The PR-savvy folks at Amahi recently chimed in on the Vail-Fail fiasco by presenting Amahi as an alternative to the Windows Home Server (Vail) solution, and I thought I should give it a run for the money to see how it stacks up.
In short: not well at all.
First, the good things: when configured properly, Amahi offers DLNA/uPNP streaming and the ability to send h264 streams to iPod/iPad/iPhone devices. It also supports backups, disk spanning, remote access, dynamic DNS (*.yourhda.com) and a slew of other features that should have you salivating by now.
The bad? None of it works out of the box.
In order to set up an Amahi server, you must first complete a Fedora 12 install. That’s right, Fedora 12. Not 13 or 14, don’t be confused. Just like most open source software, Amahi suffers from circular dependency issues if you choose the wrong version and the wrong repository – be warned. (Note: if you want to use current versions of Fedora, make sure to change the repository to either f13.amahi.org or f14.amahi.org and realize that there are no plugins for either).
Fedora 12 is a relatively easy install, but when you’re manually setting IP configurations, you lose most of the WHS market in one fell swoop. Fail?
After the install has completed, you logon to Fedora and run the Amahi installer. You’re met with a logon screen. What username and password to use? Pick anything and you’ve just been made an admin. Security by obscurity or brainless UI design? I think it’s the latter.
This install will take almost as long as the Fedora build, which is counter-intuitive. Why not simply chain the install? Why not build a freaking fork that contains Amahi? I’m ranting here, but I find this bit incredibly odd, especially since Amahi has specific OS requirements.
OK, we’ve survived, we’ve realized that eth0 is the only card available to buy facebook fans Amahi by now, and through process of elimination we’ve figured out which port Fedora has decided this is. We’ve realized the firewall has been disabled, we’ve entered the activation code and received an email letting us know that we now own http://im.yourhda.com
Let’s start packing it full of media like facebook likes, eh? We’ll need disks for that, but they are in the case so we should be OK – let’s add a disk to Amahi and let the good times roll. Oh wait, you can’t do that. Why not? It needs to be done via commandline. OK, getting the sleeves rolled up is fun once in a while, disks added.
Let’s add some media to the disks. Done. the transfer speed is a good 10% faster than WHS, and 50% faster than Vail. Good news. But you have to use SCP to do it… The Samba sharing doesn’t actually work out of the box (fixed later in Fedora). More fail.
Alright, media is on the device, let’s play some. Pop on the TV, have a look for uPNP or DLNA devices. None. Hmm. Oh yeah, it’s not even added yet.