After many delays I decided to go for it. I have 4 kids each one of them with his/her own 2 to 3 external HDDs. Things get messy a lot in my house with 12 external drives lying around.
So, I decided to build the ultimate Media Server + NAS.Goals
Part I: Media Server Software
- Serve HD / SD Movies (two 46" LCD TV sets + 50" Samsung Smart TV)
- Serve Home videos
- Serve as a backup for all family photos
- Serve as a backup for my personal data
To do this, I toyed with XBMC and Plex PMS. I found the following:
- Plex has a much better support for DLNA
- Plex has excellent Smart TVs (Samsung) support
- Plex uses UTF-8 for subtitles. Not good since most subtitles in languages other than English uses the ISO coding.
- XBMC doesn't have a robust DLNA support
- XBMC uses standard ISO page coding for subtitles which is good.
I found that XBMC is great as a front end and Plex is better suited as a backend. BUT, if I'm going to use XBMC as my front end using players that has built-in XBMC why do I need Plex? The only problem I need to buy a player for my Samsung.
I was thinking doing Plex on the backend + XBMC/Roku/Apple TV on the front end. However, I will just forget Plex PMS and focus on XBMC/Roku front ends. Less components = less complexity and problems.Part II: NAS software
The decision here is difficult. It's between four candidates:
- Windows Home Server
I prefer something that can boot from a USB drive (don't wana lose one HDD bay just for the OS). This rules out WHS and OMV. FreeNAS looks more robust but for me it's a bit intimidating (haven't tried it yet). OpenELEC is more fun (I'm a casual Linux user), but not sure about its NAS/RAID capabilities.
I'm thinking about two ways to serve media through NAS:
- DLNA: difficult with XBMC, this forces me to use Plex PMS
- SAMBA/CIFS shares: this is straightforward approach possible with powerful frontends (at least nice XBMC front end and mount the NAS drive).
Decision: Not made yet.Part III: Hardware
This is relatively easy part
I know I want medium power CPU + large storage. So,
I'm thinking loud here + need advice / pointer