As of late, I've been thinking of ways to improve my home network and my home theatre system and I've come to the conclusion that I need both a home server and a HTPC, or something similar that does what I need it to do. I've posted something similar last month but it was eerily quiet in that thread. Anyways, it's still on the drawing board and this is the next iteration of planning and requirements. Ended up scrapping the XBMC idea. Currently, my home network looks something like this: Synology DS410j 4 bay NAS PC /w Win7 Pro Netbook /w WinXP Pro PC /w WinXP Pro Netbook /w Win7 Starter Notebook /w Win7 Home Notebook /w WinXP Pro All linked together with gigabit ethernet and G wireless /w 2 access points, one upstairs and one downstairs. There's a total of 4 users, so basically 1 computer per person except for the netbooks. I'm thinking I'll be building a pretty quiet, low power host, with probably an Atom processor with a large amount of RAM and perhaps a small 40GB or 60GB SSD to run the OS, relying on the NAS for main storage. So what I need this to do is: Local file sharing with access control Network print sharing Secure FTP from a remote site, or dial-in VPN access Backups of PCs and select important files As for the home theatre side of things, my needs are pretty basic, it's just that we currently have an all in one solution from Samsung that has a shockingly bad PC streaming interface that we want to get rid of. HDMI out to the TV and optical audio output to the Samsung. Able to access and play content on the NAS, including videos supporting a variety of commonly used codecs and music. Be able to watch digital TV and record it to the NAS. There's a few other things I want to do, but it isn't as important and more as low priority, curiosity things that would be nice to have, like domain support, wsus, software firewalls and DHCP. What I've been thinking of is to have the host OS be Windows 7 Home Premium to take advantage of the built in HTPC functions, then perhaps use VMWare Server or Workstation to virtualize a server environment to do the rest of the stuff. There's also a possibility of virtualizing both environments in ESXi, though I'm not sure how well the HTPC will be able to cope with playing full HD content through the NAS or a Blu-Ray disc if I decide to fit a Blu-Ray optical drive further down the road. That and I've never actually used ESXi before so not sure how to go about it. Though I could just forsake the HTPC and get an X Box to do it or something similar if it all proves too much. Right now, I've got access to a few spare software licenses, including: Windows 7 Home Premium Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard The server licenses are educational licenses mainly since this is more of a project to learn the systems. Don't have anything from VMWare yet though. Hopefully trying not to spend anything on software, though I've been hearing people raving on about how good WHS is for the home environment, it may be worth considering. Any constructive suggestions or opinions about this project would be appreciated.