Introducing my HP Microserver N36L / N40L / N54L using WHS2011 + XBMC

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BEKO86 Offline
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Post: #16
Wow just found this thread by accident, I was looking at buying WHS11 for £42.49!

Ive had my Microserver from day one got a 210 nvidia in there (passive, the one I ordered should have had a fan, not had any issues and only run max 720p anyway), initially I ran Ubuntu 10.10 with xbmc on the 160gb hard drive after a few major driver issues got it working then it decided to stop working, so I thought great i'll give xbmclive a whirl off a usb stick. Again after some really dodgy driver issues got it working. (I was a complete linux noob). at the moment I am running jbod, 1x1tb 2x400gb and the 160gb it came with. Its on 24/7 as the usb boot times are well VERY long.

Yet I am still not happy, I think I could make more use out of the microserver so my plans are,

Upgrade the hard drives to 4x2tb. (RAID5?)

Fit the 160gb into the optical bay and run the OS plus xbmc (longterm SSD maybe although I think that would be overkill) - Any advice.

Relocate the server to my dining room and just run a long HDMI cable/.usb extension for the hp mce ir (not that my server is noisy infact its only the hard drives that are audible when under load).

Itunes on the server instead of all over the place.

I have a 360 and don't currently use it to stream but could do for the bedroom (my 360 and Freesat are piped upstairs via a HDMI splitter). Does the 360 play all 720p files? or would I have to run something like PS3Mediaserver?

Any advice is appreciated.
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QLink Offline
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Post: #17
it depends what you want to do with your N36L...

if you are planning to run it 24/7 SSD would be overkill for sure imho. it will "only" give you much faster boot phase and applikations starts...

if you are just turning on your N36L when you want to watch a movie and you dont want to wait ~2mins until XBMC appears then a SSD would make sense...

if you want to use Raid5 you definitly need an dedicated hardware raid controller, cause the onboard raidcontroller only can handle raid0 and raid1.
or you use software raid... but then your read/write performance will suffer, cause software raid 5 is much more cpu intensive than software raid 1...

cant help you with your questions about concoles, cause i'm no fan of these Wink
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BEKO86 Offline
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Post: #18
Want to use it as a server and xbmc for now, long term probably just a server, I think I will scratch the SSD idea as it will be on 24/7.

If I use the hacked bios and relocate the 160gb hard drive I could still have 4x2tb, would still have the esata port free for future expansion.

I like the sound of unRAID, but if I want to use xbmc then thats a no go, does whs11 have a similar solution? It would be ideal for me to grow my hard drives slowly and keep replacing the smaller hard drive.
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QLink Offline
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Post: #19
BEKO86 Wrote:Want to use it as a server and xbmc for now, long term probably just a server, I think I will scratch the SSD idea as it will be on 24/7. .

personally i think that's the best desicion for your usage... better safe the money Smile

BEKO86 Wrote:If I use the hacked bios and relocate the 160gb hard drive I could still have 4x2tb, would still have the esata port free for future expansion..

yeah

BEKO86 Wrote:I like the sound of unRAID, but if I want to use xbmc then thats a no go, does whs11 have a similar solution? It would be ideal for me to grow my hard drives slowly and keep replacing the smaller hard drive.

you could use the whs2011 built in software raid controller and make raid 5 or something like that, but better solution would definitly be using Drivebender Add In for Whs2011 (as i mentioned in first post), cause of easy drive pooling no matter which size each HDD has and much more...

i'm using whs2011 build in software raid 1 now and will switch to Drivebender when Final Release is out. Now it's in Beta 4 Stage, right before RC1... so i hope final version should be released near end of august/beginning of september.
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Fizzy Offline
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Post: #20
I too have an HP Microserver running WHS 2011. Am really encouraged by this thread as also want to run XBMC under WHS. Nice to know that the server can cope with 1080 video streaming using XBMC.

I want to go one step further and seek some advice please?

Can I run two sound interfaces and direct audio to one or other sound interfaces?

Specifically I would like to run audio over HDMI (using say the Radeon HD6450) for normal HDTV work but also concurrently (but separately) pass an audio stream (local MP3, Flac, internet AAC radio stream etc) to a different audio interface to a stereo amp (for multiroom). Is this possible?

Not sure if XBMC can run two streams at the same time (video and separate audio) but not too bothered as I presume I can run the separate audio via WMP or VLC or somesuch. The question I guess is how do I ensure that I can choose which audio stream goes where.

Which leads me on to a further question if I may be please? Sorry to hijack this thread in this way!

Any recommendations on a USB sound card that gets close to audiophile standards? Most of my audio source files are high quality (flac or high res 320 MP3), I would hate to lose that quality by some c***py sound interface.

tia
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QLink Offline
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Post: #21
Fizzy Wrote:Can I run two sound interfaces and direct audio to one or other sound interfaces?

Hi,

this should work, although i haven't tested it under whs2011 and with xbmc.

my desktop pc has an onboard soundcard and a creative x-fi gamer pci soundcard. i'm running win7 and you can easily direct the x-fi to for example winamp and the onboard sound to skype or wmp. the x-fi is connected to my speaker system and the onboard sound is connected to my headset.

Fizzy Wrote:Any recommendations on a USB sound card that gets close to audiophile standards?

in hifi circles many ppl recommend the Musiland Monitor 01 US USB audiointerface.
here's a review.

but again i have no personal experience with this soundcard. i have only read about it in some hifi forums.
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Fizzy Offline
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Post: #22
Thanks QLink, that is very helpful. I think my next step is getting the HDMI card and running that, then the USB DAC. The Musiland stuff looks really good. A bit of a question mark on the driver support. Seems a bit flaky and only for Windows.

Been reading your comments (earlier in this thread) about not using the onboard Raid. Good points you make. Currently I'm running onboard Raid1 with 2*2tb=2tb usable space. Do you know if I simply disable the onboard Raid1 I will need to re-install WHS11 or will WHS still boot ok?

I'm loving the HP Microserver so much I may get another one. Here in the UK they still have the £100 cash back offer which makes this little baby ridiculously cheap. Maybe I use one for full time server/nas duties and the other one as a dedicated HTPC. The HTPC could run in a minimal spec (Linux+XBMC with network shares with only one drive) to keep the acoustics down real low for the living room.
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QLink Offline
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Post: #23
Fizzy Wrote:Currently I'm running onboard Raid1 with 2*2tb=2tb usable space. Do you know if I simply disable the onboard Raid1 I will need to re-install WHS11 or will WHS still boot ok?

theoretically it "should" still boot. practically it could happen that you end up with a bsod during boot phase... some ppl reported that it had worked for them with their onboard raidcontroller and others reported that their onboard raid controller couldn't handle it.
however there should be no data loss when disabling raid1. if you connect your hdd to another pc you should still be able to read it. the only "not-so-sure-part" is if your os still will boot.

this is one reason why i always put os on a separate HDD when it comes to raid. (i'm using the 250GB HDD for whs and 2x2TB HDDs for data mirrored)

Fizzy Wrote:Here in the UK they still have the £100 cash back offer which makes this little baby ridiculously cheap.

yeah this cashback offer is really nice. have also read about that. bad that it's UK only... Sad
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Fizzy Offline
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Post: #24
Funnily enough I originally installed WHS11 on the supplied 250gb drive, got that all working and then installed the 2x2tb (after enabling Raid1) thinking that it would just work. Anyway WHS11 no longer booted and rather than mucking around with changing primary boot in BIOS I just re-installed WHS11. So right now I'm not sure which actual drive (the 2tb or the 250gb) WHS11 is installed on.

By the way I have been researching, based on your original post in this thread, the HDMI card for the HP Micro

Which one do you think would be better? This one or this one? The Club3D version of the 6450 does not seem to be readily available here in the UK.

thanks
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QLink Offline
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Post: #25
just take a look in disk management console of whs 2011. there you can see on which partition whs is installed...


i would definitly choose Sapphire HD 6450. Runs a bit cooler than the HD5450 and should also be able to handle 3D cause it already got HDMI 1.4 port whereas the HD5450 only got HDMI 1.3.
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Digital Vortex Offline
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Post: #26
Thanks for the original post.. gave me a few ideas..

Note to Australian users:- you can get one of these currently for $200 including shipping.. read the Ozbargain post

http://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/48713

Good price, considering I bought a 2 bay NAS for more than this last year!
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jimbosis Offline
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Post: #27
Building my 'movie box' as my kids call it has been a lot of fun and it's interesting to see a community is starting to build around it as a good hardware platform for XBMC the way it did with various Ion systems.

I played around with the data storage options quite a bit before settling in. Let it be said that trying to span a root drive is a uniquely bad idea... I settled in with the onboard RAID for a couple of reasons.

1. When I intentionally simulated a disk fail the onboard rebuilt with absolutely no issues. I'm sure Windows would do the same but (perhaps incorrectly) I have a bit more faith in a dedicated semi HW solution.

2. The processor impact on the array is negligible according to Task Manager even with a fairly thrashy uTorrent cache. My biggest processor draw is XBMC and dirty regions should alleviate a lot of these problems in Eden.

3. The performance of the onboard array is better that Windows SoftRAID (which does demand more processor time than the SB700). This is all academic - both were more than enough for my needs. I played around with a soft RAID-5 in Windows and the disk performance was utterly abysmal - that was more a proof of concept experiment than a real solution.

4. For those reading this I want to remind you of the cardinal rule of storage - RAID in any form is not a backup solution. It provides redundancy and that's all. For backup I have a 2TB drive that I update weekly and keep at my office the rest of the time. For really, really, really irreplaceable backups (family photos, 10 years of e-mail, etc.), I burn it to optical and keep a copy at yet another location.

5. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure if you pull a RAID 1 drive out of your Microserver and drop it into another machine your data will be accessible. I tried switching from RAID to IDE in BIOS on mine and I'm quite sure I was able to read it once initialized (it was 4 in the morning, my memories a bit fuzzy...). The SB700 chipset is ubiquitous and I cannot imagine AMD wouldn't provide a longterm path for migration - I would guess this is a primary design goal of the RAID Xpert software. Also, considering my tech lust, I cannot imagine that I will not have upgraded before N36L parts disappear.

Out of curiosity what skin are you using? I'm finding Aeon Nox a little sluggy but Confluence is working just fine. Turning off background art did alleviate the problem so I'm guessing it's disk caching. My system drive is also mirrored so perhaps the SB700 isn't as ideal as I'm making it out to be. I'll try turning off the pagefile tonight and seeing if it makes any difference.

It might be interesting for us to do some read/write tests for comparison. Those slick hard drives of yours should turf my WD Greens but the mirroring would be the real bottleneck here. Once I can take over the machine long enough from my family to test, I'll report back.
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jimbosis Offline
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Post: #28
One other comment - I see a lot of people are looking at Radeon rather than Geforce cards. Haven't investigated for a while but I seem to recall this limits your options for HW decoding if you want to play with Linux.
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aluders Offline
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Post: #29
QLink... I got problems.

My configuration is almost the same as yours...

60GB SSD as boot drive on mobo's extra sata
2 2TB mirrored arrays
blu-ray rom drive hooked up to esata via esata to sata cable that feeds inside the case from the back
5GB of ecc ram (added 4GB chip)
fanless hsi hd6450
windows 7 pro 64bit

I eventually got ahci running on the SSD with modded bios to turn off combined mode but that didnt make a difference. All amd drivers are at the latest as far as I can tell.

Problem is that xbmc 10.1 and media player classic have stuttery playback on full 1080p rips that I have done of my hd discs. Worked fine on my old lower powered htpc and my laptop etc but not on this.

Nobody had this problem?
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aluders Offline
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Post: #30
Never mind.... Not sure why mpc wasn't playing smooth because it said dxva but it's working now and I had forgot to activate dxva in xbmc. It's all working.
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