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I want to build a media server

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by Master Baiter, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. Master Baiter

    Master Baiter Contributing Member

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    I know I could figure this out on my own but I figure that some of the other tech geeks here could help me out and give me some good ideas. Here is want I want to do.

    I want to build a server that I can store all of my dvd's on and be able to access them from the TV's around my house. I want a front end at the TV's that I can just page through icons, select a movie, and bam it starts up. I also figure that access to all of our pics, mp3's, etc. would be available as well. So would internet access on the TV's. All of the TV's would be HD and have HDMI, PC input (RBG), component, and S video.

    I haven't really put a whole lot of effort into the idea yet but off the top of my head here is what I'm thinking. I haven't really kept up with hardware of late so I don't know the best stuff out right now.

    Server:
    Big box that can hold lots of hard drives.
    Low end motherboard since its only really holding data.
    Nothing special when it comes to video or sound card because of the reason above.
    I would like some sort of data redundancy so I figure a RAID card(s) of some kind. I'd hate to have to re rip all of my dvd's.
    LOTS of hard drives.
    DVD Rom
    OS - I have copies of Server 2k3 and XP Pro but I do not figure it really matters since it is just storing data.

    Boxes at the TV's:
    Small form factor
    Wireless network card (G?)
    Hard drive I figure doesn't really matter
    DVD Rom
    High end video cards? Not sure about this. I am assuming DVD playback would be via the OS (RBG input) but I wonder about quality. Do video cards have HDMI output?
    High end sound card? For the TV in the living room I'd want digital out for the receiver. The kids tv's would handle the sound so I don't think I'd need digital sound out.
    Small wireless keyboard with built in mouse?
    OS: Windows Media Center? I don't have a lot of experience with this OS so I don't know it's capabilities. Does anyone know of a better alternative?

    Any questions, comments, suggestions, etc are very welcome. I think if done right that it would be very cool (in a geeky way) and would eliminate the need to keep all of my dvd's out. I have a lot of them. Plus I like the idea of having internet on the TV.
     
  2. Harrisment

    Harrisment Member

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    Cool idea, I have zero experience in this area though. I'll be interested in hearing how this goes.
     
  3. Miguel

    Miguel Contributing Member

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    I'll help where I can, but I've been stuck at the same stage you are right now for about 2 years now. All I've really looked into is more of a DVR than media center, although it does have the ability to do both.

    I think the site is www.mythtv.org
     
  4. DallasThomas

    DallasThomas Contributing Member

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    We have our computers hooked up to our TV over here, but it's a bit more rudimentary than what you have planned. We just got a good video card with dualview and S-Video output, some USB remotes and Windows XP Media Center edition. We also bought a good TV tuner card and got software for TiVo-ing to the computer's hard drive. We ran all of the necessary video and USB remote sensor wires over to the TV, so all you have to do is launch the Media Center interface on the computer and navigate through the files (and the tuner's channels) with a universal remote that's calibrated to the TV and computer. It would be cool to have a machine dedicated to just this though, with Media Center running at all times for easy access.
     
  5. bejezuz

    bejezuz Contributing Member

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    MythTV is cool. The fact that you can use modified Xboxes as your TV frontend is WAY cool.
     
  6. Mack

    Mack Contributing Member

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    Disclaimer: I've not used most of the hardware below. I'm just providing information I've run across when planning my own server.

    If you just want a media file server, you could buy a network hard drive like the Buffalo TeraStation. It does RAID-5, has Gigabit ethernet, and can share files over the network. And you don't have to build a separate computer.

    If you don't want to spend that much money, look into Openfiler, if you can cannibalize an older computer. It is free software.

    For the boxes at your TV (called the "Front-end" in MythTV terms), you can look at more Buffalo Technology products. I can't tell what kind of video outputs they have though.

    If you want more than a media server, look into MythTV. It has a ton of features. But if you go this route, you will spend many, many hours setting everything up. I ran this for a while, and plan to run it in the future again.

    And lastly, if you REALLY want to impress your geek friends, look into Plutohome.
     
  7. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

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    I'll probably be doing something similar in the future. I only really need it to serve up movies, though. I bought a Infrant ReadyNAS NV a few months ago, so I'm hoping I can use that to host the movies. One thing I'm trying to stay away from is "yet another computer". I don't want to use a full-blown PC (in the usual sense) to run this thing.
     
  8. Master Baiter

    Master Baiter Contributing Member

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    Do you know where you can get info on the hardware? I didn't see any information on the hardware at all. 10 TB would be a ton of room. I wouldn't need all of the functionality but if they can deliver on everything that they show on the website, wow.
     
  9. Master Baiter

    Master Baiter Contributing Member

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    I never could find any scalability info on the ReadyNAS. Can you link several of them together to scale the storage capacity? I figure that I'm going to need a ton of room, like 5-6 TB. The max that they had was 2TB (that I saw). I I figure going that route would be about a grand per TB which isn't horrible since they have everything built in.
     
  10. bejezuz

    bejezuz Contributing Member

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    5-6 TB??? Do you have any experience with dealing with that much storage? How the heck are you going to back it up? Unless you're buying topshelf stuff (ie stuff that comes with a four hour response time support contract -- think EMC or NetApp) you will have a RAID failure.

    Big storage servers sound like fun, but they're really not. A friend of mine built a 2TB beast a couple years ago. 12 drives, SATA, 3ware hardware RAID5. He had so many problems. Between power and hardware RAID screwups, he ended up just unplugging the thing. He spent over 2K on the beast, and now it just sits there.
     
  11. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

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    The current model handles 4 drives up to 500 gigs each. I know they have a firmware upgrade in beta right now where they've bumped that up to 750 gigs per drive which will give you 3 TB. I know you can't daisy-chain multiple ReadyNAS units and have them be seen as 1 unit (at least you couldn't last year when I researched this). I've got a 400 gig drive in mine and that's it so far.

    I'm not too familiar with how media servers operate, but since each NAS would have its own IP, couldn't whatever media server software you use access each NAS individually? In other words, couldn't you just say "look for all my movies on \\nas1 and \\nas2"? If this is true, I don't see why you couldn't just get another ReadyNAS if the (upcoming) 3TB isn't enough.
     
  12. Mack

    Mack Contributing Member

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    They have a support forum (where you must register for free), and the developers often publish what they use or intend to support. I stopped looking several months ago because I don't have that kind of money or time to devote to a project like that. Sounds awesome though.
     
  13. Mack

    Mack Contributing Member

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    I've used LVM (Logical Volume Management) in Linux to aggregate multiple hard drives into one big logical hard drive space. But this has been with all the drives in one computer. There's probably something similar for networked drives. Try looking up logical volume management / enterprise volume management / distributed file systems, see if there's anything that fits your uses.

    Or, you could do DoD's far simpler and elegant suggestion instead. :cool:
     
  14. MykTek

    MykTek Member

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    honestly, i think ya'll are makin it too complicated....

    just have a pc w/ alot of storage space, run windows media center...setup a wireless router system....then get another pc by your tv, drop in a tv tuner so u can get pvr functionality and wireless g ...and your pretty much good to go....

    i think www.hardforum.com has good info on there forum if u want to check it out...
     
  15. rockbox

    rockbox Around before clutchcity.com

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    I have a lot of experience in the storage arena and he is my recommendation for the low end storage that you need.

    I would go and build a simple machine and use OS raid(either linux or windows) and here is the reason. With hardware RAID or NAS solutions, their proprietary metadata that is stored on the drives that can only be read by that raid card or NAS device. If for some reason that raid card or NAS device fails, you have to have an identical card or NAS to read the data. With OS RAID, you don't really have this problems since the metadata is written by the operating system and is consistent as long as the volume manager is compatible.

    For home use, you will backing up data to other disks because tape is not an option due to price. The largest capacity tape drive is lto-3 which can backup 800 gigs compressed. The bare drive themselves cost about 3k and the tapes run about $100.
     
  16. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

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    But that's the point... for me, I don't want a living room with a pc sitting in it, and I don't want a pc next to every tv I have. It looks goofy, not to mention, if I wanted to do that, hell, why not just have a DVD player on every tv and carry whatever DVD I want to play to the tv I want to watch it on? It'd be a lot easier. :D

    That and I want to be able to play media from my storage area on any tv in my house without having to have a pc everywhere - I've already wired for that (hopefully).
     
  17. KaiSeR SoZe

    KaiSeR SoZe Contributing Member

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