It’s Independence Day for Amahi; Ubuntu Edition now live!

 

 

We’re happy to announce the general release of Amahi 6.1, Ubuntu Edition! With a great team effort, this has become a reality! Get started!

This is Amahi’s first release of the Ubuntu edition, so we expected occasional turbulence. Meanwhile, we are hard at work creating a
graphical installer to make this installation of Amahi Ubuntu Edition easier.

The team has always been of the opinion that the expansion to new Linux distributions is great. Now Amahi runs on two of the most popular Linux distributions! We expect to continue supporting at least both distributions going forward.

One person that cares deeply is all it takes to make things happen in the open source world! In this case, a few developers contributed to make Amahi more amenable to running on Ubuntu. Many underestimated the complexity of the undertaking. Eventually, Frans (a.k.a. eFfeM, our team lead for Ubuntu) persisted long enough to align everything and everyone’s skills and push through in this true team effort!

Here are some of the features in Amahi 6.1, Ubuntu Edition (but not limited to):

  • Latest storage pooling technology with the latest Greyhole 0.9
  • Reliability fixes and updates, including a new, professionally designed, polished look (see at the end of this post)
  • Support for both the 32 & 64 bit Desktop and Server versions of Ubuntu
  • Improved cloud storage with Amahi Sync
  • Some support for ARM systems, like the PandaBoard and BeagleBoard (these are not well tested, so, expect rough seas)
  • One-Click App installs via Amahi’s application store

For more details, release notes and known issues, check the Ubuntu wiki page. Experiment with Amahi Ubuntu Edition! If you break it, report it! The more bugs reported the smoother the eventual ride!

We are excited to have some support for ARM based systems! We’re revisiting the ARM architecture as it becomes more pervasive in our lives as cell phones, multimedia set top boxes and other automation conveniences. The ARM(v7) packages are available via Amahi’s Ubuntu repo. We strongly suggest a powerful ARM processor (such as omap4) and an external hard disk; SD booting is possible but sloow. Thanks also goes to open source startups and projects who are making ARM  programming easily accessible to the younger generation.

Again, many thanks to the Ubuntu team, the Applications team, the Greyhole team, the testers, you who reported bugs and suggested improvements!

Happy installing and we hope you enjoy and share it with your friends via Facebook and Twitter!

The Amahi Team

PS: check out a (reduced) screenshot of the new Amahi look!

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Meet the ECOPC N.1: Amahi pre-installed, 1000 likes on Facebook!

Today, as we’re going through what we hope is the last week of testing for Amahi 6, we’re happy to announce the Amahi Ready™ program for hardware vendors and our first partnership in this program, by way of Evo Technologies, a Korean manufacturer of eco-friendly computer systems.

This is the first partnership for an off-the-shelf system with Amahi pre-installed, something that has been in big demand among Amahi users.

So if you’ve wanted to buy Amahi pre-installed, Evo Technologies is shipping the first system worldwide today. Meet the ECOPC N.1!

Green. Silent. Small.
The N.1 uses 10~11W at idle, 16W at full CPU load with 2.5″ SSD (18W with 2.5″ HDD) and less than 1W at standby. It uses about 90% less power than standard PC. It saves on electric bills and reduces the environmental impact of CO2 emissions. The N.1 can be operated with a small fan, or totally fanless, therefore you don’t need to worry about a fan failing. No fan means no noise!

Facebook Likes, UPSs, FlexRAID and WOL, Wiki improvements

What an amazing few weeks we had. Amahi’s Facebook page has been abuzz with all sorts of suggestions and discussions. Everything from an energy saving feature, flexraid, UPS integration, and Wake-on-LAN (WOL) were discussed!

The Race to 1K and redesigned Facebook page!

The race to 1,000 Likes is on! Who do you know that could use Amahi? It’s our new goal here at Amahi, WE NEED 1,000 fans! So go out tell a friend or two, whether they have our platform installed or not, to jump on Facebook and Like us! So while you’re there check out the redesigned page! We like the increased fluidity of the page and how it feels more like a personal users page!

WOL, FlexRAID and UPS Integration

Amahi is all about variety and choice. Many people do not know much about using Wake-on-LAN (WOL). WOL is implemented for devices with DHCP leases and Static IPs, under Setup > Networking. This was introduced to Amahi last year, and you can “wake” devices remotely with it. Great for the highly resourceful user!

FlexRAID is a highly scalable and smart storage system currently in beta that turns independent hard drives of various sizes, makes, and models into storage pools and storage pools into storage clouds.

Amahi Energy Saver is a project to make devices more energy-efficient. This project got an update and has a determined leader (hi jackrock!) and looks like it will be nicely integrated with Amahi! It’s in alpha, however, we hope to take it a step further to make energy savings part of the Amahi platform.

Recently we’ve also had an update on how to integrate a UPS with Amahi. Ghuiber’s efforts are documented in the Amahi Wiki under UPS setup.

Wiki Upgrades

If you followed those wiki links above you will have no doubt noticed the huge improvements in how the wiki looks and feels, with great looking templates for code, links, and easy to use notices. The speed at which the wiki changes is quite remarkable! And the amount of spam we get now in it has been curbed down big time. Take a moment to thank people improving the wiki and especially our wiki czars, smystaki and bigfoot65, for making all these great documentation improvements possible!

You told us what you think

Our goal with Amahi is to provide an easy, reliable, and expandable software platform for all of you.  We’ve asked the Facebook followers this: “What do you use Amahi for?”,  the answers probably seem familiar to most of you:

  • Media Server
  • VPN Server
  • File Server
  • App Server

Cheers!

The Amahi Team

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Videos! You’ve been Served!

Let’s talk about streaming!

With the proliferation of digital media files, the media server is becoming more and more of a reality. For families that have small children, they are a boon due to the protection of the physical media. For others, they simply hold the promise of instant recovery and playing of a particular movie.

Currently we have uShare, Jinzora and Ampache in Amahi as one-click apps.

stream

However, we went on a search to find a video media server that would meet the following criteria:

  1. Efficiently serve to multiple computers or devices
  2. Supports open formats like Matroska (mkv)
  3. Cross-platform using Open Source players like MPlayer and VLC, enabling a consistent interface.
  4. Open Source
  5. Supported streaming protocols such as RTSP, to allow for seeking within the stream

The search ultimately ended in partial failure. While there are solutions that meet criteria 1, 3, 4 and 5, relatively few meet criteria 2, and of those that do, there are problems; more on that in a minute.

First we looked at FFServer, a the little known server that comes with the FFMpeg transcoding package. While it met criteria 1,2,3 and 4, it was not completely stable and used http for the streaming protocol.

VLC followed. RTSP? Check! Matroska? Check! Mplayer and VLC? Check! FOSS? Check! Stable? No! VLC supports streaming in a server fashion, and it does support Matroska, however, the files that it streams suffer from audio synchronization problems. The advice from the VLC irc forum? Use a web server. It is faster and more efficient. Unfortunately, a web server was more than I wanted. Plus it doesn’t support RTSP. VLC’s server counterpart, VLS, is no longer supported and only supports older technologies like MPEG, and AVI, so it wouldn’t work either.

Jinzora? Great, however it is too picky about how the media has to be installed. Ampache? Again, it is web based. Coherence? Nope. Coherence, uShare and the PS3 Streaming Server, Mediatomb and the newcomer MiniDLNA show great potential, and they use DLNA/UPnP. DLNA and UPnP are technologies that show great promise for media servers in the home, and support for the protocol comes from devices like the PS3, Xbox 360 and other hardware solutions. At this point in time, Totem comes the closest to supporting DLNA/UPnP with a plugin from Coherence, but that eliminates a cross platform solution as VLC doesn’t look like it support DLNA/UPnP until well after the 1.0 release, and MPlayer doesn’t support it at all.

speedAnd the winner is Darwin Streaming Server (DSS), from Apple. While it doesn’t support Matroska, it does meet all of the other criteria, and doesn’t suffer from audio synchronization problems. In addition, the media can simply be stored in a single directory or be organized into subdirectories. Its native format is MP4, easily available from Handbrake, and the only preparation that the files need is something called hinting. Hinting, and an accompanying preparation that simply add synchronization information, adds additional streams to the MP4 container that tell DSS how to stream and seek within the stream. The result is nearly flawless streaming from my Amahi HDA to  an XP client. MP4Box, part of GPAC, handles the hinting and synchronization details with a single command. Even with multiple streams going, my HDA machine idles at a throttled 800MHz.

Additionally, DSS offers a modular approach to development, so plugging in additional support for technologies like Matroska may be forthcoming.

DSS suffers from one problem that some might find annoying, the lack of text based subtitles. MP4Box can add the stream and hint it, but DSS doesn’t send that portion of the stream. If the subtitle is burned into the H.264 stream, then there is no problem, but for multilingual or hard-of-hearing households, this may be a deal-breaker. For all others, if you are already using MP4s the sky is the limit. If you are looking at Matroska, well, the conversion process from Matroska to MP4 isn’t difficult.

Right now, for Amahi users, there isn’t a one click solution for DSS but we hope to . This should be soon fixed. For now, installing isn’t difficult as the dependencies are few. Simply download the source code from Apple, apply the patches for the 64bit version, if needed, and compile. Detailed instructions are available from CodeProject.

While there are possibly countless other possible solutions, this is the one that I found that did the job with the least overhead, while conforming to most of the criteria. Enjoy!

[Photos courtesy of ishrona]

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