Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another Geek Side-Project - Part Two

Well, this didn't quite work out like I figured.

After loading Windows Home Server on the former Mini Google, I started to do some testing with the box. I found that it was actually a bit slower than my current Linux server. Not bad, but definitely slower, especially in file copying. I had half-way expected that, since the former Mini Google would only take ATA-100 IDE hard drives and the drives in my Linux box are SATA-300. That's a huge jump in terms of speed and bandwidth.

So, after doing all the work, I find that I do not currently have a use for that server. Again, not a big deal. Geeks (or maybe just me [grin!]) will sometimes work on things they ultimately have no use for, just to see if they can fix/build whatever it is. This looks to be, somewhat unintentionally, one of those times.

If anyone out there is interested in the box, and willing to pay the shipping, I'd be happy to work out a deal. The only thing that changed since my last post was I swapped out the 120GB IDE hard drive for a 40GB one.  However, I have a second 40GB I could throw in for good measure. Post a comment below if you want to deal.

Here is my next option for a new server. This is an older Dell GX260 that my wife was using as a workstation while I found time (and courage!) to fix her Mac Mini. That's a story for another post...

This is a Pentium 4 (2.53GHz) with 1GB of RAM. Definitely a step up from the former Mini Google and from my current AMD Linux server. I loaded Windows Home Server on this box and found it runs WHS like a champ! Speed, even with the IDE drive in it, is plenty fast. And, I get a gigabit Ethernet port on it as well!

I think this will work out better for me, since my one big complaint of having Linux as a server was the lack of a decent media serving application that would work with my PS3. I have my PS3 set up in the family room with my HDTV and stereo, so that is the logical place to watch movies, listen to music and of course, play games. But, all my music, pictures and videos are on the server. And without a media sharing app that I could get to work reliably, that has been a sore point for me. No longer!

WHS has a media server built in that is based on Windows Media, so it works with the PS3 just fine. I tested it with MP3s and DVD resolution video. My 320kbps MP3s work great, and though the video had a few hiccups, it was not really distracting. All in all, I feel pretty good about it's performance so far. Since I have WHS on a 120-day evaluation, I don't have to make a decision right away...but unless something ugly rears its head later on, I think this may be a winner.

Hey, I don't think I told you WHY I wanted a new server. I guess I should elaborate a little. My current server (shown at left) is built from an old workstation of mine. I built it back in 2003, and at the time used it as my primary workstation and gaming machine. The computer was replaced in 2007 when the motherboard went south, but I kept the case and some other parts around. When I built the server, I put an older M-ATX board I scavanged into the case. I later found the AMD on it ran a bit hotter than my old P4, so I was forced to add a couple of 80mm case fans I had in my parts stash. Problem was, the motherboard was old enough it would not control their speed, so the fans ran full-throttle all the time. The noise isn't unbearable, but is louder than I like in my office while I'm listening to music.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking..."buy a fan controller!" I just really didn't have the budget at the time. Remember, I built this thing from parts I had around, except for the 250GB SATA drives I added in. And those were expensive enough when I bought them, I couldn't ask my Everlasting SoulMate / accountant for any more money. So, I accepted that I would have to live with the noise for a while.

The Dell is like a ray of sunshine for my ears! It is SO quiet! Even with the addition of the two extra SATA drives, I'm expecting it to still be much quieter. Mostly, I'm just looking forward to some music without all the white noise.

-- Sundown, Out

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