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Author Topic: new MS product, WHS  (Read 7175 times)
nubcnubdo
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« on: May 25, 2007, 03:42:10 am »

Quote
It's called Windows Home Server, and it's a piece of software that can run on any 1-GHz or faster PC. It turns that PC into a central storage unit for all your home computers. But it's a lot more than that.

Install WHS on a spare computer, then plug that PC into your network. From any other computer you can then configure it. (The WHS doesn't need a keyboard, mouse, or monitor.) You can use it as a repository for shared files — or all your files. It can automatically back up every machine on your network, and it will even let you access all the stuff on it over the Internet.

The interface is designed to be simple and easy to use — no cryptic networking terms. It's about simplicity and function, and it's getting great reviews.

What's particularly cool is how WHS handles hard drives. You can pop in as many as you like, but instead of each drive getting it's own letter (e.g., F:, G:, H:, etc.), WHS treats all the storage as a single pool.

Thus it becomes a great way to 'recycle' your old hard drives, internal or external. Instead of connecting them to your machine and adding more of the alphabet to "My Computer," you pop them into WHS and add to the pool.

And get this: While you may see all the hard drives in the WHS box as a single chunk of storage, WHS knows that there are different physical drives and thus does its best to mirror the data on those different physical drives. (It's a Microsoft scheme similar to RAID, but that doesn't care what sizes the drives are.) So if a drive fails or needs to be removed, you don't lose your data.

Even if you only have a single computer in your home, dedicating an older machine as a WHS is a good idea simply for the protection against hard disk failure and the ability to pool your drives.

Computers are getting faster and better designed, but we are at a plateau where that additional speed only affects a handful of higher-end applications like games and video editing. So it makes sense that if you feel the need to upgrade, you put your old machine to good use, and not simply out to pasture.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/andrewkantor/2007-05-25-old-machine_N.htm?csp=34

More info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Home_Server

Looks like M$ hasn't abandoned low-end computers after all.
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nightflier
Administrator
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2007, 03:59:58 am »

Soon they will patent the concept of a "home server" and want licensing fees from us who have done this for years.
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easuter
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2007, 05:30:50 am »

Yeah...MS really knows how to innovate.... Roll Eyes
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saulgoode
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2007, 06:19:38 am »

It amazes me how even for something as simple as a file server, MS can require a 1GHz machine. For the longest time (in fact, I don't even know if it has ever been surpassed), the Internet record for serving up data in a 24-hour period was held by a 200MHz Pentium II running Linux (it might have been BSD, but I seem to recall it being Linux). I have used 90MHz Pentiums as fileservers and they had no problem flooding a T100 ethernet with data.

1GHz? Sheesh! I've been happily running Linux on 500MHz machine for four years and only recently upgraded to a 2GHz machine.
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A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.
GrannyGeek
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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2007, 09:38:01 am »

Hey, guys, don't knock it!

This sounds like a great idea to me (if it works as described). Unfortunately, you probably need to be running Windows in order to use it.

Sure, it has been possible for a long time to set up computers as file servers. You can do this in Windows and of course, in Linux. However, setting up a file server has been an extremely geeky task. This Windows Home Server promises to be easy enough for average users to set up a file server.

But....
It does mean you have to have a computer running whenever you want to access to the files. I don't like to use the power for a whole computer and I hate the noise. It also takes a fair amount of room, which is at a premium here.

I think NAS is a better solution. Unfortunately, as I found out when I was deciding how to add storage for all my photos and media files so any computer on my network could use them whether running Linux or Windows, NAS drives that work in an OS-agnostic way cost quite a bit more than I could afford (my limit was about $250 for 500 gigs). The cheaper NAS drives all seem to want Windows for their software that enabled sharing. I found one that looked as if it could be set up for Linux sharing (though not easily), but there were things about it that I didn't like.

A file server is also limited by the transfer rates of your 10/100 Ethernet and when we're talking large media files, a pokey transfer is not what you want. 10/100/1000 would be much better, but for that I'd need new hardware and I suppose new cable, and GrampaGeek would *not* appreciate another hands-and-knees job in the crawl space to run new Ethernet cable from my home office to the other locations.

I wound up buying a 500-gig drive to replace a 200-gig drive in my Sempron desktop. The media files will be stored there. Since that very quiet computer is almost always on, the laptop and the other desktop will simply access those files over the network. Saves me quite a bit of money. I have external hard drives for backing up all the media files. Currently 2 200-gig externals and a 160-gig external, and I'll put the 200-gig drive I'm removing from the computer into an external hard drive case for even more backup storage.

My first hard drive was 20 megs. I now have a little flash drive that holds 100 times as much. Smiley
--GrannyGeek
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bigpaws
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2007, 09:40:20 am »

Here is the question from MS website:

Quote
How much will Windows Home Server cost?

OEMs will set the final pricing for their products, depending on the storage capacity and additional capabilities. We'll have more information to share in the future.

The interpretation will be there are 4 price structures.

20-60 Gig     1-2 drives    $200.00
80-120 Gig   2-4 drives    $325.00
120+     Gig   multi Drive $425.00

The above price structure is a guess. MS does have a history
of this type pricing.

Bigpaws
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GrannyGeek
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2007, 09:51:11 am »

It looks like three price points to me, but yikes! $425 for the 500 gigs of space I would use??? Or would I come in under the "bargain" $200 for a single drive? And who's going to have 60 gigs or less nowadays anyway? They're not selling drives that small in retail channels any more and I don't think I'd want to put an old, slow clunker in the server anyway.

At those prices, it won't sell. Those of us not as rich as a Microsoft executive could buy a 500-gig external drive for $140 US any week online or at the big box stores and just carry it around or share it on the Windows network.

Oh wait--is this Bigpaws's guess? In that case, it's a worst-case scenario or attempt at Microsoft-bashing humor. $100-$150 would be reasonable with no limit on how much storage space could be in the server.
--GrannyGeek
« Last Edit: May 25, 2007, 09:54:50 am by GrannyGeek » Logged

Registered Linux User #397786

Happily running VL 7 Gold on  a Sempron LE-1300 desktop (2.3 GHz), 4 G RAM,  GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics and on an HP Pavilion dv7 i7, 6 gigs, Intel 2nd Generation Integrated Graphics Controller
nightflier
Administrator
Vectorian
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« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2007, 10:05:19 am »

Hey, guys, don't knock it!

No one says it is not a good idea. It is a great idea!

Now, I wonder about the implementation. They are talking about recycling your old computers and hard drives. So you will need to be savvy enough to open the case and add drives, then install your OS. This is beyond the skills of most people who buy their boxes pre-configured.
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GrannyGeek
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« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2007, 11:23:20 am »

They are talking about recycling your old computers and hard drives. So you will need to be savvy enough to open the case and add drives, then install your OS. This is beyond the skills of most people who buy their boxes pre-configured.

Actually, what I read on *Microsoft's* Web site wasn't talking about recycling old computers. That was the spin from some columnists.

The typical way most people would get Windows Home Server would be by buying a WHS appliance with the OS preinstalled. In fact, Microsoft's Web site talks only about OEMs, but according to columnists there will also be a version you can buy and install on a computer that has an Ethernet card and is attached to a router. So the tech savvy will have the option of using a suitable spare computer and the rest of the world can either buy the preinstalled "appliance" or have the Geek Squad set up something else.

It'll be interesting to see what these WHS appliances sell for. Theoretically, it should be reasonable, given that the hardware requires just hard drives, space for more hard drives, and Ethernet connectivity. An appliance does not require a video card or chip, sound, keyboard, mouse, or connectors for those. So we're talking about a very simple machine. And of course the cost of the Home Server system itself would have to be figured in somewhere. However, it simply won't sell if it's too high. You can get quite a nice brand-new computer these days for around $300 after rebates. Example--I saw this in the Circuit City weekend sale paper two weeks ago for $299.97 after $320 in rebates:
Celeron D 360
512 megs DDR2 RAM
120 GB hard drive
CD/DVD burner
17" CRT monitor
Windows Vista Home Basic

It'll be interesting to follow this story.
--GrannyGeek
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Registered Linux User #397786

Happily running VL 7 Gold on  a Sempron LE-1300 desktop (2.3 GHz), 4 G RAM,  GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics and on an HP Pavilion dv7 i7, 6 gigs, Intel 2nd Generation Integrated Graphics Controller
nightflier
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Vectorian
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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2007, 11:37:44 am »

Microsoft's Web site talks only about OEMs

Okay, that makes more sense. And used for automated backups as well as file storage. Hmmm... that is much like the servers I build and sell as a sideline business. Dang it, I thought I had a nice little niche there!  Angry
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Triarius Fidelis
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« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2007, 12:30:36 pm »

An old Pentium II running Linux or FreeBSD can easily outperform this offering, both in terms of performance and (most likely) security as well.

Even if the GUI eats up, say, 3% of CPU cycles, that means a server that could once handle a 1000 requests automatically handles 30 less.
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"Leatherface, you BITCH! Ho Chi Minh, hah hah hah!"

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GrannyGeek
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« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2007, 12:58:43 pm »

An old Pentium II running Linux or FreeBSD can easily outperform this offering, both in terms of performance and (most likely) security as well.

Even if the GUI eats up, say, 3% of CPU cycles, that means a server that could once handle a 1000 requests automatically handles 30 less.

The GUI is supplied by the networked machine connected to the WHS device.

It actually does a lot more than serve files. For example, it automatically backs up the computers that are on the Windows home network. This is badly needed, as average users have never gotten the hang of making backups. So then you have the sad tales of people who lost their entire photo collection when their hard drive went south. It also uses something to make all files appear in categories rather than by drive letters, so you could have four hard drives in there, for example, without dealing with four drive letters in My Computer (or "Computer" in Vista).

The emphasis is on ease of use, so that an average user can manage the system. That is NOT true with setting up Linux and BSD servers. Please--my head hurts just to think of it!

Also, the files stored appear in one big pool. Drive letters or locations become irrelevant. From
http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/whs_preview.asp :
"On the server-side, WHS finally does away with drive letters. 'No-one gets drive letters in Windows Home Server,' Headrick said. 'They'd just forget where they put stuff.' Instead, WHS aggregates all of the storage attached to the server into a single store pool, regardless of whether that storage is internal, external, or a combination. As you add drives to the server, the available storage pool simply increases."

I know it's against the rules to say something good about a Microsoft product, but this thing will be terrific if it lives up to its promise and isn't unreasonably priced. If I couldn't access it from Linux, it would be useless to me. But if I could set it up in Windows and then use it from any of my Linux computers, it sounds like something I've wanted ever since I got so many multigigs of media files.
--GrannyGeek
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Registered Linux User #397786

Happily running VL 7 Gold on  a Sempron LE-1300 desktop (2.3 GHz), 4 G RAM,  GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics and on an HP Pavilion dv7 i7, 6 gigs, Intel 2nd Generation Integrated Graphics Controller
Triarius Fidelis
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Domine, exaudi vocem meam


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« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2007, 01:08:25 pm »

 Shocked oic
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"Leatherface, you BITCH! Ho Chi Minh, hah hah hah!"

Formerly known as "Epic Fail Guy" and "Döden" in recent months
easuter
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« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2007, 02:05:20 pm »

Quote from: GrannyGeek
I know it's against the rules to say something good about a Microsoft product

Not at all,  I love my Microsoft keyboard!  Wink

Unfortunately, even though WHS does seem to have good points, MS never loses a chance to turn one of its products into a lock-in device  Roll Eyes
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Triarius Fidelis
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Domine, exaudi vocem meam


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« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2007, 02:11:05 pm »

Quote from: GrannyGeek
I know it's against the rules to say something good about a Microsoft product

Not at all,  I love my Microsoft keyboard!  Wink

Good point. If it weren't for the Win key, I would have no Compose function.
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"Leatherface, you BITCH! Ho Chi Minh, hah hah hah!"

Formerly known as "Epic Fail Guy" and "Döden" in recent months
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