I got a temporary SlimServer config running on my Kuro Box with an 80GB drive, and the 500GB backup drive hooked up via USB. It worked fine.
I decided to buy an open box Thecus N2100 from Newegg, with upgraded RAM, a quieter fan, and dual 500GB hard drives in a RAID 1. Nice. The whole solution still cost me less than the original Kuro Box. The Thecus has a 600MHz processor, so I expected it to be quite a bit faster.
I skipped the stock firmware and went straight to installing Debian on the thing. It went smoothly, configured my RAID, everything was great. I was apt-getting all over the place. I tried to install the .tar.gz of SlimServer but was having horrible problems. I then found the Debian package nightly build and got it going, painlessly. It’s nice to have a real install going, running as a dedicated user, with files in real places.
I then got abcde running, feeding in my notification patches. Got it working but noticed that flac was taking a very very long time to encode files–several times longer than real-time. I determined this was due to miserable floating point performance due to emulation. Running flac at -2 made the encoding time acceptable, although it’s probably costing me a few percent of disc space.
I then realized if flac was bad, mp3 encoding was probably worse. I use mp3 transcoding when I’m remote to save bandwidth. So I tested it, sure enough, it was taking many times more than real time. At one point this weekend I was researching VIA processors and nano-ITX mainboards to see if I needed to go that route to get the performance I wanted.
A lot of looking around got me to this. The short answer is not only does the floating point emulation suck, but the CPU has to drop an exception every time a floating point instruction is called, which means a context switch, and then one to go back to the regular execution. Something like flac or lame encodes will go slowly since they’re basically all floating point calculations. The good news is that the ARM EABI stuff will actually improve floating point performance to the point of being usable, the bad news is it won’t be official until the next Debian release. I may try and get it going but it seems to be hard to upgrade a running system cleanly at this point, which it seems they intend to resolve by the time the next Debian release is out. Until then, FLAC is running okay, and I can either hold back on transcoding or run SlimServer on the Kuro Box, with the Thecus sharing out the music files to it.
So at this point I’m once again at a “stable” point. I actually still have to put my now returned, refurbished, 400GB drive back in the Kuro and reinstall Gentoo (although I will probably dd the existing root partition from the 80GB drive to the 400GB drive.)