decisions, decisions

Well I'm stuck in a bind. I can't seem to decide which operating system I want to run my all-powerful file server. A few days ago, my wonderful sister gifted me two computers, the Dell OptiPlex GX270 and GX280. The basic difference between these two tried-and-true workhorses is the graphics card interface-the GX280 includes a PCI Express x16 slot whereas the GX270 is still using AGP-and of course the model number. Other than that, they use the same motherboard, same case design, and same basic layout. PERFECT for general hackery purposes...and running a Boxee...

So my first endeavor with these machines is something I've been needing for a long time: a file server to host all of the house's media. Everyone who lives in my house utilizes the internet or computers mostly for their media needs, and we've been longing for a way to experience it on a bigger screen. But a problem arises: These machines do not have the ability to pump S-Video to my regular TV, so I'm gonna need to wait a couple days before actually going ahead and opening up the boxes. I also need SATA cables and a SATA-to-IDE converter because the Dell OptiPlex motherboards come with IDE by default! By using both the SATA connector and the IDE connector adapted to a SATA connection, I'll be able to run a software RAID-0 array, mirroring the contents of the 1TB of space inside the box and therefore providing a greater level of security and stability to the system as a whole. With all of the hits it will be getting, this is a crucial step in extending the server's lifespan.

This is actually a good thing, because it gives me a bit more time to decide on an operating system. What I need is very simple, I've boiled it down to only a few requirements:

Right now, my best option is FreeNAS, it's a distribution of FreeBSD (an OS I know and love) that's specially formulated to act as a network storage device. Precisely what I'm looking for! It's even bundled with a DAAP server and NFS so the Boxee can be "tricked" into thinking /Zappa is actually a part of its own local filesystem. The possibilities are endless, allowing for seamless integration of the data on these disks to the entire network here at 1913.

I think my choice has been made.

UPDATE: My FreeNAS file server is running smoothly, fully jailed. Story at 11.

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