Rethinking My PC Configuration


Senior Member
One of the things I seem to be constantly struggling with when I try to plan for future HA expansion is the best way to deploy my PCs. I have 3 boxes devoted to HA but I am not sure the best way to distribute the functionality so I am wondering how other folks are doing it? My current (transitional) setup is this:

PC1- Runs VWS to collect weather station Data through a serial port and display it on all TVs via whole house video modulator. Runs PowerHome to manage Insteon and handles timer based lighting functions and some macros based on Insteon triggers.

PC2- Runs programming interface for stargate. Runs Homeseer which pulls weather station data from PC1 and populates Stargate variables which Stargate dispalys on cheap LCD keypads. Sends xPL messages to PC3 for Stargate Control of Slimserver.

PC3- Runs Slimserver. Reluctant to add too much HA stuff here because this server needs to stream to 16 Squeezebox music players simultaneously and I do not want to risk any hiccups due to I/O contention with another application.

Stuff I am trying to plan for includes:

Where to put a second HS speaker client? I need to have Homeseer speaking different things in two places at the same time. (Unless I decide to have Homeseer speak in one place and PowerHome or Stargate speak in the other).

Where to put MainLobby? (Assuming I eventually find a satisfactory strategy for touch screens.) Can MainLobby live on the same box as Homeseer?

Where do I host security cameras? Same place as MainLobby? Not an issue if I use IP cameras?

Where to connect Elk M1? Can both Homeseer and PowerHome share an M1 using the ethernet interface?

Any thoughts on what the best configuration would be is appreciated.
I would look at total loads, PC subsystem loads, and see where possible contention is between your software packages of choice and existing uses within your exsiting systems to see what/where you might be able to use remaining capabilities of each system. Calculate a head room factor that fits your use. Find the issues within particular packages and plan around them. For example, whenever you start slimserver, the server scans your library, slowing things down considerably for large libraries. In this case you might set up a delayed startup system to reduce this one-time contention in the disk I/O, etc.

You might also look at something like virtual systems to get more bang for your PC buck where you run software that might be more processing and less I/O. Smart I/O controllers and peripherals will help reduce CPU load, etc. Move all maintenance process windows to overnights when the systems aren't in full use.

Whenever I plan a networked system, I also take into account the failure modes. What happens if PC 1 goes down? How does that affect others, and what do I (or the programs) do in those cases? What machine has to come up first - what dependencies have I created and how important are they? It is possible to create a lockup situation if you're not careful.

Good luck!
"Where to put MainLobby? (Assuming I eventually find a satisfactory strategy for touch screens.) Can MainLobby live on the same box as Homeseer?"

Yes, MainLobby can live on same (or different) box than Homeseer. The two communicate via TCP via the MLHSPlugin so they can be anywhere on the Net as long as there is firewall provisions open on the IP and communications port that you setup.

"Where do I host security cameras? Same place as MainLobby? Not an issue if I use IP cameras?"

If you use IP cameras, doesn't make a difference where. If you use bullet cameras, then they will feed a TV capture card. With MainLobby THAT PC can then view the camera with no additional software (MainLobby3 / MainLobby Server3 needed). If you want to stream that video / audio to another PC, then we have the Beta MLMediaStream plugin that enables that capability. Many TV capture cards don't work with streaming, so check the Cinemar forum for the short list of the cards that do. PM me if you have questions.
If you use a DVR system, then if that DVR puts out a webpage of images, then you can view those images in WebLobby within MainLobby client (any PC). A new version of WebLobby allows for multiple configurable windows of the web browser so that you can put a camera in each window. You can use MainLobby Server to change the URL of each window so you can manage what window has focus of attention (ie: the big window is the camera that detects motion).