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Ask Slashdot: Suggestions For a Simple Media Server?

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the any-given-solution-will-do-80%-of-what-you-want dept.

Media 420

rueger writes "We live and breathe Netflix, but sometimes want to watch programs downloaded from the 'net. I've been carrying them downstairs on a USB stick, but would prefer to run a small media server on my Mint Linux box. As usual, I thought this would be simple. Install a package on my PC, and use our Netgear NeoTV Max box to play stuff off of the server. Plex was highly recommended, and installed easily, but will see some .mkv files, but not others, for no obvious reason. The one file that does show up plays fine, except that subtitles don't work. And it completely refuses to see the partition full of music. A quick tour of the Plex forums suggests that making this work would take more hours than I'm prepared to spend. Serviio looked good too, and 'sees' my music, and sees the movie folders that Plex couldn't, but won't show the actual .mkv files. And again, it looks like configuring the thing could consume half of my life. So I'm asking: is there a fairly simple, works-right-out-of-the-box, fairly resource friendly media server that will just allow me to play movies that I download without a lot of headaches? (One obvious issue is that movies and TV shows downloaded can be in a any of a dozen formats. I'd love it if the server dealt with that. I'm also open to suggestions for a Roku style box that does Netflix well, but which will also play nicely with a media server. And if any or all of these things can also let me play streaming video off the web (like BBC iPlayer content), I'll be in heaven.)"

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UMS (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963177)

I use Universal Media Server on OS X, which is available for Windows, OS X and Linux. It works well with our WD HD TV Live and various Samsung TV and DVR devices. But the first thing to do would probably be to get the Netgear device the boot.

Raspberry PI (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963183)

Hi,

I'd suggest to master something from Raspberry PI or alternative. It's cheap and versatile solution

Re:Raspberry PI (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963321)

An even cheaper solution is to use the stuff he already has that is quite capable.

Re:Raspberry PI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963723)

...Until you add up the energy costs for a few years of running a desktop computer vs. a Pi...

Re:Raspberry PI (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 9 months ago | (#45963753)

...Until you add up the energy costs for a few years of running a desktop computer vs. a Pi...

... which is irrelevant since he'd still be running the old hardware anyway, but now with a Raspberry on top of it.

Re:Raspberry PI (5, Insightful)

fostware (551290) | about 9 months ago | (#45963519)

Someone has a new hammer and every problem is looking like nail...

Re:Raspberry PI (2, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | about 9 months ago | (#45963693)

Someone has a new hammer and every problem is looking like nail...

Come on, it's 2014: media streaming is not a "problem" anymore.

Re:Raspberry PI (5, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 9 months ago | (#45963645)

Ah, very helpful. Use a computer. I bet he never thought of that.

MiniDLNA (4, Interesting)

ImperialXT (1938692) | about 9 months ago | (#45963185)

I had a brief look on the product page and couldn't find a clear answer if it supports DLNA or not, but it should do. So maybe look at something nice and simple such as MiniDLNA which was recently renamed to ReadyMedia apparently.

Re:MiniDLNA (3, Interesting)

ch0rlt0n (1515291) | about 9 months ago | (#45963439)

I have MiniDLNA running on a raspberry pi with 1TB self powered usb disk attached. This is connected directly to the router in a cupboard under the stairs.

Then use an XBox 360 or PS3 as the client connected to the TV.

I do have similar issues with mkv files which the server sometimes sees and "advertises" and sometimes doesn't (i'm guessing based on file exension?) and which the XBox sometimes can decode and sometimes can't (based on enciding?). I haven't determined exactly what the cases are for when it works and when it doesn't.

I am not doing any transcoding on the server but I'd consider it to be a system that works well.

Re:MiniDLNA (2)

ch0rlt0n (1515291) | about 9 months ago | (#45963451)

worth mentioning that it also shares >14000 tracks of music plus photos as separate "shares". Music can be browsed and searched easily using Banshee from Linux laptop and WMP11 on work laptop.

Re: MiniDLNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963447)

Have you ever tried browsing 10.00 tunes, series episodes and flicks on DLNA? I like DLNA for small collections, but for larger sets folder-based browsing is indispensable IMO.

A happy Mythtv, XBMC user.

Re: MiniDLNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963513)

I second the suggestion of MiniDLNA, it's very light-weight.

I'm sure DLNA supports folder based browsing, because that's exactly how I use it with MiniDLNA (with ~3TB of video). The biggest issues I've had is that it doesn't pickup changes on a unionfs'ed directory, but that is more likely to be an issue with unionfs and MiniDLNA.

Re:MiniDLNA (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 9 months ago | (#45963605)

an alternative is Fuppes, from sourceforge, it is a simple DLNA server that works very well. The only disadvantage I have with it is that it doesn't prevent Windows from sleeping when its streaming (I have Windows set to sleep after an hour of inactivity so halfway through a 2-hour movie, I'd have to nudge the mouse) which is a pretty major problem.

It looks like a dead project but the author said it wasn't, but I still couldn't build it, even on its native Linux platform. Still, if you run it on Linux or have different power settings, it works.

XBMC ftw (5, Informative)

AoOs (1336153) | about 9 months ago | (#45963191)

XBMC is your go-to media server software.

Install it, set the path for your content and it'll take care of the rest.
Subtitles can even be setup to be downloaded automatically.

xbmc.org

Re:XBMC ftw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963239)

As far as i understand it, XBMC is not a media SERVER, but a front-end media PLAYER. He has that Netgear NeoTV which he wants to utilise for that. This is where I beleive his problem lies - in that this device doesnt support all the formats he wants to play. He's expecting a media server to transcode the content into content the NeoTV will play.

Re:XBMC ftw (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 months ago | (#45963491)

"Netgear NeoTV which he wants to utilise for that."

He can, you pick it up, walk over to the trash bin and drop it inside. He wants to use a toy he got duped into buying, there is no happiness until he realizes that and get's rid of it.

XBMC on a low end core duo throwaway PC and a mild out of date nvidia video card will blow away any device you can buy to play back media on your TV. utterly blow it away.

and the side effect, the same XBMC pc can act as the media server so it is an all in one solution. but you can not buy one. You have to spend time to build it and you have to take the time to educate yourself on how to build it. He refuses to even spend time fixing his problem.

Re:XBMC ftw (2)

AoOs (1336153) | about 9 months ago | (#45963565)

Some QNAP NAS can run XBMC out of the box. They even come with a remote control. No need for a PC, if you just want a simple solution with XBMC.

Re:XBMC ftw (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 9 months ago | (#45963555)

yes and no - whilst XBMC is an awesome media client, it also does have a little bit of server code tucked away insode it, so you can load it up, and use it to stream stuff across a DLNA link very easily.

It has 2 problems with using it in this way - first there is no "run headless" mode, and 2nd, it doesn't stop Windows from going to sleep when it wants.

Re:XBMC ftw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963629)

So run XBMC on Linux. Problem solved!

Re: XBMC ftw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963559)

And Plex can if you configure a profile for it if need be (is if one doesn't already exist). That's what I did for my Dish Hopper/Joey setup as it didn't like .m4v files and some .avi's. A quick and dirty profile for it and it now plays them all fine.
As for the folders and stuff not showing, I'm wondering if folds rpermissions are set correctly for plex to read/see them and if the service doesn't just need restarted and then a scan of the folder ran again.
I have had no issues other than sometimes needing a service restart after a deep scan (most likely due to I'm impatient lol) and I have other friends with massive video and music libraries which plex is working fine with.

Plus the channels for plex (pulling shows and videos off of various website such as comedy central, ABC, etc) is always a nice extra

Re:XBMC ftw (1)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | about 9 months ago | (#45963607)

XMBC also functions as a DNLA server when it is running

Re:XBMC ftw (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963283)

Plex uses the same regex-based naming detector as XBMC, so XBMC would be unable to see the same files Plex is unable to see.

Plex really is the best option out there. I would recommend seriously looking at the naming conventions required to have XBMC/Plex recognize media, rather than trying to fit a server to a broken media collection. There are automated scripts that can help rename files correctly, so it's not a huge burden.

Re:XBMC ftw (1)

Zouden (232738) | about 9 months ago | (#45963325)

Not if it's a codec issue that causes Plex to refuse to recognise certain .mkv files.

Re:XBMC ftw (1)

michrech (468134) | about 9 months ago | (#45963419)

If it's a codec issue, he needs to remedy that in his OS...

Re:XBMC ftw (5, Informative)

profplump (309017) | about 9 months ago | (#45963471)

Plex uses an internal ffmpeg to decode (and transcode, if needed) media files -- if it doesn't play there it will be hard to play in general. And you don't need to muck with an OS-level codecs, as Plex won't see or use them anyway.

But that's not relevant in this discussion; Plex will add files to the library even if it can't read them, so long as it can figure out from the file path what they are. If you need Plex to parse the tags in the file it will have to be able to decode it, but if it can match based on the name it doesn't care if the file can even be opened.

The problem is almost certainly a naming issue, or possibly a selection of the wrong scanner type. If you select a TV or Movie scanner Plex will only add files it can specifically match to databases like thetvdb.com, and you must use one of the naming conventions to help it do so. If you just want it to put up all of your media as-is without matching against a DB you need to select the "Home Videos" scanner type, which simply walks the filesystem and builds a matching hierarchy in the Plex library. And of course Music has its own scanner, which can similarly match against Last.fm or simply read local tags, depending on wishes.

It's not quite brain-dead simple if you have a mess of unorganized media, but it's not hours of work either, and the DB-matching modes provide rich metadata with all the hassle of ensuring that your paths include the series title and episode number somewhere along the line.

You're right (1)

graffic (1419591) | about 9 months ago | (#45963441)

I couldn't find anything better: http://elan.plexapp.com/2012/03/29/this-aint-your-grandfathers-dlna/ [plexapp.com]

And unfortunately in that article I guess they're right :(

Each device implements DLNA in it's own way. Each DLNA tries to solve problems in the best way they can.

The best solutions I've seen is a: computer playing movies (VLC plays everything). Plex app + plex server in your NAS/PC.

Re:XBMC ftw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963401)

Agreed. You could also give the Raspberry Pi a go with one of the dedicated media centre distros, although I've never actualy tried them. For iPlayer there's a command line tool called get_iplayer, it allows you to download iPlayer programmes directly, although lack of BBC support for Linux means there's one significant bug - it doesn't auto-delete programmes after 7 days, so you have to do that yourself to ensure you stay within copyright....

Can I suggest: (2)

DickMoohan (1267976) | about 9 months ago | (#45963193)

Four letters: XBMC ....Strongly recommended, plays pretty much anything and also has loads of add-ons.

just wake up & start clicking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963195)

your service to the media begins again

PS3 Media Server (5, Informative)

narfdude (732890) | about 9 months ago | (#45963215)

XBMC but on a PC might be annoying? Also take a look at PS3 Media Server - I used to use it before moving to a NAS, works really well

VLC will do this surely? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963217)

I use VLC for all those tasks, the interface isn't great but I'm sure it could be made to do the job and it's fully controllable by multiple android apps. Not sure about the bbc iplayer or netflix issue though.

WD TV Live plays almost everything (4, Informative)

Camembert (2891457) | about 9 months ago | (#45963227)

The Western Digital TV live box is cheap and it plays almost any reasonable media file (except flv) you'd throw at it. Certainly the ones prevalent on internet. It can access a shared folder on your computer so you don't have to walk around with that stick anymore. To be fair, I only use it for downloaded video files. For music and photo I have an Apple TV, I love its GUI and easy integration in our Mac/IOS based home.

Re: WD TV Live plays almost everything (4, Interesting)

blocsync (320897) | about 9 months ago | (#45963311)

I also use and recommend the WD TV Live. I use it in conjunction with a rooted Seagate Go flex home 3 tb NAS. I run transmission on the NAS and use is Web interface to snag torrents of movies and shows. I can then turn my computer off and still be downloading and watching movies. I have 3 of the WD units and they all stream from the NAS simultaneously without skipping a beat.

Re: WD TV Live plays almost everything (1)

Baldorcete (1184665) | about 9 months ago | (#45963651)

I don't know how new Asus o'Play handles every format, but I have a 5 years old, first generation one, that plays everything except flv. And easy acces to shared folders or DLNA.

Re:WD TV Live plays almost everything (4, Informative)

Sandman1971 (516283) | about 9 months ago | (#45963601)

I third this recommendation. I have 3 WD Live boxes in my house, all connecting to my media SANs (DNS 323s with DLNA enabled) , streaming my music, videos and photos. It also does netflix, Hulu (US only), Pandora, YouTube, TuneIn, Shoutcast and a few dozen other built in apps. The best deal is to get them at Costco as they're not only cheaper but they come with a HDMI cable. The one I bought at an electronics store didn't come with the HDMI.

Re:WD TV Live plays almost everything (1)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 9 months ago | (#45963639)

The WD does indeed play almost every format, and for the odd files, there's handbrake to help converting them to something that works. A Haswell Quick Sync capable graphics chip (e.g 4600) will make short work of any transcoding job - hours of waiting become minutes.

DLNA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963229)

There are a few suggestions for XBMC. This is not going to work for you for several reasons, but feel free to try it. Likewise, Plex is horrible. As you've now seen.

I'm not sure if your client box supports DLNA or not, but use PS3 Media Server (yes, it serves to clients other than the PS3 just fine). It's free, offers automatic transcoding, and is an effortless setup.

XBMC, Plex, and its ilk are fine if your time is worthless to you and you really like looking at logfiles to see why things aren't working.

Re:DLNA (1)

michrech (468134) | about 9 months ago | (#45963455)

It's interesting that you're so negative toward Plex and XBMC. My brother and a friend of his use XBMC with zero issues (even their wives, who aren't terribly computer literate, have no problems using it), and they've not run into any media it won't play. I have similar experience with Plex (and have been trying to get them to convert).

In my case, I've only thrown .mkv files at Plex, since that's the container all the pirates seem to use for movies (I have no idea why, and I've not bothered to look into it). I've never had issues with playback on my HTPC (which has Plex Home Theater), my phone and tablet, both of which have the Android Plex app, or to my work PC via the Plex Media Server web interface. It even supports subtitles, if their built into the file (I've never tried downloading/adding them manually, so I don't know 1) if it works and 2) how difficult a process it is).

What kind of problems have you had with Plex (don't worry -- beyond being a user, I'm not affiliated with the company -- I'm just curious)?

xbmc on whatever it runs on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963231)

i use an RSS auto-downloading feed to a linux box that has 8tb of zfs that runs xbmc. xbmc's library and "recently added" plus scraping is awesome. anyone know if they're going to do xbmc for ps4 or xbone? easy to port over but indy-app fees might need a kickstart or something

get_iplayer (1)

cyborg_zx (893396) | about 9 months ago | (#45963235)

I'm pretty sure this supports streaming although I've not used it in that manner - preferring instead to simply download before using.

Re:get_iplayer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963295)

Why in the world do people come into threads and offer suggestions they haven't tried?

Re:get_iplayer (1)

cyborg_zx (893396) | about 9 months ago | (#45963361)

That I cannot speak to its ability to stream doesn't stop me from speaking to its ability to download content that could still be used on a mediaserver as I do.

Why do anonymous cowards come into threads to troll? Sorry, question answers itself.

Windows Server 2012 R2 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963241)

The best you can buy until next year. But don't hold off - BUY IT NOW! Imagine all the time saved from not having to pick up a USB drive and making your way down all those stairs. You could die doing that! Have you thought about that?

this is what i do... (1)

issicus (2031176) | about 9 months ago | (#45963243)

plug your tv into a computer running vlc. activate web interface on vlc. download vlc remote (fork) on your tablet . control your tv with tablet .

If you find one, let me know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963259)

..I've tried quite a lot, none were out of the box perfect. Closest has been Openelec.

Currently I'm running openelec on an old P4 2.8GHZ machine joined to the TV via VGH and it works nicely. Based on XBMC, it has the same issue, in that if you want the best out of it and you media to be 'found' (ie displayed in a nicely presented coverflow type menu) you need it tagged and organised correctly.

Took some fiddling to get sound via streaming content though, and there's still no sound streaming from Apple devices.

I've used a Rasberry PI and openelec to do the same job; again worked quite well; little bit laggy, but acceptable. (Streamed content from apple device with sound; no problem. Had the bonus of decoding the TV remotes signal via the HDMI lead via some majic)

I've tried serviio in the past, which worked very well also. In this configuration it streamed content to the TV via DLNA. Had the bonus of running on a 'full' linux server, so I could install other services with no trouble. (Like shoutcast and icecast )

(Openelec is designed to be more of a closed device; the system partion is mounted readonly at boot. Rolling your own openelec environment is possible; but looks too fiddly for me.)

Took quite a bit of fiddling as I had to download and compile quite a bit of ffmpeg and associated stuff to get content to stream to the TV. It also streamed succesfully to other DLNA compatible devices around the house.

Mac Mini + VLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963269)

Plays everything. No fuss.

Don't need no fancy interface, just organize your files on an external drive and use the Finder. Simple and effective. You can make playlists easily, too, for stringing together whole seasons of shows.

Re:Mac Mini + VLC (1)

michrech (468134) | about 9 months ago | (#45963489)

Yes, and it'd *only* cost !$600! if you buy a new one...

I keep it simple. (4, Informative)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 9 months ago | (#45963285)

I plug my laptop into the TV and play stuff from my storage array.

If I wanted some sort of dedicated device, I'd put XBMC on a Raspberry Pi, point it at my array, and control it with my phone, tablet, or laptop.

Re:I keep it simple. (4, Interesting)

rikkards (98006) | about 9 months ago | (#45963395)

even better is XBMC on pi uses libcec so you can control it from your TV remote.

Re:I keep it simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963473)

and it has a bbc player plugin

USB mass storage network file share (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963287)

At the chearp end, many consumer devices have USB sockets that allow you to play certain media files from USB sticks etc. Going a bit more expensive, some have networking and often poorly implemented methods to access files.

I've looked and failed to find a device that looks like a mass storage device to the host, but is actually wired or wireless ethernet linked to a samba or NFS share elsewhere on the network and pretending to be a mass storage device.
That way I could harness cheap devices throughout and yet store all my media files in one place.

Does anyone know of such a device ?
Seems something that would be trivial to implement in an ATTiny etc, if only I had the skills...

Its not the server (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963301)

The problems you've found come not from the server, but from the netgear box you are using. Apparently, it only supports USB or DLNA to play your local content, and that is a huge limitation. Should it support some other ways to access your content, you could play whatever you wanted; for example, windows networking, that is native in windows machines and easily incorporated into linux machines via the samba package and (I think) also in OSX machines. That way, anything in your computer could be accessed from the client machine just by locally sharing the path where you store it.

So, really, the best solution would be to have a more capable box in your TV (a XBMC box will be probably the best solution, although it can take some time to configure everything properly, specially if you want just one box and so XBMC need to take care of netflix etc to get rid of the netgear device).

If you do not want to add a new box to the TV and keep only your actual netgear client machine, you must then bend everything else to cope with its limitations, in this case you should look for a capable DLNA server that plays nice both with your actual content (format, naming convention, etc) and also with the special needs of the NeoTV Max, whatever they are; plex is one possibility, and there are others, but probably none will be at the same time good enough, cheap enough and easy enough for your purposes. But the main culprit is the less-than-capable box in your TV: local windows sharing should be more than enough.

ps3mediaserver (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963329)

ps3mediaserver, regardless of the name, works right out of the box and streams just about everything (the backend uses ffmpeg, mplayer, vlc, and tsmuxer). Subtitles also work as expected.

http://www.ps3mediaserver.org/

Re:ps3mediaserver (1)

michrech (468134) | about 9 months ago | (#45963507)

I wouldn't suggest ps3mediaserver for one reason -- the various .nzb sites I use are filled with comments of ps3mediaserver users having one problem or another with playback of the .mkv's they're downloading...

Awesome thread (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963333)

This is a great thread for people to get some ideas on what NOT to do.

Come on, people. No one wants to break out a circuit board and build their own solution. No one wants to hook up to a PC and break out a keyboard every time they want to watch movie with the family. No one cares about things "you haven't tried, but will probably work".

Jesus Christ. This is not an unsolvable problem. Cheap, elegant, well-documented and functional solutions already exist for this problem.

Re:Awesome thread (1, Insightful)

cyborg_zx (893396) | about 9 months ago | (#45963377)

Well thanks for your references to the cheap, elegant, well-documented and functional solutions that already exist. I find those really helpful.

Oh wait, I don't because they don't exist.

AC Troll.

Re:Awesome thread (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 months ago | (#45963525)

" Cheap, elegant, well-documented and functional"

pick only 2 from that list though.

you seem to not understand how things really work out there. You can not have all 4, it does not exist.

Re:Awesome thread (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about 9 months ago | (#45963595)

I'll bite. I'll even be so kind as to preface this with I am simply a user of this product. Shillflame me all you want ...

My brother got me a Chromecast for Xmas. It's a pretty sweet gift for a brother because he knows I wouldn't buy one for myself, and yet they're only $35.

I tried it out, and was initially pretty disappointed. Being locked in to only being able to cast Chrome tabbed content felt like a gross artificial limitation. I figured it was just the was it was gonna be.

I found some workarounds by using remote desktop to remote into your own desktop inside a tab so you could then cast it to the TV. Phew. That was a ridiculous waste of effort along the lines of building a Java VM inside Javascript.

Then I discovered (I never saw it before ... not that it wasn't there, just never saw it) the little arrow icon that gives you an option to "Cast Desktop". From then it was on. I can now just put the laptop on full screen and hit play.

The tradeoff for not having to deal with audio cables is that you do need to have a good WiFi network to get the best performance. Here's my setup:

- Thinkpad g wifi

- custom 4core 16gb workstation upstairs serving media files

- workstation gets internet from 4g hotspot via USB

- hotspot as router, but only g wifi

So my laptop reads files over the g wifi >> shitty low power hotspot router >> USB >> spinning SATA II disk >> back to the laptop which then streams it back over the hotspot router to the Chromecast device which is once again another trip back downstairs.

If I leave my laptop just a few feet in the other room it works perfect. No hiccups. If I keep it near the TV it gets choppy every 3-5 minutes.

So like I said, if you have a good network, expect it to work at least better than that.

Re:Awesome thread (2)

michrech (468134) | about 9 months ago | (#45963527)

I've seen several comments for Plex and XMBC, both of which don't require one to "break out a circuit board and build their own solution." In the case of Plex, you don't have to 'break out a keyboard every time they want to watch a movie," either. In the case of Android, WP8, and IOS there are apps that can be downloaded that will act as a remote for the Plex Home Theater (which would be installed on a PC connected to your TV). Not everyone may want to sit down and use their phone/tablet to start a movie, but I don't see it as being too different from using a normal TV/media player remote...

Re:Awesome thread (1)

mikelieman (35628) | about 9 months ago | (#45963631)

I was using my smartphone as a mythtv controller years ago.

Cancel Netflix (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963339)

https://defectivebydesign.org/netflix [defectivebydesign.org]

TVMobili DLNA Server (1)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 9 months ago | (#45963341)

I've been using TVMobili on a Kubuntu machine I have set up as a media server. It's not free... you can pay a one-time fee of $30 or $1.50 per month - but you can try it out first, to see if you like it. I've found it just works for everything I've thrown at it, I mostly use it for playback on my Samsung plasma smart TV (AllShare feature), handling MKVs, MP4s without a hitch, as well as the usual formats and containers. It can also do transcoding, and it has a web interface (My server sits in our basement).

I have streamed to iOS and Android devices, too (with the right media player clients).

Re: TVMobili DLNA Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963443)

I also use this,
Very handy, and being dlna I use bubbleupnp on my phone as a remote to play content

Use old PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963343)

I cannot understand how little talk there is of the most simple solution of all. Use and old PC, and connect it to the TV with a HDMI cable, and a bluetooth mouse and bluetooth keyboard. If you want, install a blueray optical drive, and you are good to go. There is nothing you cant play on it.

Tversity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963397)

Tversity or PS3MediaServer are both very good, with the former being the more reliable of the two, and the latter delivering the best video quality for high resolution media. I've been using them for years.

Logitech Mediaserver (former squeezebox) (1)

m.hataj (1553191) | about 9 months ago | (#45963417)

This was the one and only serving a TB-size musiccollection well. You can stream to different speakers, laptops, mobile phones in parallel. It's really good as DLNA server and you can have him on Linux, Mac, Windows, NAS, BSD. http://www.mysqueezebox.com/download [mysqueezebox.com] I'm not sure on the FLOSS status, there are a lot parts from this development on sourceforge and github. And yes, it's running local as your server without any ties to Logitech. Give version 7.7 up to 7.8 a try, higher ones are crippled.

If you find one, let me know! (1)

CapnTrippy (3500653) | about 9 months ago | (#45963425)

I've tried quite a few; none of them were easypeasey to set up and get working faultlessly. Serviio was the best DLNA server I found. Installs to your current distribution; got quite close to out-of-the-box streaming to my Sony Bravia TV. Took quite a bit of fiddling to work perfectly; that involved downloading and compiling ffmpeg and other software. It also streamed nicely to other DLNA devices about the house. I was running it on a P4 2.8 ghz and it handled the transcoding of all the media I gave it. (Playback only being funny with DVDs I'd ripped myself; turns out I had to fix the framerate to PAL) Openelec was the best of the 'plug-it-in-to-the-tv' types. Based on XBMC it installed and worked out of the box onto a Rasberry PI. Although laggy sometimes and unable to really handle anything other than the default skin. Had the added bonus of decoding the TV remote signals via the HDMI lead via some magic. I'm currently running this via a P4 2.8ghz attached to the TV via VGA using an old windows media player IR remote. Almost worked out of the box. Streaming had no sound; which took some fiddling to get to work (Although Apples airplay still has no sound...) Openelec and XBMC both have the feature that they will only show you films nicely (in that cool coverflow/fanart interface) if you keep your media tagged and correctly organised. (See documentation for what XBMC thinks is correctly organised.) If you have a big collection of movies and tv shows with somewhat hard to interpret names; be prepared to spend some fun time tagging an organising them. (I recommend tinymediamanager to handle that job)

Raspberry Pi...one day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963437)

I have a Raspberry Pi running XBMC which does the majority of things you request really easily. But its a little fickle with things like iPlayer and Netflix so does assume you know what you're doing.

Perhaps one day they will get around to porting a recent version of Android to the Pi. In which case I think all your requests are met almost immediately.

Re:Raspberry Pi...one day? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 months ago | (#45963465)

It's also a little fickle with things like the UI being smooth, oh and indexing all the media into the library. the media library database will outgrow the XBMC card in short order.
I have 3 of them in the house, I will be replacing them with real XBMC pc's shortly due to how fickle they are.

No solution for you... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 months ago | (#45963453)

"making this work would take more hours than I'm prepared to spend."

There is no turn key no work involved media server out there. you can try a standard NAS and build yourself a XBMC playback box, but you can not buy one.
You will have to invest an entire weekend if you are a novice, or an entire saturday if you are an expert to do what you want. You had better prepare to spend some hours on this.

Re:No solution for you... (1)

Mr. Jackson (207564) | about 9 months ago | (#45963727)

As for a "Roku-style box", Roku is great and beautifully simple. Plex works seamlessly with Roku; it installs as a channel just like Netflix. Plex, as you learned, is not as simple but is does more - tradeoff. You can send videos from the web to Plex for watching on your TV with a click but that feature doesn't always work, depending on the site; works for youtube. The hardest thing about Plex for me was port forwarding but in the end I found I didn't need it. I think the only think I give up is sharing my media library with devices and other people.

Re:No solution for you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963743)

uhh... I bought a seagate goflex home 3TB device. I copy files to it. It serves them up to my tv... seems pretty turnkey to me.

Re:No solution for you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963745)

If you are willing to spend some money, sure there are. Something like a small Synology NAS comes with a 'media server' (actual name) built-in which streams via DLNA. Add that to the aforementioned WD TV, and you're done.

You can perhaps spend less money and spend more time in configuration; or, more money and more time in configuration.

Mediatomb (2)

CapeBretonIslander (2562053) | about 9 months ago | (#45963479)

I use Mediatomb from my Linux Mint box. If I recall correctly, I had to edit a conf file to get it to work with my PS3, but I don't think it was too involved to set up.

Re:Mediatomb (1)

queBurro (1499731) | about 9 months ago | (#45963687)

just to throw this into the mix but I've got mediatomb running on my flashed asus router, it's available as a binary package via ipkg IIRC. The benefit is that you can use a bit of "always on kit" to do your media serving too without running a separate PC to do the job.

FreeNAS (2)

sasquatch989 (2663479) | about 9 months ago | (#45963529)

I use it for all my files, media or otherwise. I can go on and on but this works for me. Run it as a VM if you have no extra hardware layin around.

Server or client? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963533)

I have a Linux PC running Linux sitting in a rack in the basement. I have mini-PC's (Intel NUC and mini-ITX) attached behind my TV sets. The media server is running Mediatomb and is also sharing the media files using NFS and Samba. The mini-PC's clients are running XBMC. The media can be played on our PC's, phones, and tablets as well.

The only thing I miss is somewhat better embedded browser support in XBMC. In my living room I was forced to run Windows in order to get Silverlight content (streaming from local broadcast and Netflix), eve though that Silverlight support has improved under Linux with Limelight (which I have not yet tested).

My setup (2)

ihtoit (3393327) | about 9 months ago | (#45963537)

Backend: commodity Pentium 4 2.6GHz PC (that I was given) with 2TB RAID & laptop with XBMC and 11TB USB storage->Softmodded XBox Crystal Rev. 1.1, 20GB HDD (£15 at good gaming stores), XBMC->TV

Twonky is a good bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963543)

I have been using Twonky for 2 years now and its the best media server that I have come across. It has compatibility with every TV / OS out there. It is available for not only Linux/Windows but also has versions for consumer NAS like the DLink and WD products mentioned elsewhere on this thread.

You can buy for PC or you can download one of the following builds for NAS (I've been using DLink version). It transcodes on the fly according to connecting devices as well.
http://www.twonkyforum.com/downloads/7.2.1/

NFS, MOCP and Mplayer (1)

anvaendarnamn (2885909) | about 9 months ago | (#45963545)

Have a small epia-board always running with a couple of disks attached, this is also my music player for main sound system using MOCP. All other machines mount what they need over NFS. Disks not in use power down and the system runs from a small SSD so average consumption is under 10W. Tried XBMC, Myth and some other stuff but it was all too complicated. (although I should say that I'm not using TV, could be that it's easier to use some mediadistro for that.)

Synology DS213 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963573)

DNLA/Media Server/Raid/Bittorrent/ scheduled backups/low power/easy interface/ apps for Android and iPad/

There's a whole category of boxes like this, no need to reinvent the wheel, just go buy one and use it.

This works for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963575)

I have a simple Asrock PC as mediabox. It is low spec, but runs really quiet and have hardware acceleration for HD-video. On this I run the pretty light weight xubuntu LTS. On top of this I run XBMC. XBMC is set to start on power-on, so the other users in my house don't even see the Linux in bottom of the system.
XBMC have a quite simple UI that let you browse and play almost any file format from almost any storage media. If you have downloaded media it even plays stacks of rar and zip archives without the need to unpack them first. XBMC is also extendable with apps and I think there is a browser/player for BBC content. The only thing a little painful is getting Netflix running. I haven't botherd and do this from a normal browser instead.
The system can play content stored locally, from USB-devices, or as I do, from a NAS-disk on my house network (and most other thinkable solution).
Good luck!

virtualbox and openELEC! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963597)

I use a ASUS AT3ionT mainboard. it's 14cm x 14cm. it's got a intel atom 330 and nvidia ion gpu (14watt).
the power-supply is a brick like a laptop, so no extra bulky PSU (PowerSupplyUnit) needed.
this is connected via HDMI to the TV and via GIGAbit ethernet to the LAN. it has no usb-flash disk or harddisk attached.

On another computer i have Virtualbox. Inside that lives a smallish Linux with tftp server, dhcp (dnsmasq) server and a NFS server (wikipedia:Preboot Execution Environment)
The tftp and dnsmasq is setup so that they serve openELEC (www.openelec.tv) to the harddisk-less asus mainboard.
The nice thing is that i can copy the virtualmachine to any computer with virtualbox (osx, winblows, linux) and that computer then will be
the "openELEC" serving server.
of course there is also a NAS that holds the acctual media files (this is configured in openELEC once it has net.booted).

don't buy "toys". buy a real computer. they come in all sizes and shapes. raspi is a real computer. netgear "toys" are not. appleTV is inbetween if prison-freed. also you can use ANY computer that can boot from the built-in network card and has an approriate built from openELEC. just plugin and netboot and voila openELEC : ).
maybe some day the cpu+gpu+memory inside the TVs will be enough so we don't need a extra mainboard and the TV itself can netboot :) happy tinkering.

miniDLNA (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 9 months ago | (#45963617)

Works great.

great question (1)

Kaitiff (167826) | about 9 months ago | (#45963623)

I too was looking around at different solutions. I have Serviio working on an old XP box, but silly me I wanted to get moved to something a little more stable and permanent. A friend donated an XP Media Center PC that's a few years old, so I tried 2 or 3 different Linux media players, and all failed. XBMCbuntu looked like a great idea until I found out that it simply will NOT work on a machine using an ATI video card, which I have. Was excited to try LINHec, found out that it will only run on a machine that has X64 capable process which (thanks Intel) the processor in my little media center pc will NOT do. I had seen PS3 media player but really? I don't HAVE and never will have a PS3, seems to me that with the name it's pretty specifically not for me. The sad part is it was a simple install on XP that was a literal no brainer and a task worthy of the labors of Hercules for Linux. Oh well.

Samba (2)

mikelieman (35628) | about 9 months ago | (#45963627)

Just expose the directory as a "Windows Share" and any client on the network should be able to see it.

Re:Samba (1)

borl (586949) | about 9 months ago | (#45963697)

If minimum fuss is the requirement, this is the solution.

Patriot Box Office 1080p Media Player (1)

Lightjumper (532700) | about 9 months ago | (#45963633)

I have used WD live (or was mine a WD tv?) units and love them, have have not used them in a couple years and can’t remember if they even had a Ethernet port on mine. I reach for my Patriot Box Office 1080p High-Definition Media Player PCMPBO25 all the time now. The Patriot will connect right to my Linux Samba server and allow me to map drives to windows share, etc. You can also install a HDD inside the unit or an external bluray player/drive. It will seems to play anything. I have noticed some .m4v files have sound issues (No sound) as when I created the mk4 file I used AC3 Passthru or DTS Passthru and not sure why they don’t work. but work fine on my pc. The videos play fine. I had to rerun handbrake and use AC3 (faac or ffmeg) codec setting and then sound was fine. It could just be my cheap receiver having issues. Only issue I’ve seen is the lack of updates. I don’t think I’ve seen an update in over a year or 2 now.. I have had the unit maybe 3 or so years also..

Plex on the back end XBMC on the front end(s) (2)

complete loony (663508) | about 9 months ago | (#45963655)

With sickbeard and couchpotato to rename the media nicely into folders and download meta-data. Be careful with those though. If there are two files they think are the same, they'll delete one without warning.

Media server isn't the problem, the player? (0)

AbRASiON (589899) | about 9 months ago | (#45963663)

What's a good PLAYER?
I use XBMC on a fairly basic HTPC I love it but what's the best solution to buy friends and family so they can have XBMC? I don't want to administer a HTPC.

The Apple TV2 I tried, it's got NO balls, it runs XBMC like shit, the remote is garbage and it's laggy with an even remotely decent sized collection. Hell there's 8gb of flash on there and if you've got a mammoth collection you may actually end up filling the disk with the thumbnails.

Those WDTV devices aren't bad for the price but it's no XBMC.

People responding with "Rasberry Pi" are tinkerers and not actual extensive XBMC users. You're going to see the same problems as the Apple TV2 (only worse)

"We, I've, my" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963667)

Yet another idiot who conflates we and I. Jolly good show, wIdiot.

Stop breeding. There are too many of you.

Miro (2)

captjc (453680) | about 9 months ago | (#45963677)

Miro is a free Cross Platform media manager and has built-in library streaming and video converter. Just put in RSS feeds or have it monitor folders.

http://www.getmiro.com/ [getmiro.com]

Jriver? (1)

ravenswood1000 (543817) | about 9 months ago | (#45963683)

I like it. Maybe it would do what you need.

Raspberry pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963707)

Raspbmc

Mezzmo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963733)

I tried several of the tools mentioned in this topic (Serviio, XBMC, PS3 Media Server), and eventually settled for the best one, which in my opinion is Mezzmo.
I have been using it at least for 2 years, streaming any kind of file to my Samsung LED TV via DLNA, i works like a charm.

OpenELEC (custom dist + xbmc) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963757)

OpenELEC packages XBMC into a custom distribution that is optimized for fast startup.

Client capabilities (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45963759)

I think you have the answers - either Plex or Serviio will be fine, but neither is completely configuration free. Serviio seems closest for you, but you need to tell it what your player will support in terms of media playback. It comes with standard profiles for common DLNA renderers (various Smart TVs, media centres, Blu-Ray players), but not (from last time I looked) for your particualr client. It will probably therefore fall abck on the default which doesn't seem to work for your client for mkv files. There is no inherent limitation in the server for mkvs - it works for me on my Sony Blu-Ray - but if it thinks your player does not need them transcoding then playback will fail if it can't handle them natively. The Serviio forums / documentation can tell you how to set up a profile: it's not trivial, but to a Slashdot user shouldn't present a problem.

Simple Cheap Solution (1)

desman (213514) | about 9 months ago | (#45963761)

Get ViMu for your device. http://www.vimuplayer.com/ I don't know if it works with Netgear NeoTV Max, but I use on a Logitech Revue and it works great. Plex used way to much resources. ViMu uses almost no resources on your PC other than to read your media, no resource intensive transcoding - all the work is done on the device's (in my case the Logitech Revue) native hardware. It is very simple to setup and works great. It doesn't have all the fancy bells and whistles of Plex, but it supports different sound tracks and subtitles very well.

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