Windows Home Server, based on Windows Server 2003 Small Business Edition “minus the Exchange mail server”, has been released. This raises a number of questions in my head: Will the new category of Home Server hardware, combined with presumably easy to understand support for multi-disk redundancy be the ultimate backup solution Normal People and Very Small Business have needed for a very long time? And/Or will this end up being yet another, even worse supply of always available Windows machines for botnet owners to zombify? Should the industry focus more on the already existing kind of scaled down, energy saving NAS boxes rather than on more or less full scale PCs running Windows Server with a silly limit on the amount of users?
I also take for granted that WHS has some quirks making it barely usable for Unixy people, and by the way, what kind of an operating system requires a minimum of 512 megabytes of RAM and a Pentium III processor to sit on a network to serve a web interface and files? Again, one of my favorite examples of what real software can do, is this story by a guy whose Celeron 466 MHz box running FreeBSD almost survived the owner’s WordPress blog being featured on Slashdot.
On a sidenote, I’ve used normal pc hardware running Debian’s rolling testing release as a multi purpose home server for some time now. Doing this really simplifies a lot of things, and creates new possibilities: everything from GNU Screen powered IRC, downloading ahem.. Linux install disc ISOs, NFS and Samba sharing. But what amazes me is the new uses for this new kind of, for server use dedicated consumer products (perhaps running a more suitable OS), the very smart people populating the Internet and various Free Software projects most certainly will develop. Especially a few product generations from now, when commodity home server hardware might support hotswappable devices and perhaps even different interfaces for interacting with your physical home, there must be pretty interesting things one could do with a server at home.
Note: I submitted a slightly different version of this text as an article to Slashdot a few minutes ago, but as usual, I doubt that they’ll release it.