- File server
- Back in 2015, when I transitioned to using a laptop as a primary computer, I also transitioned my previous desktop
computer to the role of being a file server. I felt it was a better
approach to have a computer that was dedicated to being powered on all the time, with software oriented around
making my data useful and safe -- media streaming, automatic backups, private cloud, and so on.
- Clementine was fine as a first file server, but had three primary drawbacks: 1) Physically, Clementine was a large desktop computer,
which limited options for placing her out of the way. 2) Clementine was overpowered for this use case, and leaving her powered on all the
time meant a lot of electricity was being wasted. 3)
Windows is not a great operating system for servers -- it reboots frequently without warning, and many programs
can only run within a user account, not as a system service, so after a reboot it was necessary for me to manually log
in so that those programs could start up.
- My plan all along was to replace Clementine with a machine more optimized for this purpose, but it took
a long time to settle on the right approach. I considered simple hard drive network adapters,
dedicated NAS devices such as Synology, and even a completely different approach of utilizing cloud
services. In the end, I decided on a custom-built, small PC, running Linux.
- Which brings us to Iris. Iris is a Mini-ITX form factor (just 10 inches tall), but still with room
for two hard drives -- one fast but small SSD for the OS and applications, and one big mechanical hard drive
for data. She's built around an i3-6100 CPU, which provides surprisingly good performance (enough to
handle media transcoding in real time), but at a low cost and with low power consumption. And she runs Ubuntu Linux,
which is a stable, powerful, reliable operating, where every piece of software I use can be set up
as a system service. Thanks a large amount of planning, the transition to Iris wen very smooth, with
almost no downtime -- the only challenge was cable management in this new, small case. Iris is capable of
doing everything Clementine could do, but more reliably, in a more power efficient way, and while being
physically out of the way.
- This computer was originally built January 11th, 2017.
- Images and commentary from the building of this computer can be