Last week, I made a post about a new home server option called Greyhole. What I didn’t mention was that at the same time, I also came across another option that was co-existing with Greyhole on a fellow enthusiast’s home server – Amahi HDA. I glazed over the Amahi site briefly as I was more interested in Greyhole in that moment, but I decided to revisit it today. This post is Part One of a series in preparing, installing, configuring and then observing what Amahi HDA can do for an HTPC user and their home network.
What is Amahi HDA?
The HDA in Amahi HDA stands for Home Digital Assistant.
“Amahi is software that runs on a dedicated PC as a central computer for your home. It handles your entertainment, storage, and computing needs. You can store, organize and deliver your recorded TV shows, videos and music to media devices in your network. Share them locally or safely around the world. And it’s expandable with a multitude of one-click install apps.”
Sounds interesting…right? Disk pooling, media streaming, VPN services and many third party applications plug right in thanks to A LAMP core using Fedora as its base. You can see more features in the gallery. I know, I know…75% of you have your cursor hovering the close button at the sight of “linux” already, but seriously, it’s more a matter of stepping out of your comfort zone than having a total lack of experience. I’m not going to say that linux can’t be overwhelming, but it’s not necessarily voodoo either. Give it a chance…from what I’ve read so far, it’s a very feasible Windows Home Server replacement; plus, it’s free!
Creating a Profile
Before actually installing Amahi, I want to get you started off on the right foot. Go to Fedora Project download mirror site (torrents are also available) and grab the appropriate DVD.iso for your platform. You must get the DVD unless you’re an expert. Any other installation method is discouraged and unsupported. The DVD is 3.3GB, so depending on your connection, you will be downloading for a while.
After you get your download going, head to the Amahi homepage and click the Get Started Now button to begin creating your profile. This procedure consists of only a few steps and is extremely straighforward. After signing up and activating your account, you will begin the configuration wizard upon logging in.
Click the Configure your HDA button to begin the wizard. The next screen is for configuring Network Settings. These were automatically detected for me, but if you need to change them for whatever reason, you can do so. I didn’t require any changes, so I continued. Also, notice the next to each of the IP address fields. You can select these for additional tips if you don’t understand what’s going on.
Next, was the Home DNS Domain screen. If you implement an actual domain on your home network, you can specify it here. Otherwise, I can only assume this will serve as a workgroup name. Amahi is expected to hand internal DNS and DHCP services, so this is something that can potentially make or break your experience with it. I’m sure I’ll learn more on this later.
Continuing on, brought me to the Final Check screen. What? That’s it? I guess so. I get a brief overview of the settings I just made and upon clicking Create Your HDA Profile, I was done. Minutes!
After creating the profile, I received an install code for Amahi HDA. Write this code down, although you can access it via logging into your account and visiting the Control Panel for your profile. I have masked my Amahi HD code so that it can’t be used for evil-doing.
If you need to make any changes or retrieve your install code for later, just visit Amahi.org and sign into your account to reach your personalized Control Panel.
Amahi HDA Requirements
The requirements for Amahi HDA are along the lines of a typical linux installation:
- 1GHz CPU
- 4GB of disk space
- 512MB RAM
There is also an Amahi Plug Edition that has even lower requirements, but I have no idea what that even is. All in all, the requirements are very reasonable for old hardware lying around the house, but as you know, more is better. Simply put, your Amahi HDA will perform better with more powerful hardware. Since I’m only giving this a test run, I will be installing it on a Virtual PC 2007 image, hosted on a Windows 7 system. I have older hardware lying about that I could put it on, but that means work and more time…plus, screenshots are easier to get with a VM when it comes to something like this.
That’s it for Part One. It’s only an introductiona and “getting started” sort of post, but in the next installment we’ll be installing our Fedora core base and things will get a little more interesting. Keep an eye out for it…it’s coming soon!
- Amahi Home Digital Assistant – Part 1. Creating a profile.
- Amahi Home Digital Assistant – Part 2. Installing Fedora.
- Amahi Home Digital Assistant – Part 3. The Amahi web interface.