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Thread: why not central home computing?

  1. #1
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    why not central home computing?

    I personally have really old hardware. But recently I was thinking about the best way to watch movies in the home, and I thought, this is house is crazy!

    We have multiple computers lying around. The laptops need to be moved from the dinner table all the time but then they and all the papers around them have to be temporarily put somewhere else. External hard drives and other peripherals all have to be connected by wires. Tons of wires, and lots of storage space taken up by hardware and wires. I never take my laptop out of the house because a portable mini-computer called a smartphone. Why am I living like this?

    Why don't people have central computing?

    Like, why doesn't System 76 make a single-source computer/Wi-Fi router/hub thingy that sits between the Internet and some varieties of terminals (whether they be TVs or monitors or whatever)?

    -All the fans, heat and noise would moved to single place away from people.
    -terminals could be more lighter, larger, and more ergonomically flexible than laptops.
    -computers could share back-up space and a single central computer could be extensible in terms of the number of terminals it served.

    I want a giant, big flat-screen display with an ergonomic keyboard that I can move around easier than a laptop within the house without being necessarily able to be moved out of the house, and I want all wires for HDD etc to be gone, and I want all hardware besides monitors and keyboards in a single place.

    Why aren't people doing this? I mean, my parents just bought two new laptops, so they now have 4 laptops for 2 people in their living room. Plus a desktop downstairs and other stuff. That's crazy.

  2. #2
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    Re: why not central home computing?

    People who are interested in such things set them up for themselves all the time. They use any OS they wish. The ability to easily create nearly infinite configurations makes a "canned" product unmarketable. Many of us who haunt these forums are well versed in home networking. Instruction and advice are free here. Hardware capable of doing what you want can be had for a song.

    On the upper end: I have one machine that has 13 virtual machines available, each with its own private NIC. Those all run through a gigabit switch and could be configured to accept connections over wifi from specific machines. With the host's 32 cores and 128GB of memory divided between them, each of those VMs is actually pretty powerful. I could use cheap Raspberry Pis as pretty capable terminals to remote into them.

    Even with a much more modest machine with six cores and two or three VMs, one could use an RPi to remote in.

    A simple solution for movies: Connect your smart TV, laptop, Raspberry Pi, etc, via wifi to a home media server built of spare parts and duct tape to stream content. There is certainly no need for an expensive commercial product for that.

    Caveat: one has to be aware of DRM laws in their jurisdictions to avoid legal issues.
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  3. #3
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    Re: why not central home computing?

    As QIII says, there are a bajillion different ways to have thin-client or thin-client-like setups. WiFi makes it particularly useful.

    For your scenario, it sounds like you'd particularly like a NAS. They're simple to set up and use, and pretty cheap. I've got a Synology unit that holds my backups, distributes media files to all the machines in the house (including tablets, laptops, phones, HTPC behind the TV, stereo in the bedroom), and seeds torrents. I can also stream games around the house from my gaming rig to my HTPC or laptop using Steam's In-Home Streaming. And having cloud computing, cloud storage, and all the other ways that things are simply done online is also very thin-client-like.
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  4. #4
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    Re: why not central home computing?

    Yes, that NAS sounds like what I was thinking about!!

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    Re: why not central home computing?

    Sounds cool. As you can probably tell, I am pretty ignorant about such things. I should learn more and trying making something for myself!

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    Re: why not central home computing?

    I like the Synology boxes. You can definitely go cheaper or more flexible, but you can't have as nice, or as easy, for cheaper. You configure it just through a web page.

    As well as the actual storage part, the other part that you'd probably be interested in is DLNA. That lets machines on the network discover each other, negotiate capabilities, and share files in a straightforward way.

    If you built your own box you could have a big gaming machine with lots of drives that could serve as a game & media streaming machine that also does file storage and hide it away (somewhere cool). Or you could break those tasks up over multiple machines. Or just do some tasks and some completely different tasks. Everyone has their own capabilities and priorities: one person's solution might be completely inappropriate for someone else.

    But, now that you know that these things exist, you should be able to find out enough about different approaches to choose which one fits you best.
    None but ourselves can free our minds

  7. #7
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    Re: why not central home computing?

    I set up kodi machines throughout my home for local media use. All media is on the main server in the guest room. The individual machines all boot from a single image on the server. No hard drives in any of them. They aren't mobile though. Mounted on wall behind screens. Wired networking required. But it is all centralized.

    Different options. How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?

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    Re: why not central home computing?

    I've got an Intel NUC I use as a build server, with a RPI in the other room for some experimentation with a USB camera I bought. It works well. I host some git repositories on the NUC, as well as host FTP in addition to using it as a build server. If I have to use Windows, I can use CLion's remote development tools to just hook into the NUC box or the RPI.

  9. #9
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    Re: why not central home computing?

    Is that diphthong medieval church Latin pronunciation, or classical Latin pronunciation?

  10. #10
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    Re: why not central home computing?

    Probably the Old English pronunciation, where it rhymes with "sat". It's the first word of Beowulf.
    Please read The Forum Rules and The Forum Posting Guidelines

    A thing discovered and kept to oneself must be discovered time and again by others. A thing discovered and shared with others need be discovered only the once.
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