Installing Amahi 6.1 Express on VMware vSphere 4.x

Today an email announcing the release of the Express CD v1.0 for Amahi 6.1 landed in my mailbox.

The Express CD is billed as the the shortest, fastest, easiest way to install Amahi – and turn your PC into a headless Amahi 6.1 HDA (Home Digital Assistant) in a flash.

So I downloaded the 64 bit version of the Express CD to take it for a  quick spin in VMware vSphere.

I uploaded the Express CD .iso to my vSphere server and then created a new virtual machine. I set the Guest Operating System to Linux and then selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (64 bit).

I created a small 25GB thin provisioned hard disk and otherwise accepted the defaults through the rest of the wizard.

Installation is as follows – press the Enter key to install Amahi 6.1:

Select your preferred language and click Next:

Confirm your keyboard layout and click Next:

Select your time-zone and click Next:

Enter a password for the root user and then click Next:

Enter your Amahi install code (you will need to register on the Amahi site to obtain one).

Click Next to reboot.

Amahi will configure itself and require another reboot – press the Enter key to reboot.

Amahi is now installed and can be accessed with a browser at http://hda.

Log on with a browser with the user-name admin and the password admin.

Enter a new admin password to continue.

You should now see the Amahi dashboard from which you can manage your HDA:

I installed open-vm-tools as follows.

First log into Amahi with a browser and then click the Setup link at the top right of the page and then click the Apps tab.

Scroll down to RPM Fusion (Free) and click Install.

Now log in to Amahi as root on VMware vSphere by opening the console window or by using putty or a similar tool. Issue the following commands:

yum update
yum install open-vm-tools

Once installation is complete reboot the virtual machine:

reboot -h now

Open-vm-tools should now be running.

I have to say that I found installing Amahi with the Express CD to be a great improvement – well done Amahi!


Amahi – Version 6 Released

Amahi (a linux based home server) reached version 6 today boasting many new improvements and features.

Amahi is now based on Fedora 14 and sees updates to the storage pooling technology (Greyhole), App installation reliability, and an improved User Interface.

The most interesting improvements / features include:

  • Greyhole (storage pooling technology) has been updated to version 0.9.
  • Greyhole now uses MySQL as a back-end with a 10x performance increase.
  • Webapp aliases make it much easier to host applications externally on the internet.
  • App installation now relies on distributed mirrors.
  • Amahi Sync – an application that allows users to sync, share and backup files online (Pro or Ninja account required).

A Pro account currently costs $7.95 per month with 50Gb of online storage, while Ninja costs $15.95 per month for 150Gb. To me this seems a little costly compared to some of the other cloud storage options that are out there.

Amahi 6 certainly looks like an interesting proposition to anyone looking for a Linux alternative to Windows Home Server

Amahi / Greyhole – Alternatives to Windows Home Server (Vail)?

Microsoft dropped the Drive Extender (DE) functionality from Windows Home Server (Vail) this week, to the surprise and disbelief of the WHS community.

Drive Extender allowed users to dynamically shrink and grow their WHS storage pool and enable folder level duplication to protect important files. In Vail DE promised some great new features – such as real time data duplication, background storage operations, uninterrupted media steaming and more. At this juncture I have to say that I am very disappointed with DE being dropped from Vail and find it hard to see how it will gain much traction in the market without it.

I had recently been pondering what the alternatives to WHS might be and was already aware of a similar technology for Linux called Greyhole (as found in products such as Amahi) and was also looking into Nexenta – a ZFS based server platform.

My plan is to evaluate the basic workings of both in virtual machines before I make any decisions – but I did receive a timely email from the Amahi group today promoting Amahi (and Greyhole) as a WHS (Vail) alternative.

The feature set for Greyhole certainly looks to be good – though there are apparently still some “obscure” bugs to be worked out. This is probably to be expected given that Greyhole is still in Beta. I can’t say that the prospect of trusting my data to Beta software gives me much comfort – but equally WHS had some very bad issues in its early days that took a long time to be resolved. This explains why I was not an early adopter of WHS either.

One of the key tests for me will be to see if the ‘automatic free space balancing across disks’ interrupts other server operations such as streaming media or not? I certainly don’t expect it to, but I have not seen anything documenting how this feature works either.

Another feature that sways me towards Greyhole is that drives can be removed from a Greyhole storage pool and read directly by another (Linux) computer. This was certainly something that I appreciated in WHS (although this was not to be the case in Vail).

After Window 7 I had high hopes for Vail and it really is a shame that Microsoft has thrown in the towel with Drive Extender in Vail. While DE certainly was not perfect in WHS version 1 it was a big step in the right direction for the consumer market as it was a huge part of what made WHS “simple” to administer. I will wait and see what the final version of Vail looks like next year – but at this point I am hardly waiting with baited breath.

I still plan to use WHS to backup Windows machines and will probably run it as a virtual machine again in the future.