Back in 2015 I embarked on an ambitious plan to blog my entire way through setting up my own selfhosted email server. I got a fair bit in (5 posts) before the setting up got ahead of the blogging and I lost track of scribbled notes and halfwritten posts. Moving to a fresh Ubuntu 18.04 install I decided to move as many services as possible to containers, including my email setup and so, rather than just copy paste my old config files I dug into the basics of email setup again.
I have tried at various points to write a followup to my “so what’s it like using a NUC for a homeserver/HTPC?” post. Mostly it strands on there not really being anything new to add. It works. The added workload of more applications (and maybe more traffic?) over the past two years has made it run a bit warmer and louder than it used to despite being de-dusted a couple of times. But it’s still doing it’s job. I have thrown in some docker containers and they work just fine. Run a virtual machine with kvm? Sure. As of now the main threat to it’s immortality is it’s inability to transmit 4K over HDMI. Not that I’m about to buy a 4k TV but some day, yeah?
The main thing that has kept me wondering if it is the right pick is the question: Did I splunge needlessly? Could I have gone for something cheaper without sacrificing anything? Specifically: Could a Raspberry Pi have done the job just as well?
I picked a Raspberry Pi 3 up at the post office on monday so I should finally be able to get an answer. I’m not replacing my own machine; my dad need a new home server after his Atom-powered fit-pc2 gave up the ghost. I quizzed him about his needs and found that they were fairly basic: A ‘LEP’ web server (Linux, Nginx, PHP, no MySQL) and for HTPC purposes access to the national broadcaster whether through browser or a Kodi plugin would suffice. This, I thought, had to be a good test case for picking a Pi over a full x86-based machine.
One of many new features in Kodi 17 is the new default web frontend, Chorus2. The old Kodi frontend was an extremely basic web remote that allowed you to start, pause and select media. Chorus2 does all that in much slicker package AND has a ‘local’ tab for local playback, i.e. streaming from the Kodi instance to whatever device you’re controlling it from.
When I got rid of the last Windows partition on any of my home computers, I thought I would finally give NFS a chance to replace CIFS as the reigning network file system in my house. To it’s credit, NFS took that chance and ran with it and it’s worked pretty much flawlessly ever since. Seeing how reliable it has been, it has become my primary means of accessing media located on my HTPC when not in front of/within earshot of the my TV/hifi but still on the local network.
That approach, however, has some serious shortcomings. I can’t see what I have and have not watched. I can’t see if I’m halfway through a movie – something that is depressingly common in this ADD world of media abundance. I have to move between file managers and video players, something that isn’t that practical when my 2-in-1 laptop is in a position that hides away the keyboard and I have to rely on the touch screen. And I find myself missing the inviting presentation of Kodi from my HTPC.
So recently the thought struck me: Could I not just set up a second Kodi instance on my linux laptop only as a client? Turn a full-fledged Kodi application into a dumb terminal? An… *makes sign of the cross* ‘app’? Only then I did I remember that, wait, wasn’t that sort of the selling point of Plex over Kodi? Apps aplenty? Streaming everywhere and anywhere? Well, yes. But it can be done with Kodi. Sort of. Here’s what I got.
Getting off of the corporation cloud and onto your own, self-hosted, open source-based is an arduous task. We use a lot of web based services these days and replacing each and every of them, one by one, requires some forethought so that you don’t move all your data over to something that simply does not work for you.
I have currently setup some 10+ web applications on my private cloud. I could make a list of them and explain why they’re the best available in their respective categories but I think it would be more helpful to suggest some guidelines when looking for your next selfhosted web application.
“Greetings from Let’s Encrypt, email@example.com.”
Greetings to you too. It’s been quite a wait so I guess a bit of formality is in order. Now, can we please stop saying “Let’s” and just encrypt already?