By user13366078 on Aug 22, 2008
I remember having talked at a conference 3 years ago and predicting that home servers are going to become a central part of most people's homes. Today, this would not be a surprise, but back then, running a server at home was really only for computer geeks.
Now, the entertainment industry gives us many home server alternatives to choose from: Add 50-100 EUR to a USB disk's price, and you'll get a built in server that offers the space to your local network through SMB, NFS or other protocols. Microsoft has discovered this, too and they're busily debugging their Windows Home Server products. UPnP has emerged as a standard for driving audio/video components over the network from servers, be they beefed up USB disks or some machine running some OS with some server component or a real dedicated home server machine. If you use iTunes and enable the "sharing" piece, you're already running a home server.
Of course, this is all driven by clients. First, people imported their music from CDs into their computers so they could listen on the go and fill their MP3 players. Then, they discovered that running a PC or even a laptop in your living room to listen to your music isn't really cool and lacks that WAF that makes or breaks most living room decisions. Soon, specialized living room clients started to pop up, such as the Roku Soundbridge or the Logitech SqueezeBox. Digital TV set-top-boxes and PVRs like the DreamBox were also early adopters of the home network by either offering TV streams on the network or using network attached storage for storing recorded TV shows. And the current generation of game consoles comes with Wifi and/or wired networking as a central part of their strategy, and they make good network media players as well. Even the traditional vendors of home entertainment equipment such as TVs, Hifi systems etc. have started to adopt some way of accepting digital audio and/or video from the network for A/V Receivers, DVD-Players, TVs etc. My current favourite, for example is the Linn Sneaky Music DS. And I applaud them for boldy migrating their records business to the digital world, in full studio master quality. You can even buy their full music catalog pre-installed on a 2TB NAS storage appliance, including UPnP server!
The current edition of the POFACS Podcast (sorry, it's in German) talks about the various ways a home server can add value to your living room experience, from serving files to your family's laptops, being a backup repository to the more interesting topics of serving music for dinner in a WAF-friendly way or handling your TV recordings over the net so you don't have to worry about noisy PCs and harddisks sitting in your living room. Enjoy!