Set up a multipurpose home server

Universal Access

Once you've set up the storage, you can enrich your home server by adding apps. Select the Apps option from the toolbar at the top of the dashboard to browse through the list of all supported apps. All apps follow a similar installation procedure. Click on the app to expand it and read about it in detail. Once you're sure you'd like to use it, click the Install button, which will download the app. When it's done downloading, Amahi will show you the necessary information you need to use the app including the credentials for the default admin user (Figure 6). One of the best things about these Amahi apps is that they are preconfigured for your network, so you can start using them without any delay.

Figure 6: Remember to change the password of the default admin user for all apps.

If you want universal access to your files, you can use the Amahi Anywhere app to remotely browse and stream files from your server on an Android or iOS device. First, install the Amahi Anywhere app on your Amahi server from under the list of apps displayed in Setup | Apps. Next, head to the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store on the mobile device and install the freely available Amahi app. Once installed, fire up the app and use the credentials for accessing the Amahi online dashboard to log in and browse the files on your Amahi HDA.

Use as NAS

If you have multiple hard drives in your server, you can use the Disk Wizard to make the Amahi server aware of them. Again, head to Setup | Apps and first install the Disk Wizard app. Shut down the server and plug in the additional drives if you haven't already. Then, power on the server and head to Setup | Disks. The page will list all the drives connected to your Amahi server under the Devices tab. Switch to the Partitions tab to view how the space inside the drives is used and divided into partitions.

Next, click on the Add button to append a newly connected drive to the pool of drives managed by Amahi. Select the additional drive and click the Next button. Here toggle the button to format the drive and select a filesystem. It's best to go with the default option, which is ext4, unless you have a reason for favoring a particular filesystem. Besides ext4, it supports ext3, NTFS, and FAT32 filesystems. In the next screen, toggle the option to mount the drive automatically and give it a label for easier identification. Now review the settings before pressing the Apply button. Depending on the size of the disk and the processing power of the server, Amahi will take some time to format and add the new drive. When it's done, you can use the Continue with another device button to repeat the process and add more drives.

Network Backup Target

Because the computers on your network see the Amahi server as a NAS server, you can use it to save backups from all devices connected to the network. The Amahi NAS server supports various protocols including Samba, WebDAV, and SSH that you can use to backup your data. Although you can use any of these protocols for maximum security, we'll use SSH. It's one of the few protocols that's supported by a variety of backup tools including the ones that are used by default in several distributions such as Deja Dup in Ubuntu. Other popular backup tools that support the use of SSH as a transport protocol include BackupPC, Back In Time, Duplicati, luckyBackup, and others [3].

Although the process for configuring a backup tool to transfer the backups over SSH varies from one tool to another, they all usually ask for the same information. When defining a backup target, you'll have to select SSH from the list of supported protocols. Next, you'll be asked for the username of a user on the SSH server. Although this can be any user on the Amahi server, you must make sure they have write access to the Amahi Share in which you want to house the backup. By default, the Amahi administrator, which is the user we defined while installing Fedora Server, has read-write permissions over all the Shares.

Once you've specified the username, you'll be asked for the complete path to the folder that will house the backups. The Shares on the Amahi server are defined under the /var/hda/files folder. A good strategy is to keep backups from different computers inside a separate subfolder inside a backup meta folder, such as /var/hda/files/backups/PC1_UbuntuLappy, /var/hda/files/backups/PC2_FedoraVM, and so on (Figure 7).

Figure 7: SSH isn't just secure but is often recommended as the best protocol for incremental backups.

That's usually all there is to it. Some tools will also let you save the password for the username, whereas others will prompt for it when they establish an SSH connected to the Amahi server. Some tools like Deja Dup also let you keep the backups under lock-and-key and will ask for an additional password. If you choose to head down this route, remember that you'll need this password to restore your files from the backup as well.

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