (like me) to access resources using a name instead of by IP address. Most routers have support for updating dynamic DNS services, but are usually limited to one service. I use DynDNS (free, which is no longer offered) for this type of access. I wanted to switch my DNS servers to OpenDNS and while they don’t require the same type of updates like DynDNS to work, they offer some interesting features like stats and category filtering using a dynamic DNS type service. The problem is my router only support updates for one dynamic DNS service and it was already updating DynDNS. Luckily, OpenDNS also runs a service called DNS-o-Matic which will update multiple dynamic services at once. Here are some quick steps to set this up on DD-WRT.

Continue reading Implementing multiple Dynamic DNS providers

Quick Thoughts on OpenMediaVault

I’ve played around with FreeNAS in the past. If you aren’t aware it underwent some major changes a while ago where the main developer (Volker) stopped developing and handed over development and maintenance to a company to handle. They basically re-wrote the (now) legacy version (0.7) focusing on business requirements first and foremost and removing many of the features that excited home users about FreeNAS. Since then Volker has been working on a NAS project written on top of Linux (Debian Squeeze) called OpenMediaVault (OMV). Every once in a while I would peek in on each and see how the development has been moving, and from what I can tell OMV has made up a lot of the ground it lost having to write everything from scratch. I’ve started playing around some with OMV in a VirtualBox install and am trying to do some more research to see if it’s “Production” ready for the home environment and would meet any requirements I might have.

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