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Author Topic: Building a home server. Please help, DC!  (Read 31617 times)
Stoic Joker
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« Reply #125 on: September 02, 2011, 06:36:19 PM »

They are mathematically bases guesses, or assumptions if you will.

Actually, they're a lot more than that.
Only to the person that created them. Because only they know the (true) reasoning behind whatever deviation(s) has/have been used to achieve said target number(s). Statistics are projections of what might be if ... All of the other formulaic assertions used fall into place in accordance with the known factual parameters used, and nothing odd happens. To anyone else there simply an educated guess, that leverages their level of trust in whom ever ran-the-numbers.

Much unlike facts, which require empirical evidence/reproducible results, "valid" statistics merely have to avoid being dead wrong.

Discussion that happens frequently at the office (usually on rush jobs):
Brass: So, how's the testing going?
Me: Well, the first test went well.
Brass: So it works then...
Me: No. The first test didn't fail... But a statical sampling of one doesn't prove shit to anyone (or at least it shouldn't...)
Brass: Oh... Okay, I'll come back later.

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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #126 on: September 02, 2011, 06:52:52 PM »

Scampering back on topic...

Only issue I foresee with the Uber NAS is that without some manner of high speed backbone connecting the NAS to something that can manipulate the files on it. File maintenance could be agonizingly slow. And if you gotta buy something to run it (eek!) cost with no real return.

If you got your heart set on a rack system, that's fine. But best bang-for-the-buck would IMO be one of the 2U 6 slot rack servers. That way you always can go in and manipulate the files locally instead on over the wire.

2U PowerEdge 2950 with 6 hot-swap bays
3 3TB drives
4GB RAM
Dual Xeon  5150 processors
and a legally licensed copy of Win Server 2003 (32 or 64 bit)

Came out to $1,934 from the site configurator.

You get plenty of room for expansion, and the convenience of local file access. Then if the project really gets huge you can easily add the uber NAS to the rack and let the server handle it.
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40hz
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« Reply #127 on: September 02, 2011, 09:07:56 PM »


Only to the person that created them. Because only they know the (true) reasoning behind whatever deviation(s) has/have been used to achieve said target number(s). Statistics are projections of what might be if ... All of the other formulaic assertions used fall into place in accordance with the known factual parameters used, and nothing odd happens. To anyone else there simply an educated guess, that leverages their level of trust in whom ever ran-the-numbers.


You're drastically oversimplifying. And you know it too! (I say that because I'm assuming you took at least two semesters of college-level stats.)   Grin

Besides, you're mixing sociological and political arguments in with a discussion of a branch of mathematics. Nothing good ever comes from doing that.  ;)Cool

------------
@superboy - Scampering back on topic myself, I'll +1 w/SJ on that 2U/6-slot bang-for-the-buck opinion. The config he specc'ed gives you 12TB (or 8 usable w/RAID-5) plus a set of Xeons for a very good price - with room for an additional three drives if/when it turns out you need them. Getting that licensed copy of Win2k3 Server thrown in as part of the deal is an extra dollop of sweet sauce.

Nice work SJ! Thmbsup



« Last Edit: September 02, 2011, 09:18:04 PM by 40hz » Logged

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superboyac
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« Reply #128 on: September 03, 2011, 01:05:30 AM »

Scampering back on topic...

Only issue I foresee with the Uber NAS is that without some manner of high speed backbone connecting the NAS to something that can manipulate the files on it. File maintenance could be agonizingly slow. And if you gotta buy something to run it (eek!) cost with no real return.

If you got your heart set on a rack system, that's fine. But best bang-for-the-buck would IMO be one of the 2U 6 slot rack servers. That way you always can go in and manipulate the files locally instead on over the wire.

2U PowerEdge 2950 with 6 hot-swap bays
3 3TB drives
4GB RAM
Dual Xeon  5150 processors
and a legally licensed copy of Win Server 2003 (32 or 64 bit)

Came out to $1,934 from the site configurator.

You get plenty of room for expansion, and the convenience of local file access. Then if the project really gets huge you can easily add the uber NAS to the rack and let the server handle it.
I don't understand how this is different than the configuration I posted on the previous page.  I don't mean technically, I mean conceptually.  Isn't this a rack/server type setup just like the one I posted from Stallard?

Quote
Only issue I foresee with the Uber NAS is that without some manner of high speed backbone connecting the NAS to something that can manipulate the files on it. File maintenance could be agonizingly slow. And if you gotta buy something to run it (eek!) cost with no real return.
i am not following this at all, please explain.  What is a high speed backbone?  Why would file maintenance be slow?  What's the point of something like this if file maintenance is agonizingly slow?  Also, is there a high speed backbone missing on the configuration I posted?  You're obviously seeing some issue that is totally transparent to me.
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lotusrootstarch
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« Reply #129 on: September 03, 2011, 01:19:32 AM »

superboyac, if you are able to configure NIC teaming (with your switch) or proper load-balancing it should work out fine.

If the plan is to rely on single Gig link to the backbone switch please be very patient during file operations. ohmy
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40hz
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« Reply #130 on: September 03, 2011, 02:49:12 AM »

I don't understand how this is different than the configuration I posted on the previous page.  I don't mean technically, I mean conceptually.  Isn't this a rack/server type setup just like the one I posted from Stallard?

It's not. I think SJ was arguing for going with a standard server as opposed to a NAS device and worked up this configuration as an example of what could be gotten for similar money. (Hope so anyway - because that's why I was agreeing with him. Grin )

re: high-speed backbone

I think what's being said here is that a NAS is usually strictly a storage device. You can't log onto it and do things to the files stored there. So any file manipulation operations (i.e. conversions, ripping, directory management, etc.) need to be done on a PC and pushed/pulled over the network as opposed to being done directly on the server. Same with directory management and moving files. So with huge files, the speed of the network can become a bottleneck. And since a standard Windows server is also a workstation, you could further avoid network overhead by running things like a DVD rip directly on the server.
 smiley
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superboyac
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« Reply #131 on: September 03, 2011, 08:18:52 PM »

I don't understand how this is different than the configuration I posted on the previous page.  I don't mean technically, I mean conceptually.  Isn't this a rack/server type setup just like the one I posted from Stallard?

It's not. I think SJ was arguing for going with a standard server as opposed to a NAS device and worked up this configuration as an example of what could be gotten for similar money. (Hope so anyway - because that's why I was agreeing with him. Grin )

re: high-speed backbone

I think what's being said here is that a NAS is usually strictly a storage device. You can't log onto it and do things to the files stored there. So any file manipulation operations (i.e. conversions, ripping, directory management, etc.) need to be done on a PC and pushed/pulled over the network as opposed to being done directly on the server. Same with directory management and moving files. So with huge files, the speed of the network can become a bottleneck. And since a standard Windows server is also a workstation, you could further avoid network overhead by running things like a DVD rip directly on the server.
 smiley

Oh wow!  This is very enlightening to me.  I most definitely DO want to do a bunch of work on the server drives themselves.  I absolutely don't want to do the work on my desktop and push/pull it from the storage.  No way.  I have some big plans for this server.  I want to create some really nice interactive stuff for myself on it.  I'm getting a server, that's it.  No NAS.  Thanks 40, always a big help.

superboyac, if you are able to configure NIC teaming (with your switch) or proper load-balancing it should work out fine.

If the plan is to rely on single Gig link to the backbone switch please be very patient during file operations. ohmy
I'm not trying to be funny, but I have no idea what in the world you are talking about.  I don't know what you think I know, but it sounds to me like I don't know jack about this stuff.  Let me break down my thoughts on your two sentances there:
This is the very first time I've heard of NIC teaming.
What switch?
I don't know what load I'm balancing.  I wouldn't know what the "proper" way to do it is, nor would I know what the improper way of doing it would be.
I don't know what  Gig link is.  I still don't know what a backbone switch is.  I definitely am lost on what I'm being patient about when the single gig link is doing whatever to the backbone switch while I'm trying to do file operations.  You could have said the following and it would have made just as much sense to me:
Quote
superboyac, if you are able to configure TRB tomfoolery (with your blanket) or proper angularizing it should work out fine.

If the plan is to rely on single Lop link to the hardnose pulley please be very patient during file operations. ohmy
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lotusrootstarch
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« Reply #132 on: September 03, 2011, 08:30:23 PM »

LOL, that's ok. I remember the times I was happier being clueless. Whatever works for you, good luck. Wink
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« Reply #133 on: September 03, 2011, 10:05:20 PM »

superboyac, in regards to a backbone switch, what they're referring to is the ethernet switch you're going to be using in this setup of yours.  In other words, you have your desktop and this forthcoming server.  You're going to have to network them together using an ethernet switch of some sort.  Knowing your preferences, this will certainly have to be a gigabit speed switch. The load-balancing and NIC teaming that's being spoken of is more commonly called aggregated ethernet.  This means that your server has two or more gigabit network cards that, along with the switch, can be configured to act as one multi-gigabit capable network interface.  Obviously, the switch itself must have this capability, too (and not nearly all switches do).  Does this help clear things up?
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« Reply #134 on: September 03, 2011, 10:36:09 PM »

Nice quote SB, but you really will want to look into that kind of stuff before you start really looking at a server.  Really, from what I have read in these 6 pages, SJ and 40 are trying to lead you back to where you should really be looking and that is a heavy-duty workstation class machine (and really even that is way overkill).  Looking at a good i7 based workstation with commercial grade SATA hard drives (maybe even Solid State hard drives if speed is critical) should work faster and better for what you are looking for.  Then, if the space isn't there, you can look at a NAS for storing completed projects (say fully ripped, indexed, and re-encoded video for example) to make it available to the machine again if/when needed with the side benefit that other machines on the network can access it too.  A side benefit of that route is you have much more flexibility in case choices and design considerations for it's location (instead of dealing with the jet engine running next to the TV you are watching the movie on, if that were appropriate - e.g. you don't have the whole house wired CAT6).

I just got my first server with the express purpose of configuring it and giving to our church.  It is a really nice HP DL380 G3 that I got for free, so I can't complain.  I really have no need for it personally though, and the fans running in the same room as my computer equipment makes the room noisy and even hotter - in other words even less desirable to be there in the first place.  I like overkill just as much as anyone, but really, servers are really good at one thing and that is what they do.  If you have big plans to do lots of things - that is what desktops/workstations are really good at.  You may just want to rethink how you are attacking the problem you are trying to solve.

In fact - do this.  You already have a really beefy machine, right?  Use VMware and build your servers as virtual servers.  Build bunches of them if you want, they are only software, so you can create and destroy VM's as often as needed.  Create specialized ones and general purpose ones.  Create machines that work with alternative solutions. Once you have everything working the way you want using test files and test data (you can add data storage later to do the same thing over and over again) sit back and see how it was done.  Determine the relative performance of each option. Did it require certain server software?  Did it require multiple machines that specialized in specific tasks?  Was it flaky and temperamental?  If the answers here are generally yes, then a server may well be the way to go.  But if you want simple elegance and set and forget features, you will likely find better, more refined answers on a workstation where everything runs in one box with a single client OS (or a consumer grade Home Server if you prefer).  Regardless of which answer you come up with though, the beauty of setting it all up in a hypervisor is you can then roll it up and drop the entire system pre-set onto the new box and be running in minutes using something like ESXi on the new box instead of windows.
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lotusrootstarch
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« Reply #135 on: September 03, 2011, 10:46:19 PM »

Well summarized Steel.  Thmbsup

A caveat: one problem with having ESXi is that you won't be able to take advantage of gfx-accelerated transcoding using CUDA/DXVA, that is, if you MUST "re-encode" videos.
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« Reply #136 on: September 04, 2011, 01:04:05 AM »

OK...this is all very good advice.  I really am not sure what to do again.

My my basic need in all of this is this:
What is the easiest way to add 10+ hard drives to my current setup?  And I want access to those hard drives in exactly the same way I use my regular hard drives now.  That is, no kind of restrictions like 40hz brought up above.

I don't know if I need a NAS, or a server, or what.  But I don't want something that is not meant to easily deal with a lot of hard drives.  I don't want like 4 or 6 or even 10 hard drives to be the maximum.  I want it to be something that can easily take in 20 drives if necessary, once everything is set up.  And I definitely don't want any difficulty with access to any of them.  I don't want it to become something like where the drives need to be "mounted" to a client pc in any sort of special way, and the connection can be unstable and disconnect occassionally.  I don't want anything like that.  i don't want transfer speeds any different than my regular sata drives I use right now.  I don't want speeds like a dorky USB stick.  So this is kind of what I want.
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lotusrootstarch
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« Reply #137 on: September 04, 2011, 03:46:07 AM »

What is the easiest way to add 10+ hard drives to my current setup?

According to my research, there's none on the market as yet. The closest solution for you is probably getting one or more mega USB3.0/e-SATA enclosures with a shitload of bays on each... directly connected to the desktop/server. Last time I checked there was no such thing. Even if it does come to existence some time on the road, I'd imagine heat dissipation and costs being significant obstacles for adoption.

The dilemma is that, at some stage, within that single device, whether it being a beefy server or desktop, the constraints like the physical room/capacity, connectors, heat, and other performance factors will force you to take the networked, distributed approach.

And the biggest problem with a networked solution is obviously the network itself... Let's look at your requirements:

Quote
i don't want transfer speeds any different than my regular sata drives I use right now.
Quote
connection can be unstable and disconnect occasionally

You can actually achieve these using:
1. Gigabit ethernet aggregation (minimum 2Gb/s aggregrated single direction)
2. Powerful switching backbone capacity (heaps of switches that have gigabit ports do not have corresponding switching fabric to support the performance)
3. SMB 3 / NFS / iSCSI as transfer proctocols

At this level of requirement, it is the networking components that demand the biggest budgets. Switches that will properly support Ethernet aggregation with a beefy backplane performance that deliver all the data transfer at line rate do not come cheap. Early this year I deployed a home theater set up for a long-time friend, the wired networking plus storage part of Bill of Material boiled down as follows:

1. Backbone: Cisco 3750G x 2,  @ 2 x $3500 each
Running two 4Gb/s ethernet aggregation via CAT6 cables to two distribution layer switches located in major entertainment hubs in the residence.

2. Distribution/Access: Cisco 3560G x 2 (model with 4 uplinks),  @ 2 x $2800 each
Running 4Gb/s ethernet aggregation back to the backbone switches

3. Miscellaneous customer-grade Gigabit switches,  @ $2000 total
Uplinking to backbone/distribution via single gigabit link.

4. 6 x ReadyNAS 1500 with 4 x 2TB drives,  @ 6 x $2400 each bundled
Connected directly to backbone switches via dual Gigabit ethernet aggregation (maximum uni-directional transfer speed of 2Gb/s)

5. One PowerEdge server, 64GB memory, dual quad-core Xeon with 12Gb/s ethernet aggregation, @ $3500
Connected directly to backbone switches, and thus to all the NAS appliances.


YET there's only less than 40TB of useable storage and there's still noticeable performance degradation when the load is concentrated on a few NAS boxes. There has been no solution, just bear with it.

So... focus your budget on the stuff that you value most, be prepared to make compromises, everybody has to, even for people among craziest of the crazy. smiley

In your case, a few NAS boxes plus a customer-grade gigabit switch is really the best solution.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 03:50:47 AM by lotusrootstarch » Logged

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40hz
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« Reply #138 on: September 04, 2011, 07:31:28 AM »

I was just thinking...

Since this will be a personal server with most likely only a few people accessing it at any given time, a single 1GB network link on the LAN side should be sufficient for anything being streamed to the users. That's more bandwidth per user than most people get already - and some have multiple family members streaming (via wireless no less!) simultaneously.

Most playback software is aware of this, so its gotten very good at buffering and caching to avoid any stutters or freezes.

If there are problems after that, then it becomes a QoS issue - and that's a whole 'nother tweak&tune discussion we'll leave for another day.

But if the actual scenario is one (or three) people mostly pulling from the server (even HD) I doubt you'll ever see a problem there.

If it does, I'd first try "multihoming" the server by enabling a second NIC LAN port, and point some users to that as their IP gateway address. Put yourself on your own port and let everybody else share the second. Because you paid for the damn thing so "screw them" right? (kidding...just kidding...)


On the WAN side, even a 100Mb port is usually sufficient - unless some ISP is finally allowing faster backbone connections for it's customers.  Because most ISPs throttle or lock your link throughput somewhere in a range any 100Mb NIC can easily handle. If you actually can benefit from having 1Gb on the WAN side then use a 1Gb NIC for that too. No big deal.

So if you're letting your server handle most of the heavy-lifting, and basically only using your LAN side to pull files down, a single (or dual) switched 1Gb network on the LAN side should be plenty.

If you take a look at many preconfigured servers, you'll see one 100Mb and two 1Gb NIC ports built in.

Now you know why.  smiley
« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 07:40:21 AM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #139 on: September 04, 2011, 09:11:10 AM »

My observation is that media traffic can easily be "crowded out" by traffic such as file transfer, network backups etc. And due to whole bunch of factors (everyone's got his/her own opinion on this), I see the actual maximum aggregated speed over a 1Gbps link seldom goes above 40MB/s for a single session (such as one SMB file sharing session), and tend to drop below 20MB/s when you have multiple sessions (such as file transfer, heavy Internet downloading, streaming) going on concurrently.

Don't forget 1Gbps is just a theoretical max, and a bunch of factors slow it down to a disappointing real world speed -- host CPU power, switching/routing infrastructure, host NIC card quality, cable quality/length/distance along the path, disk IO speed, TCP congestion avoidance mechanism, etc.

100Mbps is unusable but don't put too much trust in 1Gps either, it ain't that good.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 09:15:49 AM by lotusrootstarch » Logged

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40hz
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« Reply #140 on: September 04, 2011, 12:14:02 PM »

100Mbps is unusable

Except in the USA where most connections to your ISP don't even get to use all of that.

Ain't leaving something as important as your Internet connection completely at the mercy of private corporate interests a grand thing? The competition was supposed to make things better. Instead it resulted in higher prices and less bandwidth than what's found in many other industrialized nations. And lets not even talk about the joke the US cellphone system has rapidly become.

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« Reply #141 on: September 04, 2011, 12:28:33 PM »

In fact - do this.  You already have a really beefy machine, right?  Use VMware and build your servers as virtual servers.  Build bunches of them if you want, they are only software, so you can create and destroy VM's as often as needed.  Create specialized ones and general purpose ones.  Create machines that work with alternative solutions. Once you have everything working the way you want using test files and test data (you can add data storage later to do the same thing over and over again) sit back and see how it was done.  Determine the relative performance of each option. Did it require certain server software?  Did it require multiple machines that specialized in specific tasks?  Was it flaky and temperamental?  If the answers here are generally yes, then a server may well be the way to go.  But if you want simple elegance and set and forget features, you will likely find better, more refined answers on a workstation where everything runs in one box with a single client OS (or a consumer grade Home Server if you prefer).  Regardless of which answer you come up with though, the beauty of setting it all up in a hypervisor is you can then roll it up and drop the entire system pre-set onto the new box and be running in minutes using something like ESXi on the new box instead of windows.

Oh man! Brilliant! And so obvious...(40hz smacks forehead and laughs at himself for being so blind.)

Steel's suggestion above is some of the absolute best advice I've ever read here.  

Steeladept!!! Come up here and take a bow! Thmbsup

Before you buy anything I'd definitely give virtual a try to get a better handle on how to implement this project. No need to worry about hardware right away. They'll build plenty more by the time you're ready to buy something.

Who knows? It might even end up staying in a virtual environment if it works for you. smiley




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« Reply #142 on: September 04, 2011, 05:37:37 PM »

100Mbps is unusable

Except in the USA where most connections to your ISP don't even get to use all of that.

Ain't leaving something as important as your Internet connection completely at the mercy of private corporate interests a grand thing? The competition was supposed to make things better. Instead it resulted in higher prices and less bandwidth than what's found in many other industrialized nations. And lets not even talk about the joke the US cellphone system has rapidly become.


I was talking about using 100Mbps link for LAN sharing. cheesy
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« Reply #143 on: September 04, 2011, 07:58:40 PM »

Steel's suggestion above is some of the absolute best advice I've ever read here.

A few things to consider when going for an ESXi server configuration for purposes beyond file storage, esp. in the multimedia area:

1. Performance tends to be a hit or miss
In addition to the overhead caused by virtualization, Disk IO/RAM/CPU resource allocation/throttling can majorly affect your experience under load.

2. Free version of ESXi hypervisor enforces limitation on hardware utilization

3. Graphic card accelerated computing is not supported (not even on the roadmap iiuc)
Essential for transcoding large 1080p videos (a lot of online benchmark reports suggest that the performance difference is staggering without CUDA/DXVA)

4. The yet unproven capability/performance of USB 3.0 pass-through (to guest VM) in ESXi vSphere 5.0
I don't assume that you'll have a Blu-ray built-in on the server. To work around this, an external USB 3.0 Blu-ray reader/burner attaching to a USB port on the server is likely needed. For guest VM to access this device, you have to create a mapping that pass-through this device to the guest VM. USB 3.0 support is only just recently introduced in vSphere 5.0 and I haven't got time to test it out.

P.S. Blu-ray and USB 2.0 do not go together, at 2x speed you may wait half a day to just burn a single disc, and any other intensive IO operation during the burning process may cause it to fail.

Update:
It's no go. See: http://virtualizationrevi...p-10-vm-capabilities.aspx
"it is limited to USB devices that are connected to the machine on which you are using the vSphere client or web client. So, you still cannot connect a USB in the ESXi server and pass it through."



Creating/deleting VMs in a lab does not give you much indication of limitations mentioned above until you run into problems in real world production environment. Wink
« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 08:10:07 PM by lotusrootstarch » Logged

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« Reply #144 on: September 07, 2011, 12:17:17 PM »

OK, I'm now backtracking big time.  I'm going to nix the whole server thing right now.  The fundamental need here is just massive amounts of storage.  I found the xbmc forum discussions about this stuff, and I was very happy to find out that a lot of people have already gone around this wheel already.

There's an OS out there made specifically for this sort of thing, called unRAID.  That seems to be what most of the xbmc guys are using, with a Norco box.  I'll take that, connect it to my router, and manage it from my current desktop.  And it's pretty cheap, won't cost me more than $1500 (minus the drives).  So I'm going to settle on that.

My business will soon be changing locations anyway, this server thing is too confusing for me right now to deal with.  I just want the storage right now.
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40hz
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« Reply #145 on: September 07, 2011, 01:23:06 PM »

re: unRAID

Interesting concept. There are a few caveats. Not sure I'm totally wild about some of how this works. But since it's primarily being used as a media storage server (where there's nothing that can't be replaced) it seems to be an OK compromise. Definitely not a good choice for a standard data server however. But who cares? As long as you understand what it is - and what it's good for - there shouldn't be any bad surprises. I'd definitely want to run it on new and good quality hardware. This isn't one of those "raid your junk closet for parts" projects.

@SB - thanks for sharing. I'm generally clueless about this type of product so it's always great when somebody points something like this out to me.

Note: Revision 3 did a segment w/walkthru on unRAID a few years back. Look at it here. It's 2+ years old so some of the commentary may be (likely is?) out of date with the current release.

Addendum:

Getting this (see below) when attempting to go to http://lime-technology.com didn't exactly give me the warm fuzzies.  Grin



 Cool

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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #146 on: September 07, 2011, 02:58:28 PM »

The registration is tied to the serial number of a flash drive?? Yeesh. It was interesting until I got there.
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40hz
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« Reply #147 on: September 07, 2011, 04:07:54 PM »

I also noticed how there were some possible GPL violation questions that had been brought up about Lime Technologies and unRAID.  undecided

Does anybody know what the status or resolution was on that point?  huh

Because if there's an unresolved GPL issue, that's a total showstopper for me no matter how good a product might be.  Sad

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« Reply #148 on: September 07, 2011, 04:12:54 PM »

OK, forget the unraid thing.  I'll just go with a normal windows server.  I'm close guys, I'm close!!
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« Reply #149 on: September 07, 2011, 05:01:32 PM »

OK, forget the unraid thing.

Well that frees up my evening ... Now I can work on the local Humane Society's website. smiley
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