Would you believe, dear worst-reader, that I spent the last few weeks reading up on SBC’s (single board computer) because…
- these little (miracle) devices are so silly-inexpensive AND extremely useful that I can just keep buying them in order to busy my early-retirement existence,
- I already have three of them in full use so why not change-up a bit w/ something different like a Rock64?
- I’m all poo-poo on Apple on account it’s going full stupid w/ its iOS Krapp.
But I digress.
As of a few weeks back I now have a rockin’ OpenMediaVault NAS running on a RPi 3B+. Connected to it are 2x2TB USB external HDDs that I’ve had lying around. One of the drives is currently being tested as a TimeMachine backup server for all my Macs–and it’s been working great so-far! FYI, even though I possess the capability of offering TM backups on my ageing MacPro with Apple’s MacOS Server App (and only that app), after various attempts using it, I’ve decided it’s a no-go. TM, Apple Macs, home network, etc., don’t really work well together–even though such a claim is sacrilegious as an Apple fan-boy. The reality is, I have never been able to set up my home network–most likely due to krappy networking of ISP issued home router–so that any of my Macs at any given time can access the network for a TM backup. For whatever reason (beyond my comprehension) there has always been network access issue prohibiting TM from working. Put another way: the MacOS Server App, combined with krappy ISP routers, sucks bat-balls!
The second drive of my OMV NAS has a copy of my digital music library, which is my entry-way to perhaps creating a media server for the future–that will replace my ageing MacPro. To play that music I’m using a RPi3 with a Hifiberry Amp2 connected to it (see pic below). My music player -of-choice is Volumio. FYI, I am currently experiencing the best audio/stereo listening of my life with this set-up. Obviously I’m old school when it comes to listening to music which also means so-called smart speakers are not on my consume-to-survive radar anytime soon! Yeah. Smart speakers suck bat-balls, too.
(Pics of my 3 RPi’s: w/ OMV (ext HDDs left); w/ Hifiberry DAC+Pro used as a Plex client for work-room TV; w/Hifiberry Amp2 and Volumio.)
I have a third RPi as a RasPlex client which is attached to my TV. FYI we don’t have any sort of TV connection to the outside world. I use the TV as a screen for work (presentations) and for streaming w/ Plex and sometimes AppleTV. I guess that means I’m a cord-cutter. Keep in mind, for the last ten or so years we’ve been an Apple household but recent Apple product announcements (especially from 2018), not to mention the rip-off of iTunes, have convinced me to stay the course in my choice of maintaining my own media library.
The question I’m currently asking is how capable is an SBC? Up to this point, using a RPi 3B+ for NAS, experimenting with old HDDs connected via USB 2.0, figuring out Openmediavault, etc., has proven to be viable. Although skeptical of the RPi’s limited ethernet bandwidth that is dependent on USB 2.0, at this point the system works without flaw. There were some glitches when I used an old duel HDD case set to JBOD. The RPi/OMV was unable to access the drives. Since then I’ve acquired two HDD cases with separate power sources. Such a setup is space consuming and requires lots of electric sockets; luckily I have both in abundance.
Indeed. Linux here I come!
I was on the verge of ordering a Rock64 SBC the other day thinking that the RPi’s network capability was too weak. The Rock64 has true gigabyte ethernet–whereas the RPi, dependent on USB 2.0, has only around a third of that. But then I came to my senses. According to my worst-research the Rock64 might be a bit too much for my NAS needs. Up to now I’ve just gotten over certain learning curves of both the RPi and OMV. And even though I’m not using RPi/OMV for streaming video, it has passed with flying colours both backup networking and audio networking.
In short, so far, I am able to backup three Macs, stream music to my Volumio client and also stream HD audio (96khz-24bit) to my Mac using VLC and then playing that music through a TEAC amp (very loudly) via USB–all at the same time. That means I had multiple devices streaming from the RPi-OMV NAS–with its limited Ethernet–and everything worked great.
Conclusion (so-far): there is no need to run out and by a higher-end SBC. At least not yet! As soon as I can figure out how to do it, I’ll install Plex on OMV and then do the same test but with video. Needless to say, I am encouraged so far w/ everything SBC. My limited tech skills are able to fiddle-faddle with these Linux devices and even connect hardware (RPi + Hifiberry) here and there to make things not just work but work really, really well. The main task at hand is to find a viable ersatz for Apple. Why, you ask? Because, well, Apple is seriously starting to suck once again–just like it sucked before Steve Jobs returned. As long as I can easily and conveniently backup my Macs, have access to a file server, and have great audio from my digitised music collection, I can’t imagine having to stick with Apple and it preposterous über-expensive shinny unicorn stuff in the future.