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Media Server

JokermanJokerman EverythingEverywhereRegistered User regular
While browing the internets, I came upon an ad for the new HP media server. Now this is just a cool thing to me in general because hey, now i can toss all my mp3's and whatnot on this badboy and have my laptop and stuff bogged down with crap.

However, it's pretty steeply priced. So I thought i would put it to everyone here if it would be possible to build (or find something else) that does the same thing for Mac's and Pc's for less.

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    shadydentistshadydentist Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    For a media server, its much cheaper and better to build a computer.

    All you really need is a cheap computer running Mythbuntu and with a lot of hard drive space.

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    bigwahbigwah Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    They are just using Windows Home Server, which is nice. I use it to backup all my computers and serve videos to my VMC and PS3. Its pretty simple to setup and use and has a decent community behind it ( Here )

    You can build a machine cheaper yourself, but not with such a nice case (at least after you factor in a Home Server license, about $99).

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    JokermanJokerman Everything EverywhereRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    All I really wanna be able to do is have something i can toss my Mp3's and access it from my Mac and my PC.

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    bigwahbigwah Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    FreeNAS is a free *nix solution, and not too hard to setup if you are somewhat knowledgeable, and can also run on a bit more antique hardware. I used it before upgrading to WHS.

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    RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    If all you care about is having a place to put your files, then basically anything will do.

    The Windows Home Server software on the HP MediaSmart server adds stuff like:

    * An easily expandable storage pool (just stick more hard drives in it)
    * Incremental PC backup with special code that eliminates duplicate data
    * Data replication (protects data on your shares against hard drive failure)

    And a few other nice perks like remote access to shared files and a remote desktop gateway.

    Also there's a few reasons why you might decide to go with pre-built rather than homebrew for the home server. The MediaSmart server has really nice front-loading hard drive bays that let you install hard drives without the need for screws, cables or tools, or even shutting down the server. Also it has indicator lights for each hard drive that show which drive has failed, or which drive you just "ejected" from the server. Also it's very small, quiet and unobtrustive.

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    Mike DangerMike Danger "Diane..." a place both wonderful and strangeRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I am in the process of converting my desktop into a media server myself, but I'm using Linux (Crunchbang at the moment but it is probably going to change into Mythbuntu for simplicity's sake) with MythTV.

    Incidentally, does anyone know if there's a way to see files stored on such a Linux box on FrontRow on a Mac? My plan is to use my monitor + laptop to play the file while it's stored on the other computer (desktop is loud, clamshell laptop isn't).

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    WraithXt1WraithXt1 Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I just grabbed a quad core dell mini tower and stuck two tb's of storage on it.

    It runs Vista Home coupled with Tversity for streaming to my porjector, a ventrillo server, and Ceberus for my FTP!

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    useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Jokerman wrote: »
    All I really wanna be able to do is have something i can toss my Mp3's and access it from my Mac and my PC.

    For streaming? just turn on itunes sharing on one computer and stream away to other itunes... i do it from my "server" mac because it's already on 24/7 for the appletvs.

    useless4 on
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    noobertnoobert Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I just have a box sitting in the garage. Has power and Ethernet connected to it, runs windows XP home and is controlled remotely.

    Streams to my desktop, laptop, xbox and family htpc.

    Spec are:
    e4300 (1.8ghz c2d)
    2gb DDR2
    Some asus motherboard with gigabit ethernet and 6 sata ports
    4x 1TB WD Green hdd's
    in an Antec 300 case

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    TrentusTrentus Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Incidentally, does anyone know if there's a way to see files stored on such a Linux box on FrontRow on a Mac? My plan is to use my monitor + laptop to play the file while it's stored on the other computer (desktop is loud, clamshell laptop isn't).

    I'm pretty sure you can just create an alias to the folder you wish to browse (say, the videos folder on your network share) and chuck it in the relevant folder in your user profile on your Mac (so for this example, ~/Movies). In Front Row, it will just display as a subfolder in the Movies Folder menu. Just gotta make sure the share is mounted each time you try to browse it. Also, I believe you can auto mount shares on login by mounting them, and then dragging them to your login items.

    Trentus on
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    EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    500ish isn't bad for a media server, really. At the same time, it's dirt cheap to build one and there are a lot of free options available for media streaming, so if you aren't afraid of putting together a computer then it's certainly a better bet.

    I mean:

    ~30$ sempron CPU
    ~50$ AM2+ mobo (/w video)
    ~30$ 2gb of DDR2 (7.50$ if you only want to match the 512mb that I believe comes with the HP server.)
    ~100$ 1TB HD

    That's 210$ and leaves you 290$ to pick out a case/psu, or a case/psu + OS if you want to run with Windows.

    Ego on
    Erik
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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Ego wrote: »
    500ish isn't bad for a media server, really. At the same time, it's dirt cheap to build one and there are a lot of free options available for media streaming, so if you aren't afraid of putting together a computer then it's certainly a better bet.

    I mean:

    ~30$ sempron CPU
    ~50$ AM2+ mobo (/w video)
    ~30$ 2gb of DDR2 (7.50$ if you only want to match the 512mb that I believe comes with the HP server.)
    ~100$ 1TB HD

    That's 210$ and leaves you 290$ to pick out a case/psu, or a case/psu + OS if you want to run with Windows.

    Hell, that's overkill if all he's wanting to do is serve media files.

    The only reason I'd go with a new computer at all is to take advantage of something that uses less electricity...otherwise you can probably just scrounge up an older PC and throw the hard drive in there. Slap Linux on it, done.

    All our media sits on a computer from like 1999 (oldass AMD Duron...maybe 800MHz). All I've done to it is add a little RAM and a bigass hard drive.

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    EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Admittedly overkill, it's just hard to find cpu's for less than 30$ ;).

    That said I did find a sempron/mobo combo with onboard video for 50$ on newegg so you could shave another 30$ off that price.

    Ego on
    Erik
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    mooshoeporkmooshoepork Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Can't you just plug a 1TB hard drive into a router? that's what I do

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    TrentusTrentus Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Can't you just plug a 1TB hard drive into a router? that's what I do

    Not all routers have USB ports.

    Trentus on
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    Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Right Here, Right Now Drives a BuickModerator Mod Emeritus
    edited February 2009
    There are external enclosures that connect directly to the network via ethernet

    Moe Fwacky on
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    JokermanJokerman Everything EverywhereRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Can't you just plug a 1TB hard drive into a router? that's what I do

    God wouldnt the speed be terribad?

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    Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Right Here, Right Now Drives a BuickModerator Mod Emeritus
    edited February 2009
    Couldn't be worse than accessing a hard drive connected to a computer over the network

    Moe Fwacky on
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    JokermanJokerman Everything EverywhereRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Moe Fwacky wrote: »
    Couldn't be worse than accessing a hard drive connected to a computer over the network

    It just seems like USB would be so slow.

    Jokerman on
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    Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Right Here, Right Now Drives a BuickModerator Mod Emeritus
    edited February 2009
    Moe Fwacky wrote: »
    There are external enclosures that connect directly to the network via ethernet

    Moe Fwacky on
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    TrentusTrentus Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Moe Fwacky wrote: »
    There are external enclosures that connect directly to the network via ethernet

    True, but I don't really think much of them... I should really try and find a few reviews on different products before making up my mind though... Anyway, my mate has a Lacie HD with gigabit ethernet (with a gig switch in his router, and gig nics in his machines) and he gets absolutely abysmal transfer speeds. It took about 10 minutes for ~700MB last time I saw, with him as the only user. I know I can't base all my assumptions off this one product, but it really lowers my expectations.

    Trentus on
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    AiranAiran Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Hijacking this thread because I was thinking of building a HTPC too. I wish to rip me and my family's DVDs and archive them for ease of use (and to keep a copy in case my little cousins scratch their cartoon discs to hell), would MythTV/Mythbuntu allow AVI file playback for multiple TVs? I was envisioning that each TV would be given a menu screen and that users could select from that menu (from a media center remote or something) what they wanted to watch, and the server would just play it for them. Or would I have to stick to the client/server design and have some cheap machine wirelessly connected to the server and have it stream media, to be played back by the machine?

    What would be the best connector/video card for composite (RCA) input TVs? We're still in the SD era (damn TVs just won't die!) so I was thinking S-Video to Composite, but I think it can't do audio so I'm uncertain what to do.

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    DedianDedian Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Airan wrote: »
    Hijacking this thread because I was thinking of building a HTPC too. I wish to rip me and my family's DVDs and archive them for ease of use (and to keep a copy in case my little cousins scratch their cartoon discs to hell), would MythTV/Mythbuntu allow AVI file playback for multiple TVs? I was envisioning that each TV would be given a menu screen and that users could select from that menu (from a media center remote or something) what they wanted to watch, and the server would just play it for them. Or would I have to stick to the client/server design and have some cheap machine wirelessly connected to the server and have it stream media, to be played back by the machine?

    What would be the best connector/video card for composite (RCA) input TVs? We're still in the SD era (damn TVs just won't die!) so I was thinking S-Video to Composite, but I think it can't do audio so I'm uncertain what to do.

    I run Mythtv at home with four frontends (well, every computer is a frontend :D), and it'll do what you want with a little configuration. What I do is have a folder called "media" on the backend that's NFS exported to any of the frontends that want it. I just mount that folder in the same location on each frontend (so the configuration is same across the frontends), and you just use "Watch video" from the recordings menu. The mythtv backend isn't really doing anything in this case - the frontend just reads the list of files in the directory you give it, and you play it over the network. A note about throughput - wireless G is a necessity for most SD stuff - don't think about HD (to computers) over wireless.

    There are a lot of good fanless nvidia half-height vid cards that have s-video out. I'm not sure on which model would be best, just make sure its supported in linux - there's quite a bit to search on the mythtv-users list archives (http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/mythtv/users/). Svideo to composite should work, and yes, you'll need a mini-plug to stereo RCA converter (you plug that into the speaker out jack on the computer, and into the audio RCA jacks on the TV)

    Also, if you don't want to worry about outputting to a TV and don't have a linux box: http://winmyth.sourceforge.net/ - used for watching recorded TV... for avi files you'd just share the media folder and watch it like a normal AVI

    I believe there's packages for just the frontend, for linux boxes.

    Dedian on
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    EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    If the router is up to snuff, transfer speeds shouldn't really be a bother for network accessed storage regardless of whether you've got the HD hooked up by ethernet or USB2.0 or eSATA. My external drive (samsung spinpoint 1TB with 32 mb cache) is happy to beam things out at 50-60 megs per sec, which is right around the theoretical limit for USB 2.0 (yes it's in a USB enclosure.) That's good enough for 1080p video with quality encoding to play without issue over my ethernet.

    Trentus, while I'm sure all the hardware is gigabit-capable, it really sounds like your friends network is only running at 10 mbps if things are that slow (10mbps would take ~10 mins to transfer a 700mb file.)

    Ego on
    Erik
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    AiranAiran Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Dedian wrote: »
    I run Mythtv at home with four frontends (well, every computer is a frontend :D), and it'll do what you want with a little configuration. What I do is have a folder called "media" on the backend that's NFS exported to any of the frontends that want it. I just mount that folder in the same location on each frontend (so the configuration is same across the frontends), and you just use "Watch video" from the recordings menu. The mythtv backend isn't really doing anything in this case - the frontend just reads the list of files in the directory you give it, and you play it over the network. A note about throughput - wireless G is a necessity for most SD stuff - don't think about HD (to computers) over wireless.

    There are a lot of good fanless nvidia half-height vid cards that have s-video out. I'm not sure on which model would be best, just make sure its supported in linux - there's quite a bit to search on the mythtv-users list archives (http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/mythtv/users/). Svideo to composite should work, and yes, you'll need a mini-plug to stereo RCA converter (you plug that into the speaker out jack on the computer, and into the audio RCA jacks on the TV)

    Also, if you don't want to worry about outputting to a TV and don't have a linux box: http://winmyth.sourceforge.net/ - used for watching recorded TV... for avi files you'd just share the media folder and watch it like a normal AVI

    I believe there's packages for just the frontend, for linux boxes.

    Thanks for the info, I was fearing I would need a computer for each TV :| Think I'll just make a box for the living room TV instead.

    Although I wonder... can I have multiple instances of MythTV running?

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    DedianDedian Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Multiple instances... on the same computer? I guess I don't know what you're asking. I mean, really, Mythtv is primarily for recording and watching TV - mythvideo is technically a plugin... There's probably other devices/programs that make video (AVI) to TV easier, but they'd still require the device or a computer. The frontend for myth still has to run on a computer (one frontend per TV, basically, though a computer can be a frontend). You don't necessarily need myth if all you want is to have a computer output shared video to a tv through svideo out on its vid card, but it makes it easier.

    Dedian on
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    AiranAiran Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    What I really want is multiple TVs (4 at most) connected to one box. This probably requires 2 videos cards or whatever (not to mention most cards these days only offer 1 S-video out, and VGA to Composite is a bit of a hassle) but I'll leave that aside for the moment.

    I was thinking multiple instances of MythTV, so that each TV would have its own maximized instance. All instances would have the same media access. Obviously I'd have to think about how to control the thing too after the initial setup (multiple MCE remotes? *shrug*).

    Though now that I think about it I wouldn't even need MythTV (though a user friendly interface would be nice). I could easily replicate this with any OS - every display would have access to the media folder, since I don't plan on TV recording at all, just movie file playback. Hmm.

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    shadydentistshadydentist Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    What you want is impractical. Especially if you want HD, theres not a cost-effective way to buy one computer to run 4 TVs. And unless all 4 of your TVs are right next to each other, that also introduces the nightmare of cabling...

    You'd be much better off buying 4 cheap computers for this.

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    AiranAiran Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Indeed. I'm none too worried about cabling actually, I mean, it wouldn't get tangled, it'd just need to be reaaaallly long for some TVs, which would just be a headache trying to find the right product, VGA to Composite and all that bollocks, if it exists in the UK at a low price.

    I don't think DVDs are HD quality though, but 4 DVD quality videos at once might still take a hefty strain on processing power, with the components I had in mind.

    Ah well, I think I'll concentrate on making a nice backup server instead.

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    ArcticMonkeyArcticMonkey Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Airan wrote: »
    Indeed. I'm none too worried about cabling actually, I mean, it wouldn't get tangled, it'd just need to be reaaaallly long for some TVs, which would just be a headache trying to find the right product, VGA to Composite and all that bollocks, if it exists in the UK at a low price.

    I don't think DVDs are HD quality though, but 4 DVD quality videos at once might still take a hefty strain on processing power, with the components I had in mind.

    Ah well, I think I'll concentrate on making a nice backup server instead.
    Not sure what hardware you have in mind, but decoding a DVD video on a Core 2 duo @ 3166MHz peaks at 3% without hardware acceleration.

    VGA to composite is tricky, but VGA to RBG-Scart is trivial. Something like this should work if your graphics card can output 576 interlaced. Nvidia's drivers have good support for custom resolutions, but I could not confirm that my 9600gt could output 576i since it's out of sync range for my monitor.
    There is also good old Powerstrip for custom resolutions.
    For audio you could use Media Player Classic's audio routing tables to have one instance only output to front and one instance only output to surround.
    The real headache would be input. Managing four different inputs to four different programs on one computer sounds like a major pain. You could use perhaps use virtualization to manage different usb inputs and pipe them to the correct program, but that is probably overkill.

    While an interesting thought experiment, I would not suggest anyone actually build a four output media player. Two outputs should be doable without too much hassle though.

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