Setting Up An Amahi Home Server – Adding a Drive To Your Server [Linux]

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Last week, I introduced you to the Amahi home server and talked about why you might want to set up a home server at all and all the great things it could do on your network. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go into some of the advanced setup and additional features, so let’s take a look at those today.

Specifically, we’ll be adding a drive or two into the server, and changing the horrible default theme. Warning: There is a tiny bit of command line work involved, but I’ve simplified things and found a GUI alternative wherever possible.

Changing Your Home Server Theme With The App Gallery

Let’s face it – the basic theme built into your Amahi install is pretty ugly. Like all great things (read: the iPhone) – there’s an app for that. Take a look at the app gallery by opening up your HDA through the web interface (http://hda), or by clicking the Amahi dashboard icon on your server desktop. Click on the Apps link in the top right, and you’ll be taken straight to the app tab of the setup page. Unless you’ve already explored the app directory and had a go yourself, you’ll probably be greeted by this message:

You can either click on the Available link or the blue + icon to browse the apps. For now, let’s choose the Agedashi Theme, click to expand it, and click on the big install button:

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After installing, a large link to Manage Themes should appear – click that to take you directly to the appropriate setup tab. You should see two thumbnails now, so click on the second one for Agedashi and your dashboard will instantly transform into something a little nicer, like so:

I’ll show you some of the more interesting apps in a future article, but let’s move on to more important things.

Adding An Additional Hard Drive

The first thing I wanted to do was to add some of the mountains of spare drives I have into the server and make them useful. Unfortunately, the process is far from plug-and-play level of easy. Take note Amahi developers – you really need to sort this out. The average user might have made it this far, but given how important the simple function of managing drives is in a server, you would really hope it was easier. Anyway, here’s how I managed it:

  • Shut down and physically install the drive into your system. Getting it correctly plugged in is beyond the scope of this article, so I’m going to assume you know how to do this.
  • Turn your system back on, make sure the drive is recognized, then log into your Amahi server (not remotely – use the keyboard and monitor actually attached to the server). On the desktop, click on Applications -> System Tools -> Disk Utility.
  • On the left hand side, you should see all the drives in your system. Click on the drive you will be adding, and as the screenshot shows, the small erase icon on the right end of the toolbar. You’ll need to authenticate with your root password.
  • Next, click on the xxGB Unrecognized smaller drive icon beneath the main drive that now reads Unknown or Unused. You should see the following screen:
  • At the bottom, where it says Create Partition Table, select the type Master Boot Record and click the Create button directly beneath.
  • The main drive icon should now indicate “MBR Partition Table“, but beneath it will say xxGB Free. Click on the smaller icon beneath again, and the Create Partition screen should appear as the screenshot below shows. Label it whatever you want, select the Type to be Linux Ext4, make sure Take ownership of filesystem is ticked, then click Create
  • At this point, it might look like nothing happened, but it’s currently working. If you click on that small partition icon again, you will see it is in the process of formatting your drive as you requested. Leave it to do its work.
  • Next we will need to get our hands dirty in the terminal. Launch it from the Applications -> System Tools -> Terminal menu.
  • Type su - (s u space dash), Enter, and type in your password. Next, type hda-diskmount (hda dash diskmount, no spaces), and hit Enter again. You will see something similar to the following:
  • Don’t close the window, as we need to edit a little file first. Copy the line I highlighted above, the one beginning with UUID. (Right click -> copy). Don’t forget the line continues onto the next line and ends with “defaults 1 2“. You must copy the whole thing.
  • From the terminal, type gedit and hit Enter. This will bring up a standard gedit window, which is basically a text editor. Use the Open button, select Filesystem from the left hand side, then open the folder “etc“, and the file named “fstab“.
  • Paste the line you copied onto the last line of the file. You can see in the screenshot below I already did one earlier, so now I have two.
  • Save the file, close gedit, and restart your system from System -> Shutdown -> Restart.

That’s it – if you go to the storage tab of the Amahi Setup page, you should see your total storage has now increased.

In my next article, I’ll show you how to set up file duplication using the Greyhole storage pool, which allows you to duplicate certain sets of files across 2 or more drives for the ultimate in redundancy – if one drive fails, you’ll still have copies of the file on other drives. Stay tuned, and remember to ask if the comments if you’re having issues and I’ll my best to help.

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Comments (19)
  • Pete

    I’ve had NAS before too and that’s let me down and made it difficult to retrieve the files quickly as it used ext file system. Hence the reason for a dedicated NTFS drive. Would it work?

  • Pete

    Hi, I know this article is a little old now but I too am struggling with leaving WHS. I have been trying to set-up an Amahi had (which I have done successfully) but want to add a second drive in NTFS format so should the server fail for any reason (as has happened with WHS) I can unplug the storage drive and plug it into the other Windows machine to get to the files instantly. I know this is possible in Amahi, but it is so long winded and uses many commands a lifetime Windows user doesn’t get. I really want the re-assurance of a desktop UI and your topic seems to fit the bill.
    So before I start again, will this set-up:
    a. give me a UI / desktop (I presume yes – Ubuntu desktop)
    b. give me a Amahi HDA shares visible over mixed OS network
    c. allow me to add an NTFS drive for file storage over the network (as well as Ext4 drives for backups)

    • James Bruce

      I have a proper NAS nowadays, I’m afraid. Nothing beats hardware designed for a purpose. I do still miss WHS though ;(

  • Pool Installation

    I’m so love this blog, already bookmarked it! Thanks.

  • Bill

    Thanks again, James! Because the Dell only has built-in USB 1.1 ports, I was planning on getting a pcmcia card for the laptop with USB 2.0 ports, but now I’ll be going with an eSATA pcmcia card for sure. Now I just have to hope Fedora 14 will “see” the card (and support connectivity through it).

    BTW, I was googling around on the issue of “changing” USB Drive ID numbers, and saw this:
    USB device IDs
    When you attach a USB mass storage device, the system assigns the device a USB device ID. (USB device IDs are only assigned to USB storage devices, not to non-storage devices like mice and keyboards.) USB device IDs are determined by the order in which the system detects each device. However, the enumeration of devices depends on several factors and different circumstances may result in different device ID assignments on the same machine. For example, devices that you attach to a running system are enumerated in the order that you plug them in. At boot time, however, the entire USB hub/device tree is traversed and devices may be detected in a different order, resulting in different device ID assignments. In general, these guidelines apply:

    * if you attach all of your USB storage devices while the system is turned off, the enumeration order when the computer is started will likely persist between system reboots.

    * if you hot-add or hot-remove USB storage devices, device IDs may change when the system is rebooted.

    * if you add, remove, or change the order of USB storage devices on a non-running system that previously contained USB storage devices, device IDs may be different when the system is rebooted.

    I saw this posted on
    which is a site devoted to UNIX, I think. Using USB seems like a bit of a gamble with Amahi so I’ll be sticking with eSATA (provided I can find a supported pcmcia card).

    The power consumption issue was not something I had considered- but is a point well-taken. Thanks for mentioning it. And thanks in general…


  • James Bruce

    As far as I’m aware from looking at the hardware I have around me, e-SATA would be treated exactly the same as internal SATA drives, the only difference is in the connector. So you should be fine with that, assuming your laptop will take eSata – I’m guessing you will need to buy some kind of pcmcia e-SATA adapter or something?

    Compared to running a full server 24/7 , a laptop is an excellent low power choice.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.