Server OS - WHS 2011 vs Server 2012 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 12:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Server OS - WHS 2011 vs Server 2012

Ironically, i've been using Unix for longer than windows but I keep finding myself floating back to considering windows/flex-raid for a new server I want to build. Much as I like my VortexBox and as much as I've been contemplating VortexBox + BTRFS... much of the media software I want to use is windows first (if not windows only).

So... cutting to the chase... I have an OEM version of WHS2011 laying around that I might use but I keep seeing folks talking about Server2012 R2. Give the "rack rates" I've seen for Server2012... well, they are kinda steep. How are folks getting their versions? Via TechNet or somesuch? What are you perceived benefits for Server2012 (I mean apart from WHS being EOL-ed... no small thing granted).

How many folks have decided to go the Linux route instead (I'm quite comfortable managing a linux server... it's more the availability of a few select tools and I'm not sure I want to deal with running them in a VM on the server)
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 06:35 AM
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post #3 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 09:15 AM
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If you're a student (or know someone with an edu address I guess) there's also DreamSpark, which gives you 2012r2 for free.


I would suggest if you're comparing to WHS 2011 that also want 2012r2 (as opposed to just 2012) because you can then install the "Essentials" role which gives you a WHS-like dashboard and backup features though.

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post #4 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfineman View Post
much of the media software I want to use is windows first (if not windows only)
I'm wondering what software this happens to be (out of actual curiosity)

I personally run a w8.1 media server currently, but I've (for a while now) been planning to run ESXi with WHS2011+FlexRAID alongside W8.1+WMC with breathing room to add whatever else I want in esxi as well -- I already have the whs license and had originally used it as my server os originally

WMC+ServerWMC (for everything but copy-once material) is an ideal tv server imo. Guide data is solid and no $25/yr schedulesdirect subscription required. With serverwmc you get the server client model that windows never offered (outside of extenders - which had their own set of problems) and it hooks into MB3 or XBMC
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post #5 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
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[QUOTE=Dark_Slayer;26500041]I'm wondering what software this happens to be (out of actual curiosity)

Some of the things that I do or plan to run:
  • Media Browser
  • Plex
  • SlimServer (for music to devices other than my HTPC)
  • MediaCenterMaster
  • Perhaps sickbeard/etc
  • AnyDVD
  • MakeMKV
  • JRiver (though this might only run on my HTPC since I have other options for device streaming of music and video)
  • Some random RemoteControl servers I've been messing with.

AnyDVD is just for helping with my rips which I could do from my desktop though ripping across the network is slower.
MediaCenterMaster is a nice tool though the metadata scrubbing is getting better with the server tools all the time.

Gotta say though... every time I make this list I think I can do without or use virtualbox to run a copy of windows. I've been using VortexBox for years and have been quite happy with it and they've just released a new version on Fedora 20 which means I could use BTRFS. Sadly it's 32-bit only AFAIK and I suspect that will harm transcoding speeds.
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post #6 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 09:47 AM
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I'm sure you already know this but there's a good bit of overlap in there

-MB3 and Plex
-MB3 and MediaCenterMaster
-AnyDVD and MakeMKV

Also, if you can live without MCM (which honestly MB3 is better at this point) and AnyDVD (which you really don't need if you're going to rip with makemkv) then you can get all of the server stuff in a debian based distro

MB3 linux server is the newest, but Plex has had a linux variant for some time. Makemkv as well as utor, couch potato, headphones, sickbeard (sickrage is better though)

Not sure about btrfs and transcoding -- plex has a freebsd port, someone in their forums may know more https://forums.plex.tv/index.php/top...-freebsd-port/
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 09:50 AM
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Anyway, not trying to dissuade you from your original intentions, but I'd say
  • Consider *just* windows as opposed to server variants if you don't need more than 20 simultaneous clients
  • Don't give up in the linux area if you really still wanted to use it. MCM is not worth the switch in my opinion, but it can also run just fine somewhere *other* than your server or in a vm
  • Happy choosing
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post #8 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
I'm sure you already know this but there's a good bit of overlap in there

-MB3 and Plex
Does MB3 support offline viewing yet? I first started using Plex about a month or so ago as we started getting ready for an overseas trip and I wanted to take a few movies with me on the tablet....

Also, the idea of being able to share a media server with family & friends is kinda appealing.

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Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
-MB3 and MediaCenterMaster
I had a feeling this would be the case at this point... my eval was from several months ago and MCM did a passable job scrubbing my newly ripped collection (with a little shepherding).

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Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
-AnyDVD and MakeMKV
This I'm less convinced of... I've certainly had times when I had to resort to AnyDVD to successfully rip certain discs. MakeMKV worked for most but not all. Of course, I could always fall back to my desktop for those rips.

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Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
Also, if you can live without MCM (which honestly MB3 is better at this point) and AnyDVD (which you really don't need if you're going to rip with makemkv) then you can get all of the server stuff in a debian based distro
If I go with Unix, it will either be VortexBox which has a great fedora-based distro for home servers (as mentioned above... been using it for years but I fear my needs are going to outstrip the proliant it's been running on) or an ubuntu variant since that's what I use at work right now. It's been YEARS since I've dealt with BSD so I'd have to be hard-pressed to venture down that path (in fact I don't think i've used BSD since my university days... I joined Sun just as they were retiring their BSD-based kernel... ok... getting back on the rails now ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
MB3 linux server is the newest, but Plex has had a linux variant for some time. Makemkv as well as utor, couch potato, headphones, sickbeard (sickrage is better though)
Thanks... will look at some of those other packages. Hmmm... IIRC my MakeMKV license will xfer over to linux... thought I read that somewhere but can't find it now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
Not sure about btrfs and transcoding -- plex has a freebsd port, someone in their forums may know more https://forums.plex.tv/index.php/top...-freebsd-port/
Are you asking if BTRFS can serve at sufficient speed for real-time transcoding? I would have presumed so but it's a fair question... one I should follow up on.

Thanks for your thoughts DS.
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post #9 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
Anyway, not trying to dissuade you from your original intentions, but I'd say
  • Consider *just* windows as opposed to server variants if you don't need more than 20 simultaneous clients
  • Don't give up in the linux area if you really still wanted to use it. MCM is not worth the switch in my opinion, but it can also run just fine somewhere *other* than your server or in a vm
  • Happy choosing
For "just windows"... would the "home" version be sufficient? I would install something like VNC to get around the lack of RDF... Hmmm... IIRC I would need a "pro" variant to get the VPN support if I wanted to join a UseNet.

Also, regarding the original question on WHS2011... it's still an interesting option since I have it laying around already..... is that just a bad idea at this point since it's already been EOL-ed? Anyway had any experiences on this front they'd like to share regarding driver support, etc?
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post #10 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 11:36 AM
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[quote=cfineman;26500529]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
I'm wondering what software this happens to be (out of actual curiosity)

Some of the things that I do or plan to run:
  • Media Browser
  • Plex
  • SlimServer (for music to devices other than my HTPC)
  • MediaCenterMaster
  • Perhaps sickbeard/etc
  • AnyDVD
  • MakeMKV
  • JRiver (though this might only run on my HTPC since I have other options for device streaming of music and video)
  • Some random RemoteControl servers I've been messing with.

AnyDVD is just for helping with my rips which I could do from my desktop though ripping across the network is slower.
MediaCenterMaster is a nice tool though the metadata scrubbing is getting better with the server tools all the time.

Gotta say though... every time I make this list I think I can do without or use virtualbox to run a copy of windows. I've been using VortexBox for years and have been quite happy with it and they've just released a new version on Fedora 20 which means I could use BTRFS. Sadly it's 32-bit only AFAIK and I suspect that will harm transcoding speeds.
As Dark_Slayer pointed out, there is a good deal of overlap going on here. I can answer to some of your concerns though. MakeMKV has taken some big leaps forward in the ability to decrypt discs. I too used AnyDVD-HD for a long time. Now, I'm wishing I had done otherwise, but that's a different issue. There is one big up-side to AnyDVD still, and that is it provides a Cinavia work-around. However, if you are converting to streaming files, that's not going to really be much of an issue anyway.

As for MB3 and Plex on the same machine, there's very little call for it. They are both solid performers. I tend to recommend MB3 at every turn, but the reality is that PLEX still does the job. MB3 does provide a means for viewing without going online, but obviously still requires all the machines to still be on the same internal/home network.

MCM is entirely a matter of personal taste. Over the last 6 months, I have found it to be no more reliable than the MB3/XBMC (through XBMB3C) scrapers when retrieving metadata. Of course, everyone has different experiences.
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post #11 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfineman View Post
For "just windows"... would the "home" version be sufficient? I would install something like VNC to get around the lack of RDF... Hmmm... IIRC I would need a "pro" variant to get the VPN support if I wanted to join a UseNet.

Also, regarding the original question on WHS2011... it's still an interesting option since I have it laying around already..... is that just a bad idea at this point since it's already been EOL-ed? Anyway had any experiences on this front they'd like to share regarding driver support, etc?
Well that depends on your end goal really. I see no benefit in whs over windows other than nfs shares and increased simultaneous users. There is a consequence as well, in that your server wouldnt have WMC unless you ran windows instead. Those are the reasons I'm eventually heading down the esxi path, to have it all and more. Also I can run a PIA vpn tunnel on a VM that isn't sharing my Plex or MB3 libraries

As to home vs pro, 8 and later needs pro for wmc. 7 home works swell for less (though 7 pro is not hard to find discounted to the same price)

Teamviewer works well on all variants, and no rdp port to forward

Not sure about what you meant with vpn, but if you meant a pay-for vpn tunnel for encryption then I guess it would depend on your provider (though pia works fine on all variants)
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post #12 of 17 Old 08-13-2014, 01:25 AM
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I used both WHS and WHS2011 and then moved to 2012 Essentials (via MSDN) when it became available.
I find the domain features of 2012 extremely useful because we have quite a number of Windows PCs and tablets in the house.
The client backup, folder redirection and synchronization is super useful.
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post #13 of 17 Old 08-13-2014, 03:16 AM
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I used Windows 7 and Windows Server 2012 R2 in server roles. I obtained my copy of Server 2012 R2 through the Dreamspark program.

With two laptops, a PC and a HTPC I find the active directory features of Server 2012 really useful compared to Windows 7/8. I only need to set user passwords once rather than on each different machine. I use group policies to establish settings across all computers rather than having to configure each computer individually. I have WSUS up and running so that windows updates are only downloaded once rather than individually for each machine. I use Hyper-V to separate my servers into different roles (this probably isn't entirely necessary, but I like the ability to snapshot and restore a VM if I mess something up without impacting other services). I am able to team my NICs, which can't be done with Windows 8. I also run a DNS server which allows me to assign names instead of remembering IP addresses (eg I can type http://router to access my wifi modem). I did consider WHS2011 but decided against it as it was an end-of-line product with Server 2012 having most of the features and more. There is a little bit more to configure with Server 2012, and a lot of programs require a little bit of tweaking to run them as a service without an interactive desktop.

Most of this can also be achieved with Linux, however not being familiar with it I chose to avoid it where possible.

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post #14 of 17 Old 08-16-2014, 08:59 PM
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post #15 of 17 Old 08-18-2014, 07:43 AM
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I did consider WHS2011 but decided against it as it was an end-of-line product with Server 2012 having most of the features and more. There is a little bit more to configure with Server 2012

Like I said, you can also just add the "Essentials" role to 2012r2 in order to simplify things if you choose to. Personally, I don't have enough machines to want to deal with the Active Directory, WSUS, or even DNS stuff, so I also use workarounds in order to avoid those. I definitely could do it if I wanted to, it's just not worth the hassle for me.

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post #16 of 17 Old 08-18-2014, 06:48 PM
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Like I said, you can also just add the "Essentials" role to 2012r2 in order to simplify things if you choose to. Personally, I don't have enough machines to want to deal with the Active Directory, WSUS, or even DNS stuff, so I also use workarounds in order to avoid those. I definitely could do it if I wanted to, it's just not worth the hassle for me.
I agree that's the benefit with Server 2012 R2 Essentials, it provides the opportunity to use some of the more advanced features or stick with the basics. If the OP can get a free licence through Bizspark or Deamspark then get either Server 2012 R2 Standard or Datacenter and add the Essentials role rather than getting Server Essentials. This will provide more flexibility if the OP wants to start playing around with Hyper-V later. Also, I'm not sure whether it's the same with Bizspark, but with the Dreamspark licences they can only be activated a small number of times (I think 2-3) before activation starts being rejected.

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post #17 of 17 Old 08-18-2014, 10:08 PM
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I have had a BizSpark subscription since Microsoft started offering it... I have activated my keys (for various products) atleast 20-30 times, with no issues.
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