Looking for hints/help building media server HTPC -- JRiver and unRaid ? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 08-02-2012, 04:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I currently have the ability to rip my extensive BD (and DVDs) collection using ANYDVD HD to ISO. Playback is easy via virtual mount and ArcSoft TotalMedia Theater on my HP HDX18 laptop with attached eSATA 1TB drive. It's running Vista 64 and has WMC too with built-in HT tuner. For playback in my HT, I currently disconnect this drive and plug it in to my Oppo BDP-93 (stopped firmware updates before losing ISO playback ability). I have second set of power and eSATA cables, so this sneaker-net is easy enough and works great.

However, I'm looking to expand my storage either via use of unRAID or a NAS solution (Synology or QNAP probably). I still have to research if it's even possible to use the Oppo to playback ISO files over the network. I doubt it though so I'm guessing that an HTPC is really what I'm going to need. I've been looking into a media server software and have ruled out Plex because of the ISO limitation. I'm leaning towards JRiver as the best choice for me. They are running a special through 8/10, so will probably spend the money and go this route for ISO playback and support. Yeah, it's not free, but $45 won't break the bank either. They need to eat to keep developing and support the product.

I can continue to use the laptop for ripping and other things. I''m asking for any experience, hints, and advice before going down this path. Has anyone had experience setting up a nice HTPC from scratch that can use JRiver (or other s/w) for playback and also serve as a media storage device?

...Steve
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post #2 of 14 Old 08-02-2012, 04:13 PM
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Pretty much any standard HTPC can do what you ask. Your case choice will depend on how many drives you want to cram in. But for a basic setup with a couple 2tb's or something it doesn't take much. A cheap intel system with integrated graphics will be fine. Have you looked at Assassins buying guide? A great place to start.

You may also want to look at XBMC or Windows Media Center with the Media Browser Plugin. I'm pretty sure they both support ISO's. I know Media Browser can, you can set it to automatically mount the iso when you click the movie. You may need to use an external player but since you have Anydvd you may be able to use MPC-HC which is free.

Sorry that made it sound like a bunch of steps but its pretty easy. Jriver is a great product but for me the one place where it really lacks is the user interface.IMO xbmc and media browser look much better.And are more designed to be used with a remote from the couch.
Good luck.
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-02-2012, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response. I'll guess I look for Assassin's buying guide. I think my issue is going to be that I don't really want the storage in the HT. I probably wasn't clear enough. I don't want to rip and download to it, just want a way to play media, mainly video/BD-ISO in my HT over wireless connection. Wired is an option, but not my first choice if I can avoid it. The Oppo works great, but the sneaker-net sucks having to move the external eSata drive.

I'm thinking that a NAS with eSata/USB3 connections to my laptop or a PC based storage solution (unRaid or something) would be used for ripping to and serving up the ISO from my home office. I'd also want it to serve up iTunes music, photos, etc. I have to look more into what the Oppo can do via wireless. I'm also thinking about using a Micca EP950 in the HT, but I'm just not sure about it's interface. I like the look of JRiver's 3D video wall. I guess I need to look at XMBC and other 10ft looks. I'm hoping for something that could be driven by an iPod/iPhone app and Harmony 880.

Need to do more research, but please keep the opinions coming....

...Steve
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post #4 of 14 Old 08-02-2012, 08:57 PM
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Oh I must have misread. You may want to rethink the wireless part. It "can" work with wireless N but its never really recommended. I would avoid it at all cost personally but it may work for you.

Good luck man.
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post #5 of 14 Old 08-02-2012, 11:53 PM - Thread Starter
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I always prefer a hard wire solution whenever possible. I'm running IP webcams in the house, so that's extra interference too. I'm definitely looking into running cat5 down the wall between floors. The HT is in the basement and home office on the first floor.

...Steve
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post #6 of 14 Old 08-03-2012, 04:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevenjw View Post

I currently have the ability to rip my extensive BD (and DVDs) collection using ANYDVD HD to ISO. Playback is easy via virtual mount and ArcSoft TotalMedia Theater on my HP HDX18 laptop with attached eSATA 1TB drive. It's running Vista 64 and has WMC too with built-in HT tuner. For playback in my HT, I currently disconnect this drive and plug it in to my Oppo BDP-93 (stopped firmware updates before losing ISO playback ability). I have second set of power and eSATA cables, so this sneaker-net is easy enough and works great.
However, I'm looking to expand my storage either via use of unRAID or a NAS solution (Synology or QNAP probably). I still have to research if it's even possible to use the Oppo to playback ISO files over the network. I doubt it though so I'm guessing that an HTPC is really what I'm going to need.

There are other options like the Dune players that can play BD ISOs over a network.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-03-2012, 05:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevenjw View Post

Thanks for the response. I'll guess I look for Assassin's buying guide. I think my issue is going to be that I don't really want the storage in the HT. I probably wasn't clear enough. I don't want to rip and download to it, just want a way to play media, mainly video/BD-ISO in my HT over wireless connection. Wired is an option, but not my first choice if I can avoid it. The Oppo works great, but the sneaker-net sucks having to move the external eSata drive.
I'm thinking that a NAS with eSata/USB3 connections to my laptop or a PC based storage solution (unRaid or something) would be used for ripping to and serving up the ISO from my home office. I'd also want it to serve up iTunes music, photos, etc. I have to look more into what the Oppo can do via wireless. I'm also thinking about using a Micca EP950 in the HT, but I'm just not sure about it's interface. I like the look of JRiver's 3D video wall. I guess I need to look at XMBC and other 10ft looks. I'm hoping for something that could be driven by an iPod/iPhone app and Harmony 880.
Need to do more research, but please keep the opinions coming....


You might want to purchase the server guides . http://www.assassinserver.com/

There is a nice server build that Assassin and I did called Goliath Server. It is not a cheap build but you can taylor the build anyway you like using various parts . One thing I highly encourage is the use of WHS 2011 and Flex Raid
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post #8 of 14 Old 08-03-2012, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by flocko View Post

You need to purchase the server guides . http://www.assassinserver.com/
no...
you don't...
it is kind of disturbing how AVS is just becoming some sort of sales delivery method for Assassinguides...
this is a forum, the whole point of a forum is to distribute knowledge freely, not to pimp out some guide/service...

now that said, you may actually want to, as I have heard that Assassins guides are quite good and detailed... and Assassin is a good guy and very helpful...
(but you don't have too, look around there is plenty of good info already here)

if you want to go unRAID, then check out their forums as they have everything you need to build your own system, including step by step build guides from people who have already built working setups (for free)...
if you want to go WHS+FlexRAID there is plenty of info here on AVS (for free)...
you cant go wrong with either option, I prefer unRAID precisely because it is not windows based, others prefer WHS because it is... they both have their +'s and -'s...
hmm... I wonder if with VM's you could do some sort of hybrid WHS+unRAID, get the best of both worlds?... probably not worth it though...

dune's, PCH's,etc can all play ISO's...

NOTE: As one wise professional something once stated, I am ignorant & childish, with a mindset comparable to 9/11 troofers and wackjob conspiracy theorists. so don't take anything I say as advice...
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post #9 of 14 Old 08-04-2012, 05:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Somewhatlost View Post

no...
you don't...
it is kind of disturbing how AVS is just becoming some sort of sales delivery method for Assassinguides...
this is a forum, the whole point of a forum is to distribute knowledge freely, not to pimp out some guide/service...
now that said, you may actually want to, as I have heard that Assassins guides are quite good and detailed... and Assassin is a good guy and very helpful...
(but you don't have too, look around there is plenty of good info already here)
if you want to go unRAID, then check out their forums as they have everything you need to build your own system, including step by step build guides from people who have already built working setups (for free)...
if you want to go WHS+FlexRAID there is plenty of info here on AVS (for free)...
you cant go wrong with either option, I prefer unRAID precisely because it is not windows based, others prefer WHS because it is... they both have their +'s and -'s...
hmm... I wonder if with VM's you could do some sort of hybrid WHS+unRAID, get the best of both worlds?... probably not worth it though...
dune's, PCH's,etc can all play ISO's...

Sorry you find it offensive to try to point folks to sources of known to be good information . Nobody is pimping anything and quite frankly sounds a bit hostel .

Here to make you feel better I will edit the post !!
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post #10 of 14 Old 08-05-2012, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the suggestions. I probably won't pay for guides or an HTPC. I've been in the biz for over 25 years and supporting Unix for over 15 years, so I have no problem building my own server from scratch. Of course, working with computers all day just means that it's the last thing I want to do when I get home. I like the Micca product, but I guess I'm looking for a nice GUI showcase too with covers. I just think a picture is really worth a thousand words so to speak and scrolling/select a cover (like music in iTunes) is better than picking a folder. I'm looking for a media servers, not a file server look to the menu. I already have that with the Oppo. It does the job, but it's not really friendly, especially if you have a lot of movies to choose from. The Micca also only does HDMI out for audio, so that's not going to work in my HT with my analog PCM 8 channel Lexicon MC-1. So, any HTPC I build or buy needs to have 8-ch analog out along with HDMI.

Then there's the storage side and I'm thinking that I need some type of NAS. I'd like to protect the data since it's a pain to feed it all the media up front. I don't want to have to do that twice. I guess an unRaid solution works and it's cheaper. Decisions, decisions....

...Steve
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post #11 of 14 Old 08-07-2012, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
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I've done my homework and pretty much decided to go with a Synology DS1812+ running SHR2 (RAID6) for my NAS server. Sure, it's costly, but I'm worth it. Still cheaper than most PJs even factoring in eight 3TB WD Red drives. Really, by the time I buy build my own RAID, I'll probably spend half of what it costs for this Synology to make it work and keep it cool, spend time doing so, and still not end up with all of the features in DSM and not be expandable either. The drives are the most expensive part really, so that's a wash in any storage solution.

I'll first try to place the NAS in my HT media room (located behind the actual HT seating - avoids extra noise and light) and hook up the Oppo via eSata. If I can't get the Oppo to play ISOs that way, I'll go with one of the options below for ISOs. Or, I'll could consider going with a different format that the Oppo can play. I just happen to like the convenience of ripping my collection into convenient ISO movie-only files without all the extras.

Another option is to see if something like this USB 7.1 device might be able to provide for the 8-channel analog sound from the Micca's USB. Otherwise, I could build an HTPC that provides good HD video over HDMI with 8-channel analog out for sound and run JRiver.

...Steve
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post #12 of 14 Old 08-07-2012, 04:12 PM
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Can I ask what led you to a Synology over a comparable QNap? I'd appreciate your insights into the advantages.
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post #13 of 14 Old 08-10-2012, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Keep in mind that I haven't purchased yet. It's a significant outlay especially when you factor in the drives. Since I haven't test driven either one, my decision is solely based on reading review articles on each and the customer reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. It seems to me that once Synology fixed the BBOD issue due to flawed flash memory chips, the reviews are all very positive. I'm drawn to the DSM 4.0+ features and add-on software modules. I like what I read so far concerning their service, but have no first hand knowledge except they were prompt to respond to my question (more on that in a minute). I figure that any add-on s/w components can be upgraded easily and new ones probably released. It just seems to offer a lot for the money, especially when I figure what it would take me to build my own 8-bay RAID server in time and materials with no guarantees. I'm not saying that a QNAP is bad, just that I think the Synology offers more s/w tools and better GUI for less money. A comparable QNAP TS-869-PRO seems to be about $150 more.

I read that you can void the warranty by upgrading the RAM, so I asked Synology to clarify this. They promptly responded to my question, but I did not like their answer. Their NAS comes with 1GB DDR3 RAM with a slot to add another 2GB stick. The user community lists three sticks that work fine and all go for around $13. However, Synology requires that you buy their approved stick which goes for a lot more (between $99 and $115) or your warranty is void. Not sure how they'd know what RAM stick you use if you take it out before returning the NAS for any service, but I still don't like this at all. I told them that this is BS and might cost them a sale. A RAM chip is simple to install and would have cost them $5-10 more to build these servers with 3GB total and they should have done so if they deem it to really be a warranty issue on $1,000 product. I told them that I don't like being "nickle and dime'd" like this and am not happy with their response. We'll see what they say. Who knows, I may yet go with a QNAP or another route.

...Steve
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post #14 of 14 Old 08-11-2012, 09:15 PM
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I have built an unRAID server for my media (where you can get the free info from their website) earlier this year and has worked great for me running it 24/7 with no issues. Since its Linux based its pretty stable and you have a parity drive so you have some redundancy for data protection without having to go to a full RAID solution. If one drive fails it can be replaced without any data loss.
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