I have found the pi’s limitations. After monkeying with the pi’s a bit I stumbled across an application called “plex”. It’s a media server that works a hell of a lot better than just sharing files via samba. You setup the server at home which catalogs your files. You then have a client on whatever device and stream it there. You can setup different users that have different levels of access..etc. It has a bit more functionality, but those are the broad strokes. I spun up linux and setup a plex server on a pi. Turns out the pi didn’t have enough horse power to handle the transcoding for the stream. It would constantly buffer. There is a version available for mac, so I spun the mini back up and away we go. The mini handled the transcoding very well. I can do multiple streams without problems. It’s quite a slick operation.
The problem here is if I have to run a mini for plex, there are other things that server can also do that take virtually no power. It could handle my firewall, dhcp, web server…etc. All the stuff that takes very little power. I elected to keep the pi’s that are running the firewall, dhcp and web server. There have been instances where I’ve needed to reboot the plex server for whatever reason and it is nice to not have to take down the firewall with it. Also, I dig running nginx on a linux box more than the hassle of running it on the mac. It just seems easier for me.
I repurposed the one that was running my plex server to running data collection for my weather station. There is an app called weewx that will read what these stations put out via usb. It then builds a handy little web page and keeps historical graphs. Connect the pi wirelessly to the network and blamo a handy home weather monitoring machine is born.
I’m not sure what else I’d use these things for. It’s shame it doesn’t have a little more horse power, but that would cost more money and power. I’m pretty blown away by how much is packed in to this cheap and affordable device.