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I built a little server machine and tried the Windows Home Server. I liked it, although it did have its issues, but now the 120 days trial has expired and I'm not sure I want to stick with it.

I'm thinking I would really like to have it serve as a Media Center and a NAS, however most of my network is wireless and cabling all the way to the main TV would be pretty troublesome, so I would need it to support WiFi (I know it would reduce performance, but then again I dont mind how long it takes to back up the files, although I do care of it being able to stream files properly).

Ideally I would like to have this in the box:

Main:

  • Wifi support for the Nas part
  • Playback of local and shared files in the network
  • Media Center should launch automatically on startup
  • fast startup
  • On the NAS side it should support redundant data, like WHS does

Extra Goodies:

  • Live Tv Tuner Be able to watch youtube, facebook videos/pictures, etc.
  • DVD playback support -Remote Control Support -My mom could use it.

No-no's -Having to turn on or switch the MC software often (difficult since machine wont have mouse keyboard)

Is there any way to achieve this?

Is there any dedicated "os" that can do this, or do I have to install a combination (kind of like WHS (if it supported wireless) + MC software) or Win7 + NAS Software + MC Software

Thanks!

EDIT: added dvd playback

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1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

This is what I have setup in my home:

  1. I have a DD-WRT flashed Wireless router connected to my cable modem.

    DD-WRT allows for great customization of the router and the wireless/wired network. You can even bridge two wireless routers together to be on the same network. It also is simple to setup up and there is plenty of documentation/how to's on setting everything up on their wiki.

  2. Connected to my Wireless router is a Ubuntu server that acts as my NAS storage:

    Ubuntu server is a powerful tool for networking. It's simple to install, but usage is a little more difficult since the GUI isn't there and all commands are done through the prompt (it does make you feel more like a geek using it though :P) I have my server setup just for Samba shares, and webpage access. It's not setup as my DNS/DHCP since my DD-WRT router takes care of that. They also have a well documented site for guidance

  3. I have a Laptop connected to my TV running XBMC:

    You can take a laptop and either install XBMC as a standalone OS (Ubuntu based) or install it on top of another operating system (it supports windows, linux and MAC). XBMC is the all in all Media Center for the home user. Its open source which equates to FREE! It's customizable, and handles HD video, pictures, and music. It was originally developed for the original X-Box, if you have one of those lying around, but HD quality is only going to be supported for 720p and XBMC no longer supports the X-Box. There is also plenty of documentation of setup and how-to's as well.

Hopefully this can give you an idea of what to do.

Other Pointers:

  • if you are limited to just one PC for the NAS and the Media center playback (Not recommended) then and install of Ubuntu with the XBMC will be your best bet.

  • if you don't have spare laptop consider purchasing a nettop which can support HD playback and is small/looks nicer for the living room. (I personally would chose this, but don't have the spare money... yet)

  • if you're not comfortable with the command prompt style of ubuntu server, then ubuntu itself can do everything that ubuntu server can do, however you'll have to install all the server software by yourself and not with the initial install.

  • XBMC to my knowledge doesn't support live streaming as of yet, but an alternative is BOXEE however I have no experience with that.

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why is it bad to have the NAS and Media Center Playback in the same computer? –  bangoker Sep 18 '10 at 20:03
    
It's not so much that it's bad, just not recommended. Streaming and playing video (especially HD) takes up a lot of memory and processor power. The min requirements for the HD playback on the XBMC is a dual core processor with 3 to 4 gbs of ram (This is off the top of my head). That could slow down transfer rates of the NAS server if it's doing that and streaming video. A NAS server doesn't need a fast processory, just some memory, and once it's setup you can just leave it somewhere alone. –  KronoS Sep 18 '10 at 21:21

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