Friday Aug 22, 2008

POFACS Podcast: Home Servers are quickly becoming Commonplace

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!



Friday May 16, 2008

Detlef Drewanz on Virtualization in the POFACS Podcast

Detlef DrewanzIf you understand german, are interested in virtualization and listen to podcasts, don't miss the current episode of the POFACS podcast.

POFACS, the podcast for alternative computer systems is a german podcast that coveres everything non-mainstream in computing. From people running their business on a Commodore 64 to the state of the art Amiga OS to office packages that fit on a floppy disk or one of the many Linux variants.

There have been a few episodes covering Solaris related technologies, such as ZFS and Project Indiana. Today adds an interview with my colleague Detlef from Berlin about virtualization.

Actually, whenever I listen to one of the POFACS episodes about some crazy new operating system that's being developed somewhere, I've always liked to try it out and see how it is. The perfect way to do that of course is to use virtualization, so you don't have to re-install your machine again. Well, that's where Sun's VirtualBox comes in: It comes with a great range of supported operating systems so there's a good chance it will run even the strangest alternative OS just fine.

But now, let me download Detlef's interview myself and listen to is. Enjoy!

Sunday Aug 12, 2007

ZFS Interview in the POFACS Podcast (German)

Last week, I've been interviewed by the german podcast POFACS, the podcast for alternative computer systems. Today, the interview went live, so if you happen to understand the german language and want to learn about ZFS while driving to work or while jogging, you're invited to listen to the interview.

I was actually amazed at how long the interview turned out: It's 40 minutes, while recording the piece only felt like 20 minutes or so. The average commute time in germany is about 20 minutes, so this interview will easily cover both ways to and from work. But there's more: This episode of POFACS also introduces you to the NetBSD operating system, the German Unix User Group GUUG. Finally, the guys at POFACS were also so kind to feature the HELDENFunk podcast in a short introductory interview. Thanks!

So with a total playing time if 1 hour and 20 minutes, this episode has you covered for at least two commutes or a couple of jogging runs :).

Monday Aug 06, 2007

New Public Podcast: HELDENFunk (in German)

HELDENFunk IconYou might have heard of systemhelden.com in one of my other posts. This is a german community for system administrators and other heroes of IT that is fun to belong to and that is enjoying a nice growth in popularity.

Today, we added a podcast (sorry, it's in german) to this community called "HELDENFunk". This podcast features stories from the Systemhelden.com community, tech news and other fun stuff. In this first episode, we discuss how the Systemhelden.com website is hosted in a Solaris 10 container on a Sun Fire X4200 server at our ISP Cyberways in Augsburg, then Rolf discusses how you can calculate your CO2 footprint out of your server's wattage and he introduces the Sun EcoTour, which is a mobile blog written by a journalist that rides a bike across Germany. Wolfgang Stief is our special guest, he works at Best Systeme and is in the process of setting up Solaris 10 Zones on a Sun Fire T2000 server for GUUG, the German Unix User's Group. We interview another great podcast called POFACS, the podcast for alternative computer systems and we feature Sun's Magnum Switch and a funny video about blending an Apple iPhone in our news section.

Producing the podcast was great fun. We had great people in our studio (Read: conference room...) and quite a few laughs. Thanks to Marc Baumann, we had great microphones and a mixer to record with. My NI Audio Kontrol 1 audio interface, featured in an earlier blog post, proved to provide excellent recording quality. We used quite a complicated setup to conduct a phone interview over Skype but which turned to work quite well. And again, Marc edited and cut everything very nicely so everything now just sounds great.

We plan to publish a new episode each month, so feel free to let us know what you'd like us to cover and what suggestions you might have. Just write to kontakt at systemhelden dot com.

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