The First Post & Achieving Home Digital Nirvana

It’s July 1st. And I’m back in the blogging business.

This blog is something of a celebration in that I have enough time to start blogging again, having completed a number of endeavors at work and at home. My work is sufficiently well-covered with my work blog, so I thought I would start out by talking about a long, multi-year quest at home…

I have always been a home networking geek. I have a lot of devices, including:

  • Two Macintoshes (dual-booting both MacOS X and Windows Vista)
  • A Windows SmartDisplay
  • An AppleTV
  • Four Sun Microsystems workstations (running SunOS 4.1.4, Solaris 8, Solaris 9, and Solaris 10 respectively)
  • Three Windows 2003 Servers (two for running Virtual Server and one as a domain controller)
  • Two Windows Server 2008 beta servers (for playing with the latest and greatest technology)
  • Guest appearances by my work laptop as well as those of other friends (mix of all Windows and MacOS versions)
  • Toshiba HD-DVD player (for Web interactive disc features and firmware updates)

My requirements for home networking:

  • Speed (handled by 802.11n wireless and 100 MB/S Fast Ethernet)
  • Security (handled by dedicated firewall appliance + WPA encryption on the 802.11n, coupled with changing default broadcast channels and not broadcasting the SSID)
  • Redundant File Storage (that works across everything that might possibly want to connect)
  • Media Sharing (music, videos, and images)
  • Backup and Restore
  • Easy installation/provisioning of new systems

I had the first two handled with networking gear. But, Windows Home Server (WHS) and a few other Microsoft technologies came to the rescue for the remaining items.

WHS is by far one of the coolest pieces of technology to come out of Microsoft for a very long-time. It provides redundant file storage without the use of proprietary RAID, PC backup and restore, and server backup and restore – all with a great interface. Since everything I have can speak NFS or SMB, connectivity is not a problem. Running iTunes in shared mode from the server console addresses my media sharing needs. I can backup the Macintoshes and UNIX systems to shares. For operating system provisioning, I was able to leverage Remote Installation Services on my domain controller for Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 operating systems. Windows Deployment Services on the same box provides easy provisioning for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

And now it is all connected and working. Digital nirvana at home achieved after many, many years of dreaming of this exact set of functionality…

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