Saturday, May 05, 2007

Now I need a Home Server...

I've never really been to the point of seeing a need for a home server around our house.

We had the primary desktop which handled the bulk of our computing duties, Alvis's Linux box for her miscellaneous web surfing needs, and then Lavie's laptop that she could also do light surfing with or perform some work duties at home as needed.

We didn't share files across each device. In the odd cases that we did, we would just copy the file to a USB stick and port it to the target device.


Not any more.

Now Lavie is doing more work with our digital pictures kept on our desktop, off her laptop. I'm doing more frequent blogging from either of the notebooks. And it is getting to be a bit more challenging maintaining support for all four systems now with updates, software installations, etc.

Firefox Syncing between PC's

As for me, the file that is my "bread-and-butter" has turned out to be my Firefox profile's bookmarks.html file.

In this one singular file I keep my ever growing list of RSS site feeds (via Sage), my "To Blog" folder of pages that I am organizing for current and future blogging topics, and an untold number of favorite links, tip pages, and the library-like collection of references.

Trying to keep this single file synced between a desktop and two laptops is very challenging.

Here's what I do.

I have written two simple batch files to keep on each system's desktop. One copies the bookmarks.html file from deep within my Firefox user's profile folder and places the copy on the desktop.

Then I upload that file to my web-mail account when I am all done working on that particular system.

If I later get on a different system, I download the bookmark file to the desktop of the local machine I am on and then run a second simple batch file on my desktop to move the bookmarks.html file back to my Firefox profile on this machine.

Semi-instant syncing.

While the batch files make this a simple one-two click process, and having a copy safely tucked away in my web-mail account is great, it is a bit of a hassle.

I'm sure there are other solutions, but as I have a routine and method in how I use Firefox for my blogging organization, it works for now.

Related link: Synchronize Your Bookmarks Between Different Computers - Pain in the Tech

Enter Windows Home Server

I know it probably wouldn't be too hard for me to pick a nice Linux distro and in a weekend get a Linux-based home server solution up and going. However, I really want a server system that Lavie (and even Alvis) can work with, especially in the event of my absence.

Ed Bott recently had a tease-post on his blog about the upcoming Windows Home Server (WHS) - You'll want a Windows Home Server. No, really, you will.

The singular screen shot intrigued me.

I followed the link and read his review of the beta WHS; Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server.

Performance wise he points out that the hardware requirements aren't too demanding. And as it is a server, doesn't even need keyboard, mouse, or monitor. Just a standalone box (systemboard, CPU, RAM, drive(s), network card, psu)...that's pretty much it. As Ed's quite appropriate to consider it in terms of being an appliance.

The basic features are performing a back up of each attached system to enable system or individual file recovery, sharing common folders between systems, remote access to shared files and systems from a remote system over the web, and it monitors the health of the network, providing alerts on outdated security software or backup failures.

I was getting quite excited even before seeing the screen shots he also provides.

The design of the software interface and the hardware requirements looks to make this quite an interesting proposition to consider.

I'm going to be adding this product to my "watch-list."

As I understand, it will be primarily offered directly to consumers "installed" on hardware via OEM builds. I expect that one will be able to buy it "software-only" and install on your own home-brew rig as well, but doubt you will be able to purchase the software in your local store. Instead you will probably need to buy on-line via Microsoft directly or via a business like NewEgg.

More Windows Home Server Links

Here are some more great posts and pages to give a wide view of what we may be able to expect in Windows Home Server;

To Beta or Not to Beta

I'm even tempted to bite on the Windows Home Server Beta tester program...only I don't think Alvis's pc quite fits the hardware needs (nor would she let me take away her SAM installation). Nor do I think Lavie would be impressed with me suggesting adding another pc box to the home just yet...even if I just called it an "appliance."

I have to admit, I'm getting kinda giddy with enthusiasm at the possibilities of this Windows product.

Will you be served?


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