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Thread: The modern home (Discussion)

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    South Africa, Secunda
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: The modern home (Discussion)

    Quote Originally Posted by Paqman View Post
    Depends how close to your vision you want to get. Home automation is very possible, and can accomplish much of what you're looking for off the shelf. Take a look at projects like Linux MCE for an idea of where things stand. Unfortunately much of the home automation hardware like X10 is expensive.

    To get all the screens in the house linked up all you need is a server that has all your data on it, that's trivially easy. You can get a pre-confgured server image that does that from Turnkey Linux and have it up and running in a few minutes.

    Smart TVs can access content shared via DLNA/UPnP, or you could add a small computer (RPi?) to the back of a dumb screen to enable it to access content over other protocols like NFS or SMB/CIFS. The other options for multi-screen computing would be thin clients, virtual machines or possibly a full-on multi-screen setup.

    I would suggest not using thin clients though if you want to have different interfaces. Better to boot off a local device (even if it's just an RPi) and connect to your data over the network.

    Voice control would be nice, but doesn't work well in my experience. Micing up a whole house and expecting it to deal with ambient noise and commands from multiple sources would be a nightmare. There are cunning things you can do though, such as carrying a RF fob (something like bluetooth or zigbee?) in your pocket so that the system knows where you are and tracks you smoothly. It could have music or lights follow you, or send the current VM you were working in to the closest machine, so you wouldn't have to be far from a way of interacting. Smartphones are also an obvious option for an interface.

    Depends on what decisions you make to satisfy your demands.

    What I would suggest is that you start with a single reasonably capable server that can be easily expanded as your requirements change. Don't try and do everything all at once. Prioritise what you want into a list of several stages of implementation. It's unlikely any one platform will be able to do everything out of the box. Pick the one that gets you most of the way there and implement that. You may be able to get started with the software side using a machine you already own, or a cheap second hand PC. Sharing data over a network and running some home automation needn't be resource intensive, it's only once you start wnating to do things like gaming that you're in trouble.

    Have you considered a streaming gaming service like Onlive to get your multi-screen gaming? Why reinvent the wheel if someone's already done it for you?

    What you're trying to do is complex and there are a zillion little frustrations that could get in the way. Don't try and bite off more than you can chew. Divide it up into little stages and do them one at a time. That will smooth out the cost too.
    Excellent reply Paqman, I like the way you think. Your idea with the Raspberry Pi's is great. Think I am moving this into my cool things to do when I have the time list

  2. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Re: The modern home (Discussion)

    Agree with georgelappies. Extremely good answer Paqman!

    As to the question why one would like to run diffrent interfaces at once: running GNOME 3 on a tablet would not be ideal.

    And for everyone who thinks about why one would only want one computer for all this, just because! Also, it's hard to keep multiple clients up to date, with the same files and starting speakers in the entire house whenever you feel like it. Server, well sure but having to publish changes every single time and not having the same local file structure can be frustrating. (Especially when the files won't sync properly - happens to me all the time with U1)

    So, to get the "right" idea: think about the Enterprises' main computer and the LCARS system reaching throughout the vessel.
    (Star Trek reference for those who don't know.)

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

    Re: The modern home (Discussion)

    Quote Originally Posted by RadiationG0D View Post
    it's hard to keep multiple clients up to date
    That needn't be a big problem. LTS releases doing automatic security updates and a local APT mirror should make maintenance pretty minimal and be frugal on bandwidth (if that matters). The hardware would probably need updating before the software did.

    Having centralised storage for your data doesn't mean doing absolutely everything on one machine. You only need one machine somewhere on your network that specialises in storage. Generally this is called Network Attached Storage. A server that does other stuff could also be a NAS, or you could go for one of the small low-power dedicated NAS boxes off the shelf. Like you say, syncing files between local machines by going through the internet is needlessly complicated and unreliable. Much easier to centralise all your data and just mount the shares on the other machines. Doing that also simplifies your backup and recovery plan, and allows for easy redundancy (never trust a hard drive!).

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