Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Media Server with Xen, Ubuntu and Docker

The post is about building a media server for myself and I'm just getting started so I thought I'd document what I am planning and the progress I make toward my planned objectives.

First the objective: A media server that is...
  • Small and quiet (fan-less) yet powerful enough to handle serving video, audio and pictures as well as transcoding video files.
  • Total SSD preferred. 1TB min
  • Support for Xen hypervisor
  • Intel based (keeping it simple).
  • 100BaseT full duplex (two would be good)
  • Runs headless
  • 64G RAM
  • USB3
  • DisplayPort
  • Wifi
  • Xeon or i3 min (net 8 cores with hyperthreading)
My plan is to load this box with Xen and Ubuntu for both the privliged kernel and the hosted OS's. From there I plan on running the media server(s) in Docker VM's

I'm off to Fry's the evening to see if I can get the hardware together...

2016-01-14 22:00 EDT 

After visiting Fry's and looking at the compact PC they had, I began to question my approach. First off the biggest little box is a two core, four thread i7 with a max of 16GB of memory. It did have a SATA stick position and a standard laptop sized drive bay. The 500 GB Samsung stick was 179 if I remember, I'm pretty sure the 500GB drive was about the same price. 

That seems to be a lot of storage in that little box for the amount of CPU it has. Would it be better to put the media on some sort of NAS rather than the local system? If so does it make since to invest in one of these Intel systems for sale at Fry's or possibly find something on eBay? The price of this mini powerhouse was going to exceed one thousand dollars and that's what caused me to reevaluate what I'm am trying to do.

After reconsidering my purchase decision I began to think about what I'm really trying to do. That is building a Home DVR/DVP setup. The bulk of the set up is software and one of my objectives is to make this a virtualized, Docker based servers. As I thought about it I realized I was really being driven my my old school ways. My first thought was to go out and buy hardware. As it turns out I already have it. It's my Macbook Pro. It has i7 4 core, 16 GB, & 1 TB SSD.

I won't get to play with Xen with Ubuntu running on separate system but I can run VirtualBox on OSx so I think I'm good for now. 

Next steps:

  • Install  the Sage DVR
  • Get off-air recording using Ethernet based TV tuner 
  • Install Plex Player
  • Configure home router to map ports to the ports for Plex
This will keep me busy for awhile... 
BTW: I'm a been home-brewing for the past two years and I'm brewing this weekend. Brewing Fusty's Number 21 American Pale Ale.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

AT&T buys T-Mobile? NOT!

Well I guess there are to many folks that think this merger will shrink the market players to the point that it impacts us consumers. Well, I have to say I understand this. What would we do if we didn't have four national PCS carriers? OMG! ;-)

AT&T and Verizon will continue to grow but having T-Mobile and Sprint nipping at their heals with lower prices and -- in some places -- better coverage will keep them from resting on their butts too much. Let's hope anyway.

Monday, March 21, 2011

AT&T buys TMobile. Well done AT&T!

AT&T's acquisition of TMobile is a really strong home run. This acquisition means that AT&T will control all of the current 3G GSM/TDMA technology in the US. They have a technology that is compatible and with this merger they will leapfrog Verizon Wireless in subscribers and more importantly bandwidth. Over time this could have a bigger boost to AT&T in the form of a better reputation in network coverage and reliability.

To date Verizon Wireless has for the most part been on top when it comes to bandwidth and reliability. Now with the combined networks of the existing AT&T (formarly Cingular [or SBC and Bellsouth Celluar]) and TMobile, AT&T may actually have the upper hand.

Now all of this is of course pending approval of both the SEC and the FCC so there is going to be some talk about this in all of the media channels used by politicians. My take is that it's a smart move. It's not too big to be blocked this time but another merger of this size would be more difficult and protracted. In other words a merger of the two CDMA networks in the US will have more scrutiny than this one will.

That said, I'm not so sure Verizon Wireless is really interested in going after Sprint. They just acquired Alltell Wireless in 2009 and they are busy deploying their new nationwide 4G network based on the latest TDMA technology called LTE. It is being deployed using the new 700 MHz spectrum license bought at auction from the FCC. The folks at Verizon Wireless have enough on their plate right now and the new spectrum will compete nicely with combined AT&T/TMobile network.

My guess is that it will go through. It will take some time, like until 2013 or later but it will go through. Overall this is a much better deal than a TMobile/Sprint deal if simply for the compatibility of the networks. Not to sound to ominous I think we are headed towards a duopoly of national cellular carriers. The winners are AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Vzw will buy Sprint or Sprint will go under. That might take another five years or more but ultimately we'll end up those two carriers so get used to it.

There's my two cents.

Fail! Yes Dorthy there is a CDMA iPhone

OK so I said that there wouldn't be a CDMA iPhone and I admit it I was wrong. Hey I don't always get it right.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hotel Resin - You can sign in but you can't sign out.

I'm working on a project that uses resin 3.0.6 and have found that there is a bug in session management. The server won't always notify HttpSessionListeners of a session timing out. The fix is to upgrade to Resin 4.0.13. Great idea. Oh I've got an idea. Howa about fixing the version we've got?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A CDMA iPhone? NOT!

I think this new iPhone is a 4G LTE iPhone, NOT CDMA 3G as reported.

Actually Verizon is switching from CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).Their 4G network is based on LTE (Long Term Evolution) which, I believe is a GSM standard. Regardless it is a TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) technology not CDMA. It will probably take somewhere close to 10 years to retire their 3G CDMA network.

This makes since because Verizon has said that they will deploy their 4G/LTE infrastructure through 2010 and 2011. Major markets will have LTE on Vzw by the end of this year. Once a standardized voice profile is established for LTE, voice calls can be made. Spell that Skype.

So my guess is there is no CDMA iPhone coming and there are a number of reasons for that.

  1. It's the old technology (I like CDMA better but I liked BetaMax better too).

  2. To produce a CDMA phone you have to pay (one way or another) Qualcomm royalties. Not something Jobs want to do.

  3. The Vzw LTE network is fast on it's way and will probably get here before Apple could make a CDMA iPhone.

  4. Why would Apple be putting engineering talent on this old CDMA technology that Steve doesn't want when LTE is on it's way for both Vzw and AT&T?

My bet is It's an LTE iPhone not a CDMA iPhone.

I started this as a comment on WSJ's Digits site. A couple of responses to my comment questioned the point about VzW switching to LTE. I believe the premise of their comments went to the point of Vzw abandoning their 3G CDMA network. I think we all know that's not going to happen at least for 10 years and maybe more. The network is still good and reliable and will be for many more years.

But Verizon is adding LTE quickly and as quoted in Wireless Week "Verizon is set to deploy LTE in 25 to 30 different markets later this year."

As I understand it the voice profile for transferring voice data across LTE may not be standardized yet and there could be continued delay for handset development (total speculation on my part). If Apple comes out with a device that works on LTE and works with the closest thing to the current gold stanadard for the voice profile they could walk away with the new LTE phone market. But my guess is that HTC, Nokia, Motorola and LG are all working on the handset technology as well and we will see handsets that are compatible with LTE maybe sooner than later.

As these handsets come onto the market many of them will work with the new LTE networks in the same way as analog/digital model of the last several years. The iPhone may be a bit of a maverick and only work (because their Apple) with the LTE network. The advanced network throughput will be a real consumer draw. If Apple can get it out quickly… (the first LTE handset is the iPhone?) How sweet would that be for Apple! That’s the way Jobs thinks. “Let’s do a little leapfrog from where we are in this tech landscape and shake things up a bit.” The iPhone itself is the proof of this kind of culture at Apple.

So yeah I still think the new iPhone will be the iPhone 4G not a CDMA version of the iPhone 3G