Amahi Home Server is the Linux version of Microsoft’s Windows Home Server (now discontinued). Originally it was based on the Fedora Linux distributions, but now they have an Ubuntu-based distribution. Essentially with Amahi Home Server, you install a regular distribution–and then attach the Amahi Home Server modules to it.
Some of the features of Amahi Home Server are:
- Drive Pooling – This is accomplished by the greyhole project’s drive pooling system. It’s similar to Windows Home Server’s “Drive Extender” which they removed in the 2011 version.
- Isolated from the underlying Operating System – Where Windows Home Server is tied into the underlying Windows Server operating system, Amahi is isolated. By default the underlying system’s updates are shut off (although you’re encouraged to update it), just to make sure that Amahi can install properly (as it’s based on a specific set of system files). You can choose to reinstate the operating system updates (recommended by me) or just update Amahi.
- Choice of Desktop – During installation, you can choose to not install a desktop, or install one. And afterwards, you can choose to add and remove desktops (or remove them altogether) just like you can do with any other Linux distribution.
- Small memory and disk footprint – Amahi can run on as little as 512MB of RAM (or less without a desktop), although it’s recommended to use at least 1GB or more. And it only requires a small partition for the / (root) drive. The Amahi site recommends at least a 4GB drive. Depending on what you plan on installing, you’ll want at least 20GB (in my experience), and you’ll want to do regular cleanups. The one partition that you definitely want to make as large as possible is the main landing zone partition (where the files land before greyhole moves them around).*
- Integrated DNS and DHCP – The Amahi Home Server is built on the idea that you control everything from the server. You have total control over DNS and DHCP–and can create your own domain, if desired. You’re able to create your own public domain (like patscomputerservices.com) and point it to the Amahi Home Server, or use the yourname.hda.com address that you’re provided with by default.
- Easy one-click installs for many applications – Like Windows Home Server, you’re able to add applications to the server. Unlike Windows Home Server, you aren’t required to install via the Console. And you aren’t limited to what you can install. In Amahi, you either have the option of a one-click installation for many applications (some free, and some paid), or manually installing them yourself. If you manually install them, you can create a one-click installation for others to use.
- Media Streaming – Yes, Windows Home Server had this capability (sort of). But the difference between Amahi and WHS is this: On Amahi, you can install mythtv, and record television straight from the server. On WHS, you had to record the television on another computer, and upload it to the server.
* To give you an idea, I am currently running Amahi on a computer that I built in 2003. It has an older AMD Athalon XP processor in it, along with 2GB of PC2100 RAM, and 3 TB of drives (both internal and external).