Installing RetroPie is just as easy. Download the RetroPie image, extract it and install it onto a MicroSD card. By default the pi runs samba which allows you to copy your roms over the network to the pi. This is great for ease of use but I don’t want to have to worry about losing my roms if the MicroSD card fails. Instead we’ll be serving the roms over the network.
I originally configured my rom share on my TrueNAS (formerly FreeNAS) server for NFS. That way I could set it to read only with mapall permissions for easy connection. However, NFS doesn’t use a set port and I have my home theater firewalled off because it’s connected via Powerline. NFS can be configured to run on a specific port but that has to happen per client and it’s much easier to just switch to SMB.
Now that we’ve secured our DNS, we can move on to improving the quality of our experience on the internet by configuring DNS ad blocking. With the 20.7 version of OPNSense it’s quite easy. Simply go to Services -> Unbound DNS -> Blacklist. Click Enable and select one or more items from the DNSBL drop down. Or if you prefer, paste the URLs of your preferred list in the URLs field. I prefer the Stephen Black list as it is composed of multiple lists and is also the default list for the Pi Hole. Click Save and you’re done.
If you’re not familiar with DNS, you can think of it as the contact list in your phone. You don’t remember anyone’s phone numbers. You just know their name and have the number stored in their contact entry. DNS is similar in that you just need to know the domain of a website and your computer will lookup the IP address of the site. Here is a primer that goes into a bit more detail.
With OPNSense, you can run a DNS resolver called Unbound. This will validate and cache DNS queries for your local network. It can improve your network performance but it’s usually not noticeable as your browser and other software generally have their own DNS cache. The real benefit of Unbound is that we can modify the DNS for the entire network to provide more security, privacy, and piece of mind.
If you are not familiar with Plex then you should take a look at their website.
Plex organizes your video, music, and photo collections and streams them to all of your screens.
What this explanation leaves out is that Plex will handle all of the details for you fairly seamlessly. Whatever format your collection is in, Plex will automatically ensure that it is compatible with whatever device you are using to view the collection. First I will explain how to install it on FreeNAS and then I will talk more about the software itself.
The Steam Link is a counterpoint to the Steam Machines that were announced previously. Unlike a Steam Machine, HTPC running Steam, or a PC running SteamOS, Steam Link will not run any games. Instead, it leverages your existing desktop through Steam In-Home Streaming. This allows the Steam Link to be small, low power, and low cost.
Now that I have Windows 8 installed on my desktop, I will be installing encrypted Arch Linux and dual booting between the two. I have added more memory to the machine and am reusing the SSD from my original encrypted install. Because I am dual booting and this machine supports UEFI I am electing to reinstall from scratch. The new specs are as follows.
I recently acquired a new desktop and before I started loading Linux on it I decided to check out Windows 8 and retry Steam In-Home Streaming. The machine has the following specs. It idles around 70W at the Windows login screen.
Asus Sabertooth Z77
Corsair Vengeance 8GB
EVGA GTX 770 SC
Corsair HX 850
Corsair Obsidian 650D
Western Digital Black 1TB 3.5″ HDD
Surprisingly, Windows recognized all of my hardware. Unfortunately, it did take several hours to download and install all of the updates. Once the updates were finished I was able to install Steam and quickly download several games.
I’ve been using Steam for some time now. While it is a form of DRM, it actually provides benefits to the end user unlike most DRM. Since I had a spare machine I decided to give SteamOS a try.
I am using the same machine that I have installed Arch on. I swapped the SSD for a 500GB hard drive.
2 x 8GB DDR3 1333
WD Blue 500GB 2.5″ HDD
Radeon HD 4350
I am unable to use the regular SteamOS installer as my machine does not support UEFI. Fortunately, Valve provides a SteamOS iso that supports BIOS. Unfortunately, the first installation did not complete. The installer gave me an error message that simply said the base system could not be installed. Upon further research, I determined that SteamOS only contained the latest video drivers. My HD 4350 was not supported.
This is fine for a server, but as this is a desktop, it would be nice to have a GUI. We will be installing Xfce. I started using Xfce when looking for a lighter weight GUI than KDE or Gnome. Openbox and Fluxbox are certainly lighter but require more configuration and setup than I prefer. Xfce was a nice compromise. Light enough for my needs while still remaining a full desktop environment.