Building a hands-off HTPC/NAS

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davemex Offline
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Post: #1
Hey Guys,

I wanted to share my project with everyone so that maybe it will help others looking to build a similar device. I wanted to build a HTPC/NAS computer that functioned so seamlessly that my wife could use it and I wouldn't have to tinker with it all the time. I know that there are thousands of similar projects out there but what I am really happy with is the fact that all of the software pieces work together so well that acquiring new content is as easy as checking a box. The system automatically sorts and handles the media without me having to babysit it (special thanks to the SortTV perl script).

Feedback welcome!

http://somethingtangential.com/2010/07/2...a-toaster/

*obligatory note: I'm not condoning the use of these programs to get any media you cannot obtain legally in your country. Use at your own discretion Wink *

Update: I finally put together the detailed step by step instructions for those of you that are trying to set up these programs. This includes all the commands I used. Hopefully this will save you days of looking around online for the right way to install something. For people that want to get more into the weeds the instructions can be found here: http://somethingtangential.com/detailed-htpcnas-setup/
(This post was last modified: 2010-07-30 13:38 by davemex.)
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rbonon Offline
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Post: #2
Kudos on the work! And thanks a lot for taking care on documenting it so well and sharing.
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davemex Offline
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Post: #3
Thanks! I took very detailed notes on the set up of each piece of software too (and I mean every single command used) which I might edit in there for people that have issues at any of the steps. but in the mean time I'm happy to field questions Laugh

The main reason behind the heavy documentation is because I did something like this a year ago, didn't take any notes, and then when I tried to repeat it I had to pretty much start from scratch with the research. Didn't want to have to do that again!
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wazzer99 Offline
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Post: #4
davemex Wrote:Thanks! I took very detailed notes on the set up of each piece of software too (and I mean every single command used) which I might edit in there for people that have issues at any of the steps. but in the mean time I'm happy to field questions Laugh

The main reason behind the heavy documentation is because I did something like this a year ago, didn't take any notes, and then when I tried to repeat it I had to pretty much start from scratch with the research. Didn't want to have to do that again!
thanks for sharing
and yes, I should done the documentation when I did my poor man server/NAS
one question though, which fs (samba or NFS) have you found best for XBMC?
Cheers,
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davemex Offline
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Post: #5
wazzer99 Wrote:thanks for sharing
and yes, I should done the documentation when I did my poor man server/NAS
one question though, which fs (samba or NFS) have you found best for XBMC?
Cheers,

I have been using Samba with no issues. After looking around it seems like most people go this route too. Using Samba I can stream media from that computer to other tvs and laptops in the house without any stuttering. Windows 7 and Samba seem to play nice too! I haven't used NFS so I would really be able to comment on it though.

Hope that helps!

Dave
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wazzer99 Offline
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Post: #6
davemex Wrote:I have been using Samba with no issues. After looking around it seems like most people go this route too. Using Samba I can stream media from that computer to other tvs and laptops in the house without any stuttering. Windows 7 and Samba seem to play nice too! I haven't used NFS so I would really be able to comment on it though.

Hope that helps!

Dave
Dave, thanks for the info...
The reason I ask, bc, I was using samba initially and found it way too slow for viewing photos/pictures (stored on the NAS); switching to NFS seems to have sped it up just a wee bit
Cheers,
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poofyhairguy Offline
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Post: #7
I have samba running on my Unraid box and it is more than fast enough to stream my Avatar Blu Ray rip, which is the largest Blu Ray currently possible. If its too slow for you to serve up something simpler like pictures, something is not setup right....
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Mike8913 Offline
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Post: #8
Davemex,

any chance some of the detailed notes you took are in electronic format?

I'm trying to do something very similar for my parents, but my lack of experience with server configuration scares me. I'm about a 1 year user of ubuntu and I'm relatively comfortable on the terminal but I lack some basic knowledge that I'm sure would help.

My biggest concerns are SSH and Webadmin. A few questions. . . .

Is ubuntu server 100% terminal based?

Can using SSH and Webadmin give me some form of a GUI thats relatively noob friendly?

I found this site that details how to set up server edition in Karmic. Do you think this guide still rings true today?

Do you utilize proxies for your "questionable" downloads? (don't answer if you wish)

I'm planning to run software RAID 1 on two WDGreen 1TB drives. Will performance be acceptable for 720p playback? I was thinking running the OS on a SSD might be a better approach. What do you think?

Basically, I'm just looking for more details about what you did. Please let me know.

thanks
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Raphael Barros Offline
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Post: #9
I really hope that topic is not dead yet. I really wanted to try some of the programs that he used and hope that we can help each other here =)
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wazzer99 Offline
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Post: #10
poofyhairguy Wrote:I have samba running on my Unraid box and it is more than fast enough to stream my Avatar Blu Ray rip, which is the largest Blu Ray currently possible. If its too slow for you to serve up something simpler like pictures, something is not setup right....
yes, something was not setup right
I had set thumbnails on, and they were created/stored on the usb flash drive
anyways, NFS still seems to be faster than Samba on my network
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davemex Offline
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Post: #11
Mike8913 Wrote:any chance some of the detailed notes you took are in electronic format?


My biggest concerns are SSH and Webadmin. A few questions. . . .

Is ubuntu server 100% terminal based?

Can using SSH and Webadmin give me some form of a GUI thats relatively noob friendly?

I found this site that details how to set up server edition in Karmic. Do you think this guide still rings true today?

Do you utilize proxies for your "questionable" downloads? (don't answer if you wish)

I'm planning to run software RAID 1 on two WDGreen 1TB drives. Will performance be acceptable for 720p playback? I was thinking running the OS on a SSD might be a better approach. What do you think?


thanks

Ok first things first, YES I do have every command from the initial installation through the final completion notated. I was just THAT anal about remembering what I did and I'd be more than happy to share. Right now it is kind of an ugly Google Doc but I will format it! Give me a day or two.

SSH will not give you a GUI, it just lets you use the terminal on another computer. I like it because I can use my laptop on the couch to mess with the server without having to hook up a keyboard etc. Webmin on the other hand does a great job of giving you a GUI. I was also really reluctant to use the terminal only and this was a GREAT solution. It is all used in your browser. You can browse files on the box, move things, delete things, configure things etc. It is VERY powerful. You can even mount/unmount drives. Without this program, Ubuntu server has no GUI. Basically when you set it up you'll have a terminal login and that's it. Don't get too intimidated by this though, you'll quickly find that for doing some tasks that it's a whole lot quicker to just type in what you want than to have to mouse around.

For questionable downloads... Hmm... I have found that with those two services I haven't had to worry much about it. You can use secure authentication with the newsgroup service and the TV source is pretty trust worthy. If you're really concerned about getting nailed for using torrents, just don't re-seed or just pull all the content from newsgroups where you aren't redistributing the data. They typically go after people that are re-sharing the stuff.

I am using my drives in a RAID 5 configuration and I have had no problems with even 1080p data. Remember, on a RAID 1 or 5 you have a great read speed because the server can read from all those different drives at once. You pay for this when it comes to the write speed because on a RAID 1 you have to write all the data twice and on my RAID 5 you have to write it and calculate the parity data for redundancy. So you could get (in theory) a 100Mb read speed but only a 30Mb write...

As for an SSD, that would be the absolute best way to go for the boot drive if you can afford it. I actually plan on building a smaller XBMC only PC later this year and was going to use an Atom 330/Ion board with a 64 gb SSD for the boot drive. I couldn't afford the SSD drive when I first set this up but it will get replaced in the future!

Sorry for the delayed response but I hope this helps!

P.S. I think that link should still be good for the Ubuntu Server setup. It isn't any harder than setting up any OS. It literally walks you through every little option on a graphical interface.

-Dave
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davemex Offline
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Post: #12
Ok for those of you that want the detailed setup instructions for all the applications and tweaks, I put together the "advanced installation and setup" instructions here:

http://somethingtangential.com/detailed-htpcnas-setup/

Hopefully at least some of that will be helpful! Please let me know if you have any questions.

-Dave
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marcozd Offline
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Thumbs Up  Great post!!!
Post: #13
Absolutely stunning post.

SO through and very very informative.

Thanks so much for this - I have been wanting to figure a way out to deal with TV shows like you have done for ever!

Fantastic work and thanks for sharing.

Best of luck with your future endeavours and I hope to see any updates you consider postingBig Grin

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Mike8913 Offline
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Post: #14
thank you so much dave, I have been a bit intimidated by the terminal but I'm working my way through it and your instructions are great

I really appreciate it.
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davemex Offline
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Post: #15
Glad you guys liked it! I hope the software base works out as well for you as it did for me. I'll keep an eye on the forum in case any questions come up in the future.
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