Author Topic: planning a pluto home system  (Read 4801 times)

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planning a pluto home system
« on: August 11, 2006, 12:35:07 am »
i am a unix admin, so i have a fairly high technical knowledge base... i have been looking at your website and i have been thinking about building a system.

right now i am considering the following setup, and am wondering if it will be sufficiently robust for my fairly simple needs.

pluto core:

compaq proliant dl360
2 x P3 800MHz cpu (256K cache)
2GB RAM (4 x 512MB PC133)
2 x 18.2GB Ultra3 scsi drives
2x Compaq NC3163 NICs

media server:

AMD XP2100 processor,
Epox 8RDA+ motherboard
1.25GB ram
2 X 250GB IDE drives
1 X DVD
1 X DVD-+RW
Hauppauge WINTV-PVR 350

my needs:

urban apartment with 2 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, kitchen, cable modem internet connection as well as 1 POTS line.

1) media server in living room, possibility to expand to more rooms via additional PCs or thin clients

2) security system - 2-3 cameras, 1 door, networked thumbprint locks if possible

3) kitchen automation with smart appliances (some guidance to good sources for these appliances would be appreciated - i have been looking at smarthome.com and am not sure what will be able to work with plutohome)

4) A/C automation (not central, radiator heat in the winter, window box A/C in the summer.

5) room lighting automation for at least living rooms and kitchen if not all rooms.


my questions:

1) is this enough cpu power and drive space for my needs? can myth tv use the local drives to store media? all the large drives are on the media server

2) do i need to start these all off as pluto appliances or can i integrate a mythtv box media server later easily?

3) i only have the media server and core server hardware now (no appliances or light switches, cameras, etc.) if i build a system now, will it be easy to expand to the other functionality later or am i better off waiting?

4) does the pluto core have to be router/firewall at installation time, or can i start it off as a node, and then move it to the router position once it's set up?

thanks for your help

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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2006, 01:36:24 am »
Hi,

You will probably get an answer from a Pluto staff member but until then I will give you my opinion...

Pluto only really likes to have one server, which is the core. This needs to have the disks in it or at least mounted there. The core also likes to have things like Asterisk cards and X-10 modules.

For each media point(usually each TV, but can be limited to audio) you are going to want a Media Director. These will be PC's with no hard drive that are able to network boot. Concentrate on good audio and video and reasonable CPU/memory. They will have there own file system which is remotely mounted (off the core). A DVD drive is also good here as is remote control. Also USB web cams can go here.

The TV card is able to go in either the core or a media director. If the media directors aren't always running then probably in the core is a better bet.

You can run the core as a hybrid, which means that it will also be a Media Director.

My suggestion would be to make the best core system you can, get all the disks in it or attached to it. Then fit each room with a PC, the more they are doing the higher the spec.

I will leave suggestions on some of the other stuff to others on the list.

Good luck

Darren

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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2006, 05:09:31 am »
hi, and thanks for the quick reply...

yeah, i understand how it would be optimal to have the system the way you describe, and in a couple years when i have more money to put into new server class hardware i will either build a better core, or buy one pre-made.

the thing is, given the hardware i do own, will it function the way i plan it to? i think the rack server i have should be more than up to the task from a processor and ram point of view, but is really lacking on drive space.  i had already built a media pc with the intention of running mythtv, when i came across the pluto home page, and i started thinking about that server, and what i could do with minimal expense, IF i could get the media box and the server to share the workload.

without handling media content is that going to be sufficient hard disk space for the core (36GB)? it won't have to provide boot images for more than 2 PCs. it's a single space rack server, so any additional drive space is going to have to be external i think, and will be expensive as well - also i'm not sure it will have free PCI slots for a video capture card, i will have to look at it tomorrow and double-check.

thanks again and looking forward to your replies.

**EDIT** it looks like there are 2 available PCI slots as well as a USB port on the front. so the possibility of external firewire drives being added to give it additional storage is there... not sure how that would work with pluto.

if i go withlarger internal scsi drives, they are quite expensive - the largest - 146GB drives are over $600 each and i would have to buy 2. i have found some 36GB drives for a little over $100 each so if that would make a huge difference i could do that. hesitant to spend the money if i don't have to.

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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2006, 06:49:14 am »
Can you move your IDE drives into the rack server?

If not maybe an external network storage unit, they are relatively cheap now I think.

Quick google gave me this link which has some ideas...
newbielink:http://ideas.4brad.com/node/229 [nonactive]

If it is USB 2 then I would go with a chaep external USB enclosure for your IDE drives.

Video capture card can stay in the Media Director if you want.

You should be able to install your core as is and at least start to have a look at everything. Go with it as it is, your 2x250GB drives won't be getting used yet but you can sort it when you  are happy with the basic system.
It (Pluto) tends to be a good platform for adding on to. A lot of things are plug and play and at worst are driver installs and reboots usually.

Let us know how you get on.

Regards
Darren

ps: One advantage of keeping the TV Card in the media director might be for remote control. I am Currently messaing around with home brew lirc receivers du to my TV cards (which have remotes) being in the core. Not having much luck yet I might add.

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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2006, 10:33:23 am »
Hi,

As I know Plutohome supports only nVidia chipsets (maybe I'm wrong). That's why I spent some time to find a good configuration for the Media Director.
This is a draft config for the media director:
1. Case: Ahanix D5 Media Center Enclosure ( newbielink:http://www.viperlair.com/reviews/cases/other/cases/ahanix/dvine5 [nonactive]). This case includes VFD display supported by Pluto and irTrans IR transmitter/emitter. So, you'll able to controle other AV devices without using GC100[/list]
2. Motherboard: Asus A8N-VM CSM (socket 939) with NVIDIA GeForce 6150/nForce 430
3. Processor: AMD Athlon 64 PIB

The rest - memory, bluetooth dongle, soundblaster (if you need Hi-End sound) is not so important. Only bluetooth should be supported by blueZ - newbielink:http://www.holtmann.org/linux/bluetooth/features.html [nonactive]

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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2006, 03:12:04 pm »
we recommend on website a configuration for core and media director, but it's not mandatory, you can use any spare pc from your home.

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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2006, 03:14:58 pm »
Quote
As I know Plutohome supports only nVidia chipsets (maybe I'm wrong)


indeed we tested more with nVidia, but pluto it's working with ati, via and intel too.

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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2006, 04:32:54 pm »
Quote from: "dan.g"
we recommend on website a configuration for core and media director, but it's not mandatory, you can use any spare pc from your home.


Can you give me a link, please. Because, I tried to find some recomendation about configuration of MD but without luck.

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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2006, 04:47:18 pm »
the md newbielink:http://plutohome.com/index.php?section=media_director [nonactive]
the core newbielink:http://plutohome.com/index.php?section=pluto_core [nonactive]

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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2006, 04:51:15 pm »
Quote

indeed we tested more with nVidia, but pluto it's working with ati, via and intel too.


Especially after AMD started talking about open ATI drivers and Intel is thinking the same way about its drivers.

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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2006, 05:03:05 pm »
Quote from: "dan.g"
the md newbielink:http://plutohome.com/index.php?section=media_director [nonactive]
the core newbielink:http://plutohome.com/index.php?section=pluto_core [nonactive]


Well, I saw this. But it'd be more useful if you provide us the configuration which you use in practice. Because, there are many tricks: with video adapter, IR transmitter/emitter, VFD-display etc. When you'll have a time maybe you'll able to add the your configuration for MD in the wiki.

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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2006, 01:40:04 am »
Quote from: "dan.g"
we recommend on website a configuration for core and media director, but it's not mandatory, you can use any spare pc from your home.


thanks for the reply and the links, but it still leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions, can you answer these for me?

1) is this enough cpu power and drive space for my needs? can myth tv use the local drives to store media? this is important to me

2) do i need to start these all off as pluto appliances or can i integrate a mythtv box media server later easily? or will i lose all mythtv saved files and info?

3) does the pluto core have to be router/firewall at installation time, or can i start it off as a node, and then move it to the router position once it's set up?

thanks for your help

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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2006, 10:33:52 am »
Re:
#1 it's more then enogh, you can save your recordings on hdd, and use pluto to play them later
#2 i haven't done this, you may ask other user from forum. i guess it will work. the files are store on hdd, you'll lose them if format. pluto doesn't erase things
#3 pluto installs default as a router with firewall

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« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2006, 10:38:55 am »
about configs: we use nvidia, intel and via chipsets on testing, they all have good things and disadvantages. but we recommend nvidia at this point.

about ir transmitters, we use USB uirt and gc100
as video cards we use nvidia 6200 series, agp and pci express

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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2006, 01:50:44 am »
Quote from: "lokke"
can myth tv use the local drives to store media? this is important to me

3) does the pluto core have to be router/firewall at installation time, or can i start it off as a node, and then move it to the router position once it's set up?



I don't think that you can use local storage, my understanding is that when the Media Director network boots from the core it remotely mounts its filesystem which has its operating system etc and shares to the public media directories - all of which physically reside away from the local machine. It may well be possible to mount the local drives as well for media though 0 after all it is able to use the local DVD drive...

Pluto really wants to be a gateway when you install it (unless it has changed recently). It will want two networks - the external and the internal (pluto). If you don't want to hook it straight up to your modem etc then as long as it can get an external address it should be happy. You would be setting up a seperate  local network inside your local network I guess. Does this make sense?

Hope that helps a bit.