Using an Intel NUC in a Video Management System

Updated December, 2023 - Intel discontinued the NUC earlier this year. True Blade has reluctantly decided not to pursue the Valkka project, but we retain this original blog post as an historical record. If you find a used NUC that works, you might enjoy using it for your own purposes, hopefully Linux.
Photo of an Intel NUC courtesy B&H Photo

We are developing a Video Management System (VMS) featuring Open Source software. A key idea of the system is that the user will be in total control of their video recordings, with no proprietary or cloud storage of images.

For the client workstation, we plan on using the Intel NUC. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing, but everyone just calls it NUC (nook). It is basically the Intel version of the Apple Mac Mini: a small PC with no display or keyboard, just HDMI output, an Ethernet port, and several USB ports. For testing,we've started with a bare-bones i7 NUC and added 32GB of RAM and a 1TB solid state disk (SSD).

We'll be running the Ubuntu distribution of the Linux operating system. Linux, of course, is the preeminent Open Source operating system.

For video storage we will be using the Open Source TrueNAS CORE storage system, formerly called FreeNAS. It uses the incredibly powerful ZFS filesystem. Our plan is to have onsite TrueNAS storage with optional offsite backups on True Blade's data center systems, or at another site of the user's preference.

The video system will be based on Valkka, an Open Source media streaming framework. Valkka is very well architected for use in a VMS. User applications are written in Python, and the core of Valkka is written in C++ for performance. Valkka supports ONVIF compliant IP cameras. We'll have more to say about Valkka soon.

For our project, the advantages of a NUC are:

  • The ability to drive a large display, like a television.
  • An integrated graphics processor will enable us to display multiple windows of video on the large display.
  • NUC's small size (117 x 112 x 51mm) allows it to fit behind a television.
  • No need for Microsoft Windows or other proprietary software.