Our KODI server has been doing a great job of serving our media (movies, television shows, music videos and music), but lately I've been using it to convert blu-ray media files (via handbrake-cli) and play/download some pretty big Steam games. With the price of SSD storage media dropping it seemed like a good time to think about some upgrades.
Over the past week we've been compressing our Blu-ray library to save space on our 8TB Seagate Ironwolf NAS drive. After around 8 months we managed to almost fill the drive, the vast majority of space being taken up by MKV files created from our Blu-ray library. A solution was needed, and buying a new larger drive wasn't an option at this point. Enter Handbrake-cli, the command-line version of the popular DVD-ripping and compression program Handbrake. Initial tests showed positive compression results with very good quality at 1080p using the h264 codec. After a week of compressing our library we have the results from 18 files we've compressed over this period.
If you rip Blu-rays using MakeMKV the resulting file size can be huge. File sizes of Blu-ray movies in our collection range from 16GB to over 36GB. This was fine a year ago when we added an 8TB hard drive to our KODI server, but in less than a year we managed to whittle the free space on that drive down to 250GB. Buying more/larger drives is one approach to solving the free space problem, but we've already done this several times, going from a 1TB drive to a 2TB drive, then a 3TB drive, and another 3TB drive, before replacing them all with the 8TB drive. Another approach, the one we ulimately decided would be the right solution for us, was to encode those files - in this case using handbrake-cli, the command-line version of handbrake.
When you're working with Blu-ray media file sizes can be a nightmare. Back when I got my 8TB drive I had slightly over 5TB of files. Eight terabytes seemed like it would be enough at the time, but here it is less than a year later and the drive is dangerously close to full (308GB free). Drive space wasn't a problem when I was ripping my DVDs, but when I "rip" my Blu-ray discs it's more like dumping them to the drive, there's no re-encoding done.
Over the past couple of months I've been swapping hardware and and out of my daily desktop computer: tank. The last drive setup involved two Samsung 120GB SSDs in a striped RAID array (Ubuntu 16.04) and a 1TB Western Digital Blue (Windows 10). The setup was annoying both from a hardware and software perspective. One of the SSDs was situated below the 1TB hard drive while the other was mounted below a Blu-ray drive. Part of the reason for this odd setup was the configuration of the Antec Three Hundred Two case.
Even small home networks can sometimes involve a lot of networking technology. Take the photograph above as an example. In that photograph we have a wireless router, an ADSL modem, a Gigabit switch, and a VOIP modem, plus a power bar to support all the devices. This is an old photograph, and the wiring is a bit messy (I've improved things with cable sleeves and changed up some of the technology mounted here).
The Computer Recycling Project at The Working Centre is happy to announce we now have Xubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver available on our PXE network installer. If you're in the Kitchener/Waterloo area and need Xubuntu installed, please feel free to drop by. This form of installation is particularly useful for those who don't have a DVD drive. We've also got older images, including some that work with Pentium M-based architecture.
I've been running Ubuntu 18.04 for a little while on my main desktop computer. I really haven't had any issues with it except for the constant running out of space on the SSD when ripping Blu-ray media (Ubuntu was installed on a 120GB SSD). Here are the steps I've taken so far after installing Ubuntu 16.04:
Update the system
sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
I then plugged back in my 1TB hard drive. Windows 10 lives on that drive. I booted Ubuntu and updated grub so it would recognize the Windows partitions on the drive:
One of the steps in our refurbishing process at The Working Centre's Computer Recycling Project involves testing the CMOS battery inside each desktop PC we refurbish. Testing the CMOS battery is a relatively simple process and you can do it a number of ways. The simplest is with a cheap battery tester. You can sometimes find these at dollar or hardware stores. But battery testers can't be found everywhere so the next simplest method is with a multimeter.