Hello Amahi....goodbye Windows Home Server

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mnkynifefite
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Hello Amahi....goodbye Windows Home Server

Postby mnkynifefite » Fri May 20, 2011 5:49 pm

I thought I'd share my recent experiences with migrating my file/media server from Windows Home Server to Amahi with all the ML nerds here (like myself) - in case someone is interested.

So here is the Readers Digest version:

Windows Home Server (WHS) was super appealing to me when it first came out. Previously I was running a media/file server off an enterprise level SCSI RAID server. Needless to say, not super practical for home use. The main attraction was the incorporation of Drive Extender (DE). DE allows you to add any size and type hard drive to a pool of hard drives and data is replicated across the various drives. This provides some data security similar to RAID, but without the headaches. In theory it was the greatest thing since sliced bread (Google DE for more info)....that is until recently. I had a drive that wouldn't mount - the drive had a ton of bad sectors. WHS started to act persnickety, as MS machines have a tendency to do, and I noticed that I started to not have access to some of my data. Not good. So the neat thing is that with DE you can take a drive out and mount it to any computer and it will appear as a normal drive (unlike RAID), so you can always get at the particular data that resides on that drive. This is true as long as your drive doesn't go bad. My system and data had a parade of issues that began degrade my WHS to a useless POS. I even lost a tiny bit of data. Then the straw that broke that camels back is the MS is discontinuing DE in the latest version of WHS (see also "vail fail").

I was thinking about going back to a RAID or an UnRAID system, but I also wanted to replace my server MB/CPU with a low power solution (like the Atom chipset). My WHS prior to "departure" consumed about 180W (stable) up to 230W (spin up) in large part due to the 5TB worth of hard drives....

...long story short, I discovered Amahi (http://www.amahi.org/) and I am freakin' LOVING IT. It's a standard Fedora 14 (linux) core with some add-ons on top. It does everything I wished WHS would do. It uses Greyhole instead of DE. Greyhole is an application that uses Samba to create a storage pool of all your available hard drives (whatever their size, however they're connected), and allows you to create redundant copies of the files you store, in order to prevent data loss when part of your hardware fails. It's what DE wished it could have been. Not only is it super stable but I'm running it from an Atom based system with plenty of CPU and memory "room". Plus it's FREE, well supported through their forums, and since Linux is under the hood, super versatile.

Anywho, just thought I'd share in case someone is looking for a solution.

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DaveB
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Re: Hello Amahi....goodbye Windows Home Server

Postby DaveB » Sat May 21, 2011 9:26 am

Amahi is certainly not designed as a WHS replacement, is not yet polished, and depending on your configuration, is difficult at best to implement. The package is largely in a development stage. The front end interface is not yet developed and you must resort to manual line entry reminiscent of the old days. Once set up, it is a fairly decent media server, but that is about all. My recommendation for the masses is to hold off until the next version or two.

For my use, I simply went back to Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials. Backward conversion was easy and I still get the advantage of a windows based machine that will run other programs as necessary.
Thanks!

Dave Bruner
:shock:

mnkynifefite
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Re: Hello Amahi....goodbye Windows Home Server

Postby mnkynifefite » Sat May 21, 2011 4:53 pm

While I agree it's not necessarily meant to "compete" with WHS per se, it is far superior to it. That said, you are correct in the caveats though - you must be comfortable with Linux terminal, web interface is not "polished", and is still under development. Although the development has more to do with one-click add-on apps, interface redesign, etc, and not to do with the core which is Fedora 14. So it's as stable as Fedora is. Greyhole works better than DE ever did or could have. Moving landing zones, running an fsck, balancing the pool...all super easy and fast. Not one hiccup. Plus you can pull out a drive and mount it to a windows machine and have full access to your data. DE would spread the stuff out across the pool with no rhyme or reason.

I completely agree that Windows Storage Server 2008 is a good product, but very limited in it's uses. My Amahi box is now running as a Greyhole file/media server, UPnP server (which WHS always struggled with), an Ampache browser based music server (I can listen to music anywhere in the world via my iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, etc), OpenVPN server, web calendar server, and much more....all on a dual core Atom box that consumes 80W (stable) with 5TB of drives attached and CPU and RAM overhead to spare (yay Linux =D> )


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