Holidays are coming ! ( Somehow I cannot pronounce that scentence without thinking of the legendary Coca Cola add with the noisy trucks that splurge into a quiet little town, forcing them to drink soda) So we all know what that means : Some free time off work, and lots of family around the house. An ideal point to go sit upstairs .. alone and start an awesome geeky project of your own. Seriously, when you should find yourself bored into a comatosed state by cousin Joey trying to explain to you how Baseball works while the entire family huddles around the tv, you catch yourself thinking ‘I must have SOMETHING better to do ? ‘ We have come to save you with some nice possible suggestions.
Geek project 1 : Build your own fileserver. Time to setup a beige box upstairs to store all your files.
- An old PC and some hard drives
- Nas4Free operating system
- KW405 podcast to explain
- Nas4Free documentation Wiki
Result : Kickass File server.
Geek project 2: Build your own Home server. Want to step it up ? Try Amahi : A full blown home server with a fileserver, webserver, mediastreaming, vpn acces and one click apps.
- A beige box with some ram and a hard drive.
- Amahi operating system
- KW0054 podcast to explain
- The Amahi tutorial
Result : Awesome central machine for tons of point and click functionalities.
Geek project 3 : Build your own arcade machine. Tired of those 764 frames per second shooters with infinite resolution ? Why not step back into pure nostalgia and run a plethora of 8 bit games from your own home.
- Beige box (or a Virtual Machine for all I care) with some ram.
- Mame quickstart guide (32 bit Windows Tutorial)
- Tm’s guide on building your own arcade system (Requires understanding spouse AT LEAST)
Result : Instant friendship with all your neighbours. (Since you have just built your very own arcade system)
Geek project 4 : Build your own internet radio station : Tired of listening to adds on Spotify ? Have you recently assaulted a co-worker with his/her transistor radio while trying to point out he/she has no taste ? Unable to take your favorite collections with you ? Weep no more. Build your own Icecast and stream the music from the comfort of your own home.
- Beige Box, Virtual machine or some CPU cycles on one of your machines at home.
- A music collection
- This tutorial for Ubuntu
- This tutorial for Windows users
Result : Global musical domination. (if you have a big enough pipe) If not : The ability to listen to your music EVERYWHERE.
So .. what are YOU planning to do for the holidays ? What geek projects have we missed that are essential to getting through these dark days ? Impress us with your geek-fullness in the comments section. We dare ya !
We get technical this week with a great open source and free network attached filestorage solution called NAS4FREE. After running down the list of things it can do we show you how to tweak into the core of your cross-platform filesharing world, enabling you to use it as a central filehub for all of your devices and from all of your locations. We top it off with some information on how to virtualise the whole solution and give you a spot of music from Planet Boelex’s new track ‘Refurbished’ all of that and more on Kw405.
You’ve heard us talk lots of times about Virtualbox. Our FAVORITE free (as in ‘Gratis’) cross platform virtualisation software. As we mentioned in the previous podcast episode about “Proxmox” (a more serious virtualisation tool) the machines in our home with their I5 and i7 processors and “Gigglebytes” of ram .. are mostly idling around in a corner when you’re not playing Call of Duty (and perhaps you even do THAT on the Xbox) So lets give those machines something to DO ! Running a ‘dedicated’ solution like dropbox might just be a little too much, but perhaps you have some cycles to spare on another system that is also being used as a desktop ? Why not try Virtualbox.
As an example : Currently I have dragged my I7, 16 gigabyte’s of ram Mac Mini downstairs and hooked it up to our tv. Since it carries most of our media it was a little silly to have it running in my upstairs office and having to stream everything back to the TV using a second (front end) box. So now the little bugger sits in our media cabinet with some 4 terrabyte of USB Harddisks hooked up to it. Having it just sit there running OSX and acting as a mediaserver or fileserver was a waste of power and cpu cycles. So with virtualbox I gave it something to do. I installed Virtualbox, hooked up a big external usb drive and started cooking some VM’s.
- Ubuntu 12.10 vm with LXDE : This is my ‘internal’ ubuntu desktop. I use it for running cronjobs, copy operations and scripts that are meant for internal use only. Its my ‘Secure box’. I’ve enabled the RDP server on it (a builtin function of Virtualbox) so I can cantrol the screen of the virtual machine from afar.
- Ubuntu 12.10 vm with LXDE : The second machine has a torrent client running as does the ‘dirty deeds’ that need to be done on the internet. Insecure surfing, downloading and remote access via SSH are its main goals. Once a week I ‘roll back’ the machine to its original (clean) post install state with the “snapshot” function of Virtualbox.
- Ubuntu 12.10 Server : The main task of this machine is running OWNCLOUD (also featured in one of our podcasts) as my personal cloud storage.
- Nas4Free : With a 1800 gigabyte virtual disk, this VIRTUAL machine acts as my main file storage system. So instead of putting my files on a disk and sharing them out via the file-sharing options on my (host) OSX system, I made a virtual machine of a linux application geared towards storage and filesharing … and put all of my files INSIDE a virtual machine. Performance is very good so far and the added perks to running Nas4free are going to be a topic for next weeks podcast.
In the end, controlling these virtual machines is a little messy sometimes. I mean you can’t just interrupt @Niejana when she is watching “Blood and Chrome” to say : Sorry about that, I need to mess with something on my Virtualbox and for that I need to use the TV ? You need ‘remote’ ways to manage that virtual machine situation.
- Controlling the Virtual Machines. Remote controlling the virtual machines is easy. You can use the built in RDP server in Virtualbox to use an RDP client (on any operating system) to open up the remote machine. If you also want to access them from the outside, try installing Teamviewer on the Virtual Machine. If you are using a Linux operating system as your virtual machine you can enable the SSH Server and go in via the terminal.
- Controlling Virtualbox. Unbeknown to many, virtualbox has a powerful set of terminal commands you can use. With a simple terminal window to my Mac (SSH) I can use the ‘VboxManage’ commands to do just about anything. Make a new virtual machine, clone a drive, resize a drive. Everything runs in the background and its a very very powerful tool. You can find the entire list of Virtualbox commands HERE.
- Controlling Virtualbox with a web interface. Virtualbox also has a web interface that helps you control your virtualmachines. In a point and click way you can start and stop VM’s and do anything you can do on the ‘regular’ desktop window. Installing it might be a little chore (depending on the host operating system you use) but the results are pretty spiffy. Find the howto HERE.
And with those little tips you know can turn that headless box OR that powerful machine upstairs that is always on, but sometimes used by your kids for gaming… into your own personal datacenter. Don’t have the spare beige box for Proxmox ? Just have a desktop and want to get it to do some cool things ‘under the hood’. Want your own invisible datacenter ? Here you go ! Download Virtualbox NOW.