Amahi On Ubuntu: Must-Have Extras For Your Linux Home Server

amahi ubuntu logo   Amahi On Ubuntu: Must Have Extras For Your Linux Home ServerA few weeks ago I went through the process of setting up a home server using an old computer, a copy of Ubuntu and Amahi, a free home server that comes with its own repository of extras. Loosely referred to as an “app store” by some, once you’ve set up Amahi, it’s easy to add additional services to your server in just a couple of clicks.

If you’ve just installed your Linux home server or are looking for Ubuntu-specific additions then this article is for you. Not all extras work on the new Ubuntu version of Amahi, and you’ll want to be careful not to install additional packages in Ubuntu itself which can damage your Amahi install and jeopardise your server.

We’ll be taking a look at the must-have free and paid extras that’ll take your home server to the next level.

Installing & Buying Apps

In your personal Amahi settings (accessible by typing hda/ into your browser and logging in with your Ubuntu credentials) there is a list of free add-ons under the Apps menu. Many of these are quality freebies, though don’t be surprised to find them a bit out of date. A better source of more up-to-date add ons is the Amahi App Store, which you can log in to using your Amahi credentials.

Anything you buy or download here will be downloaded to and installed on your home server, negating the need for you to really do anything beyond click a few buttons.

amahi1   Amahi On Ubuntu: Must Have Extras For Your Linux Home Server

Note: As mentioned above, not all add-ons work with the Ubuntu-friendly Amahi install, which is why James’ older article about Amahi’s extensions might not be very useful unless you’re running Fedora. Be sure to check the compatibility of your server before buying new extras!

DLNA for Amahi ($4.99)

If you only spend $5 on your home server, spend it here. DLNA for Amahi is a port of the highly popular MiniDLNA project, optimised for all versions of the home server. If you want to stream music, video and images to DLNA/UPnP devices across your house then this is the software that will enable you to do it.

The one thing this streamer lacks is transcoding ability, which means your server will not convert your content to the best possible format before streaming it.

dlna   Amahi On Ubuntu: Must Have Extras For Your Linux Home Server

This means your clients (TVs, games consoles, media centres) will need to be able to natively decode incoming audio and video. This can be a problem if you’re streaming videos wrapped in an .MKV container, though due to the prevalence of H.264 and MPEG4 compression there’s a good chance a lot of your videos will work on newer devices.

A lack of transcoding might be seen as a plus by some, especially if your server uses very old hardware or is lacking in the GPU department. It also doesn’t change the fact that you could transcode the content yourself if you’re desperate to watch something, there are lots of free solutions for this.

Transmission ($3.99)

The whole point of a home server (for most) is to provide easy access to network drives. The ability to add more storage as and when you need it is just one of the benefits of having your own server, and with all that space it makes sense to put it to use for your download and sharing needs with an app like Transmission.

transmission   Amahi On Ubuntu: Must Have Extras For Your Linux Home Server

Transmission is one of the best standalone BitTorrent clients you can install on your non-Windows machine, it’s simple, elegant, comes with a great web UI and according to the developers this Amahi-optimised version “just works” from the get-go. Once set up the web interface works great from tablets and smartphones too, so you can sit on the sofa administering downloads with your iPhone without reaching for a laptop.

CrashPlan ($3.99)

The Amahi CrashPlan app serves two main purposes – to back up your PCs locally, for free and to upload data to the CrashPlan servers using the CrashPlan+ service which must be paid for. CrashPlan offer a range of plans and though they’re not the only online backup provider, they’re a very reasonable one. If you’re not planning on purchasing a plan you might still be interested, given what the CrashPlan client can do.

transmission   Amahi On Ubuntu: Must Have Extras For Your Linux Home Server

Backup PCs locally and remotely for free – simply enter a friend’s code and keep a copy of each other’s important documents in two locations at once. Optionally you can set up backups from all your main PCs to your home server. In the event of data loss you’ll be glad you had all that data backed up locally, rather than having to download gigabytes of data over the course of hours.

SABnzbd Plus ($3.99) & Sick Beard ($3.99)

SABnzbd Plus is a Usenet client which enables you to download files using one of the world’s oldest filesharing methods. Sick Beard is a plugin which you may want to install if you’re hot on Usenet. Together, they make an excellent team and ensure you’ve got things to watch even if you haven’t specifically downloaded anything.

sabnzb   Amahi On Ubuntu: Must Have Extras For Your Linux Home Server

Tell Sick Beard about your favourite TV shows and it will automatically search for old and new episodes for you to watch. When it finds one it will send the .NZB to SABnzbd Plus and your download will begin. This is basically a modern PVR, and if you like the concept you might want to check out Couch Potato (also $3.99) which is designed to do the same thing except with movies, though it’s not 100% there on Ubuntu just yet.

sickbeard   Amahi On Ubuntu: Must Have Extras For Your Linux Home Server

Amahi Sync (Free)

Built to sync, share and back up files, Amahi Sync monitors shares of your choosing for incoming files and then makes them available online whenever you need them. Access your shared files anywhere you want, with only the only limitations being the speed of your internet connection and available space. Files are available either via logging in and using the web interface or publicly using your username.amahi.me/Public/ folder which makes sharing files you’ve got at home with friends and family easier than ever.

amahisync   Amahi On Ubuntu: Must Have Extras For Your Linux Home Server

Android users might want to check out the Amahi Sync for Android app designed especially for use with this add-on in mind.

ownCloud (Free)

An app that works in much the same way to Amahi Sync above, ownCloud provides universal access to files wherever you are. The free add-on provides more than just access to files and has built in functionality for music streaming, sharing with others, WebDAV access and basic editing features direct from your browser. Sync contacts, calendars and bookmarks across all your devices using ownCloud on your personal server.

owncloud   Amahi On Ubuntu: Must Have Extras For Your Linux Home Server

Jinzora (Free)

Finally if you’d like to be able to access your media from anywhere with an Internet connection, Jinzora is one PHP-powered solution that’s designed to let you do that. Unlike DLNA above, Jinzora is designed for online media retrieval and supports transcoding to do so. This means you can watch most media files on your smartphone, laptop or other compatible online device.

jinzora   Amahi On Ubuntu: Must Have Extras For Your Linux Home Server

Coming Soon: Amahi Time Machine ($4.99)

Unfortunately the Mac-friendly backup add-on that turns your server into a ready and waiting remote Time Machine isn’t ready for Ubuntu users just yet, but keep an eye on it if it’s something you’re interested in.

What are you favourite Amahi add-ons? Did we miss any? Add your recommendations in the comments.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

11 Comments -

0 votes

salim benhouhou

i don’t have a linux machine but i will consider these extra apps in the future .

0 votes

dragonmouth

Why are you pushing pay-for apps when all that you mentioned can be gotten for free with any Linux distro? Are you getting a kick back from Amahi? Or are you one of those that believes that if it’s free, it must be crap?

2 votes

Tim Brookes

Of course I’m not getting paid by Amahi, what an insulting suggestion. The server software is easy, reliable and completely free to install. Extras cost, mainly to cover the time and effort put in by the Amahi guys. The cost of all these add-ons still pales in comparison to other server solutions like Windows Server Essentials (or whatever it’s called) which goes for something like $400 and OS X Server Edition (which isn’t cheap either). I didn’t set the prices, but then I also don’t mind paying for software that someone has put their own time and effort into porting or creating.

Nobody is forcing you to pay for these extras, you could simply not use Amahi if you disagree with the principle. Do you think everything should be free? That software should never be mixed with business? That somebody’s time is not worth any money?

Amahi is an easy to set up, easy to use server solution that suits the home user. In the grand scheme of things, it’s great value. If you have hours spare to configure your own distro and add all these things manually then good for you, the but many of us appreciate simplicity at a small fee.

0 votes

Jacob

Here’s the issue many have with the entire thing:

If SickBeard or Transmission or any of the other developers/groups were charging for a bespoke port to a special version of a distribution, that’s just fine.

If they were charging for a bespoke port, that’s fine too.

Doing such horrible things to your underlying platform that you can’t actually use the features of that platform anymore (apt, in the case of Ubuntu->Amahi), then charging users to fix it is pretty damned abhorrent. It might be nickles and dimes in the case of the linked apps, but if they hadn’t broken package management to shoehorn their own store on top of it… Well. They wouldn’t then be able to charge for fixed versions of free software.

And as for the supposition that their platform is the ‘best’… The fact I can’t apt-get install zfs, or even apt-get install jove eliminates it from contention for best anything, in my opinion.

I’m not part of this site’s readership, so I can’t comment on if this is insulting to your target audience or not, but imagine for a moment if you were instead listing the best apps for your $Android-without-Google-Play-Market Device, and each of them had a $5 price tag for the service of copying and pasting someone else’s work, and fixing compatibility issues the profiting company themselves created. Just at a glance, it looks like that would be pretty insulting to your target audience. Sure, a little different because most Android apps aren’t open source, but the comparison stands reasonably well. They can’t be modifying the base program’s source, or they’d be compelled to make the derived product’s source available if it were GPL licensed.

In the end, if they had taken a proper approach to development and built upon already-existing packages, integrated into Ubuntu or Fedora’s package management with proper dependencies, and didn’t trash the filesystem six ways to Sunday, they wouldn’t need to port apps, because unless there was a direct interaction with a shared library or a filename collision, there’d be no issue at all installing nearly anything you want right there alongside Amahi.

Their software doesn’t do anything special, does a lot of really frightening things with your network, throws the Debian/Ubuntu/DotDeb+others packaging ecosystem out the window, makes your install of Linux little better than a closed black box, and then charges you for the privilege of using software they made unavailable through normal means.

And I’ll make one last point here before I wander back to Google for what I was really searching for… Comparing Amahi’s free baseline price to server platforms from Microsoft and Apple IS plain insulting, and a terrible strawman argument attempt. Use whatever license of whatever OS currently exists on that hardware you’re repurposing and build upon that for free. Or if you have to buy a new license, the lowest end version of non-Starter Edition Windows for $40ish OEM, any version of OSX (what, $20? $40?) or any distribution of any free OS serves just fine. And the free software remains free and installable, then.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Oh please. Tim never imply those things. The fact he’s setting up a server on Ubuntu itself is against your accusation of him belittling free stuff. I like Linux and freeware, but the mentality is getting crazier. Linux user can still use paid apps if they want to. This article is merely a suggestion. Some would try them, the rest would find freeware to do the job. It’s up to oneself what to do with one’s computer.

0 votes

dragonmouth

If Tim was recommending apps that are available nowhere else but through Amahi, I would not question him. If Tim was recommending apps that were developed by Amahi programmers, I would not question him. However, Transmission and DLNA, for example, were developed by people not connected to Amahi. Transmission and DLNA apps are available as free installs from many Linux repositories. Some Linux distributions even install them by default and for free. So for Tim to recommend paid versions of Transmission and DLNA just because they have Amahi branding insults the intelligence of his readers.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Are you aware that installing software on a Linux distro that has had Amahi set up on it is not recommended? Amahi “breaks” the distro by changing some core attributes, so simply installing your favourite software over the top might undo all of the work you’ve put in to your home server.

Charging for these extras doesn’t contravene any licenses, and there are no alternative ways to install this software with guaranteed compatibility. So in essence, this is the only “safe” way to install DLNA, Transmission etc… on your Amahi server. Isn’t that worth a small, one-off fee?

If any readers do feel that I’ve insulted their intelligence (surely that’s undermining our readership who are already massive proponents of free software, and thus familiar with big names like Transmission) then do please come forward. I’d love to see how listing the best extras to the best Linux home server is insulting.

1 votes

dragonmouth

My apologies. I was not aware that installing software on a Linux distro that has had Amahi set up on it is not recommended. Although seeing as that Linux distro is Ubuntu, I am not surprised. Sounds to me like a user lock-in scheme by Amahi. All the more reason to avoid it. I guess I’m going to have to struggle on with Apache. I must admit, though, that Amahi and the add-ons are nice and pretty.

As to “the best extras”, if what you say about Amahi is true then they are “the ONLY extras” since no other add-ons will work.

0 votes

Tadatma

I think it would do good for Amahi to team up with a hardware vendor and bring out a ready server box with say $50 worth of apps (that the user can choose)…may be it will then win.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

That’s really not a bad idea, and I know for a fact that the guys behind the project have read this article and if they happen to come back and scan the comments they might respond to your suggestion (hint!).

Selling hardware would be a great way to monetize Amahi, provided the free server download was still offered I think it would be an excellent direction for the project to take. They could even turn to something like Kickstarter for the initial run.

0 votes

Mohammad Wasiullah

i like this Linux version