Home Server Part 1 – Home as Command Center

When I first got a job as a software engineer, I was impressed by the racks of computers running software builds and tests every moment of every day. The computers were high-end machines, each thousands of dollars, and the room they filled was noticeably warmer than every other room in the building. I began imagining what kinds of things I could run at my own house someday.

That was almost fifteen years ago.

Today, when I need to fill in a password, I use an app that connects with my home server to grab it.

When my kids want to watch a movie or TV show, they watch something streamed from my curated collection on my home server.

When I want to watch something on YouTube, I instead go to my home server which hosts ripped video to avoid giving Google any benefit (I still help support the people making the videos in other ways).

When I buy an eBook or audiobook, I read or listen to it from my home server.

When I want to play music around the house, it streams from my home server.

When I want to use office software like a spreadsheet or a document editor, I save the results to an office cloud server I host on my home server.

When I want to plan a family vacation or keep track of our meal planning, I log into our family wiki on my home server.

When I want to host a video game for friends and family, I host it on my home server.

When I want to take reading notes or begin planning a new project, I use notetaking software that stores everything on my home server.

When I want to share pictures with friends and family, I point them to a link to some photo management software on my home server. When I want to find a picture among our huge collection, I can search for it in the same software.

In short, my home server is a tool I’ve built using free and open source software to replace dozens of services and expensive software tools. I have control over the data, the software versions, and I can back up everything easily. I can access it all anywhere. And best of all, no one else is hosting all of this stuff. I’m not dependent on giant corporations that hate me for those things.

Next time, I’d like to look at the project from a high level and cover the things it can (and can’t) do, the costs involved, the time commitment, etc. Following that, posts related to this project will get a bit more technical, but they’ll be interspersed with other topics to keep things from getting too dry.

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