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Messages - Troberg

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Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 07, 2010, 08:41:11 pm »
I don't think you should think of LinuxMCE as a program.  Rather you should think of it as a unifying bridge architecture that draws together multiple and diverse applications and integrates them with a range of hardware, in order to present a plug and play experience to the user from the networked infrastructure upwards through individual items of functionality.

If you don't want it to be that (and the LinuxMCE network {or subnet} is a fundamental component of the system), then you may be better looking elsewhere.

That's more or less the conclusion I've come to. I already have a network. It feels wrong to duplicate functionality I already have, just to have to find hackish ways to avoid problems due to that duplication of functionality.

Don't kid yourself, though.  You'll have to put in an awful lot of work on individual applications to get anything approaching the functionality of LinuxMCE.

Yes and no. At the moment, all I want is a good media center. In the future,say a year or two, I might to integrate some sensors from my alarm system. Home automation may arrive, but that's maybe fice years away. In other words, I don't need to duplicate all of it, just a few limited bits.

This thing here is a breathtaking achievement, almost without peer.  It's flawed, and in early development stages, but don't let that blind you to what a stunning achievement it is.

Oh, I agree, and I think I've stated that several times. It was very impressive when it arrived, more or less out of the blue, and it's even more impressive now, and I certainly will keep a close eye on the project and forks of it. At the moment, though, it looks like my needs are a bit outside the scope of the project.

That's fine, we all have our views on things.  It perhaps should occur to you that as the world becomes more and more integrated, and expects certain standards methods of connectivity, your system will run into increasing problems.  It may be that you are correct and everyone else is wrong, but given that they will be able to do things, and you wont, it will be little comfort to you.

There will always be a possibility to have dedicated servers for each function, if nothing else because large networks demand it.

I was trying to help.  I think you're profoundly mistaken in some of your beliefs (and yes, I am a professional working in the field). You have your view, and I wish you good luck.

Well, I appreciate the help a lot, you've given it a lot of time and effort. I don't share your views on some things, but, that's what comes with different experiences (and I'm also a professional). If one gets burned, one stays away from the thing that burned.

I must confess that I'm not sure MCE is for you. You have a lot of contraints which, it seems to me, you are not willing to flex on and which, as I see it, will result in you having a lot of trouble.

Agreed. I need something more flexible, and I'm prepared to give up some functionality for that.

MCE uses PXE booting. This is to ensure the software is distributed / mantained easily. You don't need to install stuff all over the place (core, MDs etc etc) You also don't require a local HDD in every MD, which reduces power consumption and cost.

Actually, I like that. Also, without a HD, you could put a huge passive cooler on the CPU and remove the fan from the PSU, making the device completely silent.

MCE needs to be your DHCP server. This is partly due to the PXE and partly due to the whole PnP concept. How else would the core "know" that there is a new device on the network? When a new device requests it's address, the core can use the MAC to determine if it's a fileserver / NAS thus needing scanning or a mobile device that needs the Orbiter image.

I see what you mean, but there are other solutions. PXE could definitely be set up on another DHCP server. As for differentiating machines, it could be done through a PXE boot which in an early step asks the core what it should be (although, I do realize that this would be a major rethink).

As for scanning servers, that's something I really, really do not want done automatically. As I've said, I have plenty of data. Even a simple ls of them takes 4-5 hours, so currently, I do it during the night, once a week, and then use that cached list. Faster, and easier on the disks.

MCE needs to be your router. This is because your ISP's router is probably set up as a DHCP server. Rather than having to go in and re-configure it (which isn't a very "non-tech" friendly requirement!), it's easier to make MCE dual-homed. The "public" NIC can play nicely with the ISP's router etc whilst the "private" NIC can do what it needs to do, including DHCP.

Makes sense for an ordinary user, but not for a technician like me. I don't even use any router from the ISP, just my own Smoothwalls. Hardware routers is something I have really bad experiences with, for instance, maxing out at 512 concurrent connections, which more or less makes P2P impossible.

Also, I see a distinct possibility that LinuxMCE might interfere with such things as VLANs and TOR. The thing that scares me is that once you leave a program to handle too much, you both become dependant on it and you lose control over it. It becomes a package deal, you get some good stuff, but some stuff does not work, and since it's a package deal, there's not much to do about it.

Now, looking at your setup, we have a completely different scenario. You are putting a lot of constraints on MCE which means that, IMHO, it won't actually do anything for you. You say yopu want 1 machine per function. Well, there's nothing to stop you installing MythTV on a box, Asterix on a box and so on. With all due respect, I think you are missing the point of MCE, which is why you are fighting it!

No, I'm not missing it, but I only need a subset of what it does. The rest just duplicates what I already have, and in a way that is somewhat awkward for me, or are things I don't even need. If I can get that subset (at the moment, a decent media center) without hassle, that's what I prefer.

I also think you are somewhat overly-inflexible about your current setup.

Well, I can't really afford much downtime, and I don't really have much time to spend on it. That means that I avoid tinkering.

I hear what you say about 1 public organisation, but there are millions of commercial networks out there that need and use managed switches very successfully.

In my opinion, that need is a need that can be avoided through proper planning and through placing the intelligence in computers instead of network devices.

MCE is a distributed, integrated system, it ISN'T a set of descrete computers on a network. It needs to work the way it does for reasons mentioned above. Stop thinking of it as taking over your network and think of it as a system on your network. If you go down the route of another network, you will have the MCE "system" existing on your current network with a single connection. The second network, whether provided with vLANs on your current structure, or with parallel cables, is part of your MCE system.

Sorry, but I can't decide to have my servers available on only one of two networks, physical or logical. They need to be accessible from both worlds. Forcing them to be on one and letting the communication to them go through the LinuxMCE core would provide a very nasty spof. The logical solution would be to just add another NIC to the servers allowing them to be on both networks, but there's no slots left in them, they are full of disk controllers.

Finally, you have already said you don't have the time to devote to helping develop MCE (although you seem happy to make use of other's work free of charge) yet you are prepared to put time and effort into re-engineering the system to fit your environment. This will be a huge task which will, I think, ultimately be doomed to failure.

Yep, I'm happy to use it free of charge, the same way I participate in other projects which are free of charge, as well as release some of my own stuff free of charge. I have every respect for the FOSS movement, but I have to pace myself and select some projects to support. I can't be everywhere.

Perhaps it will be futile. My plan is to make a quick test shot in a limited copy of my environment. Set up a separate network, modelled after the one I have, just with less machines. I can borrow one Smoothwall and internet connection for it, and use some spare desktops and laptops to simulate servers and desktops, as well as the core and the media players. Setting up that network can be done in a few hours, and then I can test it safely. If it works, good, if not, I'll check back later after a few versions.

Good luck, but I seriously doubt you will experience the success or have the pleasure of a system like the one seen in videos by people such as Thom....

Perhaps, but it's worth a try.

As I said, I really like LinuxMCE, otherwise, I would not go through this much trouble to make it work in my non-trivial network. Had it been lesser software, just suggesting that it must be run on 192.168.80.* would be enough for me to throw it out and not look back (by the way, with that limitation, how do you intend to handle networks with a need for more than 255 IP's, that's getting common in home networks now (or, possibly, me and my friends are not typical home networkers)).

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 07, 2010, 05:29:58 pm »
Yep, I know I'm stubborn, but I've invested quite a lot of time into my network, and I really don't want to take unnecessary risks with it. I don't want to change too much, and especially not at the same time. Don't mess with something that works and all that.

I also do have a certain aversion to software which doesn't respect my way of doing things. Assuming a certain network architecture is one such things, but I've also thrown out programs for such things as not respecting my user interface settings (colors, look and so on). Well behaved software does not work like that. I've actually started a sketch on a manifesto for how software should behave, which, among other things, adresses this:

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 07, 2010, 04:38:27 pm »
Given the skill level you alude to, and the huge investment in your existing network, this is so clearly the way to go that I'm staggered that you can't see it.

I can see it, but I don't like it. Frankly, I don't like having my network architecture dictated by a single program. What happens when the next program that demands to control it comes along? There can only be one king, and up til now, that king has been me. If I let LinuxMCE be that king, what happens when, say, a virtual CD server comes along and wants to be king? That's why I like to remain king, and have software as my obedient servant.

What I have works. It works really good. That means that I want a minimum of changes.

There really is nothing wrong with managed switches - the whole world uses them.

I don't, and one of the largest government agencies in Sweden don't, as they found them too problematic. I've tried them, and it wasn't worth the problems. For example, when they go down, I can't just take another from the shelf and plug it in, I must configure it identically as the broken one. That means downtime, it means work and it means a possible mistake can be made.

Back to the need for a diagram that I could modify and show you visually what I'm thinking.

I don't have a diagram, but basically, this is how it works:

* Two incoming internet lines. These go to two switches, which are two separate networks.
* On these switches, SmoothWall machines are the gateways to the rest of the network.
* The main network. Here is a bunch of desktops, laptops, servers (web, mail, file, DB, download slaves, DNS, DHCP and some other stuff), game consoles and other stuff.
* Some servers have dual NICs (actually, all have, but not all use them), and stand with one leg on each side of the Smoothwalls. I know this is not optimal from a security perspective, but the servers are hardened and so far, they have not been breached. This arrangement is there for two reasons: ease of administration and because some servers used to have several purposes. It also allows me to load balance simply by moving a cable from one switch to another, or to move all traffic to the other connection if one should fail.

Now, as I don't really want to change things unnecessarily, what I need to do it to use LinuxMCE as DHCP server. This means reconfiguring it a lot, as it will still need to work with the settings I use now, but that can probably be done. I still need to keep my Smoothwalls as gateways.

I would very much prefer to keep my IP range, as things are bound to break unexpectedly otherwise. I might expand it to 192.168.*.*, that might allow the larger range I need anyway, while still allowing LinuxMCE to have it the way it likes it. That would probably solve a lot of problems.

I don't know how much hassle it will be to update all the "hidden" references in config files.

That's the problem, I don't know either. I know I have settings all over the place, for databases, my own server software and other services, but I don't know where. In other words, it will be a very annoying period of fixing unexpected errors, a period that may last for years, as some programs are not run very often.

Give static IPs for everything you don't want/need to be used by LinuxMCE and let LinuxMCE DHCP the new LinuxMCE only stuff.

Nope, not happy with that. Some machines need to be on the main network and have a DHCP address, as they are also used on other networks and I don't want to go into the network settings every time I move a laptop. I also have guests connecting to the network, and they should also get on the correct network through DHCP.

NAS devices for media

Will not happen. I use file servers, mainly because I trust a disk which is under the control of an OS I can actually manipulate more than a disk in a black box. Also, as a side project, I'm sketching on a file system, which will eventually be used on my file servers and which will be extremely cool ( Doing that with a NAS is awkward.

There is obviously a logical separation with this method, and existing media will not be picked up and used by LinuxMCE unless you change it to the LinuxMCE subnet

This is also not acceptable. I have some 20-25 TB data on my file servers, and will probably have more than doubled it in a year. That data needs to be accessible from both media players and from the rest of the machines.

It will let you do things like have a box that boots from HD as a workstation on one logical subnet separate from LinuxMCE, or PXE boot as a media director.

As I've said, I'm not a fan of dual purpose hardware. It's either a media player or a workstation, not both. Besides, I usually only reboot my machines when there has been a power-out.


You have given me a lot to think about, and I will make some tests, probably during the weekend. I have 5 or 6 machines just standing around from an earlier shopping spree, so I can set up a small test network will little work (except for the part of going out to the shed to get the spare monitors, in -25 degrees C...).

Spontaneously, though, my gut feeling tells me that it's better to go with some simple solution (XBMC is probably the logical choice) for now, as it feels like LinuxMCE is not designed for medium/large networks. I still have great hopes for LinuxMCE, don't get me wrong, but I think that it must probably first fully explore the small network territory and then expand into a form more flexible and more suitable for the more complex environments. I suspect that will take a few years, but I'm also confident that it will eventually happen.

So, depending on how the tests go, it may be now or later, with something else for now.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 06, 2010, 07:26:48 am »
A diagram would be really helpful.

Yep, I know, but I don't have any that's up to date since I moved.

Nope, it wouldn't.

Am I misunderstanding what you say? I interpreted it as splitting the network in two subnets, putting the LinuxMCE server between the "server network" and the "client network". That would be a spof.

You can have a nice integrated media solution without rebuilding/rethinking your network.  The only big changes would be static IPs for your servers (if you haven't done that already), and changing to 192.168.80.x IPs for those devices you want on the LinuxMCE network (same physical network I realize, but also same subnet to avoid traffic going through a router and hitting the physical network twice).

The servers are mostly on fixed IP's today, as is some development machines (easier to debug network code with fixed IP). Some servers are not (mostly the download slaves), but could be. It would be good if these can remain on the same IP's and on the same network, as there are lots of "hidden" references in configuration files for various programs.

For practical reasons, I also want my desktops and laptops to be on that subnet.

What would the gain be in having the LinuxMCE machines on a different network, especially as the big file servers will remain on the network with servers and desktops/laptops?

Surely, it can't be that hard to put LinuxMCE on the same subnet? In my experience, if you don't have any compelling reason to split into subnets, don't.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 05, 2010, 03:36:25 pm »
I thought you said you were a programmer? RAD??? Bah! LOL

Well, at work, I get paid by the hour, so it doesn't matter. At home, I want to get things done, then have some spare time so I can get other things done.

I agree, but then you are a tech-head. MOST home users don't have the money / space / power / experience / need to do that.

Well, some people claim that I'm not an average user. I claim that I have so many machines that the average is skewed my way (if I use 25 machines, shouldn't that count as 25 users in the statistics).

As far as I can see you're really missing the point here. Linuxmce is designed to work by taking over DCHP and allowing the media/automation network to be plug and play.

No, I get the point, it's just that my needs are different, which means that LinuxMCE may not be for me. I'll do a small scale test with a few machines on a separate network this weekend and see what I can do with it, but for now, my gut instinct tells me that LinuxMCE fiddles around in too much stuff that I don't want fiddled.

I'm not saying that the concept is wrong, I'm saying that I might not be the target for such a concept. A less intrusive system which is just one application among others and no ambitions to become "supreme ruler of my network" ;), such as XBMC might be a better fit for me.

That's it.  It's that simple.  Set up a subnet and you can use Linuxmce as intended.  You my use lots of words to describe how big smart and efficient your network is.  As you have described it I feel that I could achieve what you want to. It's simple.  S-U-B-N-E-T.  You will almost certainly need at least one managed switch.

No, it would require all my switches to be managed, as the media players is placed more or less at the far end. As I said earlier, I've had problems with managed switches, and I'm not prepared to go down that road again. I want the intelligence on my network to be in the computers, not in the switches. Also, I want to be able to reach every machine from every other machine, if nothing else because it makes trouble shooting so much easier. I also suspect things will be easier if the file servers are on the same network as the media players, but I also need my desktop machines and laptops on that network, and they should not receive DHCP from LinuxMCE.

Also, if one starts designing the network to accommodate specific software, I'll probably run into two problems down the line:

* Some other software wants it some other way.
* Some update will require me to rebuild my network.

Also, I'm lazy. I don't want to reconfigure the network more than absolutely necessary. I have lots of things that will start to break, such as database connections and such stuff, if I start dividing the network into separate subnets. Sure, I can fix it, but such tasks have a tendency to snowball into an avalanche of related issues, until I get enough and just goes back to the way it was.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 05, 2010, 11:24:38 am »
Don't get me wrong here, I love the scope and ambition of the LinuxMCE project. I'd love to help, but I'm not a Linux programmer (yet, I will eventually, but I'm still looking for a nice RAD environment), and at the moment, I have other concerns which fill my time.

The way I see it, LinuxMCE is the by far most ambitious project of its kind, taking it beyond a simple media center into a home center. The modularity and configurability is very imressive indeed.

What I feel, however, is that any single program that wants to control my network is a problem. One such program can probably work nicely, but what happens when the next such program comes along? That's the reason I try to maintain a strict "one program does one thing, and does it good (and that goes double for server software)" and a "each machine only carries a single server service". That way, there's a minimum of collisions, and if a machine dies, only a single function on the network dies, and it will be simpler to replace. It also allows me to replace services one at the time, which minimize the risk of everything becoming very confused.

Also, by trying to do things outside the main scope of the product, such as providing basic network infrastructure, chances are that those odd bits will not be as full featured, as well done and as well maintained as a dedicated program. Just look at Outlook, which I'm forced to use at work. Instead of being a mail client, it's also a customer database, calendar, booking tool, and does neither good. If they had focused their efforts, they could have made a decent mail client, now, instead, it's a crappy mail client, crappy customer database, crappy calendar and a crappy booking tool.

In this case, it does provide some neat features, such as PXE, but it's a bit scary to replace such a vital part of a complex network as the DHCP server. Chances are that there will be problems, and with them, downtime.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 05, 2010, 06:21:22 am »
Welcome to the development team

Sorry, but at the moment, I have my own programs to add insane amounts of useless features to.  ;D

I/we also don't fully understand your setup.  I.e. which servers are internal vs. external, what spof path are you concerned with,

There is no clear distinction between internal and external servers. The servers which are accessible from the outside also have an internal NIC, which makes them a lot easier to manage. As I have them pretty much locked down and behind strict firewalls, I don't see this as a major security breach. In other words, they have two connections, one to the firewalls, one to the LAN.

Your suggestion would create a bottleneck between servers and desktops which would be a spof.

What I want/need is a way to have a nice integrated media solution without having to rebuild/rethink my network, at least not in a major way. I don't get why it have to be so hard, is there really any reason LinuxMCE actually needs to control your network and determine the design of it? The only reason I can see is PXE, but any DHCP server should be able to handle that. I do modern multi tier software for a living, and usually it's just a matter of configuring a few addresses so that the parts find each other.

The more I look it, the more I think that some other solution might fit my needs better, such as XBMC. Sure, it will take a bit of work to integrate my alarm sensors, but that's a later project anyway. At least that's just a simple install, and no need to rebuild/rethink my network. Too bad, LinuxMCE really has some nice features.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 04, 2010, 09:14:01 pm »
Also, if you are intending to stream real-time stuff over a large (and presumably fairly busy) network, QoS becomes important, particularly if you have a mix of network speeds.

It's all gigabit now, except a few game consoles. I'm alone on the network, and the busy server to server traffic is on a separate network just for them (they are all in the same room, so that's easy). QoS is not a problem. I choke my disks before I choke the network.

I had assumed that, given what you said about your network (reliability etc), you would be using commercial-grade managed switches, not the unmanaged SoHo variery.

I did use them, but honestly, I found them more trouble than it was worth, even though I hardly had any use for their features, so when I switched to gigabit, I went for simple unmanaged switches instead, putting all the logic into the computers, turning the network into "stupid cables" that don't do anything "smart". A nice side effect was that it was also much cheaper.

however these forums are searched by many users (both new and old) and a complete discussion is, IMHO, always warranted for the benefit of those who come after

Of course.

For a start managed switches would allow you to trunk up your current small number of available cables to provide a backbone for good bandwidth around your physical network.  Secondly it would allow you to determing what traffic gets prioritised and routed where.

As stated above, I have no performance issues on my internal network, just my internet connections, and I'm pretty much screwed there until they run an optic fibre or two by my house. I'm nowhere near choking the network, even if I have several servers moving files over it. This is partly due to it all being gigabit, partly because I've used slower 5400 rpm disks for cooling reasons (that's really a problem, in the summer, my server room temp tends to rocket) and because I find them more reliable. I need lots of reliable storage, not speed, and the hardware I have delivers that.

The key component in my network infrastructure and separation of subnets is my d-link gigabit managed switch.  I also use them for work.  Not had a single problem in two years.

D-Link is not a favourite of mine, they tend to overheat and start sending garbage, so I've switched to cheap NetGear at home (never failed yet, and even if they do, I get two for the price of one brand switch) and HP at work.

Once again, our needs are different. Regardless of how it may seem, my network environment is far from haphazard, it has grown and adapted from a need, including two total rebuilds during the last ten years (I've taken the chance to do it when I've moved).

I'm not quite following you as to why you cannot separate the DMZ type servers from regular old desktops/media directors.

It would be a single point of failure, and it would make it difficult to load balance my internet connections. It would also require a major rethink in the network, which is always a potential risk.

I also have a feeling that it might mess up remote administration of the servers, and I do not want 15 monitors and keyboards in the server room...

If this is the case, it's still easily doable without a spof (for the servers).

True, but there would be two problems:

* If the spof goes down, I will not be able to reach the servers, so it will not help me much that they keep running.
* I don't like the idea of piping all traffic between file servers and clients through a single machine.

Oh, one other thing I didn't see mentioned, leave the default IP range for lmce as 192.168.80.x.  If you try messing around and giving it a different ip range you will be causing yourself headaches.

Well, that's some headaches that I'll need to get anyway in that case, given that my network is currently configured for 192.168.0.*, including a bunch of servers which are not on DHCP (Smoothwalls, development servers, DB servers, the inside IF on the web servers and mail server and probably some other servers as well). I like having servers on a fixed IP, as it gives me a chance to reach them, even if name services should die. Reconfiguring those will be a pain in the ass anyway.

My plan is to use a class B address range, using, for instance, 192.168.1.* for DHCP, and 192.168.0.* for static IP's, but letting them all coexist on the same network. It's a little bit cleaner than today, where I, for historical reasons, use 0-16 and 240-255 for static adresses, and 17-239 for DHCP.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 04, 2010, 05:27:43 pm »
VLANs are not an option, unless I replace all my switches, as they do not have that capability. Also, in m experience (and one of the larger government agencies of Sweden, which I will not name here), the more configuration options you have on a switch, the more problems you have. Nothing to configure, nothing to go wrong.

Be warned, though. Thom, in particular (and to be fair he's right and others will say the same) will tell you not to fight the way it's designed....

Well, if it has to be a choice between fighting the way LinuxMCE is designed and the way my entire network is designed, I'll take the fight to LinuxMCE (or simply use some other media option). I need my network design more than I need a specific media center. No offence intended, it's just the way it works for me.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 04, 2010, 03:44:14 pm »
Sounds nice. I'll set up a small test network with a bunch of machines I have lying around and see what I can do. Whatever way I do it, I want to switch to be as quick and painless as possible.

Just to make it more interesting, I'll probably make a switch from 192.168.0.* to 10.0.*.* as well, as the space I've reserved for static addresses on my 192.168.0.* network is running out (mostly because I don't keep proper track of them...).

It could be used to supply other boot images also. You could configure that manually for each computer, or perhaps even extend the LinuxMCE configuration to support other network boot devices than its own Media Directors (that would be neat, indeed).

I saw some tutorial on PXE boot, which more or less set up the system so that you just put the ISO images in a folder, and then it presented a boot menu where you could select image, with timeout. That's what I'm aiming for, but it's not a high priority at the moment.

Now, if it only could work as a virtual CD server as well...  ;D I'm a programmer, and if there is one thing I've learned, it's that there is always one more idea to add. The trick is knowing when to stop.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 04, 2010, 02:01:15 pm »
Highly inflexible is maybe a bit too strong, but I've cheated a bit to keep costs down. My house is fairly largeish, roughly 30x20 m, shaped roughly like a fat plus sign, in two floors, with the server room roughly in the center on the long axis and the end of the short axis. Since cables needs to follow walls and stuff neatly, there's lots of 50 m and 25 m cables. Even though I use canalization for the cables, it's still a lot of cables, and the canal going out from the server room is full. To avoid costly and messy cables, I've done the cheap thing, and only have a couple of ports in each room, then using small switches (8 or 16 port, depending on what I had in my "things I might eventually use"-box) to get more ports where I needed them.

In other words, each room just have one or two cables going to it, the rest are branched out from there. Simple and neat if you have one network, awkward as hell if you have two.

Add to this that it's an older house. Just about every wall I've drilled through has been 20 cm or more of solid wood. I've scrapped quite a few drills going through nails on brute force with a flat wood drill (a saw drill is not long enough to cut through the wall)...

I've done some checking on my DHCP server, though, and it might not be as hard as I thought to migrate that to LinuxMCE. It's not like my DHCP server is heavily loaded anyway, I only restart my machines if there's something wrong with them, and even then, I give leases that don't expire, so I don't think it should be any performance problem.

However, moving my router/firewall/NAT would be a much more complex problem, as that's where most of my magic is done, and also as it's a component which I prefer to keep separate, for performance reasons (I really work that poor machine hard) and for security reasons.

So, this got me thinking. Is this a workable solution:

* Keeping my existing Smoothwall firewall/NAT/router, but disabling DHCP on it.
* Using LinuxMCE as DHCP server, but configure it to use my Smoothwall as default gateway.

I will get a single point of failure, but if it fails, the quick fix will simply be to enable DHCP on Smoothwall again, so it's not a serious failure and I can even fix it remotely if need be.

Does that sound reasonable?

Btw, an entirely unrelated question: As LinuxMCE supplies boot images for the media players, could it also be configured to do something else which I've been wanting to do for a long time, supply other boot images? It would be nice to not have to dig out the Kubuntu CD whenever I want to install a new machine, just network boot it and install from that image.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 04, 2010, 06:03:02 am »
Assuming your cabling is structured, adding an additional network for MCE would only be the cost of a switch.

Nope, I would need more cabling, as I have other computers as well out there.

Is it possible to just put LinuxMCE between your external devices (routers, firewalls, webservers) and the internal network?

Possible, yes, but not desirable. I've spent a lot of time designing my network to remove single point of failures, and I don't want to put another big one in in the middle of everything.

The only downside is by putting a LinuxMCE core between your internal LAN and your Internet you do have a SPOF.

Which is exactly what I do not want.

Clearly I don't know how you have it physically connected, but there is nothing wrong with adding a second firewall/DHCP/etc. server between your internal LAN and your internet accessible devices.  Since LinuxMCE is only going to answer DHCP requests on it's internal nic, this would leave your DMZ (for lack of a better term) devices as is.

SPOF, and it would mess up my load balancing.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 03, 2010, 11:24:47 pm »
When using the MAC address, is that only for special devices? I'm only going to use ordinary computer hardware for playback (I can buy used, but still modern, hardware from a company which takes care of machines from companies for next to nothing, a 3 GHz P3, 1 GB memory goes for around $100, with warranty, so I see no reason to not have computers everywhere), no special devices. Will this apply to me?

As for PXE boot, that sounds like a pretty normal setup anyway. Most people don't want to have their DNS and their PXE images on the same machine anyway, for performance reasons, so that should be simple enough.

I'm aware that it's a nonstandard configuration, and also that it's a somewhat hot subject. It's just that for me, the standard configuration simply does not work. I've outgrown the "single central computer" concept a long time ago, on my network there are always more than 20 computers running 24/7, most of them servers. I don't want to throw petrol on the flames of a hot subject, I just realize that I'm not a typical user, and my needs are a bit special.

Users / Re: Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 03, 2010, 07:41:34 pm »
It will be a lot of work to reconfigure my network to use LinuxMCE as DHCP server as well. If I was a simple "using my ADSL modem as DHCP server" user, it would be a non issue, but there's literally been weeks of work in getting it to work as good as it does now, and I really don't want to mess that up.

Wouldn't it be possible to just set up my current DHCP to just carry the settings LinuxMCE needs as well, if these are properly documented?

Users / Is LinuxMCE for me?
« on: January 03, 2010, 06:02:48 pm »
Having a mainly Linux based environment, I would very much prefer to stick with Linux for the media as well. LinuxMCE sure seems like a strong contender, but I'm a little bit worried about if it will fit in my home.

Let's start with my situation. I have a somewhat largish home network, with two separate 24 Mbit ADSL connections, going through two separate firewalls (Smoothwall). This is to eliminate any single point of failure. Behind these firewalls are four web servers, a few download slaves and my mail server, VPN, a dial up (in case I'm out of reach of the internet but have a phone, I can be my own ISP) and some other minor servers for my private use. I also have a bunch of file servers (some 20-25 TB total), serving all my media and other data. On top of this, of course, is a bunch of workstations, which are more or less the only machines I actually sit in front of.

I currently run XBMC on XBoxes for my media, but I've outgrown it. My plan is to get six machines for media, one in each room I want to play media in, one server. Of course, these machines will be dedicated for the purpose.

I've also recently installeda new security system, so I thought I'd do something fun with the sensors for the old system, and LinuxMCE seems to give me a lot of possibilities there. Home automation may be in the plan for the next few years.

Now, I see two possible problems:

* My data is on file servers using Samba (historical reasons, I don't mess with a working server, even if it runs Windows). Will that be a problem?

* I understand that LinuxMCE prefers to be the router and DHCP server. Now, I've spent a lot of time setting up my system to be fault tolerant with no single point of failure. As it works now, if a connection goes down, all I have to do is switch a network cable from one patch panel port to another, and everything keeps working. The same goes if I want to rebalance the load between the lines. This is made possible through a whole lot of tweaking and fine tuning of routers/DHCP servers and network setup. Of course, I could setup a separate physical network for LinuxMCE, but that would be a lot of work and money. I recently upgraded all cables to cat6, and that was in the vicinity of $2000 (which is more than I plan to pay for the computers), and it would be as much to build a second network, as the media players are pretty much in the far corners of the house. I'm also unsure if a separate network would reach the files on my file servers without hassle, as I don't have space for a third network card in the servers (basically, they are full of disk controllers).

So, given these issues, is LinuxMCE for me, or should I look to some other solution, such as XBMC and lots of script hacking? As this is going to cost me some money and work, I'd at least like to know if I'm following the right path.

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