Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Windows Home Server

I just received my HP MediaSmart Server (actually, the EX470). I've just finished setting it up and playing with it a bit.

Here are some problems that I encountered:
  1. To get my VMWare Windows XP instance on my Macbook Pro to see the WHS, I needed to put the network connection into Bridged mode.
  2. It didn't initially work with my Airport Extreme base station, but there is a solution (and not a bad solution at that).
Here are some of my findings:
  1. It appeared to be cheaper to buy an extra 500GB drive (even the exact same drive as is in the server) than to buy the EX475. The drive that is in the first slot is a 500GB Seagate ST3500630AS (Newegg search).
  2. It runs IIS 6.0, ASP.net 2.0.50727, PostgreSQL, Firefly media server (build 1.1 svn-1601), .NET 2.0 SP1, and Java 1.4.2_13
  3. Though it is preferable to administer the server only via the Home Server Console and the shared folders (for adding Add-Ins), it is also possible to remote desktop to the server and get a full Windows shell, start menu and all.
  4. The HP Photo WebShare web application appears to be written in Java, and is being served by Jetty under IIS using isapi_redirect.dll. If I knew anything about Jetty or about using a Java application server under IIS, I would tell you more. Otherwise, the app looks pretty much crap. It works, but looks very amateurish. Much like most OEM-supplied software that comes pre-installed on your computer. On the bright side, it seems to have an ActiveX control to bulk upload images, which is a very nice (and essential) touch.
If you don't get giddy about the idea of an extensible, autonomous, unobtrusive computing henchman in your domicile, then I suppose Windows Home Server isn't for you. But I personally relish the idea of making my home network a little more than a web browsing gateway. I have great faith in the ability for computers to improve the way we live, and I see this as a very small step towards a seemingly distant, but bright, future.

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