I started 2015 with nothing but a WD Passport 1TB drive connected to a BT Home Hub to serve our network, with its dreadfully slow read and write speeds, taking a good 30 seconds for a photo to display once selected.
I intended to move my home folder over to that drive too so I could have some kind of backup for my files, but backing up the 950GB of files I’ve amassed over the years to that drive didn’t seem a fun task. I also wanted a media streamer to rid us the need of having DVDs scattered around the house in different cabinets, as I had recently convinced my family to get a Google Chromecast for each room with a TV; so we needed a high quality way of streaming to them as well as allowing us to remotely play the media when we’re out or away through PLEX.
For this, I decided more hardware was needed; so I started comparison of the best NAS’ and media streamers and nearly chose the Synology DS214Play (as it does both in one) but decided to go with the Synology DS214 and an Intel NUC as the ‘Play’ model supposedly was unable to transcode (convert for devices) PLEX well as its dedicated GPU was only optimised for DS Video (Synology’s own video solution). However, the compatibility with USB tuner cards of Synology’s media player means in the future I will replace our existing BT Vision box with this to record in HD with availability in every room (playback through Plex) whenever I’m able to get an aerial cable down to there.
I ordered the hardware for the end of August, so I just had time to set it up before returning to school, I first installed the WD Red 3TBs and set up the NAS with shares for family members and establishing it as the DCHP and DNS server replacing BT’s default hard-coded DNS entries on the Home Hub with my internal domain and forwarding other requests to 18.104.22.168 (priorities, right). I also configured LDAP so I can later join my Mac to the directory server and sync my home folder to it (at the moment I’m just using Synology’s ‘DS Cloud’ app to back up my folders) and VPN (which was far more inconvenient than I ever imagined it could be, but we’ll save that for another post).
With the NUC, I installed a Western Digital 500gb HDD and booted from an Ubuntu USB drive, after installing and configuring Plex, Apache and numerous other services I was back to the start reinstalling Ubuntu due to a GRUB bootloader issue that prevented Ubuntu started.
I created shares on the NAS that were network accessible such as one for films and TV, photos, home videos as well as home folders for each of the users. Then I enabled NFS sharing on the NAS and gave permissions to the NUC for the films, home videos and backup folder (don’t want to lose my config again!). Another useful addition was plugging my BlinkStick into the NUC and using a Python script to change the LEDs colour depending on the CPU usage (green 0-49%, amber 50-99%, red 100%) which is especially useful to see when Plex is doing resource-intensive transcoding.
And that brings us nearly up to date. I’ll save the rest of the interesting and quirky set up tales for next time.