What kind of Home Server would you choose?

Windows home server - now its easy to keep and share documents, photos, videos and music

So I heard Windows Home Server is now ready to ship according to Paul Thurrott. As some of you already know I'm running pretty much every machine on my network on gnu/linux except my home server. Its strange, my laptop, my workstation and even my firewall/router is running Smoothwall. But the server which holds terabytes of storage is actually running a beta copy of Windows Home server. But my reason for sticking with Windows Home server have finally started to come undone. A friend sent me a link to a few projects including the Ubuntu Home Server Project and Linux home server. This all started by George Ou and his discussions about the difference between the two. George has added updates to the main post and people have gone nuts over the comments (260 to date). There's even the poll which has 2600+ votes is 56% towards linux or freebsd over windows home server. So after some more reading I'm thinking now has come the time to either upgrade or switch over.

Now I wish the switch was that easy. First up I will need to unmount all the harddrives from the Windows storage array and make sure my data is ok. Then I need to take the machine down from the loft and remove windows before putting on Linux. Before going back in the loft I need to make sure I can get back into the machine even when there is a power outage or some kind of error (its a dell with boot after suspend, so it should be ok). But it will be all worth it if I only need to go up to the loft to add addional storage.

So what options do I have? Well I was hoping the Ubuntu Home Server Project would have files or a beta to play with, but not yet. So i'm thinking keep it simple. Xubuntu or Ubuntu desktop version with some well thought-out software. Hey if it works out, maybe I could feed into the process of the Ubuntu Home server project? I was considering the server version but I'm thinking although I will run it headless most of the time, it would be good to be able to run Xwindow for VNC/RDP access. For Backup I'm going to try Amanda again or Bacula. If worst comes to worst, I now got the hang of the Cron and Rsync, I could just use that. On the storage front, I have no idea how to setup a distributed file system like windows home server on linux, but I've done little research and I'm sure someone knows. Sharing is not a problem because Samba shares can be installed easily enough, I also don't really need Universal Plug n Play, specially if I can get Daap working in Amarok or Rhythmbox working. Ideally I would love to have some simple web front end, but once again this is going to take some more research.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.